Story by Bittor Arias, Tknika, Errenteria

The last full meeting of the Rainova project partners took place in Montecatini Terme, an Italian town in the province of Pistoia, Tuscany, one of the most popular destinations in Italy for spa tourism.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel Croce di Malta where the Rainova group also spent three meeting days in one of its lounges.

Unlike previous times, on this first meeting day, 2 June, we started with a Steering Committee members’ meeting. Because the project was reaching its high point it was advisable for the committee to review the project’s status regarding levels of fulfilment of objectives, partners’ involvement, pending tasks and so on.

After this meeting, the impressions and decisions of the Steering Committee were transmitted to the other members of the project, focusing mainly on a request to uplift the level of communication through to the end of the project. We also modified the previously planned agenda to introduce a small change in the order of the topics so as to address a proposal made by one of the partners.

We then reviewed a proposal for the “Sustainability and Exploitation of Rainova”, which we had already analysed in a previous meeting, although the complex character of the Rainova project generates problems in its planning and execution. We know that the ideal state would be to have an online platform to facilitate us in managing the Innovation Management Model we are designing, but on the other hand, the resources and time needed to choose this option go beyond the limits of the project, and so we need to look at some easier options.

Afterwards, we were informed about the extent of implementation of the Website and the Observatory, two of the key outcomes foreseen by Rainova. Currently the website, designed with Joomla by our partner Adastra, is almost – and, we can add, very satisfactorily – completed, apart from some last-minute tweaks and proposals.

The Observatory, which is now fully designed and technically implemented, remains to be fed with content by the other partners, uploading information concerning various aspects considered relevant when planning its design. It means that we have to upload information about regional and European news about innovation, case studies, other interesting systems of innovation, networking, events, etc.

Regarding the creation of Regional Innovation Networks, which is another Rainova key objective, we accepted the suggestion and methodology proposed by the work package leader, namely: by means of making contacts and collecting and analysing information, each project partner will be able to attend the Final Conference with a proposal from organisations in our respective regions who have expressed interest in joining the Rainova International Network.

With this topic we ended the first day’s session, although all the project members agreed to meet again for dinner at a nearby restaurant and delve once again into the details of the project.

On the second day, 3 June, we heard about the Innovation Management Model, which had previously been approved at the earlier meeting in Wroclaw. However, as requested by some members, the IMM has been improved by organising its contents into an interactive .pdf format. As a result, when it is viewed, the IMM is more dynamic and entertaining, while at the same time its complexity and power are highlighted.

Therefore, this key outcome, which was foreseen at the beginning of the project, can also be considered to be fulfilled, waiting only for the improvements that can be generated by suggestions and proposals arising from the organisations in the Pilot Actions through which we are now testing the model.

And in fact the work package about Piloting Actions for testing the model and actions to implement the Rainova International Network constituted the following items discussed by the meeting. We agreed to delay the initial deadline for the development of these two actions, because we still have time enough to carry them out until the end of October 2014.

At this point, we should mention the courtesy of our Italian partner, CSCS, who organised for us a great lunchtime visit to the so-called Tettucio Terme, an iconic building and the symbol of Montecatini.

As usual during our meetings, we listened to an overview of the initiatives for dissemination undertaken to date by our partners. We were once again reminded, through a simple list, that the pending tasks in this area primarily related to the proper recording of dissemination actions undertaken, both on the Rainova Platform and the Website.

The project’s financial manager also talked to members about the status of each account regarding staff costs and travel. He also reminded us that, in the subcontracting section, there is an important budget item which has not been executed yet, possibly because it will contribute to the organisation of the Final Conference.

The second session ended with a new Steering Committee meeting, with the intention of assessing the performance of the two-day gathering, but mainly to elaborate the list of actions to be deployed in the coming months. All these thoughts and decisions have been duly collected in the minutes of the meeting.

For the second day the venue chosen to meet for dinner was Montecatini Alto, a beautiful spot on the top of a hill reached by funicular, which immediately raises you up above the tiredness of the day and enables you to gaze rapt at the beautiful landscapes that enclose it.

The third and final day of the meeting, 4 June, was dedicated to finishing some pending issues and also to reminding members about the list of tasks to be completed before the Final Conference day in San Sebastián.

In the afternoon, some of us were fortunate to have the chance to visit Florence, leading to a pleasing end to an excellent project meeting.

This project is partially funded under the European Community's Lifelong Learning Programme (LLL/2012-2014), grant agreement no. 2011 – 4134/001 – 001.
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Website and Observatory production by Adastra Cymru (a Rainova partner). Design and development by DP Freelance.