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Summary of the EER final workshop of the COSME project on Connecting entrepreneurial ecosystems  



On June 22 and 23rd, the final workshop of the first phase of the project “Fostering collaboration through mapping, analysing and interlinking of European Entrepreneurial Regions" took place.

The objectives of the event were to:

  • Take stock of the main results of the project
  • Present how to go from action plans to actions
  • Support further policy exchange.

The event was also the bridge between the first phase of the project and the second phase that will start in July 2020. 

The participants were representatives of EER regions, stakeholders of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystems, and representatives of the European Commission, EASME and the Committee of the Regions. 

June 22, Day 1

The workshop started with the Welcome and Introduction. Birgit Weidel underlined how in the present pandemic situation collaboration and cooperation among European regions and ecosystems is key. The lessons learnt and the tools used in the project can be found in the EER Guidebook and used as reference to be recreated by other regions. The project is also an example of how to reinforce Europe and the key industrial value chains of the future. 

Thomas Wobben reminded the participants how the EER initiative started 10 years ago as a way to break the divide between local policies and European policies, since entrepreneurship needs mainly local actions. In the new context, it is also important to rethink the interregional value chains and to provide a better chance for collaboration and the promotion of growth and competitive advantages. 

Afterwards the EER Project and the Guidebook developed were presented by Kincsö Izsak, Technopolis Group, Daniela Kretz, IDEA Consult and Lena Tsipouri, University of Athens. During the project a set of common challenges have been identified such as skills, support to scale-ups, linking large companies and entrepreneurs or internationalisation. 

Project outcomes 
The main outputs of the project have been: a matrix of complementarities and synergies, indicator framework to map and monitor entrepreneurial ecosystems, 10 in-depth mapping reports (one per region), 6 Action Plans with various well-defined actions on the following topics: 1) Network start-up/scale-up support; 2) Soft landing scheme for start-ups/scale-ups; 3) Financing scale-ups; 4) Digital transition of industrial SMEs; 5) Agrifood: data sharing and reduction of food waste loss; and 6) MedTech: fostering digital health, 15 online meetupsEBN congress and SME exchange, The EER Guidebook has been also prepared with the aim to providing guidance to regions on how to foster their entrepreneurial ecosystems through interregional collaboration. 

Putting action plans into action
As a next step, the actions per action plan will be followed up. 'Quick wins' such as the policy exchange, the information platform, the sub-networks per common challenge identified will be pursued. Each participating EER region will re-prioritise the complex actions that require more resources with the aim to implementing at least one of the key horizontal and thematic actions in each action plan. It will be important to keep the momentum and go on with the practical actions. Matching the actions with the regional innovation strategies will be important.

Professor Lena Tsipouri summarised the lessons learnt from the mapping activities of the project. She presented the lessons from the theory and how they can be translated into policy. Since the elements of entrepreneurial ecosystems interact in complex and specific ways it is not possible to provide general remarks on how to create/sustain entrepreneurial regions. Any policy interventions should help to create the elements of the system, so they can co-evolve. Regulation and incentives are necessary to help build the missing elements in the region or to facilitate the access elsewhere. If the actors of the ecosystem are not connected, any funding given will not help to reach its objectives. Finally, she presented how EER can contribute in each stage of the ecosystems' maturity. 

Patrick Jordens from VLAIO Flanders presented the “Network start-up / scale-up support" action plan, which involved 6 regions. After identifying common challenges in the regions, a set of actions were proposed to overcome them: a peer learning network for entrepreneurs and business support organisations, including study visits for start-ups and scale-ups. 

The next presentation was on the “Soft landing scheme" action plan introduced by Michael Moll from Accent Lower Austria and the experiences on the topic of the region of Lower Austria. After presenting the region and how Accent supports SMEs, the good practice from the BIC of CERN Tech was presented. Accent collaborates with CERN to investigate touching points between start-up needs and CERN know-how. Some of the areas of interest are big data, sensor systems, signals and data processing, or AI and robotics. The activities carried out in the context of the action plan, as well as the next steps and relevance of this action plan for Lower Austria, were also discussed. 

The last action plan presented was the “Financing Scale-ups" by Hava Yildiz, from the Île-de-France Region. After explaining the mission and objectives of the action plan, the activities proposed – collaboration with EuroQuity; capitalisation on existing EU initiatives; use of public procurement to support start-ups and the use of European Investment Funds – were presented in detail. In the case of France, the Government has convinced institutional investors to invest more heavily in late-stage VC. 

Maria Dolors Nuñez and Montse de Riquer presented the measures taken in the Region of Catalonia to fight Covid-19. One of the measures taken was the creation of a Covid-19 Business Marketplace, it collects and connects companies that offer technology, medical equipment or production capacity related to Covid-19. At the moment there are more than 2500 registrations and 55,000 visits. Similarly, they have also created a catalogue of Covid-19 solutions, technologies and initiatives developed by companies and other agents in the region. As part of the business support activities, ACCIÓ has developed a virtual desk where they can answer questions and requests from companies. They also provide expert advice through their Offices of Technical Barriers to Internationalisation. Finally, OxyGEN and HumanITCare are some examples of relevant start-ups in the context of the pandemic. 

