On 27th October 2015, under the current Chairmanship of the Basque Country, the Brussels-based representatives met at the Emilia-Romagna EU office to discuss the progress of the Vanguard Initiative as a whole as well as the updates of its 5 pilots: Advanced Manufacturing/Energy (led by Scotland and the Basque Country); Bio-economy (led by Randstad region and Lombardy); 3D-Printing (led by South Netherlands, Flanders and Norte); Nano-technology (led by Skåne and Tampere region); and Efficient and sustainable manufacturing (led by Catalonia and Lombardy). Among all the topics raised, a stand out point is the paramount importance of the match-making event which will take place on 25th February 2016 in Brussels with the financial support of DG REGIO. Crucial aspects concerning the preparation, organisation and funding of the match-making event were discussed.
In addition, an update of recent developments within each task group was given:
- The Future of the Vanguard Initiative
- Policy influencing
- Vanguard Pilots’ Monitoring
- Financial Instruments
Among the topics raised was the issue of the different possibilities for the legal status of the VI under Belgian law; the focus of the VI’s policy influencing activity on those areas of policy that are most important to creating the conditions that enable the pilot initiatives to flourish; and the relevance of the financial instruments not only targeted to explore and develop multi-regional financial instruments, but also aimed to finance the pilots and models to be showcased by the EU companies and SMEs at the above-mentioned match-making event. For each pilot, a short update was also presented, highlighting the following key news:
- An industrial workshop to identify industrial challenges and showcase key technology areas will be organized at the Committee of the Regions on 30th November (ADMA/Energy)
- First wave of 8 joint demonstration cases are moving forward, with the “embedded electronics: printed electronics in polymetric materials” being the most recent case (3D-Printing)
- Submittal of the business plan with a good progress on the collaborative concept definition (ESM)
- Identification of 4 (possible 6) cases for joint demonstration: Nanowires for ICT in energy applications; Integrated nano-bio systems; Printed nano-electronics and pilot production of nano-materials (Nano-technology)
- A first step of potential cases for joint demonstration is being defined and elaborated between the regions involved (Bio-economy)
Finally, there was also a fruitful discussion on the upcoming workshops, meetings and conferences which deal, directly or indirectly, with VI issues, with a particular attention to the “2015 MANUFUTURE Conference on Strategic investments in European manufacturing to rise global challenges”, which will be held on 23rd-24th of November in Luxembourg, with the financial support of DG Research and Innovation.
In conclusion, the Brussels Network meeting was a great success, with most of the VI regions participating. Equally, it also evidenced that the VI is much in line with the European Commission’s investment agenda and industrial policy. Lastly, it was confirmed that all pilots, thanks to the latest advances, are progressing towards a very good position to be showcased at the above-outlined match-making event. The next Brussels Network meeting is planned to be held on 8th December 2015 at the EU Delegation of the Basque Country.