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Danube Region INCO-NET

Final Report Summary - DANUBE-INCO.NET (Danube Region INCO-NET)

Executive Summary:
Danube-INCO.NET understands itself as strategic high-level coordination and support action. Its background is the macro-regional approach of the European Union, in particular the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) and its Priority Areas for Knowledge Society (PA7) and for Competitiveness (PA8). Based on strong institutionalised links with the PA Coordinators and the PA Steering Groups, a consortium of 19 partners from all over the region supports the policy dialogue within the EUSDR, to exchange with other regional policy initiatives and to enhance bi-regional dialogue with a focus on the implementation of the ‘Innovation Union’ and the ERA Framework.
As defined in the project plan, one of the foci of Danube-INCO.NET was on the societal challenges of energy efficiency and renewable energy in a bio-based economy, which are addressed by mapping and analysis, clustering and networking and the implementation of two concrete pilot activities. Moreover also the societal challenge of innovative and inclusive societies in the Danube region was addressed through the provision of analytical evidence: Research and innovation activities were monitored with several instruments, co-publication and co-patenting analysis, a survey identified barriers to cooperation and less competitive innovation systems were reflected through two STI policy mix peer reviews.
To implement concrete innovation support measures, smart specialisation strategies, technology transfer centres and a system of supporting the development of targeted project proposals have been addressed.
The Danube-INCO.NET partnership was also committed towards the development of joint funding mechanisms enhancing Danube Region Research and Innovation Funding (e.g. through supporting EUREKA and other platforms in the development of targeted calls), the establishment of a functioning Danube Funding coordination Network – DFCN is a valuable result.
In this respect, Danube-INCO.NET supported the cooperation among the leading – indeed world-class – innovative regions upstream to the regions, downstream both at strategic and operative level and further integration of the region was achieved, main stakeholders were encouraged to cooperate in a self-sustained way to activate the added value of enhanced RTDI cooperation in the region.

The core objectives were fully achieved
• Facilitated further dialogue on the integration of the DR in the ERA was achieved by introducing ERA Workshops and further exchange of information with dedicated targeted meetings and ensuring best outreach to the broad stakeholder community and contributing to newly started initiatives;
• Contributed to synergies with existing funding programmes and coordination structures as the PA7, PA8 and the DTP by means of dedicated workshops and contribution to the established steering meetings of the RTDI core processes in the EUSDR;
• Facilitated the implementation of two Pilot activities which contribute to Bioeconomy development in the DR and also the facilitation of further exchange on the topic in the DR, the necessary strategic recommendations to active the main actors working on the topic;
• Provided evidence by means of regional cooperation analysis with i.e. focusing on co-publication and co-patenting, identification of cooperation patterns and individual support to two countries which requested a STI Policy Mix Peer review by the project what contributed to the national reform agendas in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and the better DR integration of main STI stakeholders;
• Contributed successfully to the macro regional dialogue on the quadruple helix approach by means of a conference;
• Successfully completed the identification and increased the commitment of non EU MS who from 2017 on are involved in a S3 process with JRC (Serbia, Moldova);
• Developed advanced tools for multilateral STI cooperation i.e through the establishment of Funding coordination bodies in the DR, the functioning Danube Funding coordination Network – DFCN;
• Continue the efforts for information provision and the continuous provision of up to date information to best disseminate to relevant macro regional stakeholders by means of a website and a newsletter with a broad outreach - more than 50 newsletter issues reached more than 13.5 thousand subscribers, an effort that is continuing beyond the project duration.

Project Context and Objectives:
Danube-INCO.NET understands itself as strategic high-level coordination support project. Its background is the macro-regional approach of the European Union (EU) aiming at contributing to economic, social and territorial cohesion in the Member States (MS) and beyond, thus including a component of international cooperation.
The political background for the project was the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). The territory covered by the EUSDR comprising of eight EU Member States (MS) and six non-Member States, being very different in terms of economic strengths and research and innovation systems and profiles:
- EU MS and regions upstream of the Danube: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Germany – in particular Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria,
- EU MS and regions downstream of the Danube: Bulgaria, Romania
- Enlargement countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia
- Neighbourhood countries: Moldova and Ukraine (in particular oblast Odessa, Uschhorod, Ivano-Frankiwsk and Czernowitz)

The Danube Macro-Region has huge economic and innovation potential – but first of all, several pitfalls have to be overcome. The lack of sufficient amount of capital and R&D investment, lack of industrial R&D demand in mid-high and high-tech sectors, underdeveloped entrepreneurial culture, the phenomenon of brain drain, low salaries, and inadequate infrastructure hinder seriously the development in these fields, especially in the downstream neighbouring states. Discrepancies appear in line with the geographical situation of the country along the Danube. Countries from the upper stream can give good practices, whereas countries in the middle stream of the river sharing the common historical features of Eastern Europe can provide their experiences and also learn how to improve their practices. As a result, the project aims to facilitate the transfer of good practices in the field of innovation policy (and its governance), incentive schemes and support structures, framework conditions for R&I.
The EUSDR Action Plan has established Priority Areas (PAs) which are coordinated by Priority Area Coordinators (PACs), but without the creation of formal structures or new EU funds. Danube-INCO.NET targeted Research and Innovation (R&I) in the Danube Macro-Region and therefore supported those parts of EUSDR relevant in this context.
Based on the objectives of Danube-INCO.NET the project addressed and supported mainly the PAs which focus on Building Prosperity, with PA7 to develop the Knowledge Society (through research, education and information technologies) and PA8 to support the Competitiveness (of enterprises, including cluster development), having also nominated specific partners for the project: For PA7, one of the PACs / member of PACs support team – University of Novi Sad, UNS / Mihaijlo Pupin Institute (MPI) respectively, participated in the consortium, while PA8 has nominated Steinbeis Innovation gGmbH (SIG) to be an interlocutor. Danube-INCO.NET also addressed actively other Priority Areas (see in particular WP2, Task “Supporting EUSDR Policy Dialogue”), tackling the scientific aspects relevant for achieving their objectives and in particular addressing the societal challenges on energy and protecting the environment (PA2) (see in particular WP3, Tackling Societal Challenges).
Following the principles of macro regional strategies, the project did not aim to set up additional organizations and forums but, first, to closely cooperated with the PAs of the Danube Strategy, and second, it exploited the already existing organizations and the synergies among them, such as the Central Europe Initiative (CEI) which was involved as a partner, Visegrad 4, and other related organizations (see in particular WP3 Tackling Societal Challenges: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in a Bio-based Economy).
The INCO-NET for the Danube Region was one of the answers to the challenge to finding ways of providing assistance within the available financial resources to support the implementation of the Strategy by aligning existing funding to the objectives of the Strategy. “Danube-INCO.NET” therefore takes inspiration from the Strategy, its Action Plan, the Priority Area Steering Group meetings and discussions with the key stakeholders in the EUSDR as well as the general background for the development of R&I in Europe: the Europe 2020 Strategy, and the Innovation Union flagship initiative in particular, which puts research and innovation at its heart and the developments towards Horizon 2020, and also other relevant programmes developed for the period 2014-2020.

The consortium of the Danube-INCO.NET aimed to
(1) Generally implement a sound and well planned project with a carefully selected consortium that has both the political backing and the implementation capacities which is addressed in WP1,
(2) Support the policy dialogue in the Danube Region as addressed in WP2, with the focus to
• Support the EUSDR and its Priority Areas, as far as they are addressing research and innovation issues,
• Support the coordination of multiple STI policy dialogue forums in the region,
• Support the policy dialogue on the implementation of the flagship initiative “Innovation Union of the Europe 2020 Strategy” and in particular the implementation of the European Research Area (ERA),
(3) Improve the response to the most relevant societal challenges in the region (i.e. energy / bio-economy) and improve networking and coordination of the stakeholders involved, launching several clustering activities and concrete pilots which is addressed in WP3, focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy in a bio-based economy,
(4) Provide analytical evidence for research and innovation (R&I) policy making in the region through the tasks of WP4 which aim to
• Monitor science, research and innovation activities in the region (co-publications, co-patents and joint projects),
• Identify barriers to cooperation,
• Analyse the policy mix of selected less advanced countries in the Danube area to support the adaption of national frameworks,
(5) Launch concrete actions to promote smart specialisation, technology transfer and innovative projects, promoting innovative and inclusive Danube Societies, which is the focus of WP5 and its tasks,
(6) Support (innovative) coordination of funding mechanisms, cooperating with funding partners in the region assessing possibilities for the creation of a network and exploiting possible ways of scaling up joint funding mechanisms– which is both the centre of WP6,
(7) Provide a sound and efficient communication platform, bringing together information about the main stakeholders in the region and the results of their work, which is the focus of WP7.

