The first day of the event in Milan at the Palazzo Lombardia, was on research and innovation and the use of the policy learning platform on the Interreg website.

The morning started with discussions centred on policy and how they interact with different research and innovation projects. Alison Hunt, an economic & public policy consultant based in Brussels, was part of the panel for the morning discussions. Alison suggested that 'the EU hasn't addressed the fundamental synergies between funding and innovation at a policy level.' Interestingly, this sparked a conversation about the nature of these 'synergies' and how they coalesce. In the breakout session, Alison was again part of the panel and addressed some critical areas around how we actually measure innovation and success.

A common theme of the morning discussion was the steps surrounding integration of research and innovation into society at large. It is clear there were recurring problems across the panel and from the audience, particularly where policy within governments across the EU are required to change for innovation to progress. The final activity of the day was the Policy learning platform, 'musical chair' like session where we learnt about how to use different areas of the platform. I found this activity a fun but insightful method to rapidly gain knowledge of how to navigate the policy learning platform.

The second day of the event was focused on SMEs and how to gain awareness of funding to rural areas. During the breakout session, a member of Growbiz (model of enterprise in rural areas in Scotland) gave a presentation of how agriculture has lots of data within rural regions but nothing on entrepreneurs. A large gap of knowledge surrounding rural innovations and how enterprise can get access to funding. These discussion were closely correlated to the previous day with the connecting topic of communication.

Overall, I couldn't help but notice the recurring theme of communication and awareness being the number one root of issues surrounding funding and innovation. Interestingly, as a designer, these issues could be addressed with design thinking methods and a form of prototyping to better communicate and finding solutions.

*Photographs from the Policy learning Platform website