North East Romania: consultative tool for agenda setting in local mountain communities is almost ready
The Romanian project partner, North-East Regional Development Agency (ADR Nord-Est), organised four physical workshops in the beginning of 2021 wherein local stakeholders were involved. The first two were held on May 21st, in Vatra Dornei, being focused on tourism (22 people) and agri-food (12 people). The other two were held in Bicaz, on June 11th and saw the active involvement of 11 people. Given the mixed interest of the participants, the works addressed simultaneously both tourism and agri-food.
As a first step towards the co-setting of the local agendas for innovation, participants elaborated the SWOT analyses of the respective economic sectors. Furthermore, they identified and prioritized a number of opportunities for intervention.
Drawing on the results of the workshops, ADR Nord-Est launched a round of consultations with academics and researchers. R&I representatives were asked to re-prioritize the opportunities presented by the communities, based on their potential for development through research and innovation. Also, they were presented the opportunity to propose new interventions in the targeted domains.
The top priorities selected by the R&I players will be subject of two focus groups – on tourism, respectively agri-food, to be organized online in September 2021, with quadruple helix participation.
The specific focus of the Transformative Experiment in Northeast Romania is to increase the degree of involvement of local communities in decisions regarding investments for innovation in the areas where they live. The activities presented above are aimed to design a consultative tool to identify and prioritise innovation needs in the target communities, following the model of the focus groups of the entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP) organised by ADR Nord-Est at regional level. In addition, a brokerage platform for innovation (and research on demand) is in the works, to bridge local communities (potential beneficiaries of innovation), innovation facilitators, and research organisations (the generators of innovation). Thanks to this platform, the research institutes should be able to adapt their research agenda to the needs of the mountain communities involved in the experiment, such as Bazinul Dornelor and Ceahlău Local Action Groups.
An update about the platform
In order to reduce the delay accumulated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ADR Nord Est hired an IT specialist to finalise the platform. This IT expert is working on the functionalities of the platform and on how to present them for the needs of innovation. The platform must also present information and content in a simple and clear way so everybody can understand it. As soon as the platform is ready, the local stakeholders will be invited for a user test. Finally, ADR Nord Est staff is also working on a questionnaire to better understand what the local community needs.
North East Romania disposes of significant mountainous and sparsed population that is not fully digitalised. The mission of this consultative agenda is to favour match making. If this platform will be succesful, ADR Nord Est is willing to externalise this service to the local university.
ADR Nord Est aims to have at least a couple of ongoing RRI brokerage contracts/transactions on the online platform in autumn. Basically, a concrete example of exchange between innovation demand initiators and innovation providers, resulting in a collaborative activity.