Project major activities
Danube-INCO.NET was based on the organisation of events – including conferences, meetings, workshops or seminars, related studies, exchange and dissemination of good practices, and the definition, organisation and management of joint initiatives, together with management of the project as such.
In more detail, the project
(1) organises management meetings, face-to-face as well as virtual, management reports, templates for sound financial and administrative management and procedures for quality assurance (WP1),
(2) organises and supports working-groups of the Priority Areas 7 and 8, a cross-fertilising PA7/PA8 working group; mapping of the major stakeholders and co-organisation of events with them, exchange of information among them, and provides recommendations on synergies identified; supports workshops to enhance the policy dialogue and implementation of ERA and the Innovation Union particularly in non-EU Member States (WP2),
(3) provides a directory and database and bring together organisations which focus on issues of energy/bio-economy, exchange information and analysis of the cooperation framework addressing the societal challenge in the region, networking meetings, cluster formation and support to the “Environment and Energy” working group of PA8, meetings to explore possibilities towards concrete pilots, also drawing from the experience of existing instruments such as European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs), European Technology Platforms (ETPs) or Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) of the European Institute of Technology (EIT), and implementation thereof in the form of pilot actions to be selected; implementation of one major Triple Helix conference and two brokerage events Networking4Innovation (WP3),
(4) conducts analyses and provides studies on co-publication and co-patenting activities in the Danube Region as well as a documentation and analysis of running projects; analysis and study on the barriers to cooperation including recommendations to overcome them; and peer review studies about the policy mix supporting research and innovation in the less competitive Danube sub-Regions (WP4),
(5) conducts workshops and peer reviews on smart specialisation strategies (S3) in the Danube Region and improves the scientific background for the development and implementation of S3 through a conference; documents and shares experiences in the implementation of technology transfer centres and trainings for the implementation of a Danube Technology Transfer Centre; identifies and steers project proposals for the objectives of the Danube Strategy and provides “labelling” for most suitable proposal outlines (WP5),
(6) creates and implements meetings of funding parties in the region, discussing joint funding activities and discussions exploring scaling up joint funding mechanisms, finally supporting the implementation of a flexible and sustainable funding coordination network in cooperation with the respective PA7 Working Group (WP6),
(7) sets up and implements a sound communication platform, coordinates dissemination activities and promotes research and innovation and exchange of good practices in the Danube Region (WP7).

The implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region has progressed well and Danube-INCO.NET was, as planned, well included in the work of the specific Priority Areas 7 (Knowledge Society) and 8 (Competitiveness). Beyond these key reference groups, a variety of stakeholders are active in the context of the project also supporting research and innovation activities in the Danube Region. As a coordination and support action, the project supported the policy dialogue through mapping and coordination of these stakeholders. In contributes directly to some targets and milestones of the EUSDR priority areas.
In the context of the European Research Area and Innovation Union, the project aims were to support the non-EU Member States in their efforts of ERA integration, and therefore the project implemented several activities in this respect, such as dedicated workshops and policy mix peer reviews and the development of specific instruments such as the Danube Technology Transfer Centers.
The at the time of the project planning not yet existing Danube Transnational Cooperation programme was also supported, especially the synergies of existing initiatives with newly funded projects from the 1st DTP call were explored by organising a synergy workshop which included a large number of relevant stakeholders and also newly funded projects.
As far as the communication and dissemination activity is concerned, the project managed to mobilise and “loyalize” a consistent segment of the research stakeholder community in the DR region and beyond. The widely recognized dissemination activities supported the capitalisation of complementary activities as well as the dissemination and valorisation of project outputs. Particularly successful is the Danube-INCO.NET Newsletter that was praised in several occasions as a key instrument for keeping updated on the RTDI dynamics in the DR and as a valuable source for information on cooperation opportunities in the wider EU area. Extra funding was found that allows the instrument to continue from July 2017 till autumn 2019. Further means will be attracted to ensure additional sustainability to the Danube-INCO.NET platform and information infrastructure.

Project Results:
The main S&T results and foregrounds are presented following the workpackage and work-task structure of the Danube-INCO.NET

WORKPACKAGE 1: Project Management
Beside the support for the successful implementation of the project, the influence on the results and foreground needs no specific explanation


WORKPACKAGE 2: Policy Dialogue

Task 2.1: Supporting EUSDR Policy DialogueChallenges:
The countries participating in the EUSDR have very different starting positions and framework conditions when it comes to R&I capacities and funding. To successfully implement the goals of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region in the Area of Research, Development and Innovation it is necessary to advance the knowledge about national funding systems and step up modes of cooperation.
Process/steps: The main method used within this task has been the organisation of and participation in different meetings. The participation in meetings has focused on the Steering Group Meetings of PA7 and PA8 as well as other, more general or strategic oriented events such as the EUSDR Annual Forum, the Steering Platform on Research for Western Balkan Countries or the Danube Rectors Conference.
With view to the meetings lead by the Danube-INCO.Net project partners, the distinctive foci have been (as described in the DoW: i) Environmental Technologies and Energy Efficiency led by WP3 and ii) better coordination of R&D funding mechanisms in the Danube Region in cooperation with WP6.
In addition two cross-fertilisation workshops have been organized to establish links beyond PA7 and PA8 covering the topics “Cross-fertilisation perspective on innovation and technology transfer” and „“Competitiveness and internationalization of SMEs in Bioeconomy
in Danube Region”. Finally to link the EUSDR with a main funding instrument, namely the Danube Transnational Programme a Synergy workshop of the R&I related projects funded under the DTP has been organized with participants from 14 projects.
Main results:
The Danube-INCO.Net project (WP2 in cooperation with WP6) has made a clear and significant contribution to the work of the EUSDR especially in i) providing data and input to the DRRIF Feasibility Study ii) increasing the know-how of the relevant stakeholders about funding mechanisms at EU and EUSDR country level iii) supporting the discussion about and implementation of a Danube Funding Coordination Network(DFNC) iv) initiating discussion related to thematic priority setting in the R&I field and most importantly iv) supporting the implementation of pilot activities for research and innovation cooperation in the Danube Region.
Timeframe for potential impact:
As described above some of the impacts (DFCN, pilot activities for cooperation) are already visible and a number of these efforts are very likely to be sustained also in the coming years as efforts have been made to anchor them either on national or EUSDR administrative level.


Task 2.2: Policy Framework Coordination
Challenges addressed:
Within the Danube Region there is a plethora of stakeholder active in the area of research and innovation as well as funding of related activities. To better coordinate activities, avoid overlaps and increase efficiency and synergies a mapping and analysis of those stakeholders is necessary.
Process/steps:
Identification of main stakeholders - the first step was to investigate stakeholders having any relevance for research, innovation and education including some regional actors bearing important tracks in regional cooperation. The identification of stakeholders was executed through desk research and partners’ recommendations which resulted in a table including almost 90 actors.
Defining the main aspects of investigation and selection of the most relevant stakeholders – according to their relevance with view to i) the character of the initiative/stakeholder ii) main objective of the initiative/stakeholder iii) recent achievements iv) future targets v) type of programmes funded vi) good practices and vii) relation to other stakeholders the stakeholders have been analysed and ranked to arrive at a list of 49 to be analysed in more detail. Desk research has been used to collect basic data of the stakeholders and set up of a respective database.
To get a more in depth information of the organisations a survey has been designed. However, as the response rate has not been sufficient follow-up activities e.g. via telephone interviews have been carried out. Based on the evaluation of results, the report has been compiled and a set of policy recommendations formulated.
Stakeholders' Workshops have been organised to disseminate the results of the report and gather further evidence for the update. Two of these events were connected to larger scale meetings (Enhancing synergies in research and innovation programmes in the region back-to-back with the Steering Platform on Research for the Western Balkan 08.06 2015 and Paving the way for joint actions in the Danube Region during the 4th Annual Forum of the EUSDR 30.10.2015) and in addition regional events have been hosted in the Odessa region. A respective update and revision of the initial report of 2015 has been finalised in October 2016.
Main results:
The work of Task 2.2 has increased the knowledge about some of the key R&I stakeholders in the Danube Region supporting the better coordination of those activities in a long-term perspective. The activities have contributed to facilitating the dialogue on R&I activities and programmes and potentials for synergies and has highlighted some of the necessary steps for an enhanced exploitation and possible harmonization of programmes, priorities, and other supporting initiatives.
Timeframe for potential impact:
The stakeholder workshops had the immediate impact of facilitating the direct dialogue between some of the key stakeholder in the Danube Region and beyond (Western Balkan).
Other potential impacts linked to the policy recommendations formulated will only materialise in the years to come and depend on the willingness of the involved actors and the dynamic the EUSDR can sustain as a coordinating instrument.

