European Talented Initiatives in a regional perspective – challenges and opportunities

On Wednesday 11th of April, EPA –European Projects Association– held a panel in the European Parliament, under the auspices of EAR-AER honorary member MEP Ivan Jacovčić, dedicated to the way the regional perspective could influence the success of Young Talented people with innovative ideas in the European context.

EPA’s Project Manager Frédéric Fabre presented the objectives of the project Erasmus+ ‘Talented Europe’, that was organized in collaboration with Out of the Box International. Marko Paunovic, founder of Out of the Box International presented then the winner of the first Talented Europe-price: the organization Junior Achievement (JA) Europe, for the project “Why Europe matters”. In his argument, the jury testified the winning organisation fulfilled the three criteria required: gathering youth from various countries, contributing to a policy process and promoting innovative business models.

In a second part, a panel was organized with Mr. Peter Bauer, policy officer at the DG EAC, Mr. Louis Delcart, member of the board of the European Academy of the Regions and Mr. Marcin Podgorski, Executive officer of the Łódźkie Regional Office in Brussels.

Mr. Bauer presented especially several projects undertaken by the European Commission in order to promote the entrepreneurial spirit and the access of SMEs to young talents. He pleaded for a strong collaboration between the academic world and the business world in order to increase innovation and to foster talent among the students. He insisted mostly on the project HEInnovate, a self-assessment tool for Higher Education Institutions who wish to explore their innovative potential, worked out in collaboration with the OCDE and on High Education for Smart Specialisation (HESS). The main activity of HESS is ‘action research’ and capacity building in selected European regions. In the last one two regions were selected as pilots: Navarra, and North East Romania. His findings were that the European structural funds, put at the disposal of the regions, focused almost exclusively on public works and lacked to focus on Human Capital.

From his side M. Delcart insisted on 2 major economic directions for the future , that attract a young public very much: digital economy and green economy. Both activity sectors provide them with a large range of possibilities and enable them to show the talents they have. He also indicated the trend of localisation involving a resurrection of the artisan or the craftsman in Europe. Because craft is about innovation, creativity, authenticity and solidity. The reason for this development lays in the fact that more and more customers drift away from mass production, to the benefit of craft with a good story. He finally emphasised on the strong accent in many regions on efficient education and stimulation of creativity, where the initiative was not necessarily taken by the public authorities.

M. Marcin Podgorski finally insisted upon the role of the local authorities to produce showcases for innovative development. He featured several examples such as www.skyhub.lodzkie.pl, an initiative in the city of Łódź including mentorship and support for young start-ups.

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