The genesis of the Summer School for the Circular Economy and the benefits in the long run.

It is more and more of us that find themselves participating daily in the struggle to define a system whose principles are as early as the sixties, and narrow it down with more and more specifications. The idea of circular flow for materials and energy is not new, dating back to the early days of the modern environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s (OECD, 2019).

In the last recent years, an increasing number of projects have been supported financially to promote research aimed at understanding how to best and quickly shift to a transition towards a circular economy. For this purpose, a series of funding programmes have been put at the disposal of ad-hoc consortium partners . namely the European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and the LIFE programme.

On our part, we do our best to seize the opportunities and exploit these initiatives to the common purpose of boosting a just and equitable transition, while giving voice to the actors that are sparkling a revolution in the field and contributing to normalise what is, for some, still “a new way of doing business”. The outcomes of these projects is the results of years and years of research, work and resilience that have allowed the design of incredibly valuable resources and instruments that, in the hand of those that can support the change towards sustainable consumption, are of extreme importance.

In this regard, this Summer Veltha has achieved an outstanding milestone; the organisation of the first edition of the Summer School for the Circular Economy 2022, aimed at providing training to regional officers and programme managing authorities on the new digital tools that have been designed to support them in the transition to a circular economy system. In collaboration with Lazio Region that have opened the door to host session, the H2020 DigiPrime and the InterregEurope REPLACE projects, Veltha has provided five days of training to 14 regional representatives in the form of lectures, interactive sessions and workshops that have lay down the perfect path to move from theory to practice. 

The Summer School for the Circular Economy 2022 originated to showcase the results of the long research conducted by two EU-funded projects: the H2020 DigiPrime and the Interreg Europe REPLACE. It’s the tangible result of years and years of research to provide solutions to the current economic, environmental and social challenges through the circular economy and cross-regional cooperation. 

At the core of both DigiPrime and REPLACE lies the approach of the Smart Specialisation, which in other words refers to the identification of strategic areas for intervention based on the analysis of the strengths and potential of the specific economic contexts linked with the entrepreneurial discovery process based on wide stakeholder engagement.

The adoption of this approach dates back to the genesis of the H2020 SCREEN project. By supporting only a limited number of well-identified priorities for knowledge-based investments, regions could focus on competitive strengths and realistic potentials, and therefore contributing to the creation of horizontal business models across different value chains.

The collaboration and continuous consultations among the Regions is what made it possible to fulfil the SCREEN objectives and give rise to the above-mentioned projects which are now adding the follow-up steps to the SCREEN’s initial big ladder.

This Summer School is born to showcase in practical terms what both the DigiPrime and REPLACE projects have created across the years, shedding light on the benefits that they can bring if added to the current set of assets that are owned by Regions as much as by industrial and business stakeholders.

The highlights

The structure of the programme envisioned lectures from high-level remarkable experts, active in the field of circular economy that did not only illustrate the theoretical framework and updates of the current circular economy landscape, but they also offered insider perspectives into their experiences, work and projects that have shaped the current circular economy scenarios and led to the design of the instruments we are presenting on this occasion. 

During this past one-week session, we dug into the new current funding instruments and programmes that can be exploited to receive funding to invest in new circular economy challenges and opportunities. Participants had the chance to learn and ask about the best and most effective ways to invest these funds, the procedures to follow as well as the priority areas to consider

At the core of this training program lies the firm conviction that digital technologies are thought to have enormous potential for contributing to the transition towards a more sustainable paradigm. And by digitalisation, we don’t simply mean the diffusion of a single technology; rather the urgence and the emergence of an interconnected system and networking process.

We explored methodologies and services that allows EU Regions to identify and map regional value chains, acquire the resources to close the loop through the identification of cross-regional and cross-sectoral synergies,  and give birth to new circular business models across sectors and territories

Emphasis was put on the importance of offsetting information asymmetry and tackling legislative barriers hampering the implementation of the circular economy models (SARA) All these tools can help bridging the gap between legislative actors and stakeholders, favouring communication and overcoming the obstacles through policy-making and cooperation.

And eventually, we explored another kind of tool able to measure the circular performance of each EU Region, with the possibility to compare it with other Regions and understand strategies for enhancement.

This training program set itself as the opportunity for participants to lay their own hands on the newly designed tools, observe them, test them and provide valuable feedback to make them as more user-friendly as possible. 

And participants seem to be pretty satisfied of it. All of this is driven by the long-term goal of the Summer School program.

 “be the seed for the long-term blossoming of future collaboration that will turn small ideas into ambitious projects to come”. 

We look forward to hosting the next one in 2023! 

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