The primary aim of this meeting was to allow for project stakeholders from the Thematic Objective projects in research and innovation, NMP-REG and TRINNO, to share experiences regarding the role their projects can play in supporting the implementation of Industry 4.0 (I4.0) actions in their respective regions.

The meeting was hosted in Florence by NMP-REG lead partner Region Tuscany co- organised by ASEV and Arezzo Innovazione and moderated by Paolo Martinez, FUTOUR. It brought together over 100 participants from 20 different regions, including policymakers, companies, research actors and innovation intermediaries.  A number of other Interreg Europe projects took an active part in the discussions notably INNO PROVEMENT and STEPHANIE.  

The morning sessions

The morning session was launched by a video presentation by Nikos Pantalos from DG GROW who highlighted the importance for project stakeholders to make the connections between various Industry 4.0 projects and networks and seek synergies with partners from the S3P Industrial Modernisation Partnerships.

This was followed by various expert panels including a presentation from the Thematic Expert in research and innovation, Marc Pattinson, who highlighted the role the Policy Learning Platform can play in helping to connect regions, for example by organising thematic workshops and peer learning that can accelerate cooperation and exchange processes and deliver solutions for better policy implementation. 

“What does the term Industrial Modernisation mean to you?"

Interactive audience participation tools allowed for a direct exchange with participants regarding their understanding of key I4.0 terms and also their views on key challenges.  For example, when asked “What does the term Industrial Modernisation mean to you?"  the following keywords emerged: future, innovation, SMEs, digital, interconnection, progress and sustainability. 

Meanwhile, Albino Caporale, Director of Innovation from the Tuscany Region, explained how structural funds have been used to support Industrial Modernisation and the role played by the Tuscan Enterprise 4.0 Platform which provides the region with a strong on line visibility for businesses.

A roundtable involving Interreg Europe projects NMP-REG, TRINNO, INNO PROVEMENT and STEPHANIE illustrated how Industry 4.0 is taking off across Europe. Key challenges concern: automation and data exchange, modernisation of manufacturing technologies, ensuring manufacturing processes are digitally connected and making sure SMEs have the adequate skills to face these challenges and exploit the opportunities.  This is especially true for SMEs in traditional sectors.

Péter Keller from the Hungarian Ministry of Finance, and lead partner of the INNO PROVEMENT project highlighted their project focus on the need to help SMEs implement I4.0 related innovation projects. Meanwhile Roberto Pini (Italian National Research Council) from the STEPHANIE Project, highlighted the need to capture the opportunities offered by advanced technologies such as space observation data and photonics and transfer them to SMEs using actors from the triple helix ecosystem.

The afternoon sessions

Two afternoon workshop sessions facilitated by the University of Florence and Bocconi University highlighted the impact of new digital solutions and advanced manufacturing on production systems illustrated with presentations of company experiences. 

Key messages from the workshop:

  • Participants identified (voted) skills and competence development for SMEs as the top priority for addressing I4.0 issues followed by innovation;
  • The success of Industry Modernisation will require the engagement of diverse stakeholders, especially companies, and this needs to be reflected in the Action Plan process.
  • The identification of key facilitators such as universities, clusters and innovation agencies can help improve the knowledge of Industry 4.0 challenges and can accelerate adoption within private companies.
  • The importance of interregional learning processes combined with regional innovation polices for innovation.
  • A representative of the Interreg Europe MARIE project suggested that stakeholders should consider how alternative methodologies such as Responsible Research Innovation can contribute to the development and implementation of I4.O

Such inter-project meetings, organised by the project stakeholders themselves, clearly demonstrate the benefit of sharing learning experiences between the Interreg Europe Projects and the nature of the complementarities and synergies that can be developed to help accelerate project implementation. 

It also highlights the need for openness and cooperation with other relevant platforms and networks such as the S3 Platform and in particular the Industrial Modernisation thematic partnerships. 

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