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  • Periodic Report Summary 2 - MAGHRENOV (Convergence between EU and MAGHREB MPC innovation systems in the field of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RE&EE) – A test-bed for fostering Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Space (EMIS))

MAGHRENOV Report Summary

Project ID: 609453
Funded under: FP7-INCO
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - MAGHRENOV (Convergence between EU and MAGHREB MPC innovation systems in the field of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RE&EE) – A test-bed for fostering Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Space (EMIS))

Project Context and Objectives:
Research and Innovation (R&I) is expected to play a central role in successfully overcoming the Euro-Mediterranean area’s challenges as per the Monitoring Committee for the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation in Research and Technical Development (RTD). Its report, offering advice on a Common Research and Innovation Agenda, stresses that “there is increasing evidence that the Mediterranean region as a whole is undergoing rapid social, demographic, economic, environmental and political changes, transients to long-lasting changes that represent formidable challenges in the years to come. Drivers of these changes result both from natural and man-induced pressures, which may have implications on the sustainability of the social models and economic development.”
(Final Report of the Euro-Mediterranean Barcelona Conference on Research and Innovation, held in Barcelona in April 2012;

The Final Report of the Euro-Mediterranean Barcelona Conference on Research and Innovation (2012) highlights that Research and innovation (R&I) offer significant opportunities for Mediterranean countries to develop and exploit their assets for the benefit of their economies and of their peoples, especially as drivers of economic development. Increased knowledge and R&I are keys to the successful deployment of specific solutions, which, in turn, may deliver economic benefits on a wider scale.

The MAGHRENOV Project follows up on these initiatives and relates them to the critical theme of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (RE&EE) for the EuroMed area. This theme, which was treated in a full session of the Barcelona Conference, includes several fundamental issues related to innovation and market development such as growing needs in energy and electricity demand, integration of renewable energies and grid development, developing a shared vision for a common Mediterranean R&I strategy for renewable energy, and defining integrated energy innovation strategies targeting both supply for domestic markets and export.

MAGHRENOV addresses Mediterranean innovative markets in the field of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency with three main objectives:
1) Explore practical methods devoted to capacity building and to fostering innovation on Mediterranean RE& EE markets;
2) Favour convergence between EU and MPCs initiatives both for the development of sustainable energies adapted to regional specificities and for the establishment of a shared and dynamic Research and Innovation Systems (R&IS) in the domain; and
3) Create real mobility between young academics and entrepreneurs in both regions (EU and MPC) making use of the build-up capacity.

MAGHRENOV aims to significantly boost the research output of academic and R&D communities located in the Mediterranean area. It will do so by boosting mobility and creating new opportunities for exchange between researchers, industrialists, investment partners and policy makers at national and pan-European levels. Through the setting up of a Master’s Programme on RE&EE, the organisation of international networking events, the inter-connecting of international research initiatives and the continuous promotion of project-related materials through formal channels and social media, the project serves to generate new partnerships and new employment opportunities. Synergies will be developed with existing inter-regional research initiatives that aim to reinforce ties between universities and the business sector in the Maghreb Region.

Project Results:
In Year 2, the consortium laid the groundwork for MAGHRENOV to attain its objectives, namely to abet the development of the human entrepreneurial potential in RE&EE across the Mediterranean and to further trans-Mediterranean business corporation in the same field.

The main WP2 – Capacity Building 1: Human Resources (Education, Training and Mobility) activity during Y2 was defined by the outputs of the MAGHRENOV Workshop on Capacity Building EU-MPC (held in Barcelona in June 2014), which resulted in the constitution of a taskforce to work towards an ERASMUS+ Capacity Building in Higher Education proposal, named EU4MED+ submitted in February 2015. The aim of the proposal was to assure the continuity and sustainability of the MAGHRENOV project by constituting an MSc programme in trans-Mediterranean cooperation combined with an entrepreneurship and an industry internship programme, as detailed in year 1 deliverables D2.3 and D2.4. Finally, at the end of July 2015 the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) informed that EU4MED+ application had not been selected for EU funding. The strategy is to improve the proposal and to apply again in 2016, since it has been positively valorised by the EACEA. In this perspective, UPC organized a dedicated workshop in July 2015 on Future Erasmus+ with participation of UPC and the EU4MED+ partners. This workshop was focused on developing an alternative strategy to achieve the objectives of the EU4MED+ proposal in case of its rejection and to agree on a medium term roadmap. This was done by identifying existing opportunities on each partner’s national level in the subject of capacity building and mobility in the fields of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

