SmeSpire project: Progress meeting in Ispra, Italy 29-30 October 2013
The Progress meeting for smeSpire Project was held in Ispra, Italy from the 29th to the 30th of October 2013. The meeting was held at the Joint Research Centre, the third biggest Commission site after Brussels and Luxembourg and one of Europe's leading research campuses.
The objective of the meeting was to analyze the actual status of the project after one year of its implementation from the beginning and to define a common strategy for the upcoming months, which will also be the lasts of the project.
The main purpose of the smeSpire project is to encourage and facilitate the participation of the European SMEs in the mechanisms of harmonising and making interoperable huge environmental digital contents, through the application of The INSPIRE Directive 2007/2/EC. This Directive establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe, requires huge environmental digital contents to be harmonised and made interoperable in more than 30 countries in 22 languages across Europe. The management of environmental digital content and languages coming from the INSPIRE implementation is an opportunity for all the European SMEs active in the ICT and environmental sectors, because they can play a key-role in enabling the Member States in fulfilling the Directive obligations with a maximum cost-benefit ratio. Their technical skills and their organizational flexibility can effectively support the Institutions and the stakeholders directly involved in INSPIRE implementation commitments in bridging the big gap existing today between the environmental content providers and the legally binding technological and operational requirements set by the Directive.
The first day of the meeting focused on the mid-term results of the project. Each of the twelve partners involved in the project, through a brief presentation, showed the results achieved at national level, for example the number of SMEs that had joint the smeSpire platform available on the website www.smespire.eu, the number of the Best Practices that each of them has subscribed, the strategy of dissemination that every partner assumed on the spread of the project and its importance to SMEs and not only adhere to it. Finally, the issue of the first bi-monthly report of the project was discussed.
Paragon Europe is still working on contacting new SMEs and other types of organizations, both public and private to increase the number of subscriptions on the online platform but not only. It is essential, to achieve better results for the project to try to create as much as possible liaisons with these organization in order to create a well-informed cluster that is well-informed about the importance of adhering to the initiatives of the project and at the same time to spread its benefits and its implications. All that, to create a well harmonized number of SMEs and organizations that can cooperate at national level, thanks to the standardization of its Geo Data, and thanks to the support of Paragon Europe, that acts as an intermediate expert between them and the European Union. It is also important to identify a number of Best Practices that will be published on the SmeSpire website. It is a public, searchable and structured repository of products, services, projects, tools, procedures, methods and experience of the Geo-ICT SMEs in Europe. It is a showcase enabling a Geo-ICT marketplace from both the offer and the demand sides.
The second day of the meeting focused on the activities expected in some of the Work Packages included in the project and the launch of an action plan useful for the organization of the next-months activities. The lead partners responsible for each of these Work Packages made a presentation of the results of their activities. Some of them were about the graphicalelements of the project website (that is one of the most important deliverables of the project), in order to have a well-presented and organized website, in which each SMEs can easily have access and put the information required without any difficulty.
One of the most important deliverables expected was that of developing an educational curricula designed to train environmental data analysis professionals, experts in the maintenance and exploitation of environmental data commons. This smeSpire training programme (developed by the Belgium partner) aims to prepare the GI users/professionals – both beginners and advanced – coming from the commercial sector (SMEs), governmental sector or academic sector to become proficient and successful in implementing INSPIRE. The objective is to help to mature the geospatial professional’s skills and knowledge regarding INSPIRE implementation activities and regarding innovative subjects, which then – in turn - can lead to the creation of (business) opportunities.
The smeSpire training programme consists of 3 types of seminars:
- INTRODUCTION SEMINARS: aim to introduce the participants to the heart of the matter (basics) but at the same time stay at the level of non-technical comprehension;
- INSPIRE ADVANCED SEMINARS or TRAINING: intents to make the participants proficient in mastering the process(es) and techniques and thus are in-depth and are mostly hands-on training sessions which will enable the participants to effectively execute and test geospatial activities;
- INNOVATION SEMINARS (introduction or advanced): aim to make the participants acquainted with innovative technologies (services, applications, trends) and the latest geospatial technological trends.
The training material will be available soon on the smeSpire website platform and it will be free for the members of the network.
The last point raised during the meeting was about the organization, as part of the Work Packages related to the Transfer of the product expected in the project, of an ‘SmeSpire day’. Each partner, according to their own national context has to organize a conference that will have the objective of spreading the results of it, inviting for example the existing members of the network but also it will be held to further disseminate the benefits to get part of a big community that deals with GEO ICT data at European level, in order to increase the knowledge on this topic but also to try to harmonize and sensitize local stakeholders to it.
