Vanguard Political leaders gathered for high-level discussions with Antoine KASEL, member of the JUNCKER CABINET and high-level representatives from EU Institutions. They announced the signature of the first Memorandum of Understanding between Vanguard Regions and called the EU to join the effort. The meeting provided as well the occasion to ratify the inclusion of the Trentino into the Network.

Senior political representatives from 29 of the 33 member regions of the Vanguard Initiative met in Brussels today to reconfirm their political commitment to further implementing the Vanguard methodology. Five new regions (Autonomous Province of Trento, Lower Austria, West and East Slovenia, Region Orebro County and Varmland) joined the recently created Vanguard ASBL.
Luca del Gobbo, current Chair of the Vanguard Initiative and Minister for University, Research and Open Innovation of Lombardy region, invited partner regions to join forces accelerating the process to support the more mature demo cases developed in the framework of Vanguard’s pilot projects.

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As a concrete sign of Regional commitment, Del Gobbo announced the launch of a first Memorandum Of Understanding addressed to the group of Vanguard Regions involved in a project dealing with Circular Economy, the “De- and Remanufacturing demo-case”, developed in the frame of the “Efficient and Sustainable Manufacturing” Pilot Project.
Signing the MoU, Minister Del Gobbo wishes to lead by example, confident that other regions will support the initiative and will start the procedure to join the group of frontrunners delivering the first investment projects. Through this MoU, regional governments commit themselves to supporting the parts of the project implemented in their regions and in providing regional funding in a logic of co investment, based on smart specialization principles and inter-regional collaboration.

An effort, in the same direction, was presented by Mrs Irén Lejegren, Chair of the Committee for Regional Growth in Region Örebro. The Swedish County, together with Emilia Romagna Region, are conducting a complementary joint demonstration project on 3D-printed hybrid material, mainly for the benefit of the automotive industry. Half of the investment needs of the demonstration project (200 000 Euro), will be covered jointly from Region Örebro County and Örebro University. In Emilia Romagna, the funding is made possible by Bologna University and co-investments by the involved industrial companies for access to industrial facilities and knowledge.

The capacity of the Vanguard Initiative to deliver a pipeline of investments to accelerate the industrial uptake of innovative technologies - facilitated by clusters and European Networks of Demonstration Facilities - will influence the success of the Smart Specialisation Platforms set up by the European Commission and inspired by the Vanguard Initiative.

The two previous examples can only be the first of a long series of similar investments involving a wider range of industrial stakeholders, if actions are taken at regional, national and European level.
Bert Pauli, Vice Governor and regional minister of Economic and EU affairs of the Noord-Brabant Province in the concluding remarks said: “we need to upscale our success”. In order to reinforce EU value chains, he proposed to explore the possibility to set-up a “Vanguard Initiative virtual Fund” to support pilot project investments, according to variable geometry principles and a case based approach.

Vanguard regions called upon the EU institutions, present in the meeting, to design new instruments appropriate for an ambitious industrial innovation policy in the future Programming Period. As finding solutions to support public-private investments is a joint responsibility, Vanguard regions showed their commitment to deliver, and are confident that EU institutions will play their part of the game, including a financial contribution to support the co-investment agenda leading and to accelerate the industrial uptake.

In this context, Vanguard Regions invited president Juncker to coordinate the effort in order to create the right framework conditions for the emergence of truly new and competitive European industrial value chains, connected across regions and operating in a fast changing world.
This will benefit multiple political agendas (regions, Member States and Europe) and, above all, companies and citizens.

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