The main WP3 – Capacity Building 2: Knowledge and Infrastructures for Innovation activity during Year 2 was defined by the outputs of the MAGHRENOV Workshop on Research Infrastructures (held in Ben Guerir in January 2015), which addressed the perspectives for research and innovation infrastructure regional needs and the development and the investment opportunities for Research Infrastructures (RIs) in the field of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (RE&EE) among the partners of MAGHRENOV project and selected actors in EU and MPC (Maghreb Partner Countries). The workshop was followed by the redaction of the investments opportunities report on research infrastructures which highlighted the opportunities for future investment and development of a Euro-Mediterranean research and innovation space, focusing on research infrastructures.

WP4 – Support to Joint Innovation Projects Work in WP4 has progressed in year 2 towards the successful launch of a Joint Call for innovative projects in the RE&EE sector with a trans-Mediterranean scope: two innovative projects in RE, co-funded by KIC SE and IRESEN, were selected and are currently working on their WP0. In parallel, a network of associated partners has been brought together to involve other R2I projects taking part in relevant brokerage events such as MARE and ETRERA_2020 with the main objective to enhance the impact of regional B2B events.

Most of the content work part of WP5 – Support to Business Creation has been initiated in Year 2, especially as part of Task 5.B: Sustainability plan for Business support. Three seminars on business creation support were organised over a period of 6 months, from December 2014 to May 2015. The deliverable 5.2 focuses on the key outcomes of these seminars, in terms of elaboration of a sustainable strategy for Business creation support, before concluding on the business support strategy and the use of the seminars for the policy recommendation work.

In the framework of WP6 – Policy Support an expert has been hired in September 2015 to draft the three White papers that will be delivered in year 3.
WP7 – Dissemination has assessed MAGHRENOV’s public presence with the Dissemination activities report Tear 1: including the follow-up and evaluation of the events (D7.5). During Year 2, WP7 has most notably been responsible for the development of the MAGHRENOV Knowledge Database and of the project social media presence. Moreover a strong preparatory work has been initiated for the International Conference in Year 3.

Potential Impact:
The expected impact of the project relates mostly to practical results from MAGHRENOV’s capacity building activities as well as more general lessons addressed to stakeholders and policy makers both in the EU and the MPCs.

Due to the intrinsic limitations of a Support Action scheme, demonstration activities will have a limited duration. MAGHRENOV additionally focuses on Maghreb MPCs, to avoid a too-wide dispersion and fragmentation of efforts. We plan to extend our activities and geographical scope progressively once the first results have been achieved. For this, the consortium will rely on existing networks and projects, such as MIRA Inco-Net, Bilateral EU-MPC agreements, ERAWIDE projects in the field of RE, etc., as well as taking advantage of Horizon 2020’s focus on innovation and the Erasmus+ scheme.

MAGHRENOV capacity building will address both human resources and the capturing and structuring of valuable knowledge that will enable further RE&EE innovations, and provide a sound basis for optimal business creation. Human resources are focused on facilitating the emergence of so-called „game changers‟ (about 5% of educated and trained people in the domain). Coming from across the Mediterranean basin, they will benefit from integrated technological and economics-based courses. Trans-border mobility at all career levels will favour the mastering of technological, economic, environmental, and societal factors of the EuroMed area, providing them with the expertise to drive innovation and business creation. Capacity building also deals with the necessary infrastructures to ensure quality research, highly reliable technological benchmarks or high-level training programmes that are key to achieving non-trivial and valuable innovation.

Finally, invaluable market intelligence will have been gained from joint innovative technology roadmaps and competence mapping highlighting specific EMIS conditions for RE&EE for innovation and business creation. Fostering innovation through quick start initiatives will include the provision of support for a limited number of trans-Mediterranean joint innovation projects financed by KIC SE, ANME and IRESEN in an exploratory phase. Action should then be enlarged with other funding actors, e.g. through an ERANET. All the above activities should contribute and lead to the emergence of a more political vision in which the converging potential of R&IS on both sides will be assessed as well as the constraints, possibly preventing full integration within a reasonable timeframe. This will help determine the form and structure that EMIS can take in the near future and its evolution in the longer term. This will constitute the support-to-policy dimension of the MAGHRENOV project.

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Richard Biagioni
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