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Rainova News

Story by Bittor Arias, Tknika, Errenteria

The fifth meeting of the Rainova project members was held in Wroclaw, the beautiful main city of Lower Silesia in southwestern Poland, which has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2016.

On the first day, during the walk we took from the hotel to the Wroclaw University of Technology, where the meeting was held, we had the opportunity to see why it is such a historic town in a very beautiful location along the Oder River.

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At the beginning of the meeting, following the welcome by the DPIN host team, three new colleagues were introduced to the group, who were joining the project for the first time. There were also messages from colleagues and partners who for various reasons were unable to attend the Wroclaw meeting.

The project coordinator, Jose Luis, reminded everyone of the agreements reached at the last meeting in Cardiff. These included the need to communicate more by means of the forum and messaging resources on the VCP platform, continue disseminating the project in each region, contribute suggestions for developing the Rainova Innovation Observatory and the project website, and attend to the new responsibilities associated with Work Package 07.

Next we presented the Rainova Research Report, which included all the work done in previous months in relation to Work Package 07. We reviewed the several chapters of the report, which had already been sent to all members of the project. We focused on the structure and theme of each chapter. We looked at the information collected for the report in each region from previous studies. We also reviewed the research for the report undertaken by some project members concerning the changing patterns of innovation management models, other innovation observatories and existing innovation networks.

We also looked at the results of the survey based on interviews with organisations and individuals carried out in each of the project member regions.

Finally, after briefly reviewing the overall summary of the report, we discussed Chapter 6, the most important one in the report because it examines the features, as an outcome of our investigations, that we believe an innovation management model should have. It was precisely for this reason that we undertook all the research work.

Next we separated into groups in order to evaluate the report collectively and make suggestions and proposals for improvement.

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A proposal concerning the Innovation Observatory was also presented by Jose Luis. It had been developed by David, who could not be present in Wroclaw but had sent his presentation for the meeting. The proposal suggested specific technical and editorial approaches to the Observatory. It also identified the content strands chosen for the Observatory and some other features of interest to users, such as the approach to navigating through the pages of the Observatory.

Later on the first day Samuel presented a new proposal for the Innovation Management Model. In previous meetings we had not reached any concrete agreement on this topic. This time, though, there was general agreement that the newly proposed model gathered together all the ideas offered at previous meetings in Nyköping and Cardiff. Working once again in groups, we then took the opportunity to examine the proposal more deeply and to start adding further changes and improvements.

To round up the day, Paul, our External Evaluator, presented the Monitoring and Evaluation Report, which rounded up some “hopes and fears” from members about the progress of the project.

The next day, in a classroom at the Wroclaw University of Technology, Jaroslaw presented his draft titled “Action Plan for Regional Innovation Networks”. This is the document that will set out the plan and brief for the pilot actions to be carried out in some of the Rainova project regions. There is only one deliverable to submit, but it is not an easy one, because it takes time for all the partners to understand and agree the types of action to be undertaken. For this reason, we discussed Jaroslaw’s proposal in groups, aiming to combine what is already written in Work Package 09 with some new possible suggestions and then to approve a final document at the next meeting in Sønderborg.

Giovanni, as he had done in previous meetings, reviewed the dissemination activities carried out during the most recent period and reminded everyone of the kind of evidences that need to be collected as the promotion of the project is carried out.

In the evening we enjoyed a walk through the streets and bridges of Wroclaw and marvelled at its beautiful Square Market.

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On the third and final day we took the opportunity to listen to the Quality Report. In effect we became a kind of Quality Group, reflecting on and evaluating the developments of the two previous days. There was a general feeling of satisfaction, because we had advanced not just the Rainova Research Report but also the proposals for the Innovation Management Model and the Observatory, which are all very important steps towards the overall development of the project.

Before closing the meeting in Wroclaw we had the opportunity to listen to some advance information about the organisation of the next meeting, which will be held in Sønderborg, Denmark, next February.

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Story by Siân Holleran, ColegauCymru/CollegesWales, Cardiff

The fourth Rainova project meeting took place in Wales from 18–20 February 2013 and it was great that the European partners decided to bring some sunny (but cold!) weather with them to Wales, which contributed to waking everyone up on the scenic walk from the hotel to the meeting each morning.

The meeting was hosted by CollegesWales/ColegauCymru at its office in Tongwynlais, a few miles from Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. What had seemed to be a fairly large boardroom at CollegesWales soon became filled with people, laptops, folders and documents relating to the Rainova project. Dr John Graystone, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru, who had met a number of the delegates in Nyköping, Sweden, welcomed the delegates to Wales and wished them well for the meeting.

Day 1 focused on revisiting the action points from the meeting in Nyköping in October 2012 and on a presentation of the research analysis done to date by the Romanian partner, the University of Pitesti. A great deal of discussion followed the research analysis presentation, which eventually resulted in a revised schedule for the completion of this work, with a number of the partners agreeing to contribute to the final research report.

Cardiff meeting

The Class of 2013, all concentrating and listening very, very hard.

The serious business of eating on the first evening was taken care of by a French restaurant in Cardiff Bay. Some partners had a quick tour of the bay taking in the Pierhead Building and the environmentally friendly Welsh Government building.

