Best development agency of 2021
Every year the EURADA Awards recognise best practices carried out by European Development Agencies. The winners receive recognition from expert peers due to the fact that the jury is composed of members of the EURADA Board of Directors. In 2020 EURADA celebrated its 6th edition of these awards. In this edition, the awards recognise the high-level impact implemented by public development agencies to support the economic growth of their territories and the competitiveness of companies within them. 2020 was a difficult year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s why EURADA is celebrating the awards in 2021. EURADA has evaluated the activities of RDAs in 2020 and decided to award the best practices carried out in that year to boost employment.
EURADA recognises SIMORA as the best development agency of the year for 2021. This development agency from Sisak-Moslavina county, Croatia, has brought innovation to the gaming industry. SIMORA’s candidature, named “Becoming gaming expert - capacities upskilling”, was chosen thanks to its highly successful implementation and impact and the achievement of the creation of 36 startups by using a mix of policies and uniting different actors as a solution to the region’s employment problems a way to connect to young people. Focusing on the gaming industry is not an obvious choice, but it was a necessary and well-suited solution for to the territory’s challenges.
In the framework of the EURADA Awards 2021 edition, the jury decided to give out 3 special mentions. The first one was awarded to INFO, from Murcia, Spain. INFO’s project “inDemand. Together for better health” was well appreciated by the jury as it was a prime example of a very innovative action providing good results, promoting the cooperation between different regions. The replicability of the project was also widely appreciated by the jury.
In the same category, it was decided to recognise the effort of CEIN from Navarra, Spain, in the field of health with its practice "Itinerary of health entrepreneurship at CEIN". This was also selected as it was a very specific program, despite being difficult to implement on the long term. The implication of many different actors proved to be a good way to develop a specific sector, by associating public administration, universities, incubators, and economic actors, thus developing real added value for the region.
Last but not least, ZAFER from Kütahya, Turkey, was awarded the third special mention for its practice: “ZAFER-INOperation:Improving the Adaptability of Employers and Employees in TR33 Region”. This candidature was recognised for its specificity, creating modules of training not only for the private sector and SMEs, but also for public officers. It focuses on employers as well as employees, helping develop skills and understanding the needs of employees. The project’s high transferability potential and importance was also acknowledged by the jury.
With all these interesting and successful propositions, winners could find the maximum recognition to be found in the field. Their peers who selected them are long-time professionals, capable of identifying what really works in a sector and what not. The winners and the participants could also demonstrate this by explaining their practices and expertise. One could say regions are well taken care of.
2019 EURADA AWARDS
The fifth edition of the EURADA Awards was a success thanks to all the participants and the great proposals they put on board. This edition saw more than 25 applications and equal participation from EURADA members and non-members. There were two agencies named Best Development Agency: FUNDECYT-PCTEx and Svim (Sviluppo Marche Srl).
FUNDECYT-PCTEx is the Scientific and Technological Park of Extremadura, Spain. They were awarded the title of Best Development Agency of 2019 by EURADA for their platform Extremadura Open Innovation. This action belongs to the action type Support given to the scaling-up of companies and entrepreneurship. This tool brought innovation to rural areas, even to tractor companies far from innovation cores and hubs. Extremadura Open Innovation allows the identification of specific challenges and opportunity sources for new ventures of tractor companies with difficult access to managing innovation processes. This platform provided personalised attention to these companies.
Svim is the development agency of the Marche Region, Italy. One of the things they have been focusing on since 2010 is innovation vouchers. It is also since then that they have been implementing the tool Transnational Innovation Voucher Scheme (INNOVOUCHER), the tool for which they were awarded. This Scheme was developed to boost innovation and repositioning and to encourage processes of development and entrepreneurial spirit. It places clear focus on regional needs and challenges. It supports the transnational exchange of innovation services in Europe through a collaborative framework across the Union. This voucher funding process is the core element of the Scheme. Their innovation voucher call offers SMEs and Start-ups working in the chosen sectors the possibility to explore business opportunities or to solve innovation-related problems.
Given the large number of excellent proposals, the jury decided to give a special mention to the following agencies:
Oost NL (East Netherlands Development Agency) Oost NL was selected for a special mention for their tool ROCKET,launched under the Dutch-German Interreg 5a program. This tool supports consortia of SMEs of Dutch and German nationality to jointly develop new products using Key Enabling Technologies. The ROCKET-initiative produced 6 feasibility studies, 11 cross-border innovation projects, more than €10 million in investments, over 40 prototypes of products engineered, several awards, and a stronger Dutch-German ecosystem with regards to developments in Key Enabling Technologies. A follow-up project, named ROCKET Reloaded, has recently started; it will be responsible for another 6 cross-border innovation projects.
