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Innovative Enterprise Week Conference in Romania: Researchers and innovators encouraged to work closer for a prosperous Europe

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© Innovative Enterprise Week

Finding ways to connect “the right people to the right people” and removing the financial barriers that prevent brilliant, but risky, ideas from coming to market are the most important challenges of future-focused EU research in the years to come.

This conclusion was issued during the event ‘Innovative Enterprise Week Bucharest 2019’, co-organized by the EC’s DG Connect and DG for Research and Innovation (RTD) and the Romanian Ministry of Research and Innovation, under the aegis of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. From 19-21 June the event gathered scientific experts, innovators, investors and policymakers from Europe and across the world to debate the future of innovation and its impact on the creation of new jobs.

Innovative Enterprise Week conference has put together scientists and policymakers to scan the monetary horizon of Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) research and its evolution in the European Innovation Council (EIC) Pathfinder programme.

“The technology that we are now hearing every day such as quantum, artificial intelligence, robotics or the Internet of Things has been pioneered within the Future Emerging Technologies (FET) programme , because it has always combined high-risk academic research with the strong participation from industry, including high tech small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” said Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, in a video message send to the participants at the conference. “The continuation of this mission, which is at the heart of the pilot program Pathfinder, will form an excellent completion to the European Innovation Council’s component Accelerator for driving market creation and business leadership.”

Two components of the newly created European Innovation Council, the pilot scheme Pathfinder and the Accelerator, together with other possible financial instruments such as InvestEU, ranked highly on the agenda of the discussions. These tools, but especially Pathfinder and Accelerator, are meant to fill the gap between researchers who have innovative ideas and investors who may consider them too risky to be taken further.

“Pathfinder will depend largely on the future and emerging technologies; it is about bridging the world of research and a world of innovation. Through Accelerator, we will finance those SMEs and start-ups that have an ambition about the future, that want to scale up and see their innovative ideas going to the market, but which are too risky to be supported by normal financing possibilities,” explained Thomas Skordas, Director of ‘Digital Excellence and Science Infrastructure’ at the EC’s DG Connect.  

He also emphasised the challenges Europe is facing today: an innovation gap, due to the fact that many of the excellent ideas which have emerged from the EU programmes are not valued in Europe but abroad. He also highlighted the high-risk finance deficit that prevents business to scale-up, and the fragmented research ecosystem at local or national levels. Many panelists agreed that these ecosystems need to be addressed by creating a framework where scientists and innovative SMEs can meet. They also said that the new financial schemes should be flexible, agile and open to any sort of innovation.

Elaborating on the changes, Nicolas Sabatier, advisor to the Director at DG RTD, shaped a more accessible financial scheme for the applicants: “We will not have these heavy, bureaucratic administrative procedures anymore. There is a shift in attitude, in the way we operate, we have to assure that we go for the risk which have innovative potential.”

Other panels focused on: how to manage the equity investment and how to attract potential scale ups; trends that will drive the development and market deployment of breakthrough and market-creating innovations; responsible research and innovation and impact investments; and European, regional and national venture capital schemes.

Exhibits displayed during the event showcased ongoing or completed research projects in the fields of sport, agriculture, medicine and physics. FETFX, a project funded by the HORIZON 2020 FET-Open Programme, had an exhibition stand and informed participants about its projects and their innovative, breakthrough results.

Several FET-related initiatives – as the FET Coordination and Support Action (CSA) projects – were presented at the event by Marta Calderaro, FETFX Project Coordinator at Italian Agency for the Promotion of European Research, APRE, to support the upcoming Calls for Proposals available at the European Innovation Council Work Programme. Alongside Viorel Peca, Head of the Innovation Unit at the EC, DG Connect, Calderaro emphasised that key elements of FET, as part of the EIC Pathfinder Pilot, are people, ideas and markets capable of fostering talents, new technological paradigms and innovative communities for an innovative society.

The EIC Pathfinder Pilot comprises FET-Open and FET-Proactive and offers grants of up to €4M to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary research and innovation on science-inspired and radically new future technologies. It will bridge science, technology and innovation in the new European research and innovation program, Horizon Europe, which will run from 2021 to 2027.