The Interregional Innovation Investment instrument was presented by Valentina Pinna, Policy Officer at DG Regio. Interregional innovation investments have the potential to encourage the development of European value chains through the commercialisation and scaling up of interregional innovation projects (Component 5 – ETC Art 3.5). This initiative will be funded with EUR 970 million, 11.5% of the European territorial cooperation resources, and the objective is that ERDF may support interregional innovation investments, bringing together researchers, businesses, civil society and public administrations involved in Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3). She also presented S3 Platform and the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platforms, which are closely linked with the topics of the Action Plans.  

The day 1 concluded with a presentation of the phase two of the project by Laura Roman, Technopolis Group The second phase will welcome 8 new regions: Asturias, Navarra and Valencia from Spain; Gelderland from the Netherlands; Northern Ireland from the UK; Pomorskie and Malopolskie from Poland and Helsinki from Finland. The process in this new phase will be very similar to what has been done in the first phase. 

June 23, day 2

The second day focused on the thematic action plans and how digitalisation as a cross-cutting theme affects various parts of the regional ecosystem. The discussion started with a short summary of the presentations and recap of day 1. 

The first presentation was about the action plan on “Digital transition of industrial SMEs". Coen de Graaf from the Province of North Brabant presented the objectives, creation process and the activities proposed: exchange of experiences and best practices, connecting with existing EU initiatives and benchmarking governance models on support to the digital transition of industrial SMEs. It is also foreseen to collaborate with the regions involved in the renewal phase. 

Afterwards Maria Goulaptsi from the Region of Central Macedonia presented the “Agri-food" action plan. She presented the objectives, creation process and the activities proposed. The regions involved have also looked at possible funding opportunities under Horizon2020, the thematic S3 Platform on Agri-food, the Interreg Programme or the Component 5, as presented on Day 1. Maria also presented the state of the agri-food sector in her region and their involvement in several EU initiatives. 

Jacopo Buzzi from the cluster Techforlife in Lombardy gave insights into the main subject of the “MedTech" action plan from a regional perspective and how Lombardy is fostering digital health in the fight against Covid-19. He introduced the Techforlife cluster and the health ecosystem in Lombardy, moving on to the Covid-19 emergency in the region. As part of the support activities, Lombardy has set up a call to finance research projects in the field of health to fight the Covid-19 emergency and another one for the development of collaborations aimed at identifying therapies and protection, diagnostic and analysis tools to fight the Covid-19 emergency and other future pandemics. 

The next session of the workshop focused on building synergies with another European Commission project called 'Advanced Technologies for Industry'.

Kincsö Izsak from Technopolis Group presented the project implemented on behalf of the European Commission DG Grow and EASME. The objective is to systematically monitor technological trends and provide up-to-date data on advanced technologies to policymakers, industry representatives and researchers. The project covers 16 advanced technologies, such as IoT, nanotechnology, AI or big data. 

Regional stakeholders can take advantage in particular of the ATI Technologies Centres mapping tool and the knowledge produced within the Technology, Sectoral and Product Watch reports. 

The Technology Centres online mapping aims to provide the following:

  • SMEs, innovation intermediaries and public authorities can get a comprehensive overview of the technology centres and expertise available to SMEs in Europe to innovate through advanced technologies.
  • SMEs can find the right contact person for getting tech-nology services and expertise anywhere in the European Union.
  • Technology centres can promote their expertise and service offer and explore opportunities to collaborate with other technology centres.  

The ATI Product Watch analyses novel products that are based on advanced technologies for the development of goods and services – enhancing their overall commercial and social value. It analyses the value chain of the selected ATI-based products, their link to the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) and the strengths and weaknesses of the EU competitive positioning. 

The website will be available soon at and all EER participants will be informed.

Els van de Velde from IDEA consult presented the Product Watch report on 3D Printing of hybrid components prepared in the context of the ATI project. The objective is to map the key players in the metal 3D-printing value chain, as well as to identify their strengths and weaknesses. The report provides information on the value chain and its structure, as well as about the key actors in the field and an analysis of the competitive positioning of Europe. The report can be found here.

Anne-Jo Smits from the Poultry Excellence Centre presented the Product Watch report on sensors for farm management of livestock value chain. The increased use of IoT and sensors on farms can allow farmers to make informed decisions on crops or livestock. The report provides information on the value chain and its structure, as well as about the key actors in the field and an analysis of the competitive positioning of Europe. The report can be found here.

Natalia Martinez Paramo, Head of the COSME Unit – EASME, closed the event. She thanked everyone for their contributions during the project and the fruitful discussions over the 2 half days. She emphasised the importance and the need for cross-regional collaboration, that became more evident in this last period characterised by unprecedented challenges but that will remain key also in the future, rethinking growth and embracing a path of transition towards green and digital transformation in full alignment with the new Commission priorities and the Multi-annual Financial Framework. She also referred to the “Guidebook" developed as to a source of inspiration for many other European Regions.

Relevant documents 

Please find below links to the following relevant documents: 

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