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A gathering of RDAs, Public Authorities, SMEs, and Start-ups to discuss the future of the interconnected EU start-up space

Article written by Nora Scantamburlo – Project Officer

Last 23 January 2023, EURADA participated in the 2nd Co-creation Workshop organised in the framework of the Horizon Europe RAISE Project.

The initiative, in the process of avoiding existing lack of integration between different support services and action plans that creates gaps in start-up support at EU level, aimed to promote the discussion on future initiatives to build a unique agenda for an interconnected EU start-up space with the focus on the New European Innovation Agenda.

The event took place at the premises of project coordinator Startup Europe Region Network. Around 25 in-person participants (ranging from investors and accelerators to startups and regional/national agencies) plus around 40 online participants joined the event.

The first round of the event focused on the New European Innovation Agenda adopted by the European Commission in July 2022. The document, aiming at contributing to a green and digital transition; improving Europe’s competitiveness; and at narrowing the innovation divide and reinforce Europe’s open strategy, sets out 25 dedicated actions under five flagships:

  • funding Scale-Ups;
  • enabling innovation through experimentation spaces and public procurement;
  • accelerating and strengthening innovation in European Innovation Ecosystems across the EU;
  • fostering, attracting and retaining deep tech talents;
  • improving policy making tools.

Due to the relevance of the subject matter, RAISE Project Partners invited Jekaterina Novikova from the Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation - DG RTD, and Viorel Peca, Head of Unit of the Transition and Business Acceleration Services at the European Innovation Council. They both highlighted the challenges and required actions to place Europe as the place where the best talent work hand in hand with the best companies and where deep tech innovation thrives and creates breakthrough innovative solutions across the continent.

In the second round of the event, Regional Development Agencies, public authorities, SMEs, and start-ups jointly discussed the most efficient tools and policy instruments to support the scale-up of start-ups. Five EURADA members shared their state of affairs related to the scale-up processes in their regions and the best practices they developed. On one hand, Greta Camilleri from Malta Enterprise presented the brand-new Start-up Residence Programme adopted by the Maltese Government last October 2022 with the aim to attract non-EU start-ups and scale-ups. The presentation also highlighted the dedicated support offered by Malta Enterprise to aid locally established start-ups and SMEs in their expansion and internationalisation efforts. On the other hand, Stephane Ruiz-Coupeau from the IDEA Agency showcased the Scale-up Programme 2021 of the Andalucia Region in Spain that gives start-ups and SMEs the possibility to enter a system of mentoring provided by the Enterprise Europe Network. The “development of joint cross-border programmes and activities for the recipients, co-organised by network partners in cooperation” will be key in the near future. This intervention was also accompanied by José Vilar Gonzálbez from IVACE & EEN Seimed-Valencia Region, who tackled the role covered by Enterprise Europe Network in the scaling-up initiatives in the whole Europe.

Additionally, the Zagorje Development Agency experience was presented by Miroslav Macan. He focused on the role of incubators and accelerators in the scaling-up process: co-working spaces, peer-to-peer notions transfer, and mentoring must flank IT development in order allow start-ups to more easily enter the competitive market. Eventually, the lack of financial resources was identifiedby Lorenzo Valeriani from META Group as the main challenge to overcome thanks to the creation of peer-to-peer environment and trust group specific relation.

Onsite and online presentations stimulated the audience. Several questions and clarifications about their current programmes to support startups were made to our members. In addition, some start-ups also expressed their point of view on the existing financial instruments and shortcomings in the sectors.

The closing phase of the event challenged participants during a networking session: two working groups debated on a selection of funding opportunities in the European Innovation Ecosystem 2023-2024 Work Programme.

Given the great topicality of the issues, RAISE and EURADA's work does not stop here. It will continue in the coming months with various project implementation actions such as the creation of an Open Startup Forum, a shared space where all the players in the start-up ecosystem will be merged under one umbrella with access to top-quality information and training.