Day 2 saw some interesting presentations on a proposed Innovation Management Model (IMM) for the Rainova project, followed by some healthy debate surrounding the design of the model. Dissemination is becoming more important as the project progresses and Giovanni Crisona (CSCS) led a lively, interactive session on ways to effectively disseminate information on the project, highlighting the importance of evidencing this on the platform.

Jaroslaw Chrobot (DPIN) presented a concise and well-planned presentation on the development of the Regional Innovation Networks and is looking forward to welcoming everyone to Wroclaw, Poland, in June 2013 to discuss this next stage of the project in more detail.

The Elgano Hotel in Cardiff had provided the European partners with excellent lunches during the meeting and hosted a Welsh evening at their premises on Tuesday 19 February. They had sourced Welsh beers, ciders and a few shots of Penderyn single malt Welsh whisky to accompany their menu for the evening. And, alongside the excellent food and drink, the European partners were entertained by Llywelyn Jones playing traditional and contemporary music on his Welsh harp.

Cardiff Castle

Partners from Tuscany, Québec and the Basque Country outside Cardiff Castle. Ready for line dancing?

 

Story by Bittor Arias, Tknika, Errenteria

Nyköping hosted the third meeting of the Rainova project partners on 22–24 October 2012. In total, 23 delegates met at the Scandic Nyköping City Hotel to discuss the agenda over the three days.

Nykoping hotel

We started by missing some familiar faces in the project who, for various reasons, could not travel to Nyköping. Our host Kennet then gave us all a warm welcome, especially to four newcomers whom we hope to see again at future meetings.

Nykoping meeting

The second Quality Report, with which we started the meeting, was mainly based on previous suggestions received from members of the project.

The slot for expenditure management was devoted to clarifying how to account for staff, travel, subsistence and subcontracting costs. Then our external evaluator presented the Monitoring and Evaluation Report, mentioning strengths and areas for improvement in our project management.

After that, partners presented, one by one, their summaries of interviews with innovation experts, groups and organizations in their respective regions, relating to the research work planned for WP07 Research. Some of these research surveys remain to be finished, and all the information gathered through the interviews, surveys about regional innovation systems and case studies will need to be analyzed.

WP07 is crucial because it provides a launch pad for the tasks related to the main objectives of our project, namely: developing the Innovation Management Model (IMM), the Innovation Observatory, the Pilot Action and the creation of the Rainova Network, all of which are themes on which we really want to focus.

For this reason, earlier than scheduled, we began to consider the characteristics of the proposed Observatory. We recognised the need to reach general agreement about its scope and to take time to think over all those aspects of the project that are likely to be particularly complex.

Before ending the first-day session, the partner responsible for dissemination invited all partners to review their progress so far with the agreed Dissemination Plan. During his presentation he gave us some interesting hints and tips about how to achieve good project dissemination.

On the first evening the Swedish hosts of the meeting were kind enough to organize a special dinner with some typical, delicious Swedish food and an exotic and very emotional performance from our hostess, Anna Källdén (www.tankstation.se)

Anna Kalden

On the second day, we heard an initial proposal from the WP08 IMM leader for designing the model. His idea was to present the IMM in two parts: one that will describe the systematic innovation macro-process and another that will focus on the cultural environment that drives innovation.

He also suggested that before we proceed to the design of the IMM we should devote some time to reflecting on some basic issues to make it easier to reach agreements in the future. So for a while we split into smaller discussion groups, which attempted to find sensible answers to various questions raised during the earlier discussion.

Once this agenda item was completed, we started reviewing, as in previous meetings, various features and services of the VCP platform we are using in RAINOVA, a tool of enormous potential but with a learning curve that is long and complex for project members. We agreed that a smart move would be initially to use only those basic services that are most relevant for the project, and, as we become familiar with them, to start experimenting with the platform's more advanced features.

Nykoping river

At the previous meeting in Pitesti we had already approved both the design of the leaflet and the Rainova website. Now, here in Nyköping, we reviewed developments in both these areas. Some partners already had their leaflets ready to be published. Some time ago they had all received the template from Adastra, the responsible partner for designing the leaflet and also the fast-progressing website.

After lunch, the Quality Management Team met for the second time in this project and assessed developments so far. The conclusions of their assessment were presented to all the partners the following day.

Also on the final day we agreed to start rotating the Steering Committee membership, subject to the development of the various work packages.

Before we ended the Nyköping meeting we reviewed all the decisions we had taken and the tasks outstanding before our next meeting in Cardiff. We also took a final moment to talk again about the characteristics of the Innovation Observatory.

Nykoping at night

Story by Siân Holleran, ColegauCymru/CollegesWales, Cardiff, and David Townsend Jones, Adastra Cymru, Swansea

ColegauCymru is leading the research programme in Wales, supported by the second Welsh partner, Adastra Cymru. On 11 October 2012 representatives from both organisations (Siân Holleran from ColegauCymru, David Townsend Jones from Adastra) travelled to North Wales for a series of meetings at Coleg Menai, a VET college which cites innovation (The college is progressive and entrepreneurial for learners and other clients) as one of five core values. Coleg Menai is part of the regional Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.

