Eurada News nº392 – September 2019

Industry 4.0 and the Next Programming Period

Last 17th of September, the city of Gabrovo in Bulgaria hosted an international conference on “Industry 4.0 and the Next Programming Period”. This event was organised within the framework of the European Union inter-institutional Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP) by DG RTD and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).

On 17 and 18 September 2019, the region and city of Gabrovo hosted an international conference on “Industry 4.0 and the Next Programming Period”. This initiative was carried out for the first time in Bulgaria within the framework of the European Union inter-institutional Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP) and was co-organized by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission (DG RTD) and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). It was the perfect scenario to present the updated status of the KEP, together with the dissemination of several EU-funded projects on innovation, and allowed for a general debate on innovation at the EU-level.

Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP)

The Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP) is a concept jointly developed by the European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission service for research and innovation. It aims to present new R&I solutions, innovative products, and best practices in response to societal challenges facing the regions and cities of Europe.

Dr. Ruslan Rakhmatullin, from the S3 Platform (JRC, European Commission) presented the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation. The reasons for opening up smart specialisation strategies are manyfold: To get access to wider business and knowledge networks, to develop necessary research capacity, to reach out to other markets, or to expand business opportunities, amongst many others.

Economic growth can be facilitated through technological innovation leading to new path-creation. The next technological revolution will depend on multiple innovations across many industrial areas linked to emerging value chains with several technological components joined in new ways. This is where European diversity may contribute: some regions have access to leading R&D and upstream innovation facilities; others have industrial skills needed in downstream testing and industrial upscaling. In larger territorial frameworks, both attributes may exist. It is time to upgrade transnational networks of knowledge and expertise, and drive the development of transnational and macro-regional value chains.

The European Association of Regional Development Agencies (EURADA) had the opportunity to join this pannel with two different EU-funded projects that is part of, together with the host city of Gabrovo: In4WOOD and OaSIS. IN4WOOD, composed of VET technology providers, VET authorities and wood and furniture experts from 4 different EU countries, aims to strengthen the knowledge exchange and practice between themselves and the labour market and will increase the recognition of qualifications at EU level within production managers and the target industry. OaSIS provides thorough analyses of the existing approaches to the segmentation of innovating SMEs and the assessment of the effectiveness of regional support mechanisms currently used in Europe. Big Data analysis uncovers patterns and correlations among innovating SMEs and can aid regional practitioners to spot success metrics.

Regional Innovation Ecosystem

A second pannel on “Companies of the Future and the Regional Innovation Ecosystem” was attended by representatives of the Central Coordination Unit at the Council of Ministers of Bulgaria, the Institute for Market Economy, Thrace Economic Zone, Enterprise Europe Network, Mechatronica AD and Gabrovo Municipality. Helsinki-Uusimaa (Finland), rewarded as the most innovative region in Europe in 2019, will have a presentation. The event concluded with a final dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria Tomislav Donchev along with the First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions, Markku Markkula. 

Innovation in Gabrovo

Gabrovo is a city in central northern Bulgaria with a population of around 60,000 inhabitants. The Municipality of Gabrovo (Bulgaria) is a very active local government supporting the local companies in technology transfer from the university, their internationalisation and their economic growth through technology-based innovations. Besides taking part of the aforementioned IN4WOOD and OaSIS projects, the municipality developed in the framework of the Interreg project InnoHub a economic Geographic Information Systems (GIS) , which presents the trends in local economy with main focus on the innovation potential of companies.

Gabrovo economic GIS layer for innovations presents the real picture of innovations on the territory of the municipality and give enough information for planning and decision taken process. For the private companies helps to establish regional cooperation. Economic GIS layer is a tool integrated in Gabrovo geo-information system, which gives a wide perspective to obtain and upgrade the business database of the region. It allows different types of analysis based on official macro data provided by the National Statistics, updated every year with the numbers from the annual financial reports of the companies in the region. The tool provides detailed information about the existing companies in the municipality (address, location, main activities, products, markets, business profiles etc.). The information is structured by economic and statistical indicators, main business categories and information for innovations.

Written by Antoni Pastor, Project Manager at EURADA