InnovationQuarter, the regional development agency for the province of Zuid-Holland in the Netherlands. One of the main activities conducted by the agency is investing, and one of their funds is UNIIQ, the tool which they won the special mention with. It is a joint effort between InnovationQuarter and regional universities, with a €22 million proof-of-concept fund addressing the funding gap that exists for academic spinoffs, startups and existing SMEs with disruptive innovations by providing convertible loans of up to €300 000. With UNIIQ, InnovationQuarter offers a combination of technical expertise (university-based) and market knowledge (RDA-based). Over 600 companies were approached in 2016, investing €10 million in 33 companies in a variety of sectors, including life sciences, cleantech, and horticulture. Private investors consider InnovationQuarter a quality mark when UNIIQ participates in a company.
2018 EURADA AWARDS
The member winner of this edition was the East Marmara Development Agency (MARKA) for their InnoTEAM programme. This programme assists by mentoring local SMEs. It has also provided the RDA a tool to offer world-class advanced services and gather a combination of local actors to cater aggregated support. Their purpose was to raise awareness on innovation management among local businesses, pinpointing highly innovative business and helping them enhance their innovation management skills. It has allowed different important and influential players to work together and has created synergies among them for as long as 6 months.
There were two non-members recognized for their practices, being the Agence du Numérique from Wallonia, Belgium, and the Galician Automotive Cluster Foundation (CEAGA), from Spain.
In the first place, the Agence du Numériquewas awarded for their policy design of Digital Wallonia, the digital strategy of the Walloon Government. The jury considered that this agency is a frontrunner in the path because they have been able to create a single regional marketplace for the digitalisation. They have developed a platform which brings all the local actors together. Digital Wallonia works on three concepts: the strategy, defining public policies’ priorities and goals and supporting framework offered to private initiatives to promote digital technology. The platform, providing services and support for public and private stakeholders involved. And the brand, uniting the public and private stakeholders and initiatives and ensuring their visibility. This platform has already been transferred to the green energy cluster in Wallonia.
In the second place, CEAGA was recognised for their Business Factory Auto (BFA). This initiative was regarded as easily implementable in any other industry or regional context. It aims to lead to the economic transformation of the productive ecosystem with an outstanding acceleration and consolidation programmes in the Automotive Sector of Galicia. BFA is an example of collaboration with the objective of encouraging the growth of the business fabric, turning the whole of the Automotive Sector into a highly qualified job shuttle. It contributes to strengthen the position of the sector and increases its international projection.
2017 EURADA AWARDS
This year was the first time when not only EURADA members could participate, and proposals were so well regarded that both categories, members and non-members, received two awards each.
IDEPA was recognized for their initiative Open lnnovation 4.0. Their programme is built through the public and private cooperation and allows the acceleration and traction to the market of innovative young companies by the help of consolidated companies. It helps facing the challenges of digitalisation and consolidation. This tool was already being a success when presenting the proposal since its quantitative impact meant 64 proposed solutions from 44 young companies, 7 start-up participating in the acceleration programme, 7 tractor companies reinforced to identify and develop technological challenges in 40 and a joint business project investment of more than 400.000€. Furthermore, its qualitative impact meant 1 defined methodology for design and develop Open Innovation programmes, 7 co-operation projects, and 7 start-ups and an Entrepreneur Consortium.
SODENA was awarded for Orizont, the first leading agri-food accelerator. It was created to promote research and innovation with an advanced financial instrument. Orizont provides financial support, tailored training for start-ups, mentoring on business opportunities and proactive networking. Orizont accelerates start-ups of all agri-food subsectors of local, national or international origin at an early stage of development with this mentioned scalable business proposal. They see the ecosystem as the main beneficiary of their tool, and most of the accelerated projects can be carried out and can succeed in any field and sector.
Other outstanding best practices recognised were:
ASTER (since 1st May 2019 ART-ER), from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, presented their tool SPARK, and it meant a new way to handle the relation between research and enterprises. SPARK empowers researchers to seek ways of research and results from a market point of view on the basis of the Business Model Canvas. It also foresees the involvement of different actors of the innovation ecosystem working together to highlight and release the market potential of industrial research results. There is a complementarity approach with a common goal: writing a business model for industrial research projects. Its transferability potential is high, and SPARK has already experimented transferability, in this case of the model in different sectors related to the regional S3 priorities.
The Regional Development Agency of the Ljubljana Urban Region (RRA LUR), from Slovenia, was awarded for the creation of the Regional Creative Economy Center (RCKE). According to RRA LUR’s president, this is not only a project but a fully address to the development of a creative economy in the region, aiming to transfer the knowledge and experience to other regions in Slovenia and beyond. The RCKE aims to support the development of the creative sector and to create a spill over effect when cooperating with other sectors. This proposal was awarded because of its novelty, possibility of transferring, and current impact at the time. It showed the importance of promoting the development of a cultural and creative sector based on expression of creativity, co-shaping and co-production with various partners and civil society.
Worthy of mention are also the five finalists for these awards:
Firstly, the Agentia pentru Dezvoltare Regionala Nord-Est from Romania for Rubik Hub. This proposal aims to support start-up founders and entrepreneurs outside regional capitals and university cities. Its goal is equal opportunities when it comes to entrepreneurship.