Task 2.3: Innovation Union and ERA in the Danube Region
Challenges addressed:
The concepts and frameworks of the Innovation Union as well as the European Research Area are providing EU Member States with clear paths and goals for advancing their R&I systems to be competitive in the long run. However, the EUSDR encompasses 9 EU Member States as well as 3 Associated Countries and 2 Neighbourhood Countries, that partly exhibit much lower R&I investments and capacities. It is important to open a dialogue with these countries about the key features of these frameworks helping them to accelerate their catching-up process.
Process/steps: In order to maximise the impact of the planned workshops in the Non-EU countries a preparatory survey has been launched to identify the topics regarded as most pressing and relevant. Based on the responses the following three workshops have been held:
1: Joint Programming and co-operation of European research infrastructures (Serbia)
2: Participation in international research and innovation programmes (Horizon 2020), particularly of SME’s (Ukraine)
3: Performance-based research funding as an element of increasing the effectiveness of national R&I systems (Moldova)
To establish a common point of departure by setting-the-scene and building a common knowledge base on the topic discussion have been prepared for each workshop. The papers outline the wide scope of the policy development and include references to relevant policy documents, describing the current state-of-progress in the political and implementation processes, as well as examples of country-specific strategies and implementation frameworks and end with guiding questions for the meeting.
After each workshop specific recommendations have been developed to support policy making in those areas. They have been widely published among the EUSDR stakeholders and have been presented face-to-face at meetings with research organisations, policy makers etc.
Finally recommendations have also been developed calling for sustained capacity building activities for the Non-Member States in the EU Framework Programmes (Widening).
Main results:
Task 2.3 has made a significant contribution to increasing the knowledge about the concepts of Innovation Union and European Research Area in the Non-EU Member states and within the R&D community and government representatives specifically. It has improved the exchange of knowledge and good practise in these topics among the whole EUSDR countries and has highlighted the importance of sustained capacity building measures in the region.
Timeframe for potential impact:
Impacts related to policy change, education and skills can only be seen in a long-term perspective. However, with view to the needed capacity building measures in the region the upcoming negotiations for a next Framework Programme could already be an indicator of the importance given to this topic from EU as well as non-EU Member States side.


WORKPACKAGE 3: Tackling Societal Challenges: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in a Bio-based Economy

Task 3.1: Identifying and promoting actions and stakeholders
The first scope of T3.1 was to map stakeholders active in the Danube Region in the fields of sustainable energy and bio-economy (being them higher education/research/innovation institutes, companies, associations/NGOs, etc.). This resulted in a database including more than 700 institutions. The main goals of this mapping exercise were to: a) consolidate a dense network of stakeholders to disseminate strategic information and knowledge; b) establish a database of actors to involve in further WP3 activities. Indeed, once mapped, such stakeholders became the recipient of the monthly WP3 Energy & Bioeconomy Newsletter. In the 30 issues prepared and circulated between December 2014 and June 2017, a relevant amount of information was channelled, touching upon topics such energy-efficient buildings, bio-based economy, waste management and recycling, renewable energy sources and energy transition.
Entries were grouped into three categories: a) news (in the field of sustainable energy and bioeconomy with close links to the area covered by the EUSDR); events (national and international conferences/workshops addressing the tackled sectors, mostly targeting the EUSDR area; c) calls (for papers, applications, job openings, expression of interest and funding opportunities at both EU and national level).
In addition to supporting knowledge circulation and stakeholders’ mapping, T3.1 dedicated resources to analysis and reporting. With the aim to facilitate the establishment of consortia, a thorough Report on funding opportunities in the field of sustainable energy was elaborated. Moreover, an Analysis of the cooperation framework was carried out on a sample of about 40 institutions registered in the above-mentioned database (under the categories “higher education institutes”, “research institutes” and “innovation institutes”). Through an online survey and targeted interviews via email, the Analysis highlighted the cooperation potential in terms of matching research priorities, complementary equipment, skills and competences of surveyed stakeholders. It confirmed the known discrepancies between upper and lower Danube regions, as well as the weakness of links between business and research, especially if compared to inter-academic cooperation. Indeed, the Analysis highlighted two conflicting trends: on one side, divisions (upper/lower Danube regions; research/business); on the other, strong willingness to cooperate at macro-regional level and high demand for measures in support to networking, partnership building and knowledge sharing (particularly from non-EU Danube countries). Certainly, these issues are broadly known and can be tackled effectively only through a combination of actions, including those at policy level. Nevertheless, “soft measures” in support to transnational networking, transfer of know-how, knowledge dissemination and capacity building can make their own contribution. Thus, in the field of sustainable energy and bioeconomy, the activities carried out in the context of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region cannot but benefit from integrating projects, such as Coordination and Support Actions, helping unlock the existing potential and tackling obstacles and barriers to macro-regional cooperation. Of course, considering the nature of this activity, its impact in the long run (for instance in terms of number of H2020 proposals originating from the Danube Region) is difficult to predict and will become measurable only in the upcoming years.

Task 3.2 Clustering and Triple Helix Networking
T3.1 provided the necessary background information and inputs to implement the activities included in T3.2 and T3.3. Concerning T3.2 the main objective was to promote networking and partnership building by facilitating people-to-people contacts at macro-regional level and in the fields of sustainable energy and bioeconomy.
Overall, eight events were organized in 2015 and 2016.
First, three Clustering Workshops were held between February and July 2015 (in Trieste, Stuttgart and Berlin, respectively). 60 participants attended these events (inter alia representing 12 EUSDR countries), whose main focus, in line with the DoW, was on existing schemes for cooperation and legal tools to facilitate transnational cooperation between and among research institutions. Thus, these Clustering Workshops promoted discussions and knowledge circulation on the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), the European Technology Platform (ETP) and the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC), based on the assumption that efforts shall be made in order to: a) disseminate knowledge on these opportunities at macro-regional level; b) sustain the participation of EUSDR in these frameworks. Moreover, the Clustering Workshops turned out useful platforms to encourage the elaboration of proposals for Pilot Activities to be implemented in the context of Danube-INCO.NET. Indeed, small consortia composed of Project Partners and external stakeholders invited to the Clustering Workshops were formed to elaborate joint proposals for Pilot Activities. This initial collaboration allowed for the establishment of broader H2020 and DTP partnerships (see T3.3).
Bioeconomy was the main issue addressed by WP3 in the second half of project implementation. Therefore, the series of Clustering Workshops continued in 2016 with two additional events held in Budapest (July 2016) and Bratislava (November 2016), both focused on bioeconomy as a relevant societal challenge for the Danube Region.
Taking into account the broadly acknowledged potential of the Danube Region in terms of biomass availability, the main result of these Workshops was to initiate a debate on the development of a macro-regional approach in support to bioeconomy transition, having in mind that an EU Bioeconomy Strategy is in place since 2012.
These networking opportunities, which also included two Brokerage Events and one international “Triple-Helix” Conference, gathered representatives of government, academia and research, all sectors relevant for bioeconomy as an interdisciplinary concept.
Coordinators of EUSDR priority areas “holding a stake” in bioeconomy (PA2, PA6, PA7 and PA8) where invited to participate: specific support in this regard was expressed by PA8, particularly by the Ministry of Economy of Croatia. In order to ensure a mid-term impact to T3.2 activities, it is of utmost importance that the development of a Danube macro-regional approach in support to bioeconomy is sustained at political level in the framework of the EUSDR. It can be maintained that PA8 seems suitable for bringing this topic forward and for capitalising on the achievements of Danube-INCO.NET in the next future.

