Foreign and EU Affairs Secretary Roger Albinyana and the Director General for Telecommunications and Information Society, Jordi Puigneró, took part in a seminar held on Tuesday in Brussels by the 4 Motors for Europe network as part of the series of ‘Open Days’ organized by European institutions. EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger also took part in the event, which was aimed at presenting European best practices in ICT applications from Catalonia, Baden-Württemberg, Lombardy and Rhône-Alpes.
Secretary Albinyana, who represented the Catalan presidency of the 4 Motors for Europe which focuses on ICT & innovation, highlighted how the network and its territories were references in the European Union in terms of innovation, especially in the industrial sector. The Secretary also noted how the Catalan Government presidency has aimed its focus on the ICT sector “because it is strongly tied to key political priorities, such as employment and education” which are both “in line with the priorities of the European Commission that focus on Smart specialisation as a driving line on the Europe 2020 strategy”. In this regard, “creativity and individual abilities will always be relevant. However our education systems are probably the instrument that will better accommodate our society to new technologies and prevent from potential cleavages: the interaction between cognitive process and ICTs will be much better as far as our education systems promote creativity and critical reflections instead of memory tasks”, explained Albinyana.
On his behalf, Director General Puigneró exposed the ‘mSchools’ project, an initiative launched by the World Mobile Capital Barcelona in cooperation with the Catalan Government, the Barcelona City Council and GSMA. mSchools is a multi-faceted ‘mEducation’ initiative effectively integrating mobile technologies into the classroom. Launched in 2012, it helps students build important new digital skills, preparing them for the world of today. The project aims to support pupils, parents, teachers and schools with new ways of teaching and learning by using mobile technology in order to help the students build new digital skills. In this respect, Director General Puigneró explained that “if we do not prepare our children to adapt themselves in a digital context, we won’t be able to achieve success in an increasingly digitalized world”. “The mSchools project, which we started in Catalonia a couple of years ago, is an example of this”, he added. “We encourage technological vocation, to have more engineers in the future, an industry with a capacity for highly qualified employment in the future and a reduced unemployment rate”, Puigneró continued. The director also noted how Catalonia “has developed a whole strategy, complete with intelligent specialization, smartCAT, which does not only consist of rarely implemented industrial sector actions, but also actions in tourism, mobility and education”.
On this note, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society Günther Oettinger, also emphasized the importance of the Catalan strategy by stressing that “the European Union must continue its commitment to digitalization”.
The seminar was also attended by the Minister for European & International Affairs of Baden-Württemberg, Peter Friedrich, the vice-president in charge of Europe and International Relations of Rhône-Alpes, Bernard Soulage, and Lombardy’s under-secretary to the Presidency Ugo Parolo. The 4 Motors representatives all presented additional examples of innovative applications of ICT in various fields.
The Catalan Presidency of the Four Motors for Europe
Catalonia has held the Four Motors for Europe presidency since January 23rd and has been committed to making progress towards a new economic model based on innovation, intelligence and a more sustainable production model.
The ITC sector has been a key area for the Catalan presidency and one which the Government of Catalonia aims to promote by creating a platform to exchange experiences. With regards to the 4M network, these experiences would be transferrable to the European level and would enable its member states to remain at the forefront of Europe in terms of innovation, intelligent strategies and sustainability.
As Presidency holders, the Catalan Government has hosted various activities during the past months including a meeting at Barcelona’s Supercomputing Center and, more recently, at the Government’s Delegation in Brussels, the Generalitat held a seminar on Catalonia’s smart specialization strategy (SmartCAT). The latter was attended by the President of the Committee of the Regions, Markku Markkula, who highlighted the role of territories like Catalonia as “real” economic and innovative motors within Europe. Furthermore, last May, Catalonia organized an institutional mission to Baden-Württemberg with various organizations and companies to keep up with the latest developments in applied smart technologies.
Finally, in the coming months of its Presidency, the Government of Catalonia has planned a series of events to enhance regional partnerships, including a Trade Mission to Chile in November. The Mission will be organized in conjunction with the Port of Barcelona and the General Council of the Catalan Chambers to explore and develop international trade and business opportunities in the region, with institutional and business representation from Catalonia, Baden-Württemberg, Lombardy and Rhône-Alpes.