The Living Heritage: Kick-off Meeting in Malta, 10-12 October 2013
The first meeting for The Living Heritage (TLH) project, was hosted by Paragon Europe and was held in Malta between the 10-12 October 2013. This event brought together participants from the partner countries participating in this project namely, Malta, Bulgaria, Latvia, Italy, the UK, Poland and Greece.
The seminar was organized as part of the fulfillment of the project and was the first time that all the partners met around one table to discuss the future engagements and milestones related to this project. The dates for the meeting in Malta were chosen to coincide with the Birgu Fest which aims to focus on the city’s historic heritage and architectural beauty and which over the years has developed into a national event, where thousands of people roam through the narrow and winding streets of Birgu. Over the course of the three days the participants had the opportunity to discuss different topics related to intangible cultural heritage and in particular the traditional festivals of each region.
The meetings presented an opportunity for each partner to showcase their organisations, the cultural heritage of their town/region and how they plan to promote the intangible cultural heritage through their various roles and activities. This was also the perfect opportunity for the partners to discuss the various roles of each one in the project and the next steps which need to be taken.
An overall presentation of the project and the work program was presented by the project coordinator, followed by discussions relating to the management, cooperation and communication necessary for the success of the project. Discussions were also held on the measures to be taken regarding the dissemination and exploitation of the project results through new media communications such as a project website which is being designed and social networks such as Facebook. Paragon Europe made a presentation showcasing festivals in Malta organized annually by Local Councils.
The visit also included a number of site visits. Participants were taken to the Limestone Heritage which gave them an insight into Malta’s rich history and unique stone resource. On another occasion participants were treated to a tour of Bir Mula, a historical house and museum in Bormla (Cospicua). The building is a unique jewel showing the development of Maltese houses through the ages and its curator John Vella was on hand to answer all questions posed. This visit was followed by a walk to Birgu (Vittoriosa) and our first visit to the Birgu Fest. Participants could follow the historic re-enactments, take advantage of the discounted museum entrances and visit Churches and Auberges. A walking tour of Isla (Senglea) was also part of the program, after which participants crossed over to Birgu by boat.
At the end of the seminar, the participants were presented with certificates of attendance. The next seminar will be held in Poland, in May 2014 and this will build on the achievements of the meeting in Malta.
Learn how Paragon Europe is helping European Urban areas and their water efficiencies!
Water Efficiency in European Urban Areas (WE@EU) project is based on the ambition to create an open European platform for EU excellence in water efficiency in urban water management. The project’s aim is to step up a high level transnational cooperation between six different regions in Europe (Spain, Malta, UK, Israel, France and Italy) in finding innovative solutions for urban water management. Research driven regional clusters throughout Europe will be established between regional authorities, knowledge institutes and business entities. The reason is for such entities to collaborate and mutually learn to archive more sustainable and competitive water efficiency techniques and practices.
The project commenced in July 2013 during a kick off meeting in Zaragoza and it will last for 3 years during which the partners have to conduct research to identify the priorities in water management as well as identify relevant stakeholders. Moreover, a Joint Action Plan will be presented to the stakeholders and this will shape the discussions in local and international workshops. Paragon Europe will promote innovation in the water efficiency market of product and services by boosting cooperation at a local level and among different European regions represented in research driven clusters.
A Policy for Europe's Regions 2007-2013
In 2007, the policy for the new period (2007-2013) of EU regional development was launched. The policy is as wide-ranging in its goals as the regions it represents and it is as far-reaching as the land and sea confines it projects to address. This article underlines significant aspects of this policy as well as how these reflect Malta’s objectives and our nation-wide efforts to continue the modernization initiative that is far from completion.
The objectives of the new regional policy are laudable, aiming to address quality of life disparities in Europe which highlight the fact that the richest state in the EU, Luxembourg is seven times wealthier than Romania the poorest member state. The policy aims to be cohesive and offers solidarity across disparate regions trying to find common solutions to challenges that afflict the EU and indeed the developed world: globalization, external immigration, climate change, population ageing and the need for sustainable energy supply.
The crux of the EU regional policy for 2007-2013 is growth and jobs for European regions and cities. A total investment budget of 347.4 billion Euros has been approved by the Commission for this phase of the EU lifespan. It is estimated that 2 million jobs and a 6% growth in new member states will be achieved through this funding.