Last week, a delegation from Alentejo (Portugal) visited Brussels with the purpose of looking for ideas regarding services and contents for their future projects. There were initial plans to set-up a new framework to foster innovation and local digital transformation, that could allow the consolidation of a close cooperation to boost economic and sustainable development in the region of Alentejo Central. The delegation was leaded by Mr. Rui Barroso, Director Digital Transformation at DECSIS (Portuguese SME, ICT Sector), Member Executive Committee of the Board of Directors EURADA and Board Member at ADRAL. Furthermore, it was made up of Mr. Luis Cavaco, Member of the Board at Hospital Espírito Santo de Évora (Alentejo Region Central Hospital), and Mr. André Espenica, executive Director at CIMAC (Alentejo Central Association of Municipalities). The development Agency from Alentejo (ADRAL) is responsible of the internationalization and European cooperation activities.

The main goal is to organise a structured and focused strategy and a service portfolio to enhance technology based innovation and entrepreneurship using digital infrastructures, acceleration and mentoring processes for SME’s. This initiative makes available an integrated and process-based interface for innovation capabilities and needs at sub-regional level. Supported in bottom-up capacity, it aims at consolidating and fostering new projects in emerging areas. The main priorities are:

  • Territory and Sustainability
  • Internationalization and FDI
  • Economic Development in emerging areas

During the visit, they had the opportunity of attend a workshop on innovation ecosystems organised by DG RTD. The event involved high level speakers,  potential partners from European entities and leading territories in the development of innovation ecosystems.

Other than that, they had a meeting with Mr. Pierre Padilla from N-Able, a company dedicated to the deployment of digital technologies, which was so important for Alentejo’s project. In the same way, they learnt more about the Slovenian development thanks to the Slovenian Business & Research Association, a Brussels-based liaison office of the most successful and highly respected Slovenian organisations from both the public and private sectors, with a strong focus on eHealth initiatives. They could talk about the provision of ITC tools applications of Ambient Assisted Living used for active and healthy ageing of elderly people.

Moreover, the Portuguese delegation had a meeting with the Directorate-General for Informatics, which is the Commission department responsible for providing digital services that supports other Commission departments and EU institutions in their daily work and encourages public administrations in EU member states to act closer. During the meeting, several experts from the European Commission gave an interesting presentation about the programmes they are managing and the ongoing opportunities for Alentejo.

They had the fantastic opportunity to meet the Deputy Head of Unit of the European Commission that established DIH and manage the programmes for them.

Another kindly meeting was with the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN), which is a leading regional association in this matter. They talked about the project they are developing together: InDemand, a project who aims to implement a co-creation system for eHealth solutions, funded by H2020 programme.

All these meetings helped them to have a wider and deeper vision about the potential possibilities the Alentejo’s region has. It is the perfect moment to research and work in their region, looking for the territorial cohesion and tech transfer globally. They will get the cooperation needed to increase the economic development the region deserves.