Ending visits, starting plans

The first half of the year 2020 was filled with uncertainty and involved doing a lot of adjustments not only in people’s personal lives but also in many aspects of public policy and society. For the Scale Up consortium, these adjustments came in the form of continuing crucial aspects of the project and adapting our work online. One achievement that came from this is the project’s online study visit methodology which was recognized by the Interreg program as a good practice. From developing the methodology in July, to putting it in action starting August and having the last online study visit in December, the consortium has come a long way.

An online adventure

The first of five online study visits happened on the 9th of September and was hosted by our Regional Management partners in Nordhessen, Germany. The event began with a few opening remarks and a short presentation of the region’s context and situation. This was then followed by a SWOT analysis of the region after which, three sessions highlighting the best practices from the region were introduced. In each session, the implementation of the best practice was discussed in detail and beneficiary companies shared their experience and what they have learned through participating in the best practice’s programs. A Q&A session was held after each best practice was presented. During this time, it was clear that participants and stakeholders were very interested in the information they’ve been presented.

Two weeks after visiting Germany, partners from INFO invited the consortium and their stakeholders for a virtual study visit to Murcia, Spain. The event followed a similar format as the study visit to Germany. About a month later, partners from Lazio Innova in Italy added a more digital aspect during their study visit in the form of introductory videos as each best practice was discussed. Nottingham partners in the UK wanted participants and stakeholders to have a better understanding of the “Ecosystem Client Panel” in the region and so they invited several beneficiary companies to speak about their experience. Many of the businesses engaged in the best practices of Nottingham had been supported by more than one of the best practices so three local companies spoke about how they had benefitted from this ‘ecosystem’ of support to help them grow in Nottingham.

The last study visit was hosted by partners from the Regional Development Fund of Attica (RDFA) in Greece. The event followed the structure of the previous study visits. Unfortunately, one of the best practices they had chosen is facing some problems brought about by the pandemic and was not presented during the study visit. RDFA partners along with project leader representative, Rafael Ataz Gómez, closed the event and the series of study visits by thanking the participants and stakeholders who participated and contributed to the success of the series of study visits and for making the online adventure productive.

Thinking caps on

As study visits have concluded, partners are now well-informed and equipped with the materials they need to work on their peer reviews and action plans. Together with their Stakeholder Action Groups (SAGs), partners will now choose the best practice/s they want to transfer into their region. This is the next phase of the project where, “importer” and “exporter” partners will get in touch for further support and to clarify potential questions from the importer partner or some additional recommendations from the exporter organisation. Partners are expected to schedule an online bilateral meeting to discuss next steps in the transfer process. The coming months will see the consortium put their thinking caps on as they design their action plans with the best practice/s (or aspects of a best practice) they have chosen.