Staying connected with regional stakeholders and exchanging good practices is fundamental for the development of the Next2Met project. Despite the challenges brought to territories and communities by the COVID pandemic, Next2Met partners have been able to keep in contact with local and regional actors and engage in productive – online – events. Digital good practices were at the heart of these meetings, both as content and format! 

On 18 June 2020, ecoplus, the Business Agency of Lower Austria, held its second stakeholder meeting, with the aim of presenting the results of the territorial analysis of the status of digital transformation in Lower Austria’s economy. The survey conducted in January 2020 with 134 Lower Austrian companies from different sectors, showed that digital transformation is already a matter of course for 76% of the companies and 13% of the respondents even see themselves as digital frontrunners. Projects in this field are also increasing greatly. This evidence is even more important in the context of the COVID-19 crisis when companies need financial and non-financial support to cope with digital transformation challenges. The Lower Austrian Government published a new Call “Digi4SME” offering SMEs from all sectors consulting services, financial support for concept development and investment.

On 12 August 2020, Podlaskie Voivodship organised its very first stakeholder meeting. The meeting brought together representatives of the Marshal's Office, ICT expert Mr Tomasz Kulisiewicz, as well as representatives of companies and institutions from Podlaskie’s IT industry. This meeting was a great opportunity to present the Next2Met project, discuss the development of the ICT sector in the region and exchange ideas on the possibility to conduct a survey on the current needs of entrepreneurs in terms of online services. The results of the survey will show institutions from Podlaskie region which services are most needed for the inhabitants and regional entrepreneurs and will contribute to the activities developed in Next2Met project. 

On 9 September 2020, the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) held its third stakeholder meeting. This online meeting gave the opportunity to stakeholders from the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc - Agriculture and Food Development Authority, academia and the private sector, to discuss with Next2Met’s leading partner, the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme, the potential application of new technologies within the agricultural sector. In particular, Irish stakeholders learnt about Digibale - an innovative Finnish project from the Häme University of Applied Science and discussed the transferability of this good practice to the Midlands Region/Ireland. Overall, stakeholders felt that there are opportunities in the Midlands for Digibale and most of them stated that they would be interested in further meetings in relation to this project.  

The Next2Met third Policy Learning Event, organised by Barcelona Region, which will be held online on 2-3 December 2020 will represent a great opportunity to further enhance cooperation and exchange regional good practices for the benefit of local stakeholders.  

Stay tuned for further updates on the next Policy Learning Event!