On 14 June 2023, Next2Met partners and stakeholders came together for the final dissemination event of the project, during an on-site meeting hosted by WITENO in Greifswald.

After almost 4 years of collaboration, this meeting aimed to share he final results of the project and discuss the future opportunities for the digitalisation of the EU rural territories involved in the partnership.

Bringing together more than 50 participants, despite the difficulties encountered in getting to the beautiful town of Greifswald, this Final Dissemination Event triggered various discussions on the added values of cooperation programmes such as Interreg Europe, in order to exchange good practices and reflect on the essential role of digitalisation for peripheral areas.

A time for presentation and exchange on Next2Met's 6 political cases for digitalisation...

Despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, the success of Next2Met project builds on the several best practices exchanges between partners coming from different European regions and facing similar challenges.

During the meeting, the 6 partners regions were able to present their own territorial challenge, solution and final results.

Participants learned about the Barcelona Provincial Council (DIBA) new strategic direction for the policy instrument used to provide resources to local governments in the region in order to reduce territorial asymmetries.

Lower Austria shared the inspiriting results it has achieved by developing concrete use concrete use cases with municipalities and developing and testing a platform based on the “Smart Urban Platform” of DIBA, where data can be stored and managed.

Drawing on good practice in Ireland, Podlaskie Voivodeship (PL) presented how it has managed to improve the use of e-services through additional projects selection criterion as part of a call for proposals for the development of electronic services in administration, in order to increase the communication and involvement of the citizens.

Taking inspiration from the Lower Austrian, the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA), explained the process of co-creating a new “Digitalisation Roadmap” to support the implementation of its Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES).

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern showed how it was able to initiate a network created to connect regional and local players and increase the attractiveness of the region and to capitalise on this over time through an internationalisation approach and a digitalisation strategy.

Finally, Päijät-Häme highlighted the use of digitisation for social aspects such as home care, but also for culture through the development of a visual arts museum. Through its action plan, the region has also been able to focus on optical fibre broadband infrastructure development and supportive measures for remote and hybrid work.

…..and a time to reflect on the joint collaboration approach allowed by Interreg and other funding instruments & opportunities

The event was also an opportunity to reflect on the role of EU collaboration instruments, such as Interreg Europe and Interreg South Baltic. Anne Rocheteau, Interreg Europe project officer, recalled the importance of the Interreg Europe programme when it comes to improving policy instruments. She also recalled the theme of cooperation of the last and upcoming call of the programme, underlining that digitalisation is still a key topic for the Programme. Other key programmes dealing with digitalisation were also presented.

After a non-exhaustive overview of the different funding instruments opportunities, participants get the opportunity to exchange on project ideas through 3 different matchmaking sessions dealing with the main topics of the Next2Met Pilot areas, i.e:

- Citizen engagement – Using digital tools for communication with citizens and entrepreneurs

- IoT in public institutions – Where can IoT be used and how to develop use cases?

- CoWorking as a chance for rural regions – What to think about when designing policy for “multilocal workers” to increase the attractiveness of rural regions.

The results of the matchmaking sessions have shown that there are still interesting areas of cooperation to be explore in order to continue the work begun as part of the Next2Met project, which will officially come to an end at the end of July 2023.

For more information on the partners results, please follow our social network ongoing campaign #N2MFinalEvent