This Triangular Cooperation Initiative was based on close cooperation between the professionals of the Partnership entities, in order to better understand the challenges faced by the Province of Cienfuegos, and at the same time, learn about the opportunities that the experiences of Mérida and Bilbao can provide, along with the many other experiences in which IDOM has participated in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The first activity of the Initiative was a face-to-face seminar in Cienfuegos, producing as a result the 'Assessment of the challenges, capacities and opportunities in Cienfuegos for the development of a Local Innovation Agenda'. This exercise was coordinated by the Departamento de Desarrollo Territorial del Gobierno Provincial de Cienfuegos, fostering dialogue with all the key actors in the province with expertise and interest in the matter, both from the public sphere and from the academic, business and social sectors. They were joined by professionals from the other Partnership entities, who not only presented their experiences but also shared the lessons learned, good practices and success stories regarding the complete process of defining and implementing an innovation-driven local agenda, and in particular, Knowledge and Innovation Centres or similar initiatives.
Based on the assessment, two study visits were planned.
A study visit to Mérida focused on learning first-hand about the city's experience in its journey towards innovation and establishing itself as an 'innovation hub.' It included visits to the main initiatives launched in recent years, such as the Parque Científico-Tecnológico de Yucatán (Science and Technology Park) and the Centro de Convenciones y Exposiciones Yucatán Siglo XXI (Convention and Exhibition Centre), in addition to meeting with the key public, private and academic actors involved. Special emphasis was placed on the relevant public policies and planning instruments that foster local innovation, as well as innovation-driven financial instruments and business models. This remains a particularly relevant topic, in light of the challenge presented by the current process of transformation of the Cuban economy and the opportunities arising from the new legislation on SMEs.
A study visit to Bilbao allowed participants to learn about the experience of urban renewal in metropolitan Bilbao, as an iconic example of the transformation of an industrial area into a creative economic district through innovation. This process, which began at the end of the 20th century, has garnered considerable expertise and insights that can be used by other regions seeking to establish a similar transition, such as Cienfuegos and Mérida, which also benefitted significantly from this visit. Similar successful experiences in Spain were also discussed and special attention was paid to the integration of rural and local economies and sustainability.
The Initiative ended with a virtual workshop that synthesised the rigorous knowledge management process carried out in the previous months. With regard to the follow-up of the workshop in Cienfuegos, in addition to the internal work sessions among the Partnership entities, there were also open sessions with broad participation in order to include all the key actors in the area, which is critical to the success of these types of processes. A roadmap for the implementation of the 'Agenda for local innovation in Cienfuegos' was the main outcome of the workshop, and was particularly useful for the implementation of the 'Knowledge and Innovation Centre'.
This roadmap will be developed and modified over time as a 'model' for other provinces across the country. The presence and participation of the Provincial Offices of the key ministries in the seminar and workshop will be one of the highlights of this exercise.