The online Steering Committee meeting is organised by the Smart Specialisation Community of Practice secretariat (S3 CoP). The S3 CoP is the Commission's one-stop shop for Smart Specialisation and provides advice and technical assistance to all S3 stakeholders. It also offers a platform for knowledge exchange that facilitates interregional collaboration in shared and complementary smart specialisation areas across Europe.
The Steering Committee meeting brings together, twice a year, Commission services with the Partnerships community to share relevant policy updates and upcoming initiatives. This is also the occasion for Thematic Smart Specialisation Partnerships to exchange experiences and lessons learned related to interregional collaboration. This is the first Steering Committee meeting that will be organised by the S3 CoP in 2023.
Celebrated in an online format during the 19th and 20th of June, the Steering Committee joined participants of the S3 CoP representatives, Thematic Partnerships and different DGs of the European Commission to share new services, opportunities and related policies and instruments.
On the first day, Catherine Wendt (Head of Unit, DG REGIO), introduced the objectives of the meeting, highlighting the important role of Thematic Partnerships on strategic European value chains and animating to take advantage of innovation instruments. She also announced that the S3 CoP website will be launched in September 2023.
Els Van de Velde (IDEA Consulting), presented the eight services that the S3 CoP will bring to Thematic Partnerships after the summer: (re)scoping; training and capacity building on interregional collaboration; governance; mapping; smart partnering; funding, finance and investment assistance; demonstration; and finally, scale-up and commercialisation. The S3 CoP has maintained 30 bilateral meetings with all the Thematic Partnerships (and still doing some of them), coming from the 4 Thematic Platforms: Agrifood, Energy, Industrial Modernisation and Blue Economy; in order to know the current status of each Partnership and detect their needs together. Thematic Partnerships have requested more active participation in networks, events, policy dialogue and projects; also to have regular joint meetings, reflections on the Partnerships' scope as well as strategy. As a result of these meetings, a one-pager per Thematic Partnership has been created, including basic data, relevant information about projects performed and the current status, and finally, the selected services to be provided by the CoP in the following years (a maximum of 3, 1 per year).
Continuing with current opportunities, Tomislav Pinter (DG REGIO), spoke about the I3 Instrument which counts on 2 opened calls on Strand 1 and Strand 2a until next 17th of October. He overviewed the running projects under this Instrument and showed the sectors and S3 Partnerships covered by those running and upcoming I3 projects. Regarding one of these projects, HIGHFIVE (developed by the colleagues of S3P Smart Sensors 4 Agrifood), Simon Maas, presented their first Open Call focused on solutions for the food value chain and opened until the 31st of August (additional details here). Then, the Interconnected Innovation Ecosystems were explained by Jekaterina Novikova (DG RTD); this co-funded action intends to create connected regional innovation valleys across the European Union, involving regions with lower innovation performances, by building on strategic areas of regional strength and specialisation (defined in their smart specialisation strategies), in support of key EU priorities.
The day followed with the presentation of 4 selected Thematic Partnerships. S3P Traceability & Big Data in the agrifood value chain was selected as a representative for the Agrifood Platform. Mar Cátedra, Technical Coordinator of Traceability & Big Data, was in charge of a presentation focused on projects promoted, lessons learnt and communication activities.
The second day started by welcoming new Partnerships to the existing Thematic Platforms. The S3 CoP maintains periodic calls for expression of interest for new S3 Partnerships, giving guidance and information on the whole process. Regarding the Agrifood Platform, the S3P Food Packaging was presented, which objective is to accelerate transition to sustainable food packaging. Lead by Pack4Food and co-lead by Natureef, counts on Flanders’ Food as a leading partner and joins 20 Clusters across 11 European Countries.
Afterwards, two interactive sessions about the services offered by the CoP were done. Participants selected the services of their interest to join the interactive rooms. Regarding Traceability & Big Data, the coordination team selected “funding, finance and investment assistance” as the first contact with the service. Jean-François Romainville (IDEA Consult) ran the session, presenting the 4 action lines of this service:
1. Assessing of funding needs
2. Screening & identifying opportunities
3. Facilitating (partners, conditions...)
4. Framing own opportunities
The expected outcomes of this service will be a better structural matching between funding opportunities and needs, and the identification of relevant funding opportunities. A fruitful dialogue raised among participants who requested to align real needs with a customised service (not a stardard one) and go futher on next steps of the action lines described, such as how to get a good proposal submitted.
Finalising with a parallel session devoted to the Agrifood Platform, Els Van de Velde together Veerle de Graef (Flanders Food & S3P Smart Sensors 4 Agrifood) shared a joint initiative for Agrifood Thematic Partnerships that will be further discussed on the upcoming months.
A second physical Steering Committee meeting will be organised together the S3 Forum on 28 and 29 of November 2023 at Barcelona.