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“Cities for Excellence” Event in Brussels

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ExcellenceCities for excellence

Be first in touch with Bilbao, Brno, Guimarães, Helsinki, Sønderborg, Vienna, Vilnius’ best practices on Smart Cities and innovative urban governance!

Cities for Excellence event will be held in Brussels, in Oct 11th and 12th during European Week of Regions and Cities at Lithuanian and Portuguese Permanent representations to EU. Follow in first-hand the presentations from European Commission both opening and closing the plenary session, Friday Oct 12th.

Interventions from ERRIN, EUROCITIES, CARTIF, GAIA, VITO and Universities of Vilnius (VGTU) Minho, Wolverhampton will be delivered, making this event the unmissable opportunity for networking to new H2020 projects and strategic partnering to FP9/Horizon Europe for Cities for Excellence related missions. More information about the event and registration here.

Learntech Accelerator Webinar series in Autumn 2018

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The first LEA webinar topic ‘What is innovative procurement – PPI & PCP’ hosted by the EU project consultant Mrs. Ellinor Wallin and Dr. Kati Clements will take place on Wednesday 19th of September at 10:30 am CET. LEA Webinars will take place on Wednesday at 10:30 am CET, every two weeks.

LEA Webinar Series will talk about innovation procurement in Learning technology field. In these webinars you will learn about innovation procurement instruments such as, PCP, PPI and innovation partnerships; what is currently available in Learning technology market 2018 and how to apply for additional funding. In each webinar, changing Innovation procurement & LT experts will discuss these topics for about 15-20 minutes after which participants can join the discussion.

The LEA project’s goal is to accelerate knowledge transfer, dialog and awareness raising of innovative procurement within the learning technology sector by creating a European wide learntech procurers’ network. LEA is preparing the first cross-border European Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) and wants to showcase the excellent opportunities for procurement of innovation within that sector. More information about LEA project here.

#edtech #learntech #learntechaccelerator #horizon2020 #innovativeprocurement


Join the discussion here

RegionArts Project Kick-off Meeting

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RegionArtsThe Kick-off meeting of the RegionArts project, took place on the 9th and 10th of July 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. RegionArts aims to create a sustainable collaborative environment between artists and technologists, through a learning journey across the worlds of ICT & Arts. During the last decade, there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of artistic and creative processes as catalysers of innovation, something particularly noted in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that intersect in many fields with artistic processes. RegionArts partners are convinced of the need of integrating arts in ITC for SME innovation and competitiveness. As regional authorities, business development agencies and creative clusters, they have been working on promoting these cross-overs for the last years.

The project objective is to improve the implementation of Structural Funds/other funds in partner regions, through adapting or designing 1 support scheme in each region for the promotion of collaborations between artists and ICT companies. Consequently, through the improved support scheme, we will promote around 140 new collaborations in total (around 20 per region) and 20% of the beneficiary SMEs introducing an innovation by 2022.

Within the scope of the project, SERN is interested in learning about the connection between arts and ICT, how these synergies can be maximized to promote the competitiveness of startups and how regions are promoting these. SERN will take part in RegionArts through an active participation in all the interregional events, by contributing to the conception and dissemination of three policy booklets and through a responsible dedication to the communication and dissemination activities. More information here.

SERN recommendations considered for the EC “Guidance on Innovation Procurement”

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SERN innovation procurement

We are glad to report that all SERN comments have been taken into consideration for ‘The European Commission Notice “Guidance on Innovation procurement”, published on the 15th of May 2018. SERN welcomed the opportunity to provide comments and statements on the subject and elaborated a response to the consultation in order to contribute to assist the regions in providing startups with a better and easier access to public procurement and would contribute to improve the communication between procurers and vendors.

The “Guidance on Innovation procurement” offers practical guidance on innovation public procurement, clarifies what is innovation procurement, outlines how to setup a policy framework and describes how different public procurement procedures can be put at work to modernize public services with innovative solutions and create growth and jobs for innovators in Europe. Discover more about the EC public procurement guidance here.

