On June 13th, the final event of the BOWI project, ‘BOWI Network Ecosystem: Enabling Interregional Collaboration Benefits for SMEs’, took place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. More than 100 participants representing SMEs, Digital Innovation Hubs, clusters and several other stakeholders of the digital innovation ecosystem and BOWI network gathered to talk about the structural interregional corridors BOWI is building across Europe. Organized by local BOWI Partner, Transilvania IT Cluster, in collaboration with CIVITTA, the event proved to be a great opportunity to discuss the challenges and benefits of supporting cross-border collaboration between SMEs, in their effort to support digital transformation and to witness the results of the cross-border experiments conducted together by DIHs in different regions.
The event began with a warm welcome from Bianca Muntean, Executive Manager at Transilvania IT Cluster. Following the introduction, Cristian Otgon, Chief of the Smart Specialization Department at the North West Regional Development Agency, delivered a keynote speech highlighting the importance of smart specialization in fostering interregional collaboration.
Sander van der Molen, Partner at CIVITTA, the coordinator of the BOWI project, then presented the achievements and lessons learned from the BOWI project, highlighting the benefits BOWI brings to regions and offering valuable insights into how BOWI used SME experiments to forge structural collaboration. In the end, Sander expressed his optimism that the assets created during the project will continue to be utilized in the future. With excitement, he announced that efforts are underway to develop a successor of BOWI, potentially in the form of an academy, which would serve as a valuable resource for information, knowledge, templates, training, and coaching for DIHs, EDIHs, and regions. The aim is to facilitate the establishment and growth of corridors that promote interregional collaboration, allowing exploration and development in this area.
Further on, a panel discussion on forging interregional collaboration was led by Maurits Butter, Senior Orchestrating expert at TNO. The panelists, including representatives from Latvian IT Cluster, Transilvania IT Cluster, North West Regional Development Agency and AMBIT Cluster shared their experiences, challenges, and benefits of supporting cross-border collaboration between SMEs. Best practices in corridor creation and lessons learned were also discussed, providing a wealth of knowledge for the participants.
Harri Kuusela, Principal Scientist at VTT, led a session showcasing success stories of SMEs’ experiments within the BOWI project. Entrepreneurs from RF Meters and Transmission Dynamics Poland shared their digitalization solutions, highlighting the impact of the project on their businesses. It was an inspiration to hear first-hand information from BOWI beneficiaries on the support they received and a true motivation to continue the work initiated by BOWI.
Irina Frigioiu, Project Manager at FundingBox, then presented funding opportunities available for post-project development of solutions, providing SMEs with valuable information to attract further investment.
Last, but not least, a pitching competition was held, offering SMEs supported by BOWI the opportunity to present their solutions in front of a jury and win a prize consisting of a number of free services offered by the DIHs from the BOWI network. We are happy to announce that the winner of the competition was Mircea Hotoleanu presenting VISTAI by Rofinntech 3D, followed by Srdjan Tadic, with Winessense by Atfield Technologies and then Roland Stretea, with EYESENSE by ProValue.
The final part of the event focused on networking and matchmaking, where SMEs, DIHs, and participants had the chance to connect, discuss collaboration possibilities, and explore joint projects.
The “BOWI Network Ecosystem: Enabling Interregional Collaboration Benefits for SMEs” event fostered an atmosphere that encouraged the sharing of knowledge, networking, and collaboration. The BOWI partners anticipate that the event’s influence will extend beyond its scheduled timeframe, as the connections and ideas formed during the event will persistently fuel digital innovation and cooperation among DIHs in Europe.