The first meeting was at CAM (Caonolfan Arloesi Menai / Menai Innovation Centre) at the Llangefni campus on the island of Anglesey (Ynys Môn in Welsh). Established in 2005 as part of Coleg Menai’s Engineering Department, CAM’s motto is Transferring knowledge to industry. It provides its clients with cutting-edge manufacturing and design consultancy to help them develop ideas and expertise into marketable products. CAM’s services include product design, manufacturing consultancy, 3D scanning and modelling, and rapid prototyping and training using advanced machines. A dedicated team works closely with industry and entrepreneurs in Wales and collaborates with Ireland on cross-border projects.

A second meeting on the Llangefni campus took place at the Food Technology Centre (FTC), set up in 1999 with support from the European Union, the Welsh Government and the Welsh Development Agency to help the long-term development of food processing and manufacturing capacity in North Wales and throughout the UK. Resources at the FTC include dedicated processing halls for different kinds of fresh food, a suite of training rooms, a product development test kitchen and an analytical laboratory. They allow the FTC to support the agri-food industry with research and development, technology transfers and bespoke training courses, with a particular focus on skills transfer to the rural workforce in North Wales.

Coleg Menai FTC classroom

A classroom in the Food Technology Centre on the Llangefni campus

After a working lunch with senior staff from Coleg Menai, CAM and the FTC, Siân and David were driven to the town of Bethesda on the mainland. Here they paid a case-study visit to GL Jones Playgrounds, a family-led company which for over 30 years has been designing and manufacturing in-house some of the most ground-breaking children's playground equipment available in the UK and overseas. The company has benefited from working closely with CAM, which through a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) has employed a graduate consultant at the factory to review every aspect of its workflow system, with the aim of implementing a seamless link between design and manufacturing. The successful KTP has enabled radical changes to working systems and culture to become embedded in the company, enabling it to improve manufacturing efficiency, increase capacity and generate cost savings through an innovation-driven programme of continuous product development.

The final visit was to the Creative Media Centre at the Coleg Menai campus in the city of Bangor, where performing arts, music and media production courses focus on recording and performing, drama, dance, singing, music and stagecraft, web design, animation, games design, TV and film.  The discussion here centred on a number of innovative development ideas including a proposal for a city-centre creative hub staffed by students and providing semi-professional design services.

Links:
Coleg Menai: http://www.menai.ac.uk
CAM (Caonolfan Arloesi Menai / Menai Innovation Centre): http://www/camenai.co.uk
The Food Technology Centre, Coleg Menai: http://www.foodtech-llangefni.co.uk

Story by Bittor Arias, Tknika, Errenteria

The second meeting of the partners of the Rainova project was held on 18–20 June in the main library of the University of Pitesti, Romania.

For the first time we had the opportunity to gather together all the project partners, including representatives of CSMC, Tianjin, China, and CÉGEP L’Outaouais, Québec, Canada, who were invited to participate in this European project as third-country partners.

Linda and Victor

After a brief and interesting presentation of their organizations we began working on some of the packages common to all European projects such as Quality Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dissemination, Communication and so on. Although they are not part of the core objectives of this project they will be essential for dealing later with the design, development and evaluation of the proposals that are the raison d’être of Rainova.

Based on the guidelines of Deliverable 2, ‘Successful Quality Management’, the 1st Quality Report was presented. Then Paul Garvey presented the Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy, describing also the methodologies and techniques to be used for monitoring Rainova.

Pitesti meeting

The CSCS partner, Giovanni Crisona, presented the Dissemination Plan and the templates for recording information relevant to our project: websites of interest, organizations and professionals to be considered for the dissemination of Rainova, a list of magazines and publications with relevant information, and conferences or similar events where we will carry out dissemination activities.

We then moved on to the area of communication. Kennet Lindquist, from the TelePedagogic Knowledge Centre, showed us some of the potential of the VCP platform we have chosen for collaborating in this project. Next, David Townsend Jones, from Adastra, introduced us to his proposals for developing the Rainova website and multilingual project leaflet.

Pitesti group

During a later session we had the chance to review proposals from the University of Pitesti for the development of WP07 Research. This is the work package concerning interviews with individuals and groups, whose purpose is to gather data to link to information collected about Regional Systems of Innovation Management and specific business case studies. Put together, all this research and information is designed to provide a solid reference foundation on which subsequently to design our Innovation Management Model, which is one of the paramount objectives of the Rainova Project.

The 3-day session in Pitesti ended with the announcement to the complete group of the strategies and conclusions approved beforehand by the Quality Management Team.

In addition to the working sessions in Pitesti we had time for a cultural visit to the Golesti Museum Complex, which consists of two main parts, the Museum of History and Ethnography and the Museum of Viticulture and Fruit Growing. We thank our Romanian colleagues for organizing this visit, which was a very special moment for all of us.


This project is partially funded under the European Community's Lifelong Learning Programme (LLL/2012-2014), grant agreement no. 2011 – 4134/001 – 001.
This website reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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