WALES has played host to the culmination of the first phase of an exciting EU-funded project; a series of virtual learning journeys designed to encourage innovation and increase prosperity across eight regions of Europe.
The Welsh Government’s Innovation team hosted the final virtual learning journey for the first phase of COHES3ION project, a three-year EU Interreg project which brings together 10 partners from eight European countries — including Wales —with the aim of promoting business growth and job creation across Europe through best practice and policy.
During the series of learning journeys, each partner is encouraged to share best practice and promote the dissemination of knowledge. The project seeks to increase inter-regional cohesion and help inspire other countries to continually revisit and adapt their own Smart specialisation strategies.
As part of the Wales-hosted virtual learning journey, partners from Spain, Italy, Romania, Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Poland joined together to hear best practice case studies and examples from across Wales. These included presentations from the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Centre of Excellence, The Tech Valleys Initiative and the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR).
The CCR Chief Operating Officer and Challenge Fund Manager shared information about the CCR programme, which aims to drive and support economic activity and provide high quality employment and skills development for people living in South East Wales, through the Capital Regional Investment Fund and City Deal.
Representatives from Tech Valleys at Welsh Government also presented to the partners, sharing best practice from the £100m Welsh Government programme, taking place over ten years in Blaenau Gwent and the surrounding area to create up to 1,500 quality and sustainable jobs.
The SBRI Centre of Excellence shared a case study, which has been set up using Welsh Government funding and hosted by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, enabling public sector bodies to work with Welsh busines to develop innovative solutions to solve a problem where no solution exists.
The virtual event in Wales was the final learning journey of 2020 and marked the end of the first phase of the project. The COHES3ION project has since published the results of its Smart Territorial Mapping exercise as a result of the important insights gained in the first phase. Project partners carried out a regional diagnosis to identify areas of collaboration and synergy, as well as looking at areas for improvement in the governance of research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation.
The findings of this exercise will now be used to develop and implement regional action plans in Phase 2 of the COHES3ION project, which is set to begin with an event on 25th March this year.