Task 3.3 Pilot Activities
T3.3 complemented T3.2 clustering and networking activities at a more operational level. Two Pilot Activities, elaborated in the context of the above-mentioned Clustering Workshops held in 2015 were selected in the context of a competitive call for proposals. Implemented by a combination of Project Partners and external stakeholders, these Pilots were respectively entitled: “Towards a Danube bioeconomy RTI strategy for appropriate regional added value chains”; and “Building a Bioeconomy Research and Advocacy Network in the Danube Region”. Altogether, they provided for the organisation of three Strategy Workshops and two Open Innovation Events, while carrying out one online consultation and one survey throughout 2016. They achieved to build a preliminary network of bioeconomy experts and practitioners in the Danube Region and to spotlight strengths and weakness of the macro-region vis-à-vis the transition to bioeconomy. Both Pilot Activities resulted in the elaboration of Position Papers that were widely disseminated (inter alia to the European Commission, to EIP-Agri and to the Platform of bioeconomy ERA-NET actions).
T3.3 Pilot Activities confirmed that the Danube Region features essential assets that could trigger economic growth from smart utilisation of available biomass. Furthermore, they demonstrated that there is willingness to cooperate among stakeholders representing different sectors, i.e. industry, academia and public/policy. At the same time, Danube countries are to tackle significant bottlenecks hindering the full deployment of their bioeconomy potential. Thus, there is still much to do in order to establish the appropriate “enabling environment” where a Danube bioeconomy community can blossom and cooperate successfully.
In order to overcome such barriers, both Pilot Activities identified a number of measures for future actions in support to the development of bioeconomy in the Danube Region. These were discussed during the Workshop “Fostering Bioeconomy in the Danube Region” (Trieste, 19 May 2017) whose final output was a set of 10 Recommendations entitled “Towards a Danube Region Bioeconomy Concept”. These recommendations cover a broad spectrum of aspects, stemming from governance to finance, from research to innovation and civil society engagement. In particular, they highlight the importance of promoting a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary approach as a pre-condition to make full use of the biomass potential existing in the Danube Region and to support the bioeconomy transition. In terms of future impact, they represent a starting point for developing new projects and initiatives related to the development of bioeconomy in the Danube Region. In this regard, at least two partnerships were established in the context of T3.3 implementation. The first one developed and submitted a proposal under the second call of the INTERREG Danube Transnational Programme (focused on the integration of the biogas plants into the energy network); the second one is preparing a H2020 proposal focused on the promotion of rural business in the bioeconomy. In addition to project generation, the impact of T3.3 Pilot Activities in the mid term will highly depend on the political commitment of EUSDR countries towards the bioeconomy transition. In this regard, the EUSDR could be a useful multilateral framework to facilitate the necessary interdisciplinary approach, exchange of information and transfer of best practices, while at the same time building political consensus on the bioeconomy challenge. For this reason, as mentioned also under T3.2 bioeconomy-related Danube-INCO.NET activities and outputs were transferred to the coordinators of strategic EUSDR Priority Areas, in particular Priority Area 8, which can play a pivotal role in their future sustainability and capitalisation.


WORKPACKAGE 4: Analytical Evidence an Research and Innovation in the Danube Region

Task 4.1 Monitoring research and innovation cooperation
Within task 4.1 on the one hand the report on EU projects with focus on innovation tools (D4.15) on the other hand the analysis of co-publications and co-patents in the Danube Region (D4.16) were planned to be delivered.
The objective of D4.15 Analysis of research and innovation projects in the region and transferability of results was to identify and analyse EU funded projects’ outputs that have any potential for being transferred to the Danube Region. Partners outlined the main scopes of the investigation: focus on cluster development, technology transfer, financing mechanisms and tools and non-financing mechanisms and tools for supporting research and innovation. During the desk research, projects funded under FP7, CIP and European Transnational Cooperation programmes were analysed in accordance with pre-defined keywords. As a result, 274 results were included in the report out of 75 projects. The final deliverable was ready in M15 consisting of project results and recommendations for the improvement of their exploitation.
D4.15 articulated important recommendations with regard to the need of a more efficient coordination and communication mechanism among the programmes having financed these projects. Also, coordination and synergy building is suggested to be developed between programmes at EU level and national or regional initiatives. Sustainability of project results and their further exploitation should be enhanced too.
The aim of the co-publication and co-patent analysis was to provide a basis for defining strength and weaknesses in the field of research and innovation cooperation within the Danube Region. With this regard for the preparation of D4.16 the amount of co-publications and co-patents were extracted from the relevant databases (SCOPUS and Web of Science, Patstat, etc.) per country and compared to each other. Then their development over a time period of 10 year (2003-2013) was analysed. The examination allowed to look at (1) the main scientific fields of co-publications, (2) the main specializations of co-patents, as well as the (3) the most frequent country pairs of the co-publications and co-inventions.
Main results of the analysis could be summarized as follows: thematic focus of overall DR co-publications is on Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry, Biomedical Research, Biology, Mathematics & Statistics, Earth & Environmental Sciences, General Science & Technology. Strong co-publication linkages can be observed in case of Germany, which is the strongest “co-player” in the region. As regards co-inventions, a comparative strength of DR in the 'Mechanical Engineering', Textiles, 'Operations and Transport' and, to some degree, Fixed Constructions can be observed. Important to underline that there is no technology area with large-scale knowledge flow out of the Danube region. Relevant co-invention relationships exist between: CZ-SK, MD-RO, AT-SK, MD-UA, AT-HU, AT-CZ – Ukraine is less integrated into DR co-invention networks.
Following the developments of having the study available which is the main result of the task, dissemination of the results has started as soon as the first results were available and lasted until the end of the project. Visualization of results took more time than planned. Slight delays in this task did not endanger the successful accomplishment of the task and the project activities.

Task 4.2 Barriers to cooperation in the Danube Region
T4.2 targets the identification of social, political, economic and cultural barriers to S&T cooperation within the Danube Region. With this respect a questionnaire was elaborated to examine (1) general features of cooperation of the research and innovation community of the region, (2) priorities of respondents in selecting the country for cooperation, (3) potential barriers to research and innovation collaboration. The finalization and testing of the questionnaire took place in close coordination among several involved partners. Then the survey was made available through the limesurvey tool in January 2015 and circulated within partners’ R&I networks. The survey was closed on the end of March 2015, being filled in by 1590 respondents – except for a very few countries with limited number of respondents, e.g. Czech Republic, Montenegro – this responses enable the statistical evaluation of the results. Subsequently statistical and descriptive analyses started to evaluate the replies and identify the main barriers to cooperation.
The formulation of the concept of the report and the survey took more time than originally foreseen. Difficulties appeared in certain methodological aspects (i.e. involvements of two lands from Germany compared to the involvement of MSs in EUSDR, the length of the questionnaire, etc.); and also in the exact focus of the survey especially with regard to the comparison of the results to a previous survey executed within WBC-INCO.NET which should broaden the scope of recommendations based on the evaluation.
The main output of this task is a dedicated study on the cooperation barriers which can be used for the planning of dedicated measures.

Task 4.3 Policy mix peer review
Through the establishment of a peer review exercise, the main objective of this task was to improve the R&I policy mix of less competitive countries of the Danube Region through a mutual learning process supported by the critical friend approach of a group of peers with the support of a Team Leader. With this regard the following actions took place: the elaboration of the baseline study aiming to provide a background and a rationale for further analysis of R&I policy mixes of non-EU countries lying along the downstream of the river (namely Serbia, BiH, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova) was started to be elaborated including the exact methodology of the policy mix peer review exercise (scopes investigation, process, responsibilities of peers and team leader, etc.). Possible target countries of the policy mix peer review exercise were contacted. An official letter of commitment was received from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015. Serbia has also expressed its interest. Having the draft methodology and preliminary discussions with the target countries on the timing of the exercise, potential peers, i.e. senior governmental officials were identified and contacted from Romania, Italy, Estonia, France, Switzerland, Norway and the JRC. Positive feedback to be able to participate in the exercise was received from all 5 peers so that the international peer group could have been established in time.
As concluded at the PMPR Kick off meeting in July 2015, the Peer review visit was organised in Bosnia Herzegovina from 19-23 of October, 2015. The Peer review visit took five days with the participation of the leader and the peers. Approximately four or five interviews were held each day with the officials, representatives of authorities and institutions responsible for any parts at any relevant level of the R&I policy mix. Each workday ended with concluding discussion of the team.
The Policy Mix Peer Review Report on BiH was prepared by the expert team, which was followed by the PMPR Feedback visit 15-16.02.2016 with relevant actors. According to the results of the Feedback visit was finalized with a really slight delay.
The Peer review activities and the visit in Serbia could start 3 months later than planned because of the unexpected political situation in Serbia: due to the elections the project had to wait until the new government was formed and the relevant ministry ensured the ownership of the PMPR exercise. The visit was held still in 2016, the review team had 31 interviews with 38 individuals from all major stakeholder groups (government, academia, business and intermediary organisations providing special innovation services). The findings of the report were based on the lessons learnt during this visit.
The Policy Mix Peer Review Report on Serbia was prepared by the expert team, which was followed by the PMPR Feedback visit in 2017 with relevant actors. According to the results of the Feedback visit the report was finalized
For the best uptake of recommendations in the framework of the project 2 dissemination events were organized each presenting the Policy Mix Peer Review Report on BiH and Serbia. The BiH workshop was held in Sarajevo in May 2017, organised by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH and the Regional Centre for Information and Scientific Development (RCISD, Hungary) back to back to an important meeting. The Serbian workshop was held in Belgrade in June 2017, organized by the Institute Mihajlo Pupin and RCISD.
The main results from this task are the reports delivered to the countries and the triggered internal discussions for the uptake of the proposed recommendations for the improvement of the national STI systems.


