According to the Regional Innovation Scoreboard (RIS) 2017 as regional extension of the “Innovation Union Scoreboard”, European Union, the Alentejo region is considered as being a region of Moderate Innovation regarding the performed innovation implementation level.

This scenario leads to a reduced number of regional SMEs innovating driven by own R&D activities or commercializing public R&D results. This again is hampering incipient technological innovation at the productive base and regional value chains leading again to a even poor absorption capability of national R&D funds when means closing the circle and trapping into a downward spiral.

Serious gaps in the access of entrepreneurial initiatives or product development were identified by the Regional Stakeholder Group of InnoBridge in the following ways:

- Innovation policies;

- Innovation activities applied to the development of products;

- Prototyping of new products and continuous quality improvement processes

The picture thus obtained allows us to conclude that Alentejo is a Region with a consolidated activity of public R&D but still with some difficulties in the capture and retention of talents and skilled labour.

An integrated intervention between the agents of the Alentejo innovation ecosystem is required in order to

• improve the process technology transfer system with stronger collaboration of regional start-ups/SMEs with universities and research centres

• increase the qualified staff capacities in Alentejo’s start-ups/SMEs in terms of R&D+I

• increase the usage of national R&D+I schemes by regional start-ups/SMEs

• especially when combined with the promotion of R & D & I performance in RIS3 fields.

For this, in the scope of the Action Plans for the InnoBridge Project, ADRAL proposes the creation of The Digital Innovation Hub - IDEA 4.0 – which results from the above described situation with a view to contributing to the establishment of a robust and capable regional innovation ecosystem to generate significant increases in competitiveness in the business fabric. This action is considered as implementation of a long term strategic instrument in the regional ecosystem, under the leadership of ADRAL, the Regional Development Agency of Alentejo.

This action will establish a digital innovation center under the IDEA 4.0 brand, with integration of ADRAL's technical support services, entrepreneurship spaces and foster permanent integration with key partners, at the level of HEI, Municipalities and services of the public administration, but also to anchor companies, leaders in their areas, that can contribute with challenges and projects for the acceleration and concretization of projects that generate value for the territory.

It also aims to contribute to the improvement of Alentejo's competitiveness, innovation and value creation at a local, regional and internationalization level. This will be achieved by supporting initiatives of qualified entrepreneurship and business innovation that can contribute positively to a more dense and resilient ecosystem in technology-based companies that start their processes in the region, that last in time and that generate added value upstream and downstream, with clusterization effect. The priorities of the action are to accelerate technology-based projects in the Critical Technologies, Energy and Intelligent Mobility domain, in response to stimuli of the (5) RIS3 domains generated in the complementary incubator system, market stimuli by anchor companies and internationalization capacity in European supply chains and projects (through EURADA). The high technological intensity will be a priority, in strict alignment with market needs and anchor companies as sponsors and a clear requirement of internationalization potential.