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Dear Reader,

Welcome to the second Newsletter of the BETTER project!
BETTER is an Interreg Europe project that focuses on the promotion of e-Government solutions. With our project we aim to create a win-win situation for everyone by enhancing the use of e-Government solutions. Using these instruments local and regional authorities can stimulate regional innovation while private individuals and businesses gain better public service.
In the following pages we would like to give you a short overview of our initiative. You will find information on the BETTER partnership, objectives and methods, and the steps we will make to reach our objectives.
The BETTER Newsletters will be published in every semester through a 3-year period. With these materials we will keep you updated on the progress achieved as well as elaborate on plans for the next period of the project.
Please visit our website to get our latest news! You can also find us on social media, where we welcome your questions and comments.
We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter!
The BETTER project team!

July 2020

  • Editorial
  • The BETTER project
  • Project objectives
  • Activities
  • Partnership
  • What is new?
  • Thematic event #3
  • Thematic event #2
  • Upcoming events, next steps
  • Contacts

BETTER supports public authorities to develop their regional innovation strategies and improve them with e-government services to stimulate regional innovation chain.
The BETTER project
“BETTER” offers an innovative approach to a crucial priority for the EU: encouraging Public Authorities to develop Regional Innovation Strategies in which e-Government solutions can stimulate Regional Innovation chains, as well as improving their services.
The main problem addressed by this project is the need to support Public Authorities in the development of innovation infrastructures and be the drivers of smart specialization strategies; Insufficient public sector investment in innovation activity poor adaptation to specific needs, particularly in less developed countries has contributed to the 'technology gap' between EU regions and tends to perpetuate or increase the 'cohesion gap'.
Information Communications Technologies (ICT) are crucial in ensuring that citizens have easy access to local government information, services and decision-making processes as well as in helping and improving citizens’ participation and consultation of towards local governments. However, the level of innovation among EU regions is not measured only by ICT tools but by the general strategies that regions put in place in order to support and enhance innovative local dynamics and improve the performance of their regional innovation systems.
The EU regions show a wide diversity in regional innovation systems. The implication of this diversity is that there is no one-size-fits-all policy that can be applied to any region.
Rather, policies need to be adjusted to specificities of the industry, innovation culture, political system, and the level of autonomy held by regional authorities.

The partnership includes 5 partners from 5 Member States covering a balanced geographical spread from North (SE&EE) to West (UK), South (IT) and East (HU).
The partners are all Public Authorities selected for their specific abilities related to the project topic. Genoa and Birmingham are already working on digital tools in the IE “Pure Cosmos” project and want to strengthen their competence in regional innovation strategies; Tartu, Gävle and Nyíregyháza have specific skills in Digital Transformation and RIS strategies.

