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15 January 2024 Explowheat PRIMA conference event in Viterbo

European Week of the Region and Cities


Uniting the World through One Mission: Exploring the Power of Multiple Hubs! One Mission, Several Hubs Event – January 2023, Brussels

At the event ‘One Mission, Several Hubs’, delegates had the opportunity to learn about the European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) with Hubs for Circularity and the concept of Circular Hubs, and how they work to support European SMEs in their digitisation efforts. It was a unique event that explored the power of multiple hubs located in non-focal regions across Europe!

The event kicked off with a keynote address from the EDIHs team, which provided an overview of their mission and how they plan to assist SMEs. Following the keynote, delegates had the opportunity to learn more about the EDIHs and their current projects, as well Hubs for Circularity introduced some of the significant insights and as part of Circular Hubs keynote speakers pointed solutions and challenges facing circular transition of SME’s.

The event also featured an interactive panel discussion with prominent members of the circular economy experts. Here, delegates had the opportunity to engage in a lively debate about the challenges and opportunities presented,as well as the impact that the different approaches have on the European economy.

Finally, the event concluded with around table and Q&A session in which delegates had the chance to ask any questions they had about the topic and the event itself. Overall, the ‘One Mission, Several Hubs’ event was a great success, offering delegates an insight into the power of the circular transition and the potential impact they can have.

One Mission, Several Hubs

Last week Plug n Play consortium hosted an event with mission to bring together the concept of ‘Circular Hubs’, ‘Hubs for Circularity’, and ‘European Digital Innovation Hubs’ to better communicate and understand work and projects between each other! These three concepts have been around for a while, causing a lot of confusion and uncertainty. To clarify any doubts, around 40 key stakeholders met in EURADA’s office on 24 January to take part in the “One Mission, Several Hubs” event organized by Veltha and EURADA.

The event started with a few welcome words from the hosts and an introduction to the background idea of the event. Luca Polidori, Secretary General of Veltha, took a stand and pointed out the objective of today’s meeting. At the event, word was given to several European Commission representatives, who discussed the rationale for EU circular economy initiatives, European innovation ecosystems, support to industry and SMEs, the European Digital Innovation Hubs, and the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative.

The first concept discussed was the Hubs for Circularity and its recently launched Community of Practice. The Hubs for Circularity are managed through Processes4Planet, a European public-private partnership established by A.SPIRE and the European Commission, and have been adopted by the latter to further the research and innovation agenda of the European industry. As a result, the Hubs for Circularity centers on process industries, their impact on climate, the circular use of resources, and their transformation in a competitive global landscape. On the other hand, the Community of Practice is specifically for implementing circular economy goals through large-scale investments and implementations.

In contrast, the concept of Circular Hubs has been diverse. The key common denominator was that they are local and regional initiatives that work together to help stakeholders transition to the circular economy. Some of the examples are Holland Circular Hotspot, Versnellingshuis Nederland Circulair!, Circular Slovakia, Circulair Friesland and Vlaanderen Circulair. The scope of their activities is broad, and although they focus on helping SMEs in their region, they also have a global perspective, as shown in the presentation of Holland Circular Hotspot.

The EDIHs (European Digital Innovation Hubs) is the third concept, and their mission is to support European SMEs in their digitization efforts, particularly in non-focal areas. They seek to complete the trio of support hubs. Digital transformation is considered to be the key to the green transition and the circular economy. The European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform seeks to capture these different initiatives, some of which were presented at the event.

The discussion finished on the cooperation between the three concepts, and if and how the different Hubs should collaborate. They all differed in their regional needs, so it was emphasized that monopolization of the hubs must be avoided. Furthermore, the social and creative aspects, as well as the involvement of citizens in the circular process, are not taken into account in the current design of the Hubs and should be considered in the future.

In conclusion, the event was successful, and the round table discussion raised unknown concerns that we can simply put as a gap between clarity and confusion. For future notice, important to reduce latter, especially for SMEs working at local and regional levels, and guide them to facilitate a circular economy and digitalization and be support for the upcoming circular economy transition. Thus, the EU is making efforts to promote the concept of ‘Circular Hubs’, ‘Hubs for Circularity’, and ‘European Digital Innovation Hubs’ so that stakeholders can benefit from these initiatives! 

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