WORKPACKAGE 5: Promoting Innovative and Inclusive Danube Societies

Task 5.1 Smart Specialised Danube
The objective to support the innovation policy in the region through support of smart specialisation strategies and peer review has been achieved in different ways. First, the objectives was implemented facilitating S3 collaboration by mapping S3 priorities, launching surveys, identifying and piloting joint initiatives and organising S3 collaboration events in the Danube region. Secondly the activities expanded with more focus on non-EU partners of the Danube region supported by analysis of R&I systems, S3 awareness raising, transnational learning events aiming to share benefits of the S3 approach and good practices in the EU countries and to explore the possibilities how the S3 approach could be applied in the Danube countries outside the EU.
As a preparatory activity several peer-review workshops were organise and the tools advancing collaboration in RIS3 process and to explore possible cooperation opportunities in R&I areas along the Danube were identified. This aims to enhance transnational and inter-regional initiatives and alignment of the Danube countries’/regions’ R&I agendas in the future, also supported through a RIS3 priority mapping. A dedicated online survey included 5 examples from the Danube Region - The output of RIS3 mapping and the online survey was used in organising:
S3 DanubeWorkshop “Gathering opportunities around RIS3 Priorities in Vienna, Austria - The event gathered about 70 actors representing triple helix networks from 11 countries. Project partners presented 16 new project ideas for the collaboration in the discussed S3 priorities. The results of the Danube S3 workshop provided an important contribution to the development of the thematic workshops of JRC Annual Event on the Scientific Support to EUSDR back-to-back with the EUSDR Annual Forum in Ulm, October 2015.

A series of events and discussions were organised with purpose to involve non-EU partners to S3 activities aiming at broadening the knowledge on the S3 concept, raising awareness and facilitating initiation of S3.
(1) S3 Design Learning Workshop was organised on 18-19th of February, 2016 in Chisinau, Moldova. The workshop gathered 80 participants from 14 countries including non-EU countries such as Ukraine, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldova also with a particular focus on Danube non-EU MS countries aiming to share the benefits of the S3 methodology.
(2) Workshop “Science for S3: Combining old and new approaches for monitoring and evaluating innovation policies” in the frame of Open Evaluation Conference 2016” in Vienna also involved non EU partners into discussion on:
o awareness raising of monitoring & evaluation (M&E) issues of research and innovation strategies of smart specialization (RIS3)
o Increasing professionalizing in M&E of RIS3 in the Danube Region, in particular in the lower Danube
o Exchange of experience on M&E of RIS3 in and beyond the Danube Region
o Challenges of monitoring and evaluation of research and innovation data in Eastern non-EU countries

The outcomes of the discussions at the workshop served as a basis for (D.5.33) Publication “Science for S3: M&E” – The document discusses the approaches to characteristics of innovation strategies for smart specialization (RIS3) and the methodologies used during the development, implementation and evaluation of smart specialisation strategies in order to increase their quality.
(3) "Starting Smart Specialization: Experiences from the EU for innovation and economic transformation" was organised on 5th April, 2016 back to back to GA of Danube-INCO.NET project, in Chisinau, Moldova. The S3 event was aiming at broadening the knowledge on the S3 concept, raising awareness and launching smart specialization initiatives in Moldova, Ukraine and Serbia. It brought together about 110 participants from 14 countries including non-EU partners from Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia and FYROM. The event set the stage for starting the S3 process in the latter countries which will continue under the S3 pilot project of JRC Enlargement & Integration Action.
The main result of the work is a higher information level on S3 processes in the DR, the commitment of two countries to undergo a S3 process along the support from the JRS initiative and a broader knowledge base through dedicated workshops and a publication in the JRC publishing series.

T5.2 Danube Transfer Centers (task leader: SIG-SEZ)
In order to increase capacities for technology transfer the set up and further development of Danube Technology Transfer Centres Network was supported.
New potential DTC hosting organizations have been identified, such as :
1. University of Maribor, Slovenia
2. Regional Development Agency HRAST, Croatia
3. Centre for Technology Transfer at the Polytechnical University of Odessa, Ukraine
4. Pannon Business Network, Györ (HU),
With the Regional Development Agency HRAST, SIG-SEZ signed the Memorandum of Understanding during the 5th Annual Forum of the EUSDR in Bratislava. At the same time and place, SEZ signed the Letter of Commitment with the University of Maribor. Both agreements mark steps towards creating a fully functional DTC.
In total SIG-SEZ conducted 5 Virtual DTC Meetings and 2 Virtual DTC trainings as well as one “on-the-job” training with DTC Slavonski Hrast (Croatia), as well several Twinning meetings between SIG-SEZ and DTCs were organised. SIG-SEZ finalized the Concept for Danube Technology Transfer Centres including a tool-kit on DTC creation and implementation. The Deliverable managed to present a scheme for creating and implementing technology transfer centres in the Danube region. The concept for a tool-kit on DTC creation and implementation has been developed in the context of the Working Group “Innovation and Technology Transfer” under the Priority Area 8 of EUSDR. The deliverable provides a useful concept by showing nine necessary steps for DTC creation and its implementation.
Besides, the following DTC events have been conducted:
o DTC Network Meeting and 1st PA Cross Fertilisation Workshop, June 2016, Bucharest
o DTC Ceremony | Signing the Memorandum of Understanding, November 2016, Bratislava
o 2nd PA Cross Fertilisation Workshop, April 2017 in Vukovar
The main results of the work in the task are a number of activated Transfere centres in the dR, the establishment of a feasible model for Transfer centres and the activation of important actors for the start of such support centres. Moreover, the broad outreach to relevant actors enables the further development of more transfer centres and ensures the support of the main regional stakeholders including the PACs.

T5.3 Development and “Labelling” of Danube Region projects and proposals
In order to support the development of targeted projects using different funding sources which shall fit into the EUSDR objectives, complement the on-going activities and avoid duplication, labelling was already discussed in the context of EUSDR for a long time. In order to support this discussion, UNS has created a concrete outline of the process for labelling of projects. It addresses the labelling of strategic projects of the EUSDR and proposes the framework for a joint approach and coordination of all PAs. A process for labelling of projects and proposals has been proposed in order to encourage stakeholders to actively engage in implementing the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) through EU funding instruments in programming period 2014-2020 and with the intention to support the preparation of projects with a clear EUSDR added-value. I.e. such process ends with a Letter of Recommendation (LoR) to accompany a formal project application. Within the project, a pilot initiative was started and carried out referring to the H2020 TWINNING call under the “Spreading excellence and widening participation” programme. Eventually three project proposals out of seven applicants received the letter of recommendation based on the evaluation grid prepared .
This task aimed to support the development of a tailored labelling approach for Priority Area 7 with a particular aim to fit projects and proposals into the EUSDR objectives. The task aimed to complement the on-going activities and avoid duplication, and thus also had to undergo some changes when other labelling approaches have been presented. Danube-INCO.NET launched a pilot for the labelling of projects, but did not repeat this approach due to lessons learnt from the pilot, discussions ongoing with funding agencies as well as within the EUSDR, especially the strategic project initiative launched by the Danube Strategy Point (DSP). A “Report on developments of ‘labelling’ processes” provides an overview on the labelling approaches and an analysis of strengths and weaknesses including the labelling objectives and benefits for the stakeholders. As a main result this deliverable report provided a comprehensive review of the labelling approach and process and managed to introduce critical observations on the shortcomings of the process, recommendations to the EUSDR Priority Area Steering Groups and the Danube Strategy Point were defined.
The main result of the work was the continuous support to actors concerned with the labelling approach also the better application of the approach in the DR was facilitated. At them moment of termination of the project the DSP was closed and the PACs used this approach also in the Seed money facility call to be launched in 2017.

WORKPACKAGE 6: Scaling up Danube Funding Mechanisms

Task 6.1: Funding Parties Platforms
The aim was to bring together and link STI funding bodies/agencies from the Danube Region countries by organising and providing support to STI funding parties meetings and jointly carried out follow-up funding activities, such as joint multilateral calls. The main target group are representatives of STI funding bodies/agencies and programme owners from the Danube Region countries intending to better coordinate existing STI funding activities in the Danube Region. The task also addressed representatives of multilateral European initiatives (in particular of the EUREKA network and Joint Programming Initiatives) interested in enlarging their networks by integrating actors from the Danube Region countries.

The activities of Task 6.1 were built on and closely carried together with existing EU multilateral activities, such as the EUREKA network with its variable geometry STI funding approach and the Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe with its policy/strategy to outreach to EU Widening countries out of which there are several Danube Region countries.

Two joint workshops were organised and carried out, here listed showcasing the main results from the work (preparation process, conduction of workshop, after the meetings):

• “Enhancing transnational research & innovation cooperation in the Danube Region: Joint EUREKA – Danube-INCO.NET workshop”
The Joint EUREKA/Danube-INCO.NET workshop resulted in two multilateral EUREKA Danube Region calls and a third joint call is currently under discussion amongst the EUREKA funding bodies/agencies. This is considered as one of the significant results of the project.

