Noemí Molina and Pompeu Pais Dias
Technical adviser of AGAPA (Spain) and Research Manager of Consulai (Portugal)
Two coordinators, two countries, joining forces for one objective: to make RC Iberia a successful experience.
A new adventure started for Consulai and the Andalusian Regional Ministry for Agriculture in the last semester of 2018 when SmartAgriHubs started. With only 14 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) identified across Portugal and Spain and with no experience working together the challenge was to coordinate the Regional Cluster Iberia.
We quickly started having monthly meetings with DIHs and FIEs to introduce the project, also playing the role of intermediary between the project WPs and the Regional Cluster members and vice versa. Soon we realised there was something missing that was also important for the Regional Cluster (RC) to properly do its work: RC members needed to get to know each other. Only achieving this, RC members could propose collaborations, joint projects/activities, agreements, etc. Only this way the project could manage the creation of a real network. Therefore, this became one of our most important objectives within the RC.
Pursuing this big objective, we designed two actions: “Breakfast with …” and the “Elevator pitch and matchmaking event”. The first one was completely focus on our DIHs and FIEs, just to let them interact and talk about their projects, their difficulties, etc. The second one addressed a wider scope of audience, the whole DIHs and RC network of the project. All this meant a lot of work to do but we had several good experiences and examples of collaborations amongst DIHs. Indeed, this let us learn more about the regional needs in terms of digitalisation of the agrifood sector but also about DIHs needs.
Our RC family started growing from the very beginning of the project, ending with more than 40 DIHs and 10 Innovation Experiments (IEs) granted by the SmartAgriHubs open calls. Some of these IEs were the result of these “Breakfast with...”, letting us know it was worthy working on this.
Along the way, our challenges have been changing and keeping our RC members involved and active during these 4 years has been a harsh work. However, we are happy for those who are active and who has found here a real networking space.
Four years working for our DIHs, FIEs and IEs where we have learnt from each other, learnt about the sector and about the network, acquiring tools for our daily work but also to face the near future and keep what we have created together. In the end, this adventure has been a great one, positive and full of new things to come.