Lessons Learned under Lockdown in the Region of North East Romania

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Lessons Learned under Lockdown in the Region of North East Romania

The Region of North East Romania, one of the 5 territories of TeRRItoria, is focusing primarily on the RRI key of public engagement for its experiment. The partners there aim to improve the livelihoods of residents of their mountain areas by adequate science and innovation approaches which aligning the scientific research with societal values, needs, and expectations. Specifically, they will focus on 2 microterritories (often called Local Action Groups or LAGs in the context of Romania); Bazinul Dornelor LAG/Vatra Dornei Municipality and Ceahlau LAG.

Now that the Mapping exercises of Work Packages 2 and 3 are largely completed, North East Romania is due to start working on the co-creation phase of their experiment. Fortunately, they already started on this last year and have held 3 bilateral meetings with the two mountain areas in question so far: one on the 22nd of July 2019 with Bazinul Dornelor LAG, another on the 24th of September 2019 with Ceahlau LAG, and another one in Bazinul Dornelor LAG on the 6th of March 2020.

Unfortunately, however, any further in-person co-creation meetings with the local stakeholders were made impossible on the 17th of March this year when restrictions were placed on meetings and travel, thus making the remaining planned bilateral meetings impossible. The Romanian government has recently loosened some of the restrictions, however the ability to hold face-to-face meetings is still not expected in the nearest future. North East Romania would prefer to do such face-to-face meetings rather than online ones, as the experiment addresses sparsely populated territories where people build trust with others through regularly meetings in person. Furthermore, not all citizens are digitally connected, making teleconferencing difficult or even impossible for them. In spite of this, the partners there have prepared a plan B consisting of various online meetings and they are now putting this plan into action.

The ultimate aims of the transformative experiment in North East Romania is to increase the degree of involvement of local communities in the decisions regarding investments for innovation in the areas where they live. This will be attempted by developing a consultative tool for identifying and prioritising innovation needs in their communities, as well as a brokerage platform for innovations to function as a bridge between the local community and research organisations so that the latter are able to adapt their research topics to the requirements of the targeted micro-regions. In such a way it plans to design a bottom-up approach to RIS3 strategy. Perhaps digital co-creation interactions in this new pandemic world will be the first stage in better connecting these remote mountain communities to outside innovators.

Article written by Giacomo Frisanco – EURADA.

Giacomo joined EURADA in 2019 as Project and Communication officer. He deals with Communication, Dissemination, and Exploitation task for both Interreg Europe and Horizon 2020 projects.

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