The Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) held an online workshop with key stakeholders from the Midland region on 14th February 2023. This represents a significant step in the implementation of EMRA’s Next2Met Action Plan, which draws inspiration from exchanges on good practices demonstrated in Lower Austria in this Interreg Europe project.

The Next2Met project is currently at a stage where project partners are incorporating the lessons learned from good practice obtained during partner exchanges. From the project learnings, the action EMRA is implementing is to create, alongside stakeholders, a new regional digitalisation roadmap targeting the Midlands, the focus region of the project in Ireland, that will help align local, regional and national policy implementation.

The aim of the workshop was two-fold. First, the workshop presented to stakeholders the regional approach for a digitalisation framework in the Midlands that aims to have a holistic, mid- to long-term focus and that supports methodologies over specific sectors or technologies. Secondly, the event allowed for an in-depth discussion on this topic and for the capture of key stakeholder inputs that will shape the regional framework. In keeping with the spirit of the project, digital tools such as Mentimeter were used to interactively capture stakeholder responses in real-time.

There was encouraging support for the initiative from all stakeholders present. Several significant themes were covered in the workshop including remote working opportunities, education around digitalisation, accessibility and inclusion, digitalisation in multiple key sectors for the region and in climate action policy. Participants deliberated over questions such as the challenges in opting for digital solutions in the Midlands, and how digital frameworks can help improve quality of life and make the region more agile into the future.

EMRA is now analysing the outcomes of the workshop and will develop a framework document. This will later be presented to the Regional Assembly. The overall outcome of these actions is to enhance the implementation of EMRA’s policy instrument, the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES).