Measuring
INnovation among
EURopean Subregions

IN-EUR Project minutes of the kick off meeting, Braila (RO)

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IN-EUR PROJECT
KICK OFF MEETING, Braila (RO)
Day 1 – Wednesday 14th March, Venue: Salt Lake Resort
C1 - Management and Coordination/ Steering Committee


1430      Welcome and Opening

Adriana Vaida, SE RDA Project Manager, welcomes partners to Romania and opens the kick off meeting by presenting the team that will be working on the project on behalf of the Lead Partner, as follows:

  • Luminita Mihailov – project coordinator
  • Adriana Vaida – chief project manager
  • Luiza Tiganus – technical officer
  • Alina Neagu – technical officer
  • Nina Irimia – technical officer
  • Luana Zaharia – financial officer

Adriana Vaida reminds partners of the agenda for the 3 days, which is approved by all partners.

1500      Brief Partners’ presentation

All partners provide a brief overview of their organisation, their region, their experience and priorities in the field of innovation and their expectations for the IN-EUR project. They introduce meeting participants and other staff members that are not present at the meeting, but will be working on the project.

The presentation with full details was sent to partners before the meeting, will be available on the project intranet and can be requested from the Lead Partner.
Some key aspects already emerging from these presentations can be summarised as follows:

  • Regardless of their previous experiences in measuring innovation, partners are all interested in using the project, and the exchange that will be promoted within it, for strategic and methodological development of innovation policies and their subsequent measurement.
  • All partners confirm the importance of having specific local innovation systems and methodologies for measuring systems. Partners are in agreement that the European Scoreboard, widely used in many countries, is not applicable to NUTS3 level. However, the level that the partners represent varies (local council, district or county, region). In this project the focus should be on NUTS3, but in case of different level partners should take their different areas of competence into consideration.
  • It is important to consider what is the role of each of these different entities involved in the partnership and how we can use that in the model. Some interesting examples of partnerships (particularly those used in Ireland) can be used as input to the model. Partners agree that promoting stakeholder involvement is a key part of measuring innovation.
  • There are some problems related to data collection at local level. Sometimes data does not exist, so the model that we develop has to take this into consideration both in terms of suitable indicators and of means of collecting data.
  • The project should not just consider technological innovation (research, technology patents), but also wider understandings of innovation. Some examples mentioned by partners are that of innovation in service industry and social innovation.
  • There are different levels of innovation: region, company, project level. Some systems already exist in partner organisations to measure these. There are examples of territorial measurement (e.g. Innodec, Marseille measuring strategies and specific initiatives); of programme measurement (e.g. WEST-BIC), of internal measurement (e.g. Lithuanian model for measuring service impact). These are all systems that can be discussed and built on through the project.

1630      Set up of Steering Committee

Adriana Vaida opens the discussion on the SC regulations and presents the key aspects of the document, which has already been circulated among partners.

In this context, she stresses the importance of SC members being continuously present and available. As Lead Partner SE RDA chairs the committee, but all partners should participate actively.

The following issues are discussed and clarified:

  • Page 4: partners request that the voting method for large changes is not unanimous, but majority and that a minimum number of partners must be present. The text of the SC regulation is changed as follows: “A majority of partners present must approve the issue. At least 51% of partners must be present at the vote.”

However, the Lead Partner stresses that the reason that the unanimous vote had been included was to encourage debate and discussion to reach commonly agreed solutions. This should still be the underlying principle of SC activities.

  • Page 6: the text makes reference to technical meetings; it is important to clarify that there will not be a separated technical committee inside the SC. Technical meetings will be managed by the SC and each partner will be free to invite its own technical experts to participate in SC meetings dealing with technical issues, though only official members can vote.
  • Page 8: the title of the chapter and of the table are changed from “timing” to “approximate timing”.
  • Templates for Stakeholder Feedback: partners are concerned about the formal nature of these feedback questionnaires. The Lead Partner confirms that these should be considered as a starting point for gathering information about the project. Partners can administer the questionnaire as they see fit and can gather oral feedback, which is then documented in regional reports. Moreover, the template should be adapted to highlight the feedback from stakeholders in terms of what they need for innovation at local level and less about their role in the project itself.

These changes are made and approved by partners.

1700      Overview of project methodology, work plan, timing and budget

Jessica Huntingford, Resolvo Srl, provides an overview of the project components and methodology. The 4 Components, their core objectives, activities and outputs are described. Long and short term results are also presented, along with an overview the budget.

The presentation will be made available on the project intranet and forms an attachment to this document.

Concerning budget modifications, partners are reminded that they should check the Programme Manual for such details and that the following principles apply:

Changes only refer to what is included in the application form: overall budget divided by budget line and component; overall budget divided by semester; total budget per partner; detailed list of external expertise divided by partner and by component. All other information included in the details budget is flexible and, therefore, changes can be made. Partners are encouraged to contact the Lead Partner before making changes and to clarify doubts;

  • Without prior notification of the Managing Authority, the Lead Partner is entitled to exceed the budget lines, the component budgets and the budgets of partners, as stated in the approved application. The excess spending is limited to a maximum of EUR 20,000 or if more, up to 10 % of the original amount and has to be justified in the progress reports. .
  • Only once during the project period, the Lead Partner is entitled to reallocate the budget between budget lines, components and partners up to 20% of the total project budget as stated in the approved application. Such reallocation requires the submission of a Request for Change Form to the JTS/Managing Authority. The reallocation will enter into force only after approval of the Request for Change by the JTS/Managing Authority.

Partners should feel free to contact the Lead Partner to discuss individual budget related issues. However, this budget has just been approved in full collaboration with all partners so it is not expected that large-scale changes will be necessary at this stage.

1800      Reporting: deadlines, procedures, eligibility period, specific requirements

Miriam Siciliano, Resolvo Srl, presents issues related to financial management.

The presentation will be made available on the project intranet and forms an attachment to this document.

Specific issues to be highlighted are as follows:

  • Specific clarifications are requested about the Administration Costs: for projects on the fourth call, when it comes to reporting administration costs later on, the flat rate of 12% is also automatically applied to the actually reported and certified staff costs. No supporting evidence is required to back up the reported administration cost amount. For the reporting of staff costs (as well as the costs to be reported under the other budget lines) the real cost principle continues to apply, which means that supporting evidence about the costs actually paid out has to be provided.
  • There are strict deadlines at programme level for the submission of progress reports. Some partners, particularly those with centralised, national level systems, are concerned about delays as the 3 months between the end of the reporting period and the submission deadline may not be sufficient. Partners must ensure that they submit costs to their FLC within a month of the end of the reporting period (end of July / end of January). If they do so and there are delays out with their control at FLC level, they should inform the Lead Partner in good time. The Lead Partner can then evaluate the possibility of requesting an extension. This would delay the payment so only if really necessary and if the delay is not caused by the partner, but by the FLC system.

Partners should feel free to contact the Lead Partner if they have any further questions. They should also ensure that any problems with reporting are discussed with the Lead Partner in good time. Only in this way can the Lead Partner help to find a solution.

 

Day 2 – Thursday 15th March - Venue: Salt Lake Resort
C2 – Communication

 

1000       Overview of Communication Activities/Presentation of draft Communication Plan

Lili Vasileva, Local Council Association Malta (LCA), presents an overview of the Communication activities foreseen throughout the project. Details are provided in the presentation, which was sent to partners before the meeting, will be available on the project intranet and can be requested from the Lead Partner. They can also be found in the Communication Plan, which was sent to partners before

the meeting will be updated following comments collected from partners.

The following issues are highlighted:

  • The Brochure will be published after the website is on line and should be ready for the next meeting/workshop (September). This is a delay to the original plan of activities, but is seen as the best way to proceed given that the leaflet has already been prepared.
  • A description of Europe 2020 is included in the introduction to the Communication Plan. The project should try to link to the flagship initiative Innovation Union. It would be useful to analyse this initiative and consider how the project could connect with it. Communication activities could be targeted to this direction; something that may also open up new funding opportunities.
  • Internal communication should be structured to avoid unnecessary email. Each partner should nominate one project manager that receives all communications (at least one person should have a complete overview of the project) and then one person for each component. The address book will be sent to partners so that they can update it with this information.
  • The project should use an on-line forum for discussions. LCA agrees that this can be part of the web site and will talk to website developers about the best format. Clear information about how to manage forum discussions will be provided.
  • The 1st project newsletter will have general information on the project and a report of the Launch Conference. Future newsletters will have reports on workshops. The Mailing list for the English version of the IN-EUR newsletter should be sent to LCA. Partners should also translate it and send their own language version to their own stakeholders. We need to report the number of newsletters distributed, so partners should make sure that they know exactly how many are sent and that they keep the email with which it was sent.
  • The Communication Plan describes programme level communication requirements. Partners should also check if there are specific communication requirements at national level.
  • It is important that the web site is on-line as soon as possible (the Province of Lucca ask it to be ready by the end of April 2012), as the intranet will be used to exchange documentation for C3. Therefore, the priority is to prepare the reserved section and the home page.
  • Partners should provide information for the partner section. It should be structured to include: general information about the partner entity; description of the region / local area (focus on the Nuts3 area(s) where the project will be applied; experience in innovation. LCA will send a template to be completed.

1030       Regional Discussion Tables (RDT)

Jessica Huntingford presents the Regional Discussion Tables.

Within C2 each partner creates and runs a Regional Discussion Tables (RDT), involving key stakeholders. There are a total of 8 (1 joint RTD for Irish partners). The objective is to involve stakeholders in raising awareness about the project and the theme and in developing C3 activities (experiences / best practices on indicators / methods for measuring local innovation).

The RDT must be created in Semester 1 and a list of members shared with partners. From semester 1 to 5, 1 workshop should be organised per partner, per semester (total 5 per partner), with reports.

The following issues are highlighted:

  • The target group includes: local / regional /national administrations; policy makers; academics; enterprises, economic organisations. Umbrella organisations can be a good way to start (associations of SMEs, Chamber of Commerce, etc.). The exact composition depends on partners’ local innovation system, but should be key innovation actors. The composition is strictly linked to the way that we want to develop the methodology.
  • Partners agree that there should be a core group of participants that participate during the whole project, as only in this way can long term dialogue be built up. However, if the innovation system evolves or more interested participants are identified, they can be added.
  • The key thing that all partners should remember is that they should use the money available in the budget and the opportunity to organise such meetings to suit the regional situation. IN-EUR offers this opportunity, so each partner should take advantage to create partnerships. If they are at different phases in the creation of innovation strategies, the objective of these meetings should be adapted to that phase (e.g. creating an innovation system before measuring it).

C3 – Exchange of experiences dedicated to the identification and analysis of good practices

1130       Presentation of C3 activities

Chiara Martini, Province of Lucca, presents an overview of the activities foreseen in Component 3. The presentation will be made available on the project intranet and forms an attachment to this document.

No further comments on the presentation were made.

1215      Presentation of the Balance of Innovation Concept

Monica Lazzaroni, Province of Lucca, presents the Local Balance of Innovation (LBI). This was developed in a previous INTERREG IIIC project and it forms that basis of the IN-EUR project and of the exchange to be undertaken within it.

It is important to point out that this is a proposed starting point. Everything that is being presented can be integrated and improved with other partners’ experiences according to the procedure showed and agreed with the Working Plan of C3 Activities.

The presentation will be made available on the project intranet and forms an attachment to this document.

The following issues are highlighted:

  • The main goal of the LBI is to support local authorities’ effort in building up an agenda for innovation. LBI can be a useful instrument, on a first level, to raise awareness/help stakeholders to think about how they can stimulate information in their own area. They can also have a useful tool to collect data, which can be used to support politicians in decision making, including when deciding how to allocate funds.
  • It is important that this model is flexible enough to be adapted to different local situation and that it can be regularly updated (this requires stakeholder commitment on a long term).
  • The bottom up approach, including stakeholders, is considered important as the model should present a mixture of a qualitative and a quantitative approach.

Actors to be involved are: the operative level (SMES) and policy makers that are not already aware and active. Experience has shown that it is very hard to involve politicians and that this is not necessarily the best way forward for the early phase of applying the model. It is more useful to involve the technicians in this process. Important local stakeholders from the economic system can also help to push this process (local industrial and commercial organisations) – if we convince them, they put pressure on the politicians.

This should be taken into consideration when organising the 4 workshops and deciding who to invite.

  • The questions of data sources to be used is addressed. The starting point is official data sources, but sometimes these are not enough. This will be detailed in the templates that will be shown in the afternoon. In some countries, official statistical data is only available at national level as no other official data sources exist.

This question does not just concern the level of data but also the content. For example, it is easier to focus on R&D spending, as this is a solid statistic, than on data referring to more qualitative issues.

However, as the model should not just measure technological innovation (research, technology patents), but also innovation in other forms (e.g. service industry, the question of social innovation), this is something that will need to be dealt with.

Moreover, the statistics emerging from existing indicators do not always provide reliable information. It raises the question about what is behind the numbers, for example measuring level of spending is not useful if the money isn’t spent well.

All partners are in a position to start addressing the lack of data at NUT3 within the IN-EUR project.

  • Partners would be interested in considering the question of training in the field of innovation. For example, Bautzen Innovation Centre has a range of examples, including innovation advisors funded (state aid) to support SMEs in preparing feasibility studies and developing R&D projects. These are the kind of actors that could be involved in monitoring innovation.
  • An open question remains: what is innovation in the context of the IN-EUR project? What should the model deal with? Impact of public policy? Level of innovation of the territory in general? Focus on specific sectors?