Financial Instrument for Innovation (Innova-FI) Kick-off Meeting

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Innova-FIThe Kick-off meeting of the Innova-FI – Financial Instruments for Innovation project, led by the National Innovation Agency, took place on the 2nd and 3rd of July 2018 in Porto, Portugal.

The European Council, in 2000, acknowledged the need of increasing the expenditure in innovation by implementing better policies and making a better use of public funds. To achieve this, the EC has put great emphasis on increasing the use of financial instruments (FI’s) as a delivery tool for the Cohesion Policy.

Financial Instruments for Innovation – Innova-FI partners are seeking to improve the design and implementation of Financial Instruments as a delivery mode of Structural Funds, so that they best meet and serve the financing needs of innovative and RTDI-driven businesses in all the stages of their start-up and growth. Innova-FI partners will do this by learning about the innovation landscape, and how it is being publicly financed, in partner regions. The consortium will examine together identified challenges, such as: designing FI’s that are well adapted to the different phases of the business; moving away from a grants culture, very much established in the RTDI and innovation field; achieving a better alignment of FI’s with other support measures; or creating cross-border instruments.

SERN is one of the seven partners of INNOVA-FI project and will take the role of Communications Manager. SERN possess a long-standing experience in organising events as well as in liaising with EU partners and EU institutions, two core activities under Innova-FI. More information here.

European Entrepreneurial Region Award 2019

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EER 2019

The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) is a project that each year identifies and rewards three EU regions, cities or territories, which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy, irrespective of their size, wealth and competences. The territories with the most credible, forward-thinking and promising plan are granted the label “European Entrepreneurial Region” for the following year. This year the jury selected the principality of Asturias, province of Gelderland, and region of Thessaly as worthy winners for their outstanding strategies and commitment to boosting entrepreneurship within their territories.

« The 2019 winners are testament that Europe’s regions are the main engine for growth and making a difference in creating jobs. [] » said Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions announcing the Award winners.

The EER jury, composed of CoR members, representatives of EU institutions, and social partners and territorial associations, will monitor the implementation of the prize-winning strategies throughout 2019. After the completion of the award year, the jury visits the territories to verify the progress made and provide them with an objective outside view on their policies. The main results and achievements of the EER 2019 winners will also be shared and discussed among regional and local authorities throughout the EER network. More information here.

Learning Accelerator Technology (LEA) Project

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LEALEA concept is to accelerate the LEARNTECH sector (Education- levels Primary, Lower Secondary and Upper secondary schools) by reforming and opening up the traditional and closed educational systems to achieve increased learning results by using the purchase power of public procurement to steer users ‐driven innovations for digital learning.

In order to accelerate knowledge transfer, dialog and awareness raising of innovative procurement within the learning technology sector, LEA will build a European wide cleantech procurers’ network, forming a critical mass of procurers. If you are a procurer and you are interested in following this project, please find more information here.

LEA is preparing the first cross-border European Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) in the educational sector and wants to showcase the excellent opportunities for procurement of innovation within that sector. These innovative processes put users to the drivers’ seat in technology development. The project brings competitive advantage to EU companies by raising their innovation to a market leader level. Solutions created through PPI can have valuable societal impact as early identification of school dropouts and exciting pupils for STEM careers.

LEA will prepare a PPI call for tender continuing the challenges identified in the previous Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) “IMAILE” project as well as one extra PCP. The project started in March 2018 and will last for 2 years. More information here.

Green infrastructures in regions and cities benefit from EU funding

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EuropePreserving Europe’s natural capital and restoring nature to urban environment can improve citizens’ wellbeing and health, help adapting to the climate change and reduce the risk of natural disasters such as flooding in regions and cities of Europe. Nature based solutions are also essential to implementing EU’s nature directives. On 29 May, various EU regions and cities that showcased their solutions in the context of the Knowledge Exchange Platform (KEP) highlighted the importance of solid EU funding and cross-border cooperation.

