Interreg project DEBUTING: Clust-ER Health among stakeholders to promote gender equality in innovation

Gender equality as an engine for competitiveness: this is the objective pursued by the project Interreg Europe DEBUTING, Developing Business Through Inclusiveness and Gender Awareness – New Cluster Competences, which started in March 2023. ART-ER will participate as a partner, along with the collaboration of the region’s Clust-ERs, until the end of May 2027.

We had the opportunity to participate, with the communication manager Nicole Ticchi, in the second meeting held in Rovaniemi, in the Finnish region of Lapland. Two days of discussions between European regions on good practices and of group work to understand how to promote gender equality in the sectors driving innovation. An intense work for which it is also necessary to reflect on the factors that, in addition to gender, affect the possibility of implementing policies and that affect the accessibility of research and innovation products. Intersectionality, therefore, becomes a fundamental lens to address the themes of diversity and inclusion.

On this occasion we listened to the good practices of Finnish stakeholders, with a focus on their smart specialisation strategy and case studies of projects that promote women’s participation in the local business ecosystem thanks to European funding.

There will be many actions to which, as an ecosystem, we will be called to collaborate involving in turn the companies engaged in the different areas of specialization. Questionnaires and sharing of good practices, first of all, but also a progressive awareness-raising of all the actors that every day participate in the innovation process.

The DEBUTING project: objectives and activities

The project focuses on gender equality as a factor of competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and a strategic element for industrial development in Europe. Gender equality is being addressed in a new way, also in cooperation with the Clust-ERs, and with a view to improving regional policies. Clust-ER are considered “agents of change” and an effective tool to support SMEs in learning about and adopting new measures for equality, being key players in the design and implementation of smart specialisation strategies.

What are the specific objectives of the project?

  • Increase the competitiveness of SMEs by developing more innovative and competitive business models based on an inclusive culture of gender equality. 
  • Increase the efficiency of existing measures related to gender equality and inclusiveness and design new measures, improving or building the monitoring and evaluation framework with appropriate indicators suitable for SMEs and clusters. This also applies to participation in calls for proposals for which gender equality is a mandatory criterion or a requirement for awards. 
  • Increase the capacity and awareness of policymakers, clusters and SMEs in considering gender equality as a driver of sustainable growth and competitiveness also at international level.

To achieve these objectives, key activities that each partner will carry out within its regional context have been identified, including:

  • Regional analysis and mapping
  • Collection and exchange of good practice 
  • Participation in study visits and workshops
  • Creation and meetings of a Regional group of stakeholders
  • Definition, in conjunction with the RER, of actions and measures to improve policy tools (e.g. S3 2021-2027)
  • Communication and dissemination activities

And here are the project partners:

  • Region Värmland (Sweden), coordinator
  • Regional Development Agency North-West (Romania)
  • VDI/VDE-IT/RegioClusterAgentur Baden-Württemberg (Germany)
  • ecoplus. Business Agency of Lower Austria (Austria)
  • Grand E-nov+ (France)
  • Prime Minister‘s Office (Hungary)
  • ART-ER (Italy)
  • Lapland Regional Council (Finland)
  • Pomorskie Voivodeship (Poland)
  • SODENA Navarra Development Agency (Spain)
  • University of Karlstad (advisory partner, Sweden)

Regional Group of stakeholders:

  1. Regione Emilia-Romagna – DG  Knowledge, Research, Work, Business
  2. Clust-ER Agrifood
  3. Clust-ER Build
  4. Clust-ER Greentech
  5. Clust-ER Create
  6. Clust-ER Health
  7. Clust-ER Innovate
  8. Clust-ER Mech
  9. Clust-ER Tourism
  10. Clust-ER Urban 
  11. Regional Union of Chambers of Commerce

To know more about the project and the activities done so far you can visit:

The Clust-ERs are financed by the European Funds of the Emilia-Romagna Region - ERDF ROP 2014-2020