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01/04/19 - ERNACT secures three new digital transformation projects worth €4.5M in the past week


Some of the ERNACT Board Members Apr 19 379x269

Photo caption (from left to right): Brian Boyle, ERNACT Chairperson

and Head of Information Systems at Donegal County Council;

Cllr Niamh Kennedy, Donegal County Council; Marion Boyce,

ERNACT Administrative Officer; Colm Mc Colgan, ERNACT General

Manager; Stephen Gillespie, Director of Business and Culture at

Derry City and Strabane District Council; Cllr Hugh (Gus) Hastings,

Derry City and Strabane District Council; Cllr Rena Donaghey,

Donegal County Council and ERNACT EEIG Chairperson.


ERNACT is delighted to announce, following the success last week with the approval of the SMARCTIC projectby the EU’s Northern Periphery and Arctic programme, that another EU funding body (INTERREG Europe) have approved two further ERNACT projects. These have a combined budgets of €3.1 million and brings the total funding ERNACT has helped secure by to €4.5 million.While both projects focus on the topic of digital transformation, they complement each other in that one project (REGIONS 4.0) focuses on the technologies involved while the other (CARPE DIGEM) focuses more on the people involved (entrepreneurs, workers and employers) and how local innovation environements need to adapt to cater for the rise of digitisation.


The North West of Ireland will directly benefit by €1.2 million from participation in the three projects. ERNACT was setup and managed by Donegal and Derry City and Strabane District councils and is a key aspect of the crossborder City Region initiative of both Councils.


Speaking after ERNACT’s AGM yesterday (27th March) , outgoing ERNACT Chairperson, Councillor Gus Hastings, stated that “this brings to six the number of new projects which ERNACT has delivered for the North West Crossborder City Region since the last AGM; the total number of regions and cities with which we are now cooperating to 60; the total number of international projects under management to 11. This is an unprecedented undertaking for the two Councils, ERNACT and the region”.


Colm Mc Colgan, ERNACT General Manager,added that“REGIONS 4.0is stratregically significant for the North West crossborder area as it will provide a dedicated resource for the City Region to explore how we should best respond to Industry 4.0”.


Whilst the focus in REGIONS 4.0 will be on the technologies involved, the focus inCARPE DIGEM (or“sieze digital”),will be on how the wider innovation support environmentin the North West and other parts of Europe– especially as it relates to workers and entrepreneurs - needs to adapt to take digitization into account. IncomingERNACT ChairpersonCllr Rena Donagheystated that this project “will add value to Donegal County Council’s effort to encourage the creation of a network of digital innovation hubs and suitable knowledge working space throughout the County, including the planned Inishowen Hub, and how Donegal and Derry/Strabane can pool resources”.


SMARCTIC(first announced last week) will apply smart city and Internet of Things (IoT) approaches to the management of energy in rural areas, villages and towns.  Brian Boyle, Chairperson of the ERNACT transnational network led jointly by the two councils added that “the ERNACT network has now assembled a complementary suite of projects that together can have a significant impact on the digital transformation of member cities and regions. It is testimony to the depth of cooperation that now exists in the network”.


Further Information on the Three Projects


1.REGIONS 4.0 project


REGIONS 4.0 (or Regional policies adopting Industry 4.0 for their Digital Transformation) was allocated a budget of €1.5 million to facilitate increased Industry 4.0 (I4.0) policy cooperation between regions, including how to accelerate the digital transformation of manufacturing SMEs and availability of I4.0 skills.


Industry 4.0, commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, is the name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.


ERNACT and the North West will lead seven other European regions, represented by an appropriate mix of partners from each region's innovation value-chain including regional authorities, universities, Industry 4.0 centres of excellence and business development intermediaries.


The project is premised on the basis that EU innovation policy needs to adapt to facilitate innovation promotersacross Europe to work more closely with large highly developed Industry 4.0 centres of excellence that specialise in Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics or Internet of Things.


Project partners are:University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Business Agency Association (Bulgaria), Regional Development Agency of West Region Romania (Romania), Business and Innovation Centre of Beira Interior (Portugal), Hof University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Regional Government of Cantabria (Spain and Switzerland Innovation Park Biel / Bienne AG (Switzerland) and ERNACT (Ireland).


2. SMARCTIC project


With a budget of €1.4M, SMARCTIC or ‘Smart Energy Management in Remote Northern, Peripheral and Arctic Regions’ project will pilot innovative smart energy solutions from EU’s prestigious Northern Periphery and Arctic programme.


The project will start in May 2019, will last for 3 years and will involve 11 partners from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Canada. The consortium containsa mix of universities, businesses and the public sector and the approach proposed is quite unique: the project will be led by public authorities but working with universities and businesses to create flexible demonstration test-beds based on applying technologies first used in a smart city setting, e.g., Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).


Project Partners are: ERNACT (Ireland), Lapland University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Derry City & Strabane District Council (Northern Ireland), Heat Research and Development (Iceland), Donegal County Council (Ireland), Association of Local Authorities Västernorrland (Sweden).


Associate Partners: The Arctic University of Norway (Norway),KramboBostads AB (Sweden), Regional Council of Lapland (Finland), Municipality of Akureyri (Iceland), City of Mount Pearl (Canada).


3. CARPE DIGEM project


Funded by Interreg Europe and led by Digital Nièvre Joint Authorityin France, the ERNACT network of regions will participate as a partner in the CARPE DIGEM or ‘Catalysing Regions in Peripheral and Emerging Europe towards Digital Innovation Ecosystems’ project.


The project has a budget of more than €1.6 million and eight countries will collaborate to better understand, exchange experience and raise awareness on crucial aspects of digital transformation, such as: attitudes to innovation; new skills needed; how can existing workers adapt; managing data security.


Project partners are: Digital Nièvre Joint Authority (France), Mallorca Chamber of Commerce (Spain), Business Development Institute of the Autonomous Region of Madeira (Portugal), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Republic of Slovenia – Ministry of Public Administration (Slovenia), Business Agency Association (Bulgaria), Ministry of Economy (Bulgaria),Region of Vasterbotten (Sweden), Uminova Expression (Sweden) and ERNACT (Ireland).


ERNACT Logo 379x269




ERNACT or European Regions Network for the Application of Communications Technology is an international network of European regional and city public authorities founded in 1991. Our headquarters are located in Letterkenny and we are 10 partners working together, 9 in Europe and 1 in Atlantic Canada.


We transfer digital know-how between regions and cities by implementing innovative projects to improve our members’ digital needs. To achieve this objective, we create and develop international cooperation projects under different fields (public services, energy efficiency, eHealth, SMEs, Digital Innovation Hubs, aquaculture, tourism, sustainable communities, food sector, open innovation, rural development…).


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