The Knowledge Exchange Platform is a concept jointly developed by the European Committee of the Regions and DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission. It is aimed at presenting new R&I solutions, innovative products and best practices in response to societal challenges facing the regions and cities of Europe. In 2018, the KEP is addressing the themes of Nature based solutions and Cultural heritage.

Nature-based solutions for urban regeneration and climate and water resilience have been funded with over 130 million euros from the Horizon 2020 programme in 2016-2017. The benefits are multiple: for example, green roofs are not only attractive but boost biodiversity and improve isolation. More initiatives funded by EU’s LIFE+ or Horizon 2020 programmes here.

8 tips for getting your Close-to-Market proposal approved

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LifeIn 2018, the LIFE programme is investing close to €400 million in cleantech and climate action. Part of those funds are earmarked for bringing green solutions to market. If your business idea is on the brink of technical and commercial maturity, LIFE can help it off the ground. Past projects have notably helped SMEs conduct market studies, build prototypes and ramp up production. LIFE Programme pays special attention to promoting close-to market projects delivering improved environmental solutions capable of being widely taken up by the society in general and the economy in particular. These projects have very special features that do not necessarily apply to other LIFE projects.

Here are 8 tips for getting your Close-to-Market proposal approved:

1. Show the impact

Clearly explain how your project will serve the environment. Make sure that its benefits are ambitious, yet credible and well quantified.

2. Think sustainable

Make sure to well explained how your project’s objective will outlast its funding and how the products or services that you develop will proper on the open market. LIFE’s close-to-market projects must also produce a Business Plan as part of their compulsory deliverables.

3. Transfer & replicate

Outline how you will help replicate and transfer your results, notably to other sectors, regions or countries, beyond the duration of the project.

4. Follow guidelines

Refer to the application guide for environment and climate action projects when detailing the problem you address, the solution you propose, the team you pitch and why your project is worth funding.

5. Your team 

Describe the staff involved in each action and demonstrate that your partners are capable of taking on the challenges ahead.

6. Plan ahead

Before writing, start budgeting. Make sure that each expense is justified given its impact on sustainability and your business potential.

7. Writing

Start writing your business plan as soon as possible for the duration of the project and the 12 months following its conclusion.

8. Read up

Read through the 2018 application guide, evaluation guide and other resources in the LIFE application package and explore the work of existing LIFE projects.


All applicants for funding under the LIFE sub-programme for Climate Action must submit their full proposal by September. As of this year, applicants for LIFE Environment & Resource Efficiency projects will submit their proposals in two-steps, with a simple concept note expected by 12 June, and full proposals for shortlisted candidates in January 2019. More information about close-to-market LIFE projects here.

SERN response to the European Commission Consultation on Public Procurement of Innovation

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Public procurement of innovationOn the 4th of October 2017, the European Commission DG Grow launched a consultation on the draft Guidance on Public Procurement of Innovation, announced in the Public Procurement package of 3 October 2017. This consultation is aimed to received feedback from all stakeholders by 2 January 2018.

The Guidance on Public Procurement of Innovation is part of the Commission’s efforts to support the wider uptake of public procurement of innovation in the EU. The modernisation of public procurement rules in 2014 has resulted in a renewed interest in using this instrument to increase sustainable growth and support job creation and innovation in the European Single Market. In response, the EU has been providing targeted funding for the public procurement of innovation pilot projects in EU countries and facilitating the exchanges of best experiences. Furthermore, public procurement of innovation is seen as a policy area that is insufficiently explored when it comes to public support of innovative start-ups and SMEs.

SERN has elaborated a response to this consultation and provides two specific recommendations for facilitating public procurement for startups. The aim of this document is to contribute to assist the regions in providing startups with a better and easier access to public procurement and would contribute to improve the communication between procurers and vendors.

Here you can find the integral response of SERN on Public Procurement Innovation.