• “Strengthening Transnational Funding Cooperation to tackle the urbanization challenge - Joint Funding Opportunities for Danube Region Countries”; in cooperation with the Joint Programming Initiative Urban Europe & EXPAND
As outcome of the Joint JPI Urban Europe/Danube-INCO.NET workshop fact-finding missions to selected and committed Danube Region countries are being considered to be organised in future (beyond project end)

Task 6.2: Scaling up joint funding mechanisms (DLR)
T6.2 focused on the potential to establish a (new) joint funding programme in the Danube Region and to further scale up dedicated funding mechanisms to a larger joint funding programme (in particular towards an Article 185 TFEU initiative).

The steps of this task included desk research on the Art. 185 instrument in general and already existing Art. 185 measures (the EU-Baltic Sea Macro region Programme BONUS, Eurostars, AAL, EDTCP, PRIMA for the Mediterranean countries). Furthermore, it analysed criteria necessary for the potential establishment of an Art. 185 measure, in order to get an overview of the preconditions, framework conditions and requirements when possibly starting to develop such an initiative for the Danube region. A dedicated report “Roadmap towards an Article 185 programme for the Danube” includes suggestions for a roadmap towards a potential Art. 185 programme for the Danube region.

The project worked closely with the EUSDR PA7 Working Group on the establishment of a possible Danube Region Research and Innovation Fund (DRRIF) and investigations carried out in the frame of the DRRIF Feasibility Study were taken into account.
During the completion of the task, it has shown that the idea of building up a joint fund for research and innovation support financed by all 14 Danube Region countries (and even more the establishment of an Art. 185 measure) did not appear as a realistic option. This can be considered a result of this task – even though there is no direct impact. Nevertheless, it revealed that there is an apparent interest in the Danube countries to coordinate funding activities. Therefore, a realistic alternative was sought and brought forward by building up a flexible but sustainable network structure (see Task T6.3).

As a main result of the proposed coordination mechanism in the DRRIF the set up of an alternative coordination body was triggered and also successfully established (DFCN see the following task).

Task 6.3: Support to the establishment of a “Funding Coordination Network” (DLR)
The developments and results of the DRRIF Feasibility Study have shown that it was not possible to establish a DRRIF, and no activities could be performed in this task in the reporting period until June 2015 due to a delay in the finalisation of the DRRIF Feasibility study by the external contractor. T6.3 had to be adapted to the new situation. During discussions in the EUSDR PA7 DRRIF Working Group, a great number of country representatives supported the further development of a “Funding network” as an alternative to the DRRIF.

In cooperation with the EUSDR PA7 DRRIF Working Group a workshop was organised in order to establish a Danube Funding Coordination Network (DFCN). Preparations included also the drafting of Terms of References to be endorsed during the meeting. The workshop for the establishment of the DFCN served to fix cornerstones for the future functioning of the network (definition of objectives, guidelines, time frame, Terms of Reference etc.) and was held in 2016 in Berlin. A 2nd DFCN and follow-up meeting of the established DFCN was held 2016 in Bratislava, back-to-back with the EUSDR Annual Forum organised in cooperation with the Slovak Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport. The third DFCN meeting was held 2017 in Bratislava/Slovak Republic also in cooperation with the Slovak Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport. The DFCN is co-chaired by two countries that are in charge of organising the meetings and provide input to the agenda regarding proposals for concrete joint activities (2017: Germany and Slovak Republic; 2018 Austria and Serbia).

The aim of the DFCN is twofold:
1) bring together stakeholders of the funding landscape of all the Danube countries and exchange information, experiences, approaches and ideas on joint funding activities, and
2) discuss cooperation with already existing funding programmes and initiatives targeting the Danube Region or opening them up for participation of Danube Region countries. Results of the meetings should always be concrete joint activities.

Furthermore, promotion and dissemination activities for the output of the Workshops and supporting coordinated funding actions were carried out. This included a dedicated partnering web tool for the 2nd EUREKA call provided by FFG.

Two deliverables summarizing the efforts, “Report on the support to the establishment of a sustainable Danube Funding Coordination Network” and documenting the support of the project “Joint promotion material for joint funding activities” were concluded in June 2017.

As the main result of the task the creation of the DFCN has a positive impact on the coordination of funding and corresponding mechanisms in the Danube Region, as there is intensive exchange between the relevant stakeholders and new joint activities can be started by using the established framework.


WORKPACKAGE 7: Communication and Dissemination

Danube-INCO.NET managed to be well acknowledged by many regional stakeholders as a powerful tool to support their own dissemination efforts, and has been sparking the interest of non Danube macro-region European researchers and stakeholders to disseminate information towards the Danube macro-region as well. It moreover succeeded in providing a solid platform of targeted information of relevance for the regional S&T actors through which a real impact on the level of the individual researchers in the Danube Region can be created. The project managed to mobilise and “loyalize” a consistent segment of the research stakeholder community in the DR region and beyond. WP 7 Communication and Dissemination channels generally supported the capitalisation of activities as well as the dissemination and valorisation of project outputs. Particularly successful is the Danube-INCO.NET Newsletter that was praised in several occasions as a key instrument for keeping updated on the RTDI dynamics in the DR and on cooperation opportunities in the wider EU area

The main results and foreground in the workpackage is summarized below as following:

Task 7.1 – Coordination of Dissemination
The framework for both the external and internal project Communcation and Dissemination (C&D) activities was provided within WP7 to guide partners and organise efficient outreach of the project. A communication plan was established at project start as a supporting tool for all C&D activities in the project, a document which was later on revised. The document not only delivered the main tools and instructions for external project communication, but also points out the main objectives of the project communication and dissemination. Principles like the main project communication tools, the projects targeted audiences, the utilization of media impact analysis, the use of on- and offline media for communication or the standards of reporting project related dissemination activities are considered so as to continue set goals and indicators of communication and promotional activities for the entire project run-time. In parallel a Handbook on project visual identity and communication material complemented this efforts.
Danube-INCO.NET has acted to become the key reference point of high quality information on R&I in the DR countries, with special emphasis on research cooperation opportunities and S&T dialogue, as well as to the progressive integration of the R&I systems of the region into the European Research Area (ERA). Danube-INCO.NET generally followed a policy oriented approach to increase awareness among the key stakeholders in the DR on R&I cooperation opportunities within the ERA. At the same time the project aimed at increasing interest among the research organisations of the EU Member States about the pockets of research excellence in the DR. Doing so, the project communication and dissemination strategy has targeted different key stakeholders, such as political actors, EC Directorates and other Multilateral Initiatives and Programmes, scientists, researchers as well as the business actors and innovators in the DR and other relevant European Union countries.
In order to increase the impact of the dissemination activities, coordination has been established with other channels in order to provide good linkages to each other's efforts. INTERACT was targeted in this task specifically, but also other dissemination channels established by the Priority Areas and their working groups as well as other specific websites (of partners and beyond) were targeted during whole project duration (e.g. JRC and CEI /ANSA, two partners with very active communication departments and similar event calendars and information portals, as well as with the EUSDR PA7 and PA8 websites and other organisations communicating R&I and/or EUSDR activities, PLATFORM on Bioeconomy, etc.). Services such as CORDIS were exploited and contributed to set up a favourable framework for the sustainability and further exploitation of project´s achievements.
So as to ensure sustainability of the platform and the other information channels such as the newsletter, the WP leader ZSI, finally managed to get some financing to keep the service running (even if at a lower intensity) till end of 2019. In parallel and not considered as a Danube-INCO.Net project activity, a project proposal was submitted (l RIS3 Danube coordinated by Joanneum Research) under the DTP second call and a task was included to further enrich in future the Danube-INCO.NET website through a section dedicated to Cluster policies and smart specialisation in the DR. Should this proposal be successful it will contribute to promptly inform the region on the R&I dynamics.

