IMPROVE project’s 2nd Interregional Thematic Workshop (ITW) and 3rd Peer Review (PR) events, organised by the Regional Coordination and Development Commission of Centro (CCDRC), took place on the 2nd and 3rd of December, 2020. The ITW and PR were initially planned as face-to-face workshops in Centro Region of Portugal but were then turned into online meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The workshops brought together partners from the eight regions participating in IMPROVE and Centro’s regional stakeholders, as well as some national and international stakeholders. During the ITW and the four sessions of the PR, speakers addressed different issues, such as the better coordination between funds and the R&D internationalisation process, with the presentation of some successful examples, as well as some information about Centro RIS3 and the Regional Operational Programme (ROP).

The ITW took place on the morning of December 2nd and 35 participants attended the event, that was focused on the coordination between different funds and instruments. The event started with a keynote speech about “how to better coordinate efforts between different funds in order to have a better policy mix”, made by the expert José Carlos Caldeira, and three presentations of concrete national and international examples of synergies: the Transcontech project, from CENTIMFE; the S3 High Tech Farming Partnership, from the Agri-food Platform; and the case of Wales, on “New governance structures to support the coordinated implementation of ESIF and H2020 activities”. The event also included a presentation about the new Interregional Innovation Investment (I3) initiative, made by Valentina Pinna, from DG REGIO, Smart Growth Unit.

The PR started on the afternoon of the 2nd of December and continued throughout the 3rd. The main goal of this event was to reflect on the state-of-the-art of Centro Region, in what concerns the operationalisation of the Smart Specialisation Strategy, with a special focus on its implementation, through PT 2020 and, mainly, the ROP, Centro 2020.

The first session was dedicated to the presentation of Centro’s Smart Specialisation Strategy and to the discussion of the Portuguese multi-level governance model - as there is a national S3 plus seven regional strategies, which require a good coordination between the different levels.

The second session of the Peer-Review was about instruments for S3 implementation. The Regional Operational Programme was presented, focusing on the Thematic Objectives used to implement Centro S3. Portugal 2020, the Portuguese Partnership Agreement, which establishes all Portuguese programmes – national and regional – funded by European Structural and Investment Funds, was also presented, as it settles the relevant multilevel framework.

The third session was focused on the issue of R&D&I internationalisation and, in that context, Centro’s roadmap for R&D&I internationalisation was presented, as well as the cohesion policy calls that were launched in Portugal to support this internationalisation process. Some of these calls were recognised as great examples on how synergies between funds can be achieved. Some successful cases of regional stakeholders’ internationalisation processes were also presented: the case of Biocant, the Portuguese, Science & Technology Park for Biotech and Life Science; and the case of Instituto Pedro Nunes, regarding its participation in the KIC EIT Health and in the network [email protected]

Finally, the last session of the Peer Review was reserved for a discussion among partners, with the purpose of addressing some of the policy gaps identified in Centro Region, led by the replies of the partners to the questions launched through Slido along the three previous sessions, which allowed for the drawing of the main conclusions and take away messages of the two days of work.