Braga was the Portuguese city chosen to hold the XPRESS Project workshop, with the title “Green Companies for Green Regions and Green Cities”. The event aimed to gather the relevant actors of the local ecosystem such as public authorities, SMEs, and researchers in order to find out what barriers and problems they have to face regarding the Green Public Procurement.

The workshop was organised by EURADA together with the economic agency of the municipality of Braga, Invest Braga, at the Altice forum building. In the opening speech the Mayor of Braga, Ricardo Rio, pointed out the commitment of the city to boost start-ups and innovative solutions for the environmental challenges Europe must tackle in the upcoming decades.

The XPRESS Project, funded under the umbrella of the Horizon 2020 programme, is aligned with the Green Deal proposed by the Von der Leyden commission, through the boosting of the green criteria in the public procurement. It aims at enhancing the capacity of the public purchase to influence in the behaviour of the companies, which should result in the production of eco-friendly goods and services. The project is in its first year stage so, its main goal for this period is to stimulate the local ecosystems of a certain group of regions in order to achieve a better understanding of the problems the companies normally have to face to transform their processes into greener ones. At the same time, this gathering will help the local authorities to identify what are the administrative barriers among the different political levels.

During the event in Braga, we had the opportunity to hear the first-hand experiences of Pedro Salomé (International Iberian Nanotechnology), who explained how the nanotechnology might be key for the development of renewable energy solutions and green materials; Rui Carvalho, representative of the company Cartonagem Sao Tiago, carrying out a deep transformation to adapt their packaging company to the green criteria –taking care of the carbon footprint of their processes, focusing on the circular economy, using greener materials, and so on–; Maria Ramalho, representing Grupo Casais, who gave a presentation about how the construction sector should address the green transformation and the obstacles SMEs have to deal with to bid for a tender; Paula Campos who as representative of AGERE –the local public company in charge of the water treatment– pointed out how the different administrative levels can shape the administrative barriers; and,Sandra Cerqueira from TUB, who showcased how the public transport sector has been one of the pioneer fostering the green approaching regarding the public purchasing power.

To finalise the session, two discussion tables were carried out by the lead-partners of the XPRESS Project: Dr Paola Zerilli from the University of York (UoY) and Riccardo Coletta from ‘Agency for the promotion of the European Research’ (APRE, in its Italian acronym). Hence, the representatives from the private sector might share concerns and possible solutions proposals with public authorities, policymakers and public sector representatives. Some of the conclusions of this workshop were the lack of help in terms of tax incentives the administration is giving to companies, the SMEs employees need of skills coaching or the need of a holistic and comprehensive action policy plan about the topic.

These workshops are key for the first project stage and will be carried out in every country of the consortium. The next one will take place in Brussels (EURADA’s premises) on March 20, with local authorities and SMEs.