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Sibiu County Council and the platform Advisory Hub organise the Summit for the Simplification of Accessing Structural Funds

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Sibiu County Council and the platform Advisory Hub, with support of the National Union of County Councils (UNCJR), the Association of Municipalities (AM), The Association of Towns (AOR) and the Association of Villages (ACoR) in Romania, in the framework of the Romanian presidency of the Council of Europe, organize the Summit for the Simplification of Accessing Structural Funds. The event will take place in the ASTRA Museum, the same location that hosted the EPP Summit on the 9th May this year. The purpose of the event is to round up the work of the AdvisoryHub experts started in 2015, aiming to simplify the procedures for accessing and implementing structural funds at both European and national level, with a debate on the legislative proposal for simplification measures necessary. 

“European funds are Romania’s chance to make up for the delays in social-economic development and to become competitive at European level. However, although we should be cashing in on this opportunity by now, the poor absorption and inefficient use of the European money is preventing us from making the most of it. The legislative proposal for the simplification of accessing European funds is a solution we would like to launch on the 28th of June from Sibiu” stated Daniela Cîmpean, the President of Sibiu County Council.

The simplification of national rules and regulations related to European structural and investment funds needs to be a top priority for Romania in order to speed up the development of infrastructure, shorten the timeframe between project submission and approval, in order to ensure a timely disbursement of the funding to applicants. Starting with 2014-2020, the EU regulations have laid the basis of simplification, but unfortunately this did not translate into simplified procedures at national level in Romania. On the contrary: the complexity of management and control has increased, and this led to the decrease of the efficiency and impact of structural funds. 

“First of all, simplification needs to be achieved for the beneficiaries in the public and private sectors so that they can focus on the quality of the project implementation and not to be spending excessive time and resources on administrative issues. Secondly, the need for simplification should be understood in the context of a drive for increasing performance, efficiency and impact of European funding. Last but not least, the investment objectives need to be simplified to be in line with the real development needs of the country, of the local communities and the SMEs and microbusiness, combining wherever possible grants with other financial instruments. I would like to thank both Mrs. Daniela Cîmpean, the president of Sibiu County Council for the support and the partnership in organizing this event, but also our partners in the public organizations, the local and private decision makers who have contributed to turning into a legislative proposal the need for simplification of accessing funds in Romania” said Bogdan Rogin, the initiator of the AdvisoryHub platform.

Besides the representatives of  UNCJR, AMR, AOR și ACoR, the event includes as guest speakers the former Ministry for European Affairs in Ireland, Dick Roche (Ireland being the country with the best absorption rate of EU Funds who initiated the simplification procedures, the former president of the well-known global organization PMI (Project Management Institute) Antonio Nieto, the president of the National Council of SMEs Florin Jianu, Dumitru Fornea – member of the European Economic and Social Committee, representatives of the European Bank of Investments, Alexandru Potor – the president of the  Association of Local Action Groups in Romania, Dan Vlădescu – the president of the Authority for Audit and Cătălin Lungu – the vice-president of the Engineers’Association in Romania, as well as other state institutions directly involved in the process.

The key topics debated will be the legislative proposal for simplification of several pieces of legislation, the necessary measures that need to be adopted by management authorities and ministries that administrate European funding,  additional sources of funding at local and county level through financial instruments, as well as a new approach to funding industrial and mining areas in transition. All of these are aimed to initiate the Citizens’ Initiative in support of adopting legislation for simplification as well as to launch the Sibiu Declaration for Simplification.

Considering the complexity of the subject, as well as the diversity of the beneficiaries, Sibiu County Council launches a public call for all those with experience in accessing European funding to contribute with suggestions to the simplification of accessing funds, using an online form available on the website of Sibiu County Council.

Also, questions can be sent to the following link – click hereand they will be raised during the discussion with experts at the Summit on the 28th of June in Sibiu. Further information is available on www.cjsibiu.ro.

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EPP MEP Adina Vălean discussed EU’s relations with China and the US with a group of 30 students

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EPP MEP and ENVI Chair Adina Vălean met in the European Parliament and discussed with a group of several students from from the University of Applied Studies in Munich about EU’s input in a changing world.

In a post on her Instagram account, Vălean wrote: ”This morning I discussed with 30 students from the University of Applied Studies in Munich about EU and international digital market, trade, how do I see the future talks within this newly elected Parliament and the relations with China and the US”.