BETTER will link e-Government with the “innovation chain” to create a win-win initiative. On the one hand, municipalities and regions need to improve public services, while cutting costs: e-Government is one way to do this. On the other hand, adopting e-Government solutions could be used in turn to stimulate the local or regional innovation chain: for example the design, supply and maintenance of specialist services, such as Artificial Intelligence.
The consortium will:
- analyse partners’ plans through four Thematic Events;
- identify good practices that will improve these plans, studying them through Study Visits, importing them via special workshops and Regional Action Plans;
- build the capacity of all relevant public authorities including ERDF Managing Authorities;
- increase the societal impact of the innovation process outcomes.
Project objectives
With BETTER - as an overall objective - we aim to: strengthen the role of Public Authorities as stimulators of regional innovation chains by improving e-Government solutions by 10% by 2022. This goal will be focused along with the sub-objectives as follows:
1) develop by 2022 at least 3 innovative instruments (e.g. digital platforms, Artificial Intelligence) that will improve municipal services
2) increase by 10% by 2022 the societal impact of the innovation process outcomes thanks to the development of new e-Government services.
3) increase by 20% by 2022 the effectiveness of key decision makers’ involvement in Regional Innovation chains and related investments in order to meet their innovation objectives
4) increase by 20% by 2022 the horizontal and vertical cooperation between the different levels of government and relevant actors (including investors) in the development and implementation of the RAPs
Sub objectives 1 and 2 are related to the progress that the partners can make in the field of research and innovation infrastructures. Here ICT systems play a strategic role in ensuring that citizens have easy access to local government information, services and decision-making processes. They are the focus of Public Authorities. They will improve the level and the quality of Public Authorities services in the partners areas.
Sub objectives 3 and 4 are specifically related to the Involvement of stakeholders and Managing Authorities in the decision making. BETTER will not only actively empower the Regional Stakeholders to offer concrete improvements to the policy instruments via the RAPs, but will also empower them through building their capacity – both the key decision makers and the organisations themselves – for continuing effective action after the project-end, applying to R&I programmes and Smart approach.
Project activities
BETTER brings together 5 partners from 5 countries, offering an innovative approach to a crucial priority for the EU: encouraging Public Authorities to develop Regional Innovation Strategies in which e-Government solutions can stimulate Regional Innovation chains (as well as improving their services). To reach this aim and - more specifically - the abovementioned objectives, the project includes a wide range of activities. such as:
- THEMATIC EVENTS that involve staff and Regional Stakeholders, focusing on: Physical and virtual infrastructure/assets to support the process for innovation; Development and application of new innovative products and services; Processes to support new business models and ways of working across private public sector and with citizens; People and skills to make it happen
- a REGISTER OF GOOD PRACTICES to collect and document the good practices that are relevant to partners’ needs.
- BETTER RIS Matrix as a management tool to ensure that Project Partners’ learning needs are met, and to provide a guide on good practices to enable policy makers to decide upon investment priorities.
- 10 in-depth STUDY VISITS using the register of good practices. The good practices will be selected by the partners for their relevance to the identified specifications.
- ’IMPORT WORKSHOPS’. Experts from other partners will assist the importing partner and regional stakeholders to import their good practices and draft their Regional Action Plan.
- policy owners using the Regional Action Plan (RAP) to “improve its policy instrument”, with continued support from project-partners.
- partners monitoring the adoption and implementation of their RAP.
- a European-level conference to disseminate experiences. Partners will undertake an impact survey #2 to measure impact to 2022.

Municipality of Genoa (IT)
Tartu City Government (EE)
Municipality of Nyíregyháza (HU)
Gävle Municipality (SE)
Birmingham City Council (UK)

Phase 1 - Interregional Learning (3 years, semester 1-6) August 2019 - July 2022

Phase one will include activities to help each partner develop a regional action plan to improve European Regional Development Fund policy instruments.
Activities comprise:

- thematic events for interregional learning
- study visits
- an import workshop where the good practice is transferred from one region to another
- a regional event
- 6 stakeholder meetings

Phase 2 - Monitoring (1 year, semester 7-8) August 2022 - July 2023

Phase two will involve monitoring the results of the policy change. The objective of the project is to obtain an increase of 10% in regional innovation activity stimulated by eGovernment initiatives by 2022.

How have we proceeded since the last newsletter?

Well, quite a lot have happened. Needless to say, the COVID-19 outbreak affected ongoing or planned activities in almost all aspects in life. BETTER is no exception.
Coronavirus has been - and unfortunately is still - a huge issue for everyone globally. After lockdowns, travel and entry restrictions, quarantine areas, extreme pressure on the health services, the pandemic started to show improving trends, but life has still not the same as it was before. It is warning that the spread of the virus is accelerating again as countries reopen their economies, although many countries have made progress in slowing down the spread.
What did we do about Coronavirus? In BETTER we were all aware that even in the difficult times caused by the pandemic, our project still need to make progress and stay on track to meet our goals. Being an international consortium, one of the first decisions we had to make was to cancel our third - physical - Thematic Event in Birmingham, and transform the format and the structure into a virtual-only method.
Using virtual tools? Circumstances demanded to continue to be productive. The BETTER team embraced technology for project continuity. We have worked virtually with stakeholders and each other and gained new tech skills and experiences during this time of uncertainty. In the next sections you will find concrete events and activities we have conducted in the last few months.

