On December 9, the fourteen partners of the Interreg Europe project SMARTY held their second Interregional Policy Brokerage, focused on the role of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) in the digital transformation of SMEs. The virtual event, organized by the i2CAT Foundation and the Generalitat de Catalunya, brought together more than 40 participants, including SMARTY partners, managing authorities, and stakeholders from the participating regions—Tuscany (Italy), Flanders (Belgium), Lapland (Finland), Mazovia (Poland), Slovenia, Castilla y León (Spain), Catalonia (Spain), Leeds City Region (UK)—and other European territories.

The event was structured around two round-table sessions, in which the attendees had the opportunity to learn about the good practices identified by the SMARTY partners this semester. The first round-table, moderated by Sergi Figuerola, CTIO of the i2CAT Foundation, focused on DIHs and business models, structures, services, and cooperation activities to support SMEs and public services. The good practices presented were:

'DIH Slovenia - experiences and lessons learnt' - Simona Knezevic (TECOS, Slovenia)

'The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre & Digital Innovation Hubs in the UK' - Rab Scott (AMRC) 

'The Digital Innovation Hub and Competence Centre in Tuscany' - Jacopo Catani (ARTES 4.0)

'3M Buckley Innovation Centre' - Sue Cooke (3M Buckley Innovation Centre)

During the second round-table session, participants discussed the most appropriate instruments to support the economic sustainability of DIHs and the digital transformation of SMEs. During this session, moderated by Sergio Martinez, Economic Promotion Officer at the Generalitat de Catalunya, the following good practices were presented:

'Building the Catalan EDIH for the future: from isolated nodes to an integrated service approach' - Sandra Pérez (Agency for Business Competitiveness, Generalitat de Catalunya)

'Strategic Research & Innovation Partnership for Factory of the Future' - Rudi Panjtar (SRIP TOP)

'European networks for digitization & advanced manufacturing' -Krzysztof Lipiec (Łukasiewicz - PIAP)

'Incentives for supporting the cooperation between companies, innovation hubs and competence centers in Italy' - Leonardo Marchetti (Next Technology Tecnotessile, Italy) 

The discussion was enriched with the presentation of external case studies. Representatives from the Basque Digital Innovation Hub, Amaisys Technologies / Nechi group and CASHKEEPER presented their initiatives to the audience. 

To close the second Interregional Policy Brokerage, the SMARTY partners summed up the key outcomes of the event. Tatiana Fernández, Head of Economic Promotion at the Generalitat de Catalunya, concluded: “Public administrations, together with the relevant actors, need to find innovative solutions in order to address the real needs of SMEs and to accelerate their digital transition. Without any doubt, the experiences and good practices discussed today with experts have provided us with relevant inputs to develop a good mix of instruments to support DIHs in the next period. As it has been said today, public funding will be essential for the sustainability of these DIHs."

The next milestone for the SMARTY project is the third Interregional Thematic Seminar, to be hosted by TECOS, the Slovenian Tool and Die Development Center, on February 18, 2021.