DEVISE is arriving to the end. After having exchanged good practices and experiences, inspired each other within the partnership and developed 10 Regional Action Plans, it's time to review the changes achieved in each of the policy instruments thanks to this project. This week, we speak with Cristian Gotia, DEVISE Project Officer at Regional Development Agency of the West Region in Romania.

What policy instrument were you addressing when the DEVISE project commenced? Why?

When RDA joined the DEVISE project, digital transformation of companies wasn’t a distinct chapter in the policy instruments, but a possibility given for companies to invest in ICT equipment’s along with modernising production infrastructure. It was the first time when companies had the opportunity to invest in digital, but as a secondary objective since supporting entrepreneurship was the main focus of the instrument.

Overall the call managed to mobilize 748 projects submitted offering a funding range from 25 thousands to 200 thousands Euro. While micro-enterprises managed to contract 100% from the allocated budget, the SMEs submitted eligible projects exceeding with 30% the available budget.

What has specifically changed in your policies and your region thanks to the project?

Due to the participation in the project, West RDA, had the opportunity to develop its own initiative for a European Digital Innovation Hub. Since investing in digital technologies was not mandatory for companies, West RDA became aware of the possible role that an EDIH could have in the spirit of DEVISE project meaning putting together offer and demand of digital technologies.

Furthermore, the concept of supporting the creation of a Digital Innovation Hub was promoted within the RIS3 2021-2027 under the umbrella of priority investment 3. Accelerating the digitisation of companies and the society. The needed harmonisation has been done with the new Regional Operation Program 2021-2027. In 2020, the EDIH initiative have been successfully selected at national level to participate in EDIH call and in June 2022, the proposal received the positive evaluation from the European Commission.

Overall, the general policy framework have been improved and a lot of coherence have been created to support the digital adoption by SMEs:

  • DEVISE experts have been engaged in the design of questionnaires that further supported the design of the ROP 2021-2027 specific digitalisation call;
  • EDIH partnership have been designed based on DEVISE knowledge to cover the offer from the ICT Cluster and the market created by the funding opportunity;
  • through the designed services, EDIH will act as a facilitator and capacity builder for companies in order to test, access and fund their digital transformation.

Which good practices have inspired these changes?

The DEVISE project in which West Romania participates had an important contribution to this result facilitating a regional study regarding offer and demand of digitalization and an interregional exchange of experience with Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences (also DEVISE project partners) and their 'Regional Manufacturing Digital Innovation Hub IoT-Compass' good practice in Finland.

Would you like to highlight any other improvements?

At the end of the project journey we are more aware on the ICT role in transforming businesses but the real plus is that we managed to focus, create and fund the EDIH, as a stand-alone tool in the regional ecosystem. This created traction and managed to revitalise out regional ICT Cluster with a new mission.