At the heart of the 21st EURegionsWeek, the European Association of Development Agencies members and secretariat played a key role in the arena of regional development. EURADA network’s participation in this monumental week played a significant role in discussions surrounding cohesion policy, international and interregional cooperation, and the collaborative efforts needed to tackle the challenges of today's world.
What did participants gain from the EURegionsWeek? It was an immersive experience that empowered participants to delve into new strategies, initiatives, and best practices. The focus was on constructing communities that are both resilient and sustainable, laying the foundation for a brighter future. Below, the EURADA secretariat gives you a summary of the key takeaways from sessions organised or co-organised by the association.
Curious minds for a stronger Europe through international urban and regional cooperation
In the context of regional and city initiatives, international cooperation is pivotal for addressing post-industrial transition challenges and fostering innovation. This session, organised within the IURC program, highlighted the transformative power of international collaboration, emphasizing its ability to bring diverse perspectives, exchange experiences, facilitate capacity building, and enable global networking. European networks comprised of regions and cities were also emphasized as crucial for sharing best practices and expanding international partnerships.
During the intervention from the audience, their international cooperation activities and collaboration were highlighted. In particular, EURADA members from North East Romania, Krapina-Zagorje County, Sisak Moslavina County, and Extremadura shared insights from their international cooperation activities.
Key takeaways emphasize the significant impact of knowledge exchange and capacity building activities rooted in Regional Innovation and Smart Specialisation Strategies. This enriched knowledge base benefits regions, enabling more informed and innovative approaches to regional and urban development, potentially leading to long-term collaborative partnerships, fostering knowledge exchange and economic development. These initiatives have the potential to diversify the regional and urban economy while promoting specialization in key areas.
Strategic foresight in EU regions and cities – A policy lab collaborative approach
Foresight is the discipline of exploring, anticipating and shaping the future to help build and deploy collective intelligence in a structured, systemic way to anticipate developments. For this reason, cities and regional representatives gathered on 10 October to discuss how to build an anticipatory capacity for the benefit of the citizens. EURADA contributed to this topical discussion, together with the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the Joint Research Center (JRC) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), by presenting the results of the one-year work of the Strategic Foresight Working Group launched in September 2022 following the proposal made by the Regional Development Agency of Murcia.
It has been acknowledged that foresight exercises need to be embedded in long-term regional planning to ensure overall coordination and coherence with national and EU strategies, goals and challenges. International organisations also play an important role in ensuring that foresight is practised more systematically by more actors. Already available international instruments and methodologies of interest are usually unknown at regional level, and the role of Regional Development Agencies has been shown to be essential in the development of territorial foresight to successfully put the topic into practice by incorporating knowledge, expertise, and interests of businesses into the processes and using the added value of their expertise in strategic planning and Smart Specialisation Strategies.
RAISE: START-UP / SCALE-UP
Startups play a pivotal role in fuelling economic growth, and their significance in the economy and society cannot be underestimated. A workshop during the EURegions Week introduced the RAISE project, emphasizing its primary objective of developing a sustainable integrated framework to support startup growth. The event featured the introduction of experts from the regional steering group, which is currently in formation. Additionally, a representative from EISMEA (European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency) shed light on the major gaps in European innovation and how they offer support to SMEs through the EIC Accelerator.
The workshop concluded with a role-play activity, allowing participants to step into the shoes of entrepreneurs and simulate scenarios in which they sought financing from different institutions. In general, the workshop served as a remarkable opportunity to raise awareness about the RAISE project and underscore the critical importance of startups and SMEs. It provided an ideal platform for engaging discussions and the exchange of diverse perspectives.
How Manufacturing companies can access cutting-edge technologies from EU projects
The European Week of Regions and Cities was a great opportunity to organise a in-person meeting of the EURADA Working Group on Digitalisation. Participants learned how regions can be involved in mobilising their SMEs to participate in EU funding and testing opportunities to facilitate the adoption of advanced digital technologies across sectors and countries.
Experts discussed the importance of the "Test Before Invest'' methodology by opening the manufacturing pilot installations to offer European SMEs the opportunity to test without any cost the technologies developed by several EU-funded projects. In this context, the working group serves as an excellent channel to disseminate information and funding as well as allows regions to exchange best-practises and explore potential collaboration. Practical examples on how regional development agencies’ activities help regions in supporting the digitalisation of their local companies were showcased.
Building a socially just transition to regional climate resilience
The workshop showcased two new frameworks designed to assess climate risks, with a specific emphasis on creating socially just regional transition roadmaps. These roadmaps will help regions prepare for and cope with the impacts of climate change. The panel discussion featured representatives from various regions and European projects, CLIMAAX, Pathways2Resilience, and Regions4Climate. EURADA is a partner of the CLIMAAX project, which provides financial, analytical, and practical support to improve regional climate and emergency risk management plans. The open call to apply for this support will be announced soon. We encourage you to keep an eye out for the open call by checking our communications and the project's website regularly. During the panel discussion, the participants explored opportunities to integrate these frameworks into cross-border climate resilience-building actions paving the way towards further collaboration.
Breaking Barriers Using Innovation Procurement as Strategic Tools
The workshop was organized to explore the potential of innovation procurement as a strategic tool for regions and cities. Several speakers shared their ideas on how innovation procurement can help European regions and cities overcome their challenges. The workshop provided practical examples from different regions and cities, including Haarlem, which is a project partner with EURADA in the PROTECT project. They briefly discussed the PROTECT project, which aims to unlock the potential of the climate service market in supporting climate adaptation and mitigation, using innovation procurement. PROTECT is paving the way for a pre-commercial procurement (PCP) call for climate adaptation and mitigation services. The session left the participants inspired to explore new synergies and explore the options for their regions and cities.
Clusters meet Regions: An #EUClustersTalk on clusters as drivers of regional economic transition
During this informative session, the role of clusters in the green and digital transition was defined. It was emphasised how these clusters work with regional authorities to enhance the regional economy and build resilience. The discussion also touched upon the potential of clusters for regional policies and the exchange of good practices. The speakers from the European Commission highlighted funding opportunities and the power of collaboration through events like Clusters Meet Regions. This fall, numerous Clusters Meet Regions workshops are scheduled to take place, including one in Kraków, Poland that we are organising in tandem with AGRADA+ together with our members MARR – the regional development agency of Małopolska. We will keep you updated through our website and communication channels, and registration will open soon.
EURegionsWeek 2023 was not just an event; it was an invaluable platform for dialogue and cooperation that had the potential to shape the future of Europe's cities and regions. With EURADA and EURADA members actively engaged, the week promised to be a forum where innovative ideas and solutions flourished.