We continue travelling across Europe to discover the Regional Action Plans in which DEVISE project partners are currently immersed. This week, we move to Ireland to find out more about the plan that Northern and Western Regional Assembly is developing.
“DEVISE is a collaborative initiative across a wide spectrum of enterprise support, regional development and higher education partners working with the SME base in the region”, mentions Patrick Devine, Project Officer at NWRA and DEVISE partner. The Action Plan that NWRA is developing aims to impact the ‘Regional Operational Programme (ROP) 2021-2027 for Ireland’ policy. “The next Operational Programme for the period 2021 to 2027 will contain a number of objectives and measures for supporting digitalisation and investment in innovation and new technologies in the SME base”, adds Patrick. Therefore, our partners have included three main actions in their plan to fit this goal.
The first one, ‘Support for Digital Transformation in the SME base in the Region’ aims to develop actions and move towards a more digitalised and innovation led SME base to drive productivity, competitiveness and resilience in the indigenous manufacturing sector and related sectors such as Agri-engineering and marine and renewables. “Many firms are now requiring the next phase of investment in order to transform their operations once again. This will mean the adoption of Cloud technologies, robotics or incorporating new tech tools like Virtual Reality, Machine Learning and 3D printing into design and development functions”, states Patrick.
The second action will consist in the development of a pilot named ‘Digital Maturity Assessment Tool’, which has received additional funding from Interreg Europe to make it a Pilot Action. NWRA, along with partners Fomento San Sebastian (Spain) and Business Agency Association (Bulgaria), are collectively working to develop an online tool diagnostic to help SMEs get a better understanding of the steps they need to take to advance their Digital Transformation, supports available to them and the investment in resources and training. “DEVISE partner Cantabria Government in Spain inspired us with its ‘Industry 4.0 Technology Audits’”, continues Patrick. As a result, companies across Europe will have available a free multilingual (English, Spanish, Basque, Bulgarian) software analytic tool linked to DEVISE outputs.
Following from the previous action, the third one aims to facilitate knowledge and technology transfer to support innovating firms to understand the digital or innovation journey they must embark on and, how that process is going to be implemented in the organisation. With the ‘Digital Collaboration Platform’, a peer-to-peer collaboration framework will be developed to allow demonstrations of knowledge and solutions to participating SME’s. According to our partner, “both, NWRA and regional stakeholders took inspiration following the Staff Exchange to San Sebastian in February 2020 in which stakeholders from Ireland learnt about the ‘Digital Training Programme for retail and hospitality’ delivered by Fomento San Sebastian”.