On June 22nd, the Interreg Europe project SMARTY brought together a panel of experts from different European regions to share their experience in helping SMEs embrace the digital and green transformation. The 3rd SMARTY Interregional Policy Brokerage—a workshop organised biannually to present and analyse good practices that help SMEs adopt Industry 4.0 solutions—involved more than 40 participants, including SMARTY partners, managing authorities and stakeholders from throughout the continent. The virtual event provided valuable insights into regional strategies and case studies supporting the green transition of industries and business ecosystems. The workshop, organised by the Slovenian Tool and Die Development Centre (TECOS) and the i2CAT Foundation (Spain), comprised of two plenary sessions and a roundtable, allowing participants to learn about the good practices identified by the SMARTY partners based on their relevance and transferability to other regions.
Besnik Mehmeti—project coordinator for SMARTY, Municipality of Prato—opened the event with an overview of the project, followed by the presentations of the invited experts on regional policies and strategies supporting the green and digital transition. Daniel Barrett—West Yorkshire Combined Authority (UK)—presented the new Climate Emergency Action Plan for West Yorkshire and introduced the different pathways to net zero carbon emissions by 2038. Lapland’s Green Deal, a roadmap for a more sustainable and smart low-carbon economy that arrives to carbon neutrality and a fossil-free ecosystem by 2035, was presented by Satu Luiro from the Regional Council of Lapland (Finland).
The event then turned to Marko Hren of the Slovenian Government Office for Development and Cohesion Policy (GODCP) to explain the European and Slovenian perspectives on digital and green transitions and the main areas covered by Slovenia’s S3 (Smart Specialization Strategy), followed by Andrzej Perkowski—The Office of the Marshal of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship in Warsaw (Poland)—who presented the Strategy for the Development of the Information Society of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship 2020–2030. To conclude the first session, Leonardo Borsacchi— ARCO (Italy)—outlined the main points of the Next Generation Prato strategic plan regarding their region’s green transition and digitalisation.
The presentations were followed by a roundtable discussion on how Regional Governments are translating the Green and Digital EU Programmes into their regional policies and strategies, chaired by Sergio Martínez of Catalonia’s regional government (Generalitat). The debate also addressed the main challenges faced by SMEs in adopting new technologies and greener practices, as well as the incentives being applied by the regions to overcome these barriers.
The second session focused on case studies, presenting different regional experiences of implementing such initiatives and the opportunities and challenges encountered. Peter Medica shared the experience of the Technology Park Ljubljana (Slovenia) in applying the S3 approach in the OIS-AIR and BLUEAIR projects. Alba Garcia Miranda—Leitat Foundation (Spain)—gave an overview of the 3D Printing ecosystem in Catalonia and highlighted how local initiatives are supporting SMEs in adopting such technology for a more sustainable manufacturing. The Head of Sustainability of the International Institute for Management Development (Switzerland), Natalia Olynec, explained how their Leading Sustainable Business Transformation Programme is helping corporate executives to adopt sustainable strategies and drive organisational change. Finally, Daniele Spinelli—Next Technology Tecnotessile (Italy)—outlined how the industries of the Made in Italy brand are applying green practices such as Eco-design and Life Cycle Assessments to their production processes to increase their competitiveness.
The successful 3rd SMARTY Interregional Policy Brokerage concluded with a Q&A session with the participants and a closing summary by SMARTY partners Kristiina Jokelainen (SmartNorth), Simona Knezevic Vernon (TECOS) and Ger van den Kerkhof (Flanders Make). Looking ahead, the SMARTY Interreg consortium has already started working on the upcoming Interregional Thematic Seminar, to be held this fall.
SMARTY is an Interreg Europe project aimed at establishing a common basis for policy learning among its members in order to deal with the main challenges hampering the diffusion of Industry 4.0 solutions and their enabling potential into the European SME ecosystem. The consortium is comprised of fourteen partners from seven European regions: Tuscany (Italy), Flanders (Belgium), Lapland (Finland), Mazovia (Poland), Slovenia, Castilla y León (Spain), Catalonia (Spain), and Leeds City Region (UK).
The project is implementing interregional learning activities—Interregional Thematic Seminars and Interregional Policy Brokerage workshops—to identify, analyse and share solutions which have already been tested in one of the participating regions and that can help in the innovation processes of other partners’ regional industrial systems. The learning potential embedded in these interregional exchanges will result in the uptake of new good practices and projects by the partners, thus enabling the delivery of innovation within regional supply chains.
SMARTY is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the umbrella of the European Union programme Interreg Europe with around 1.99 M EUR ERDF (2.42 M EUR Total Budget). It runs over a period of four years and started on 1st of August, 2019.