The Staff Exchange in Lower Austria took place in St. Pölten from the 10th to the 12th of April 2018 hosted by the partner region Office of the Regional Government of Lower Austria. The group consisted of five guests coming from the partner regions of South-Tyrol, West Transdanubia and Malopolska, all interested in learning in more details about the policy instrument and the Good Practices of the partner region Lower Austria.

The programme of the 2 and half days was rich of presentations, study visits and topics addressed.

The first day was dedicated to the R&D Funding and Technology and Innovation Partner (TIP): it started with a presentation of the TIP, its organisation, tasks and services. Already in the morning it was time for company visits. The companies we visited, beneficiaries of R&D funding schemes and TIP services, welcomed us and, after a comprehensive presentation of their business, products, innovation activities and the support they received from the TIP, they showed the production site to the group. The guests were very interested in seeing the site and get in contact with the companies’ activities and people. Both companies were open and willing to answer to all the participants’ questions and the interaction was good.

The second day focused on another Good Practice presented by the hosting partner: the Creative Pre-Incubator Programme (CPI). The location was a new one: the Universities of Applied Science of St. Pölten and Krems. The morning was spent at the University of Applied Science of St. Pölten, where the participants had the opportunity to listen to the presentation of the Programme by the reference persons who set up and manage the CPI Programme. Presentations of some of the start-ups participating in the Programme followed: young, engaged and strongly believing in their innovative ideas, the start-uppers held interesting presentations of their company and their innovative products. All of them valued the experience with the CPI Programme: the workshops and the mentorship offered by the Programme were evaluated as extremely positive in the development of their innovative idea into a business model.

In the afternoon the group moved to the University of Applied Science of Krems. The group had the chance to participate in one of the workshops of the CPI Programme, which was held in a well renovated old room of a 13th century palace, one of the University buildings. The person holding the workshop switched from German to English in order to involve the InnoBridge partners and let them understand the content of the session; at the end the partners could ask some questions to the participants.

Both at the University of St. Pölten and Krems there was time to have an overview of the activities of the University and to visit the buildings with its laboratories and spaces dedicated to the teaching and research activities.

The last morning session was dedicated to some topics which the participants of the Staff Exchange identified as of their interest: the digitalisation strategy and the tasks and role of the clusters in Lower Austria. Moreover, another Good Practice presented by the hosting partner, namely the Competence Mapping service, was presented from two different points of view: that of the service provider and of the company which benefited from the service. Also in this case the discussion which arouse was very interesting and useful.

The 2 and half days of Staff Exchange in Lower Austria were extremely positive because they reached the aim of the Staff Exchange, namely new knowledge and new inputs acquired by the participants, who will use the new information and experience exchanged to draft their Action Plans and to improve their instruments to the support of innovation.

The nice atmosphere in which the acquisition of new knowledge and the sharing of experience took place is worth mentioning: great hospitality, readiness to share the experience and good discussions played a big role in the effectiveness of the Staff Exchange.