Secondly, FUNDECYT-PCTEX from Extremadura, Spain, for their Office for Innovation (O4i). In this region, 99.97% of the companies are SMEs, and O4i fosters open innovation for them. It uses innovation and continuous improvement, competitive intelligence and adaptability to change as key issues, where the exchange of knowledge plays a very important role.
Thirdly, İzmir Development Agency (IZKA) from Turkey for their Renewable Energy Worshops for Kids project. It regards children as recipients of knowledge on renewable energies. The workshops aim to raise awareness about energy resources and were designed with STEM education tools. It was held on the İzmir International Fair with the participation of children from the 8-12 age group.
Fourthly, the Regional Development Agency of Murcia, Spain, for their INNOVATION ACCELERATOR. This tool is a global service programme aimed at enhancing innovation management capacities amongst advanced pre-innovation SMEs. The programme provides assessment, tools, workshops, financial support, etc., increasing the innovation capabilities of SMEs and helping them to find new business opportunities.
Fifth and lastly, but not least, the Regional Development Agency of Sisak Moslavina County SIMORA, from Croatia, for their initiative to make Sisak Moslavina County center of the gaming industry. The unemployment rate in this region is very high, and the ultimate purpose of this project is to generate many workplaces and better living standards.
2016 EURADA AWARDS
The winner for the second edition was Kainuun Etu from Kainuu, Finland, for their one-stop-shop service, a unique entry point for companies which reinforced its customer approach. The agency has a central management system that mobilises all the stakeholders that could satisfy the needs of the company. It was already a success in the time of the awarding because it had increased the customer base of the development agency by 300%. Moreover, this is a process-led change to a sector based working model, and it utilises existing tools, so it showed big potential to be adopted easily. They represent support for consolidated enterprises.
Many good practices were presented this edition and they are worthy of mention.
In the first place, ACCIÓ, from Catalonia, Spain, was a finalist for their European Projects Management Office (EPMO). EPMO performs the overall coordination of ACCIÓ’s participation in EU projects and offers a series of services. They implemented an advanced structure that increased their participation in EU grants, which shows a new organisational model for development agencies.
Secondly, East Marmara Development Agency (MARKA) from Turkey became finalist for their network proposal, created through using Google’s free e-mailing group service. The subscribers of the network are regional stakeholders of local for-profit and non-for-profit organisations. MARKA maintains their link with visiting and contacting inquirers through this network. It is a practice easily transferable to any other European region.
Last but not least, North East Regional Development Agency from Romania presented their S3 cooperation tool, consisting in an exchange of experts between North East Romania and their partners from the Northern Netherlands Alliance. Both regions analysed and fixed with each other’s help the gaps in their value chains. This tool has presented its adaptability to change, evolve, and readapt to new challenges. Plus, it is easily transferable to regions with similar issues.
2015 EURADA AWARDS
This year the first edition of EURADA Awards took place. East Netherlands Development Agency (Oost NL) was awarded this time for their Food Valley Ambassador Programme, having potential and being easily transferable to other RDAs. With this programme, a combination of product development, regional promotion, human capital development and internationalisation, companies can get big benefits, institutions knowledge, and regions growth. Plus, it presents itself as easily replicable. It was the first specific action for human resources, and they were able to combine internationalisation, innovation support to local companies, talent attraction, and cooperation with universities and research organisations. Therefore, they accomplished the selection criteria of novelty, addressing new topics and new use in the area of RDA actions.
Let us also mention the finalists for this award and good practices presented by them:
Firstly, FUNDECYT from Extremadura, Spain, for their Office for Innovation (O4i). This RDA presented the merge of two entities that previously operated independently. It learned to bring together key regional intervention capabilities, such as the connection with Europe and the knowledge of the business and entrepreneurial ecosystem, for the benefit of the region. This agency also managed to be within SMEs, and SMEs are at the same time part of the organization.
Secondly, Instituto Aragonés de Fomento (IAF) from Aragón, Spain for its Open Spaces for Innovation (OSFI). Their aim is to train new entrepreneurs so as they can start their projects in the study center and create a long-term link between the education system and the productive sector. Also, the service pack offered to entrepreneurs has no cost, so it is easily transferable to many other regions.
Thirdly, İzmir Development Agency (IZKA) from Turkey, for their programme to support clean production. Their tool innovated the Financial Support Programme since the RDA itself became part of the project making. This way, a refinement process was enabled for the better implementation of the projects and energy and water saving were achieved.
Fourthly, Madrid Emprende from Spain for their International Lab for entrepreneurs and their privately funded accelerator program. This RDA offers free consulting and office space for a year in this first tool. As for the second tool, Madrid Emprende works toward bringing in both multinationals and large companies based in Madrid to the entrepreneur ecosystem encouraging synergies between large companies, entrepreneurs and SMEs.
Fifth and lastly, North East Regional Development Agency from Romania for their innovative tools for the management of the Sectoral Operational Programme. This programme was dedicated exclusively to private businesses. This RDA developed a multi-functional unique tool nationwide, able to provide control over project status and progress and anticipation of problems.