Task 7.2 – Dissemination material and technical implementation
The dissemination of the project was based on a the excellent up to date information on the website, including social media integration (facebook, twitter and linkedIn), regular newsletters (the project general newsletter sent every two weeks as well as the Energy & Bioeconomy News alert delivered on monthly base), a poster as well as a brochure and other promotional materials. Danube-INCO.NET has managed to provide a platform (www.danube-inco.net) of targeted information of high relevance for the regional S&T actors through which a real impact on the level of the individual researchers in the Danube Region can be created. It moreover succeeded in being acknowledged by many regional stakeholders as a powerful tool to support their own dissemination efforts, and has been sparking the interest of European researchers and stakeholders to disseminate information towards the region as well. The dissemination activity through the web portal turned to be very positive: the project managed to “loyalize” its portal visitors in 2015 - 2017: 56% of all visits are indeed direct entries and visitors spend on average 4.4 minutes visiting the portal being particularly interested in calls for funding and other opportunities, news and events. The project dissemination infrastructure has been furthermore dominated by the correlated newsletter sent to almost 13,700 subscribers on a bi-weekly base, as well as by other public interfaces such as the Facebook, Twitter and the LinkedIn profiles. Statistics show positive trends in the whole project period 2014 to 2017: just to mention that the project newsletter recipients are almost 13,700, that Facebook fans amount to almost 1,320, that about 7.4 new information articles are published on the portal per day, while monthly visits are about 4,400.
To foster the sustainability of main project outcomes as well as to increase the visibility and promotion of main services offered by the project, materials were made available. The so-called “portfolio” for the C&D activities of the project consists of all communication instruments and channels which were used to fully implement the communication strategy of the Danube-INCO.NET and communicate with the external audience.
Danube-INCO.NET elaborated and exploited the following communication tools/instruments:
• Project flyer
• Project poster
• Project roll-up
• Dissemination material including brochure, poster and website
• Card: S3 platform info-card (all versions)
• Brochure on Co-publication and Co-patenting Analysis
• Brochure on Policy Mix Peer Review Report on Serbia
• Flyer: S&T Landscape in Ukraine (EN and UKR)
• Flyer: EUSDR Priority Area 7
• Card: Barriers to research cooperation
• Card: Improving Energy and Bioeconomy
• Card: Transferrable project results
All this material was used for the promotion of the project at any relevant event, where a project partner participated. On a demand base, promotional material was updated and printed during the run-time of the project. The standard PowerPoint project presentation and the other templates allowed for harmonized presentations covering the Danube-INCO.NET aspects, deliverables and event materials such as a standard template for agendas.

Task 7.3 – Content management (task leader: ZSI)
Target of the C&D strategy have been different stakeholders, such as political actors, EC Directorates and other Multilateral Initiatives and Programmes, scientists, researchers as well as the business actors and innovators in the DR and other in other relevant European Union countries. For all these groups, the work for the website was aimed to provide reliable and timely information /knowledge on the key topics of common interest on a user-friendly platform. Inputs to the Danube-INCO.NET platform were provided on a daily basis. The activity became fully operative with end of May 2014 and on average 8.4 information items were entered per each working day. All partners were granted editing rights to foster the creation of a constant “input-output-cycle” on the web portal.

Statistics about the content available at the Danube-INCO.NET portal (14/06/2017) show the following data:
Information Type Total available in databases
News Items 4,676
Documents 1,979
Events 3,161
Calls for funding 923
Calls for other opportunities 531
Projects 456
Organisations 2,404


It can be concluded that the project managed to provide a solid platform of targeted information of relevance for the regional S&T actors and to mobilise and “loyalize” a consistent segment of the research stakeholder community in the DR region and beyond. The Danube-INCO.NET Newsletter was praised on several occasions as a key instrument for keeping updated on the RTDI dynamics in the DR and on cooperation opportunities in the wider EU area. Extra funding was found to allow the instrument to continue from July 2017 till autumn 2019. Further means will be sought to guarantee additional sustainability to the Danube-INCO.NET platform and information infrastructure.

Potential Impact:
With regards the impact and the wider societal implications, the link to main dissemination activities and the exploitation the Danube-INCO.NET has a lot to offer, 13 impact dimensions can be observed at the time of termination of the project:

(1) IMPACT DIMENSION: Increased cooperation of Priority Areas of the EUSDR, especially of PA7, PA8, PA9 and partly to other PAs:
Within WP2 two successful cross-fertilisation workshops were organised. This type of events proved to be successful and could lead the way so similar activities in the coming years advancing the exchange and coordination within the EUSDR. It is recommended to present this idea to the NCPs and ask the Priority Areas to suggest topics that could be of cross-cutting interest.

(2) IMPACT DIMENSION: With regards the successful establishment of partnerships the following impacts and implications can be mentioned:
With regards the policy dialogue in WP2 the project has led to an intensive discussion regarding the better use of funding and related mechanisms for EUSDR cooperation. Within the area of mobility funding this has resulted in a first pilot call initiated by AT with SK, CZ and RS participating. It aimed at already existing funding mechanism on bilateral level and opening them to multilateral co-operations in the Region. A second Call with additional countries is foreseen for 2018. Therefore a long-term impact with view to a synergetic use of funding can be expected.
Concerning the work of WP3 and the activities in the field of bioeconomy, 9 small partnerships were established in the context of the call for pilot activities launched in 2015. Additional two larger partnerships were established in the context of T3.3 implementation. The first one developed and submitted a proposal under the second call of the INTERREG Danube Transnational Programme (focused on the integration of the biogas plants into the energy network); the second one is preparing a H2020 proposal focused on the promotion of rural business in the bioeconomy. A formal cooperation agreement was signed in 2017 by CEI and AKI (Hungarian Research Institute of Agricultural Economics) to capitalise on bioeconomy-related initiatives launched under WP3.
Related to the coordination of funding in WP6 functioning partnerships were established regarding the EUREKA programme: The Joint “EUREKA-Danube-INCO.NET” workshop resulted in two multilateral EUREKA Danube Region calls and a third joint call is currently under discussion amongst the EUREKA funding bodies/agencies. It is worth to mention that the Danube Funding Coordination Network was established which coordinates joint funding initiatives and brings previous bilateral calls on a multilateral level.

(3) IMPACT DIMENSION: With regards used recommendations of analytical studies and the ERA roadmap the following developments concern the impact or future impact
Concerning the Policy dialogue in WP2, the analysis and mapping of the research stakeholders in the Danube Region can serve as a basis for further discussing the potential synergies of activities and measures and increasing the efficiency of R&I funding in this respect. The recommendations of the Innovation and ERA Workshops should be integrated into the discussion of the new phase of the EU-structural Funds as well as a next Framework Programme on Research and Innovation. The policy paper related to „Spreading Excellence and Widening participation” could feed into the respective discussions for preparing “FP9”. Concerning the analytical studies conducted in
WP2 and WP4 it has to be mentioned that he results of the Danube Region co-publication and co-patenting studies have been used in various stakeholder settings to emphasise the potential of EUSDR cooperation in research and innovation. The review of good practices in supporting R&I, the available experiences with a portfolio of funding instrument and within the given policy mix of some of the countries provide also insignts for countries beside the tow involved in the two STI Policy Mix Peer Reviews
As a relevant point also the work in WP3 i.e. on the recommendations “Towards a Danube Region Bioeconomy Concept” can be used as a starting point to activate a broader bioeconomy debate in the Danube Region. To this end, EUSDR seems the appropriate multilateral framework where bringing forward these discussions. The process shall be steered by one Priority Area strategic for the development of bioeconomy at macro-regional level (i.e. PA8), yet it shall envisage some (structured) interactions with other PAs (PA2, PA6, and PA7).
With regards the ERA Roadmap contribution along the three topics of the ERA workshops in WP2 it has to be mentioned that future impacts can be observed only beyond the duration of the project as the STI system elements and ERA related processes have amid to long term impact on national, macro-regional or EU level processes.

(4) IMPACT DIMENSION: Maintained and used information sources beyond project end (website, newsletter)
Concerning the WP3 focusing on the societal challenges related to energy and the bio-based economies, the “soft measures” in support to transnational networking and R&I cooperation, knowledge circulation and dissemination can make its own contribution, although difficult to measure in terms of mid-/long-term impact. WP3 Energy & Bioeconomy News Alert proved a useful tool to ensure a constant information flow in the fields of sustainable energy and bioeconomy within the Danube Region, as also demonstrated by the very positive feedback of users.
Concerning the directed STI Policy Mix Peer Reviews in WP4, the PMPR reports have been translated to national languages of BiH and Serbia. The PMPR report on Serbia has been also published and printed and distributed. Moreover, dissemination workshops have been held which offered the developed sets of recommendations to relevant decisions makers and stakeholders.
As far as the Danube-INCO.NET communication infrastructure is concerned, this was mainly dominated by the Danube-INCO.NET website and Newsletter that were praised in several occasions as a key instrument for keeping updated on the RTDI dynamics in the DR and on cooperation opportunities in the wider EU area. The newsletter was sent to almost 13,700 subscribers on a bi-weekly base, while other public interfaces such as the Facebook, Twitter and the LinkedIn profiles shown also positive trends in the whole project period 2014 to 2017: just to mention that Facebook fans amount to almost 1,320, that about 8.4 new information articles have been published on the portal per day, and monthly visits were about 4,400 – the size of outreach was unexpected and a huge success. Periodical statistics and data on the information provided through the portal were collected. They prove that the editorial work was accomplished with due diligence.

