From 24 to 25 November 2022, E³UDRES² hosted its first Regional Stakeholders Forum at St. Pölten UAS, Austria. The event successfully brought together experts, policy- and change-makers, enthusiasts from industry, universities and development agencies from nine European regions to discuss possibilities for further collaboration and to co-create innovative ideas for projects supporting regions and their communities’ transformation into European Smart & Sustainable Regions. The two-day programme offered different formats for discussing various topics and generating fresh ideas, such as keynotes, panel discussions, idea labs and world cafés.
More than 50 participants from countries such as Romania, Latvia, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands and many more entered a buzzing St. Pölten UAS campus to attend the first edition of the E³UDRES² Regional Stakeholders Forum. The event took place simultaneously with the St. Pölten UAS International Week, giving all participants the opportunity to deep-dive into all things internationalization. Opening the Regional Stakeholders Forum, E³UDRES² Lead Coordinator and CEO of St. Pölten UAS Hannes Raffaseder expressed his joy over having so many renowned international guests on-site, taking the opportunity to connect various European countries. Harald Ludwig, Vice-Mayor of St. Pölten, and Guna Japiņa, Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia to the Republic of Austria, also took the stage to warmly welcome all participants.
With a focus on building new connections and providing food for thought, inspiring keynotes such as one by Claus Zeppelzauer, CEO of ecoplus, on the topic of “Technopols, Clusters and the House of Digitalization in Lower Austria”, or another one held by Otto Bruun, Deputy Head & Senior Advisor for Innovation at Swisscore and Member of UAS4EUROPE on “Universities of Applied Sciences as Regional Innovation Ecosystem Orchestrators” set the atmosphere for a thought-provoking and inspiring two-day event.
Panelists from four European countries discussing best practices regarding "Smart & Sustainable Regions". (c) Ramona Mauthner / E³UDRES²
Later on the first day of the event, the participants had the chance to discuss the topic of "Smart Regions & Regional Innovation Ecosystems" together with Arno Meerman, CEO of UIIN (University Industry Innovation Network), who also is an integral part of E.I.N.S., the E³UDRES² Entrepreneurship and Innovation Network for Smart and Sustainable European Regions. Other workshops on the topics of “Creative Regions – Unfolding the potential of creativity and culture” and “Sustainable Regions” featured inputs by Reanne Leuning, Deputy Chairwoman for Kreativwirtschaft Austria, and Carina Wenda, responsible for City Development in the city of St. Pölten, among others.
One of the highlights of the event was an inspiring panel discussion titled “Learning by Example – Open Space for Smart & Sustainable Regions”, aiming at discovering best practices from various European regions. Panelists Sem van der Linden (Project Manager Oost NL), Dan Diaconu (Timis County Council), Anne Sandelin (City of Jyväskylä) and Laila Gercāne (Vidzeme Planning Region) shared insights into best practices from their regions in the Netherlands, Romania, Finland and Latvia. Another well received moment was a keynote by Gerfried Stocker, CEO & Artistic Director of Ars Electronica, an internationally known Austrian festival for Art, Technology and Society. Participants were visibly impressed by the clever concept of the festival, with some of them leaving directly for Linz after the Regional Stakeholders Forum to visit the Ars Electronica themselves.
Wrapping up the event on 25 November, participants sat down together once more to discuss various topics in World Cafés, with the conclusions being presented in one last plenary session. Attendants and organizational team alike agreed that events like the E³UDRES² Regional Stakeholders Forum are a great step towards connecting universities with regional players, thus successfully shaping European Smart and Sustainable Regions.
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