Thematic Event #03

The BETTER team held its Thematic Event #3 in a virtual-only format due to continued public health concerns related to coronavirus / COVID-19, and to support the health and well-being of our stakeholders, staff and providers and other meeting participants. The event was initially planned to take place in Birmingham (UK) in the form of an in-person meeting at a physical location. The -eventually - virtual event contained a series of workshops and held on three separate days as follows:
  • 16 June, 10:30 – 12:00 CET - Workshop 1: “Building partnership for data collection: providing the evidence to stimulate effective working across public and private sector”
Participants had a discussion about how to connect public and private stakeholders in data collection for greater good, and to create a win-win situation. The sub-topics were:
  • Building partnerships for data collection: providing the evidence to stimulate effective working across public and private sector - P4 Tartu expert Lauri Sokk
  • New data collection methods and different application areas in Genoa - P1 Genoa expert Filippo Costa
  • Shaleen presented a showcase about the work on better data collection that Birmingham city has done within an initiative called the “Birmingham Basket” - P2 Birmingham expert Shaleen Meelu
  • 17 June, 10:30 – 12:00 CET - Workshop 2: “Data visualization: A way of effectively engaging with our citizens and across public and private sector”
Experts led a conversation on city platforms that helps us utilize existing data and how visualized data can ease decision-making processes in the following sub-topics:  
  • 18 June, 10:30 – 12:00 CET - Workshop 3: “Public Sector Reform: How can data be used to support the objectives of public administrations and foster more integrated working and management models?”
The team and stakeholders argued how design thinking as a cognitive, strategic and practical process is developed and can be integrated into public administrations.
  • Steve Harding presented a showcase from Birmingham about Design Thinking asking partners to think about two prototype ideas they can talk about in the Workshop, Henry Griffiths and Dr Justin Varney/Elizabeth Griffiths provided examples of the current challenges they face requiring a digital and design led solution
To be admitted, participants visited a WEBEX platform, having been prepared by the previously uploaded materials on an online cloud storage. The meetings proved to be successful in improving the partners learning needs and provided a launchpad for the interregional learning activities phase starting in August 2020.

Thematic Event #02-Tartu

The project’s second thematical event took place in Tartu on the 28-29 of January. On the first seminar day information technology expert, Linnar Viik gave an overview of the development of e-Estonia and various e-services. The presentation was followed by workshops on public and private sector collaboration, which were led by the experts from the United Kingdom and Italy. On the second day, Janno Siimar from Velvet design agency conducted a workshop on design thinking and shared previous experience from developing several public services. The seminar days ended with visits to SPARK Demo and Estonian National Museum.
BETTER thematical event continued with the possibility to visit sTARTUp Day Business Festival, where the participants were able to explore various innovation centers, incubation programs and the startup ecosystem. In addition, it was possible to listen to international speakers on the topics of smart city mobility, environment and many more.
Upcoming events
Coming up – the Thematic Event #04
The BETTER team continuously assesses the Coronavirus situation and we must realize that the pandemic is far from over.
Some countries are still dealing with large epidemics, but even those currently controlling the virus fear "the second wave".
Having considered the abovementioned facts, we decided that our fourth Thematic Event, focusing on People and skills to facilitate e-government innovation will not be held in a form of a physical meeting as it was originally planned in Nyíregyháza, Hungary.
Following the methods we used through Thematic Event #03, the next series of workshops will also be organized in a virtual-only form. Regardless of the format, P5-Nyíregyháza will still have the role of the “host” and will take pronounced duties in holding the event. Thematic Event #04 is planned to be organized in October 2020. About the exact dates the BETTER team will inform all those interested in our social media channels and website. We are going to keep you updated

Next steps

In Semesters 3 and 4., 10 in-depth STUDY VISITS will be organized using the table of good practices the partners have collected related to their interests and learning needs. These collected practices cover a wide range of methods.  Some partners focus on new horizons concerning Artificial Intelligence (AI) issues applied to e-Government solutions to resolve resource allocation problems. Others pay special attention to introducing more ”user friendly” E-Systems in public administration. Partners are to develop closer
relations with their key decision-makers and Regional Stakeholders.
In connection with Study Visits Key elements are established as follows:
  • selection of good practices and hosts will be “demand-led”, and based on the outcome of the Thematic Events.
  • format and content to be agreed between visitors and host, but in principle led by the visitors (travel and entry restrictions are considered!)
  • given the focus of BETTER, visits will have a high level of involvement from stakeholder and key decision-makers
  • each visit will be reported according to the agreed procedures, and the reports shared between project-partners
In Stage 2. partners are also required to deepen relations (i.g. through stakeholder meetings) with their stakeholders and involve them into the adaptation processes of the analysed good practices.
Do you want to be updated? Get in touch with us through:
Lead partner: Municipality of Genoa
Contact person: Mrs. Enrica Spotti

For more information about project news, please visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter and find us on social media

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