(5) IMPACT DIMENSION: Available and accessible mappings and other data created
The database of stakeholders created in WP3 covering the fields of sustainable energy and bioeconomy represents a significant repository of information, which could turn out particularly useful for building transnational partnerships. EUSDR Priority Areas (2, 7, 8) could make use of it and shall be encouraged to take up its update.
According to the necessary publicity all databases are publicly available on the Danube-INCO.NET website.
(6) IMPACT DIMENSION: JPI and ERA Cofund participation
The Joint “JPI Urban Europe--Danube-INCO.NET” workshop resulted in intended fact-finding missions to selected and committed Danube Region countries for exploring opportunities for joint funding activities and a better integration in the JPI UE Funding Agency Working Group activities as well as to become a full member of JPI UE. At the moment of termination of the project the preparations of integration in the JPI were still ongoing.
(7) IMPACT DIMENSION: Better coordination of funding in the Danube macro-region
The Danube-INCO.Net project partners have significantly contributed to the DRRIF Feasibility Study by providing data and helping draft conclusions. In a next step they have supported PA7 in defining the way forward after results became available. They have contributed to implementing the respective decision to transform the PA7 “DRRIF Working Group” into a sustainable and wider Danube Funding Coordination Network by hosting the first meeting, support in drafting the Tor for the network and facilitating the thematic discussion and agendas in the meetings. Some of the partners will continue to participate in the DFCN due to their respective national functions.
The degree of the impact of the maintained DFCN depends on the continuous commitment and the active contribution of the network members. It will also very much rely on the engagement of the co-chairs to bring forward the impact of the DFCN. To make the DFCN sustainable will be the challenge for the next years to come. More impact would be produced if further joint calls would be agreed on and funding released for joint activities However, also joint position papers (i.e. for the upcoming Framework Programme) can be considered as impact.
Based on the WP6 activities on coordination of Danube funding mechanisms, input to strategic direction to the Seed Money Facility can be given. This is linked to the meetings of the Danube Funding Coordination Network where issues like strategic activities, thematic priorities and joint measures can be discussed.

(8) IMPACT DIMENSION: Uptake and use of recommendations from the STI Policy Mix Peer Reviews
The PMPR recommendations were introduced and explained by members of the international peer group to relevant decision makers and stakeholders in BiH and in Serbia. In the frame of a dissemination workshop also discussions took place. In the frame of the project two dissemination events were organized both on the Policy Mix Peer Review Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The BiH workshop was held in Sarajevo on the 25th of May 2017 and it was back to back with the NCP and PC’s members meeting. The workshop in Serbia was held in Belgrade on the 6th of June 2017. During the disseminations workshops results and recommendations of the PMPR reports were introduced to relevant decision makers and stakeholders – the policy uptake in future will give evidence of the impact of the STI support given through the PMPR action in the Danube-INCO.NET.

(9) IMPACT DIMENSION: Established new models of Transfer centres
The project has also addressed the challenge of innovation & technology transfer (I&TT) and outlined a scheme for creating and implementing technology transfer centres in the Danube region - the so-called Danube Transfer Centres (DTCs). Both a concept with tool-kit for DTC creation and implementation and an analysis containing also general and comprehensible methodology of how to develop a DTC network in the entire area of the EUSDR were delivered. The analysis identified 16 more organisations as appropriate or with interest towards the setting up of a DTC. The related training activities for stakeholders contributed to increase the innovation capacities in the region. The newsletter and information provided in a consolidated way on the website also ensured that stakeholders are better informed about learning and funding opportunities (e.g. through the announcement of calls and events). New Transfer centre hosts were identified and letters of commitment and memorandums of understandings for the establishment of DTCs were signed with the following organisationes : University of Maribor, Slovenia; Regional Development Agency HRAST, Croatia; Centre for Technology Transfer at the Polytechnical University of Odessa, Ukraine; Pannon Business Network, Györ (HU).
Beyond the creation of this 4 DTC centres the expected outreach and impact to technologies with a dedicated socio-economic relevance are not measurable at the moment.

(10) IMPACT DIMENSION: Started process towards S3 in non EU MS
Danube-INCO.NET targeted the innovation policy in the region through the support of smart specialisation strategies and peer review. The Matchmaking and Information Exchange Report developed under the lead of IPTS/JRC, informed on tools advancing collaboration in RIS3 process and explored possible R&I cooperation and matchmaking opportunities along the DR. Based on data for 13 countries and 4 regions in the Danube Area, the analysis revealed 4 main fields of cooperation (KRTs, ICT, sustainable innovation and health). Especially in a situation where the legal background for EFRE does not comprise DG Regions compulsory S3 process the alignment with other relevant developments needs to be identified and support for the methodology and process is necessary. With three dedicated S3 learning workshops and a panel at an important STI evaluation conference the topic reached better awareness among the stakeholders. This development contributed to the finally reached commitment of two countries to become pilot cases who expressed the wish to start and undergo a S3 process. This concerns Moldova and Serbia the process will be guided by the JRC through a dedicated support measure. This result can be considered as a substantial impact of the project.

(11) IMPACT DIMENSION: Access to actors and establishing networks in the field of bioeconomy
One of the results achieved in WP3 is the establishment of a preliminary network of bioeconomy experts and practitioners in the Danube Region. This was made possible through the implementation of two separate, yet complementary, Pilot Activities in the field of bioeconomy, whose outcomes were combined in 10 Recommendations “Towards a Danube Region Bioeconomy Concept”. In order to transform this result into a longer-term impact, these Recommendations shall be fine-tuned through further interdisciplinary discussions and interactions, and the Danube bioeconomy network further expanded. The expansion of this network shall occur both horizontally (i.e.at macro-regional level) and vertically (at national level, also taking into account respective S3, see previous point).
The activities were not directly addressing SMEs. Nevertheless, should the activities in the field of bioeconomy initiated in the context of Danube-INCO.NET be sustained in the future, innovative SMEs active in rural development can benefit from the strengthening of the bio-based sector.
Indeed, national networks are supposed to feed the network at macro-regional level, whose objective is to integrate national approaches by finding the necessary complementarities and synergies.

(12) IMPACT DIMENSION: Continuous macro regional debate in the field of bioeconomy
The Pilot Activities confirmed that the Danube Region features essential assets that could trigger economic growth from smart utilisation of available biomass. Furthermore, they demonstrated that there is willingness to cooperate among stakeholders representing different sectors, i.e. industry, academia and public/policy. At the same time, Danube countries are to tackle significant bottlenecks hindering the full deployment of the bioeconomy potential, with the ultimate goal to establish the appropriate “enabling environment” where a Danube bioeconomy community can blossom and cooperate successfully. The EUSDR could be the appropriate multilateral framework where the debate on the bioeconomy transition is sustained at macro-regional level. In order to ensure a future impact on the Danube area, a strong interdisciplinary approach shall be pursued, including exchange of information and transfer of best practices from countries more advanced in the bioeconomy transition. This process could be steered by one of EUSDR Priority Areas (PA8 seems the most appropriate in this regard). Yet, it shall involve other Priority Areas relevant for bioeconomy development (PA2, PA6, PA7): a bioeconomy Working Group (or Task Force), gathering representatives of different PAs, could be a starting point to ensure continuous macro-regional debate in the field of bioeconomy, and could capitalise on the results achieved in the context of Danube-INCO.NET. As mentioned under the previous point, bioeconomy networks at national level are necessary in order to “feed” the debate towards the definition of a macro-regional approach to bioeconomy.

(13) IMPACT DIMENSION: Triggering the process towards national bioeconomy strategies
In the long-term, activities promoted by Danube-INCO.NET in the field of bioeconomy may stimulate EUSDR countries to initiate a process towards the elaboration of a national bioeconomy strategy (currently existing only in Germany). Indeed, a pre-condition for bioeconomy to flourish is political commitment and a stable and consistent policy outlook able to attract investments. Bioeconomy strategies can be a valuable tool to set clear socio-economic and environmental objectives and priorities, and they can help valorise national and local potentials (also taking into account S3). At national level, inter-ministerial dialogue is paramount, although the process towards the definition of bioeconomy strategies shall be steered by a single body (being it the Ministry of Agriculture, in case the accent is put on biomass feedstocks, or the Ministry of Economy, in case it is put on growth and job creation).

List of Websites:
Public website address: https://danube-inco.net/

General contact details of the coordinator:
Centre for Social Innovation
Linke Wienzeile 246, A-1150 Vienna

Telephone: +43 1 495 04 42 - 0
E-Mail: office@danube-inco.net

In the attachment also the main contact persons of the beneficiaries can be found!