The ecoRIS3 consortium travelled to Valmiera and Cēsis (Latvia) on the 24th and 25th of April 2018 for a two-day good practice exchange workshop entitled “Civil society in search of emancipation trough tools and platforms”.

The delegation was hosted locally by representatives of Vidzeme Planning Region - Ms Laila Gercāne, Head of Development and Project Department and Mr Māris Ozols, Project Manager.

The two-day intense working session included a number of workshops and study visits. First day’s program started with an introduction to Vidzeme Planning Region by Ms Laila Gercāne and continued with the workshop where project partners and stakeholders exchanged and presented two good practice examples from their region.

Image: Introduction to Vidzeme Planning Region by Ms Laila Gercāne

The first day completed with a presentation of Valmiera Development Agency and visiting of a famous beer brewery in Latvia "Valmiermuiža Beer Boutique“. Valmiera Development Agency members gained particular interest from the project partners about one of the activities provided by organisation - 'Afternoon with the Mayor'. Once in a few months Agency brings together entrepreneurs with local executives to promote the discussion and involvement of entrepreneurs and to inform about the planned activities in the local municipalities. ecoRIS3 partners were interested does there is planned benefit from these events and if the mayors and entrepreneurs are mutually interested and open to the discussion.

The real sympathy of the partners was for the brewery visit not only because of excellent beer but also exciting excursion through the brewery.

Image: Excursion to Valmiermuiža Beer Boutique

The second day started with partner management meeting. In the afternoon session project partners were visiting Coworking space and creative centre Skola6 where the guests were introduced to the creation of the centre from the idea of such place where active people could work together, the need of renovation of a redundant school building, to the first customers later. Project partners were excited about the idea that Skola6 has an operating model where the coworking space is combined with studios and offices.

Next stop was the Science centre ZINOO where guests were entertained with interesting scientific exhibits and the classic experiment in science - how to protect an egg during free-fall motion. In turn last visit to Institute for Environmental Solutions left a great impression because of exciting and different projects that organisation is running in the fields of bioeconomy, space, land, heritage, water and many others.

Image: Visit to the Science centre ZINOO, Bike that generates Electricity

One of the project partners, John Hobbs, Senior Lecturer at Department of Management and Marketing of Cork Institute of Technology noted that study visits and tours to Skola6, ZINOO and Institute for Environmental Solutions were great examples of good practices that could be easily transferable to other partner regions. Evelina Kutkaitytė, project coordinator at Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park in Lithuania added: "I was surprised to see how much is happening in Valmiera and Cesis, not in the Riga (the capital of Latvia, ed.) what you usually hear what innovation in Latvia is concerned.“

The visitors delegation included staff members from the ecoRIS3 partnership: Fomento de San Sebastian (Spain), Cork Institute of Technology (Ireland), Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park (Lithuania), Kainuun Etu Oy (Finland), Città Metropolitana di Torino (Italy), Conference of Atlantic Arc Cities (France) and Comunidade Intermunicipal do Ave (Portugal). The consortium were joined by Local Stakeholders from Cork, Ireland; Ms Martha Halbert, Cork City Public Participation Network Coordinator, Darragh O'Suilleabhain,  EU Project Manager at Cork County Council, and Edurne Romano from the Hincks Centre @ Cork Institute of Technology.

Image: the Irish Delegation, Dr John Hobbs, Edurne Romano, Martha Halbert and Darragh O'Suilleabhain during the visit to Cesis on the 25th of April, 2018.