As part of Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform, an online forum was held on 23 July 2020 to discuss the status of European value chains. South Transdanubian Regional Innovation Agency participated in the meeting as a partner of Medtech4 Europe and Regions 4Food Interreg Europe projects – both being centred on research in innovation.

The COVID-19 emergency highlighted the importance of Europe’s security and the need to maintain its autonomy in the production of vital products (such as medical products and pharmaceutical industry). As a result of the viral situation, the development of strategic industries within Europe has become essential, and also the promotion of interregional cooperation. Therefore, the forum focused on how regional policy makers support European Value Chains towards greater European sovereignty.

At the beginning of the meeting, all participants introduced themselves and briefly summarized which Interreg Europe project they are present in. The forum moderator, Mr. Arnault Morrison, gave a short presentation on the current relationship between Global Value Chains (GVCs) and European Value Chains (EVCs). As a result of COVID-19, there has been a growing political debate about rethinking GVCs and moving forward EVCs. On 10 March 2020, the European Commission adopted the EU Industrial Strategy, which includes a number of initiatives:

  • Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI),
  • new EU pharmaceutical strategy in 2020,
  • Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials.

This topic was followed by the presentation of Mr. Fernando Merida Martin from the Joint Research Center (JRC) on the “Smart Specialization Platform”, which includes proposals using various guidance documents. The publications focus on three different areas, two of them are closely linked to the agri-food and medical technology sectors. Then introduced the relationship between SMEs and Industry 4.0 and highlighted the importance of digitizing company operations.

Following Mr. Martin’s contribution, Ms. Susana Larrea presented the Basque Business Development Agency’s interregional voucher program. The initiative aims to work with SMEs with technology that can meet the challenges of Industry 4.0.

Finally, the forum participants took part in a roundtable discussion to debate the effects of COVID-19 on key sectors in each region and what regional perspectives have emerged to move the EVCs forward.

The information obtained from the online roundtable provided useful input for the action planning of both Interreg Europe projects.

The Regions 4Food and Medtech4 Europe projects are co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Hungary.