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Message of the Digital Assembly Forum and SET Plan 2019 climate and digitalization conferences in Bucharest: Cities and regions are at the heart of Europe’s carbon-neutral and digital transformation

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© CaleaEuropeană.ro/ Diana Zaim

Cities and regions are at the heart of Europe’s carbon-neutral and digital transformation, is the message essentially conveyed by the two high level international climate and digitalization conferences organized this week in Bucharest, under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, according to a press release of the European Committee of the Regions.

Under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, this week Bucharest hosted two high-level events with a strong presence of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR): the Digital Assembly 2019 and the 12th SET Plan Conference. EU cities and regions have put inclusiveness at the centre of Europe’s digitalisation strategy, warning that effective multi-level dialogues are the only way to deliver the EU’s energy and climate targets as well the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Digital Assembly 2019 – the EU’s top forum that takes stock of the achievements of the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy, has given support to the CoR claim that the future DSM must have inclusiveness in its centre. In Bucharest, the CoR presented the “Digital Europe for all” paper – a series of proposals by the CoR’s President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz and First Vice-President, Markku Markkula- that contributes to the renewal of the European Commission’s mandate in the field of the Digital Single Market for the next five years.

As a keynote speaker at the Digital Assembly’s closing session, First Vice-President Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), said:

”The digital revolution starts local. We need to ensure that Europe’s digitalisation is fully inclusive and doesn’t leave any community behind. It is of key importance that digital and sustainable solutions are affordable and available for all. We must also connect the internet of things to the fields of transport, energy efficiency and the circular economy in order to interlink Europe’s digitalisation to the completion of the EU’s energy and climate targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Amongst the CoR’s “Digital Europe for all” proposals is the development of a local Digital Economy and Society Index to better encapsulate the variety of ‘digital situations’ of Europe’s cities and regions. The CoR’s proposals for the digitalisation of the single market will now be put forward to the incoming Finish Presidency of the EU Council and be part of the discussions on the Digital Europe Programme, firstly proposed in June 2018.

In Bucharest, the Chairman of the Tipperary County Council and CoR member Michel Murphy (IE/EPP) received one of the first Wifi4EU vouchers of EUR 15,000 to install free Wi-Fi in his community. Wifi4EU is a fresh EU scheme to provide Wi-Fi free access to local communities.

From 12 to 14 June, Bucharest also hosted the 24th meeting of the CoR’s Commission for Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE). In collaboration with the European Commission, the Association of Romanian Municipalities and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the CoR contributed to the organisation of the SET Plan conference. Vice-President Markkula emphasised that Europe will not be able to reach 2050 carbon-neutrality, nor deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals , without a close and structured partnership between the European Union, academia, businesses and the national, regional and local governmental levels.

“Better involving sub-national levels in developing National Energy and Climate Plans is crucial, and the timing of the incoming Finnish EU Presidency is critical in this regard. The work of our Romanian colleagues on the implementation of the Clean Energy Package needs to be continued, notably as regards the integration of the Energy Union into Member State’s national policies and more specifically into the National Energy and Climate Plans. We need to make sure that a sufficient level of energy and climate ambition is engrained into each and every one of these plans. Only through structured multi-level dialogues involving local and regional authorities but also businesses and civil society will Member States effectively reach a clean energy transition”, declared First Vice-President Markku Markkula at the SET Plan conference closing session.

“During the Finnish EU Presidency our cities and regions want to showcase how the local Energy and Climate plans are drafted and implemented. The CoR can and will use different instruments in encouraging the forerunners from all parts of EU to take the lead in implementing UN SDGs”, he concluded.

Under the title ‘Making the energy transition happen’, the SET Plan conference has looked at the strategies needed at local and regional level to accelerate the sustainable energy transition and analysed currently available investment options to harness the potential of businesses to create low-carbon innovative economies at the local and regional level. Delegates have assessed local challenges and solutions towards the integration of different energy systems and the concrete ways through which the SET Plan contributes decarbonising local economies.

The Digital Assembly 2019 is a forum for stakeholders to take stock of the achievements of the Digital Single Market Strategy, draw lessons and to exchange views on the contours of a future digital policy. The event is also a great opportunity to showcase how digital is transforming our societies and economies, and how it can help bring positive change to our lives. It is co-organised by the European Commission and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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