Over the last months of 2019, a set of fruitful meetings took place to introduce the Next2Met project to local stakeholders. Three of our partners successfully established initial contacts with regional value chain stakeholders, which enabled all participants to discover Next2Met and discuss potential opportunities and developments.

On November 21st, 2019, Diputació de Barcelona held its very first meeting with local stakeholders within the framework of the Smart City Expo World Congress 2019. This event brought together different municipalities from the province of Barcelona - including Vilafranca del Penedès, Calella, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Granollers, Santa Susanna and Manlleu - along with representatives from local research institutions - such as Fundació i2Cat and FabLab Barcelona – with Diputació de Barcelona representatives. The Next2Met team seized the opportunity to give a general introduction of Next2Met and Interreg methodology to local representatives of the public and private sector. The team also highlighted the role and importance of a stakeholder’s group in this project, as well as the benefits of the interconnection between Next2Met and their activities. This first meeting opened on various exchanges on collaboration opportunities, and stakeholders especially expressed their needs regarding the link between digitalisation and attractiveness in their territories.

On December 2nd, 2019, the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly (EMRA) also held its first NextMet stakeholder meeting. The event brought together the Broadband Officers of the Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath County Councils with the EMRA project team and focused on the Officers’ work creating Local Digital Strategies. The Broadband Officers described their work in improving digital connectivity in their counties, and the role EU funding can play to achieve this goal The Officers particularly focused on the potential of digitalisation in the tourism sector and tackled initiatives to locate hotspots for tourists, public WiFi access, and on key green infrastructure and waterways routes.

On December 12th, 2019, our leading partner the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme organized a kick-off meeting with local stakeholders. The Next2Met team introduced the project to the stakeholders and outlined the main orientations of Next2Met. The regional stakeholder group consisted of representatives of various sectors connected to the attractiveness of the region such as local universities, chamber of commerce, business development agency, city of Lahti, local start-up business, regional social and health care authority, regional travel development, and cultural operators. The event led to active discussions on the project and its potential benefits for the region. 

The Next2Met first Policy Learning Event on 15 January 2020 in Lahti (Finland) will be the opportunity to further investigate and exchange regional good practices. A horizontal extranet for project actors and stakeholders will be set up after the first Policy Learning Event to facilitate information exchange and communication. Moreover, additional stakeholder group meetings will be held throughout the project’s lifetime in order to maintain a strong link with local actors .