1415       Presentation of partners’ experiences

Partners provide a brief presentation of their experiences in the field of innovation. A summary of the key points is provided below. Partners interested in having further details can request the presentation / word document completed directly from the specific partner.

The first part of the project refers to exchange with partners that already have strategies or methodologies that can be used to develop the Advanced Local Board of Innovation. Partners identified in the project application phase in this sense are:

  • Bautzen Innovation Centre, who can bring in the STRINNOP methodology, developed in another INTERREG IVC project to understand what is going on in terms of innovation. It follows a qualitative approach.
  • Lithuanian Innovation Centre, who in fact does not have a specific methodology. In the application phase the partner had mentioned an Innovation Award. The award is at company and product level, with a separate category for spin-offs. The evaluation system and indicators may be of interest to the project, but no further information is provided by the partner representative at this stage.

Presentations from partners highlight the fact that 2 more partners have methodologies of interest:

  • CCIMP: in France the regional level deals with innovation strategy. 5 years ago a regional strategy was developed with an action plan. In this strategy a regional network of local actors was set up to implement 4 strategic actions: investment in innovation clusters (universities, large companies, SMEs); creative economy; Mediterranean economy; social and territorial innovation. In order to measure the progress of this action, there is a regional level scoreboard with indicators (currently mostly quantitative indicators). This system could be integrated into the LBI, in order to form an integrated system at local level.
  • Roscommon County / WEST BIC: a different, but complementary experience, in that of surveys presented to innovation actors and of stakeholder participation. Partnerships of local actors have been created in the policy planning and implementation phase. This has not yet been applied to innovation policy (the focus is on sustainable development, which underpins all policy, but could be adapted to monitor innovation policy.

Integration of these elements into the LBI will be discussed over the next few months, according to the procedure showed in the C3 Acivities Working Plan.
All other partners have key experiences that can be brought into the exchange and which are described in their presentations.

1530      Definition of contents’ template for information on innovation governance experience and on existing indicators

Monica Lazzaroni presents the templates that will form the basis of local level analysis. As with the LBI presented previously, these are starting points for discussion and partners are expected to provide suggestions for integrations or changes.

The presentation will be made available on the project intranet and forms an attachment to this document.

The following issues are highlighted:

  • The project has a two step structure. The first is to find out if the data being presented can feasibly be collected; the second is to define the indicators and collect the information.
  • There are some divergences among partners about the final outcome of this tool. Some would like it to provide benchmarking with other partners (a form of innovation index); others are not interested in such an index, but are keen to evaluate their status with regards to their starting point.

It is confirmed that this is not a benchmarking project. There is no particular added value in comparing the very different economies within the project. The comparison should be with your starting point; with your own economy. The data collection process itself should also be considered a means of promoting innovation within the local system, raising awareness itself. The first focus of the project is this common method of measuring innovation at local level.

However, while the focus is not comparative, if we all collect the same data we can compare results with each other. This could be a descriptive comparison, rather than a simple index of figures.

Moreover, It is interesting, in a comparative perspective, to understand why a territory is more innovative than another. What are the elements that make a territory more comparative to another? This could help a policy maker to see what they might invest on to improve their level of innovation. It is important to show to policy makers and all innovation actors, what they have to do it they want to be as innovative as another country in terms of investments and initiatives.

  • At local level it is also interesting to identify how many local actors are involved in existing (regional or local) innovation strategies and what have been the difficulties and opportunities in this process.

Partners agree with the following characteristics of the model:

  • The model can have two different levels: more and less advanced levels of innovation, can access different data sets. This is important at the model in its current state is fairly long and complicated. It takes a lot of time to do such an analysis and perhaps this is not what all partners are looking for.
  • The model have indicators that are focused on specific types of innovation players;
  • The model could involve working groups with representatives of specific sectors, if we decide to include sectors that are sector specific.

1700       Definition of Work plan for C3 –, Province of Lucca - C3 coordinator / Partners

Chiara Martini presents the C3 work plan for the whole project and a detailed overview of activities to be undertaken during this semester.

The presentations will be made available on the project intranet and form an attachment to this document.

Partners approved the work plan without any comments or requests for modifications.

1800       Conclusions, Allocation of Tasks and Next Steps

Jessica Huntingford presents the Action List, which includes details of deadlines for components 1, 2 and 3. The list is attached.

The next meeting will be held in Malta, on the 6/7 September 2012.