VI participated in the EARTO policy event & innovation award on 27 October 2021 represented by Mr. Theo Föllings, director of the regional development agency Oost NL from the East Netherlands who has praised the good cooperation over the years with EARTO. Thanks to a common focus on innovation and valorisation in the regions the two networks have been active together in successfully pleading for the new European programme Interregional Innovation Investments (I3).
During his intervention, Mr Föllings emphasised how, by connecting innovation ecosystems and sharing knowledge and facilities across its member regions, the Vanguard Initiative facilitates interregional collaboration, stimulates interregional innovation investments, strengthens open innovation, and speeds up the introduction and market-uptake of new products and innovations in Europe.
Moreover, he stressed the need to develop an integrated European technology infrastructure landscape that is embedded in regional innovation ecosystems and that follows a bottom-up approach, with the infrastructure of all different shapes and sizes, complimented with direction from the European level. He continued reporting the need to invest in regional strengths, based on the regional smart specialisation strategies, to make these infrastructures easily accessible for SMEs all over Europe and to enable industries to fulfill the twin transition (green and digital). In order to do so, it’s fundamental for SMEs to have physical and digital spaces to experiment, test and adjust, before upscaling new solutions.