The Policy Learning Platform received a policy helpdesk request to acquire more information on digital ecosystems, digital transformation, remote working and co-working spaces. Explore the answer provided by Research and innovation Thematic Expert, Arnault Morisson. 

Policy insights 1: Digital Innovation Ecosystems

Two Interreg Europe projects are particularly active in promoting the effective delivery of policies to support digital innovation ecosystems, namely:

  • NEXT2MET focuses on policies and measures to increase the uptake of soft digitalisation measures.
  • CARPE DIGEM aims to promote Digital Innovation Ecosystems in peripheral and less- advanced European regions.

The two Interreg Europe projects have generated many good practices, discover the NEXT2MET good practices and the CARPE DIGEM good practices

In NEXT2MET, the good practice on multi-fund development of digital hubs/co-working spaces in rural areas could be of interest to you. The good practice focuses on a multi-fund approach (local, national and European funding) to address the lack of digital infrastructures in the Midland Region (Ireland) by providing co-working spaces with fully equipped amenities. European funds (WiFi4EU) were used with regional funds from the Department of Rural and Community Development to establish WI-Fi into public spaces. At the same time, LEADER Program provided other funds to develop digital/co- working space in the areas selected for the Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) initiative. The good practice shows that the creation of physical digital infrastructures and co-working spaces can be a lever of economic regeneration for towns and villages located in rural areas.

In CARPE DIGEM, the Mission Numérique PNM - Lormes Rural Digital Hub offers a fab-lab, digital service, and co-working services in a rural village in France. The good practice will be featured in our webinar on rural innovation on Friday 15 July 2021.

Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform organised a webinar on digital innovation ecosystems on Tuesday 25 February 2021. Sandro D’Elia, DG Connect, presented the current EU digital policy priorities, especially with regards to digital innovation hubs. Cristian Gotia, West ARD Romania, presented the good practice concerning the Monitoring of the Arad City Digital Strategy. Claus Zeppelzauer, from ECOPLUS Austria shared the good practice House of Digitalisation.

Our policy brief on skills for Innovation could be of interest to you as skills are essential for digital innovation ecosystems. On July 2020, the European Commission presented the European Skills Agenda, a five-year plan that drives Covid-19 economic recovery focusing on human capital, employment and social policies to help individuals and businesses develop new skills for the twin transition toward digital technology and climate neutrality. The necessity of telework and virtual- learning due to Covid-19 pandemic is currently accelerating the process of digital transition. On the other hand, it is accentuating the gap related to digital skills, creating new inequalities for accessing job and education and compromising career opportunities for many people.

Policy insights 2: Co-working spaces and remote working

Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform has written two articles on co-working spaces featuring two good practices. One article titled How to anchor the innovation process in cities? takes the example of SPARK Demo in Tartu, Estonia. The other article titled How to foster collaborative spaces in rural areas takes the example of the good practice KIKŠTARTER in Slovenia.

The article on collaborative spaces in rural areas highlights that when planning such spaces and strategies in rural and peri-urban areas, practitioners and policymakers should consider the following three points:

  • The creation of a space like KIKŠTARTER to promote entrepreneurship is more relevant for towns with 10,000 to 30,000 inhabitants that do not already possess such innovation infrastructure.
  • As illustrated by KIKŠTARTER, leadership and quadruple helix arrangements are a good way to rally local actors around a common vision for the town.
  • Spaces like this could include, spaces for fabrication, 3-D workshops, FabLabs, and Makerspace, as lower rents in rural and peri-urban towns can offer a competitive advantage for setting such relatively large fabrication spaces for entrepreneurs.

You could also be interested in our online discussion on FabLabs and makerspaces and the presentation of Tomas Diez on Fab Lab Barcelona, Fab City Initiative, and the Fab Academy. Cities have lost the capacity to create products and to grow food. Fab Lab Barcelona contributes to rediscovering how to produce and consume in cities. Fab Lab Barcelona participates in multiple European projects. Fab Academy teach students how to make (almost) anything without going to MIT in Boston, United States. Tomas Diez points out that 'FabLabs are not aimed to replace industries but to accelerate the transition towards local production using existing industrial capacities'.

In Interreg Europe project P-IRIS, the project partners have discussed about the lessons learnt when establishing co-working spaces in rural areasThey note, for instance, that rural coworking spaces create stronger and committed local community and because of new remote-working and studying culture rural areas can benefit in the future.

Follow-up opportunities with the Policy Learning Platform 

Finally, we encourage you to follow-up with us when addressing your policy challenges. For instance, we could organise a matchmaking session with you and your regional managing authorities. A matchmaking session lasts around 1,5 hours and is a thematic discussion hosted by Interreg Europe and moderated by an expert in the field. The discussions are designed around the policy needs and questions that you put forward. These meetings can be organised in person and online. They are a great opportunity to meet like-minded peers and get inspiration from good practices in other parts of Europe.