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Article written by María Gomez-Etxebarria - Policy and Projects Intern

On Wednesday 29th  March, we had the opportunity and the pleasure to organise the 8th edition of the EURADA Brokerage Event 2023. As in previous years, the event took place at the EURADA premises in Brussels and online.

On this occasion, we were honoured to have experts from the areas of regional development, innovation, and Smart Specialisation Strategies, as well as high-level speakers from EU institutions, and more, where participants had the opportunity to learn from ongoing and future European project proposals. It was a great pleasure for us to be able to count on the attendance of around 150 participants who attended the event in person and online. It is worth noting that we reached the maximum occupation capacity in person, although more than 60 people attended the event on the premises of EURADA, which is why we had to close the in-person registration after a couple of weeks.

Among the event attendees, we could count on the presence of representatives of several of our members as moderators, pitchers, and participants. We were moderated by three member representatives: Simon Boogaard from ROM Utrecht, Javier Adrián Izquierdo from ACCIÓ and Valeria Bandini from ART-ER. During the morning we had a session dedicated only to our members where pitchers presented about their agencies: Sviluppo Italia Molise, Grand E-Nov+ - L'Agence d'Innovation et de Prospection Internationale du Grand Est, ADERLY - Invest in Lyon, INFORMEST, Sviluppumbria, ROM Netherland - Regionale Ontwikkelings Maatschappijen and EQA - European Quality Assurance

In terms of attendance, representatives of members such as: META Group, North-East Regional Development Agency (Romania), Oost NL - Regional Development Agency East Netherlands, MARR - Małopolska Regional Development Agency, ADRAL - Alentejo Regional Development Agency, INFO Region Murcia and IVACE.

Following the agenda, the Brokerage event was divided into thematic blocks that interspersed European projects with Pitching sessions presenting opportunities for collaboration. In terms of European projects, these are the projects EURADA presented during the event, in the following order: Interreg Europe, Erasmus +, HORIZON Europe, and Instrument and Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI). Among these, EURADA is currently involved in three projects: HORIZON Europe, Erasmus+ and I3.

The event followed the following structure:

We started the day with Opening Remarks by our President Bogdan Chelariu introducing the event. Then, the moderator Simon Boogaard (Strategist at ROM Utrecht) gave way to Estelle Roger (Programme Manager, DG REGIO) who presented open calls and opportunities related to Interreg Europe. During her session, Estelle discussed topics such as cohesion policy, green and digital transition, and the European added-value chain. She also highlighted the criteria to consider when choosing programmes/projects, such as whom to cooperate with, location, and theme. She noted that the budget for Interreg is €379 million, supporting projects and policy learning platforms in 29 European countries. The first session ended with a pitch for project proposals by Alis Socea (from ARD Nord-Est).

The next session was a series of different pitches, all representing EURADA members (previously mentioned), who presented opportunities for collaboration.

Up next, Jip Lenssen (Project Officer at EURADA) kicked off the second session of the day on the Erasmus+ project. During this session, Miguel Fernández Díez (Policy Officer, DG EMPL) introduced the European Year of Skills in 2023 and the Pact for Skills launched by the Commission in 2020, which aims to mobilize stakeholders to promote upskilling and reskilling initiatives. The Pact focuses on concrete actions and is flexible and open, targeting different levels including European, regional/local, and individual commitments. Miguel stressed the need for a common vision in Europe and the importance of stakeholders committing to the cause.

Then, after the lunch break, Javier Adrián Izquierdo (Head of European Projects Office, ACCIÓ) moderated the session on HORIZON Europe. During this session, three speakers intervened: Jekaterina Novikova (Deputy Head of Unit, DG RTD) on European Innovation Ecosystems, Joerg Niehoff (Deputy Head of Unit, DG RTD, “Widening participation and strengthening the European Research Area”) and Raluca Petrescu (Marketing and Communication Manager, META Group).

Firstly, Jekaterina presented the European Innovation Ecosystems, focusing on the work program for 2023-2024, which aims to promote regional innovation valleys and innovating SMEs with an emphasis on social inclusiveness and internationalization. She also discussed the new European Innovation Agenda and the implementation of co-funded action plans for connected regional innovation valleys.

Secondly, Jeorg provided an overview of the European Research Area (ERA) and its policy agenda, including the establishment of the ERA Forum. The widening components of the ERA were emphasized, such as reducing disparities between leading and lagging countries and raising excellence and visibility for research institutions. Jeorg also discussed Horizon WIDERA and its contribution to building research and innovation capacity in countries lagging.

Lastly, Raluca from META Group spoke about the involvement of META in the Horizon Results Booster, which offers three support services for EU projects to maximize their impact. These services include “Portfolio Dissemination and Exploitation Strategy, Business Plan Development, and Go To Market”. She emphasized the importance of dissemination and exploitation and noted that programs like Horizon Results could help projects address these challenges.

After the speeches done by the three speakers, we had the opportunity to listen to a presentation about success stories and previous projects, followed by a pitch session on project proposals and opportunities for collaboration.

The last project session of the day was the one on I3 & Instrument and Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI), with Valeria Bandini (Head of Europe and Internationalisation Area, ART-ER) as the moderator, Tomislav Pinter (Policy Analyst, DG REGIO) and Eric Koch (Project Adviser, EISMEA) and Ramojus Reimeris (Economic and Policy Analyst, Joint Research Center) as speakers.

Firstly, Tomislav and Eric presented the I3 instrument. On the one hand, Tomislav stated that this project aims to achieve a smart and innovative economic transition and strengthen the needs of regions through smart specialization strategies. The instrument currently has 38 partnerships in 3 platforms, and more will be added in the coming months. The I3 instrument's 2023-2024 work programme will focus on the most pressing challenges facing the EU with more flexibility in consortium composition, involving less developed regions. On the other hand, Eric added that the I3 instrument 2023-2024 work programme has three strands that offer financial and advisory support for interregional innovation projects, development of value chains and capacity building in less developed regions. Eric emphasised the importance of quadruple helix partnerships for innovative ideas and gave examples of running projects.

As for Partnerships for Regional Innovation, Ramojus discussed the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for transformation in socio and technical systems, highlighting a new paradigm of innovation being practised. He mentioned the PRI toolbox, which includes supporting Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) with new elements and showcased different pilot activities being conducted in collaboration with the Regional Development Group (RDG) and CLIMA to foster Regional Innovation Valleys and strengthen Regional Policies.

Finally, our director, Roberta Dall’Olio did some final remarks closing the 2023 Brokerage event.

EURADA would like to thank all the participants of the event, both those who attended in person and those who attended online. We would also like to thank every speaker, pitcher and moderator who participated in the event and contributed to each session. We hope that those who attended enjoyed the event and were able to learn from the professionals making their presentations. We are also pleased to have been able to contribute through the event to future collaborations between attendees and hope that EURADA can be part of them shortly. Overall, we can say that the Brokerage Event 2023 was a great success, and we hope that you all feel the same way.

Be ready for the 9th edition of our Brokerage Event2024 which will take place on the same dates next year!

You can check the agenda for the 8th edition of the event here.
Additionally, if you would like, you can watch the event on EURADA's YouTube channel.