IMPROVE project brings together partners from 8 regions with the aim to improve the management and implementation of Structural Funds Programmes in the participating regions and cities. During the last six months the exchange of experiences has continued through online Peer Reviews and interregional thematic workshop hosted by Extremadura region, City of Gabrovo and Tartu Science Park . Regional/local level cooperation has also played a significant role bringing up stakeholders` different perspectives in terms of identifying good practices and designing actions on improving implementation of Structural funds.

Peer review hosted by FUNDECYT Science and Technology Park was held in February. In the Extremadura Peer Review some regional proposals were presented, such as the Office for Innovation as a good practice in the implementation of R&D support policies, or other initiatives that are developed in synergy with the Extremadura Smart Specialisation Strategy, such as the High Technology Incubator in Bioeconomy and Circular Economy of Extremadura. The Innovation and Talent Programme was also presented, which is an innovative proposal for retaining talent in the region. And finally, the Extremadura RIS3 Monitoring tool was presented, developed by the RIS3 Technical Office in order to have strategic information that allows better decision-making in terms of public R&D&I policies.

The main purpose of Gabrovo’s peer review meeting held in April was presenting several good practices in the region regarding the relationships between stakeholders and their efforts to use EU funding as an instrument for growing and creating a sustainable ecosystem of partners who are working for the sustainable economic growth of the region and especially for Gabrovo municipality territory. The peer review ended up with group discussions and reflection from all the partners in this international project.

Interregional Thematic Workshop and Peer Review organized by Tartu Science Park were held in June. The ITW focused on the importance of a good governance and leadership for the implementation of Structural Funds. The event started with a keynote speech about the governance of Start-Up Policy and Financial Instruments in Estonia. The ITW included presentations about governance and monitoring of smart specialisation policy in Estonia as well as the case of Tartu Startup Ecosystem’.

The main goal of Tartu´s Peer Review was to reflect on the state-of-the-art of Tartu Region, the policy instrument of Tartu City – Development Plan of Tartu 2018 to 2025–, with a special focus on its implementation as Tartu Science Park is one of the implementers of the policy instrument. Sessions were related e.g. the Smart City Tartu example, the new smart initiatives that are worked out together with public and private sector and instruments for policy implementation. The UT spin-off program, S2B (Science to Business) incubation program, European Space Agency BIC (Business Incubation Center) Estonia and of the sTARTUp Tartu ecosystem were presented, focusing on how to support start-ups and new SMEs and other entrepreneurial initiatives.

In addition to project events, the identification of good practices with regional stakeholders has taken place during this semester. Project partners that have already organised their Peer Review events have identified good practices and uploaded them on project website

Good practices are related to smart specialisation such as entrepreneurial discovery processes, monitoring of priorities and cross-regional cooperation. Also, the services and programmes dedicated for SMEs, instrument for R&D&I internationalisation and integrated training and employment Programme for young graduates were chosen as good practices.

In the next semester the partners will start preparing action plans. Actions will be based on solutions identified in the other regions and Peer Review feedback from partners.

The upcoming events:

  • Peer review of North-West Romania on 14-15 September 
  • Peer review + ITW organised by ARTI Puglia on 26-27 October