This category of services focuses on increasing the knowledge within the ecosystem of partners of a DIH on aspects relevant for I&M robotics. Such knowledge includes end-user needs, upcoming relevant technologies, funding opportunities, business development, and more. This service is closely connected to, and often combined with, community building services (since workshops within community building often contain some component of sharing knowledge). Moreover, the skills and education service can provide input to ecosystem learning.
In the figure below, we outline activities and events that can be included in ecosystem learning. These are further detailed as follows:
- Seminars, workshops and conferences: Events on specific topics or more general. These events may often be in connection with events within the community building service category.
- Organize trips with actors from the regional ecosystem: To visit relevant clusters, trade fairs, etc. and learn from these.
- Newsletters and other sharing of relevant information.
Examples of the range of activities and events associated with ecosystem learning.
Like the community building service category, a DIH should have one or a few organizations that are responsible for taking the initiative to these events and that take the lead in organizing them. In some cases, this is a competence centre while in other cases such events can be organized by regional business associations. For larger events there are benefits with cooperation with e.g. appropriate national associations.
Seminars, workshops and conferences can be organized in a variety of ways, each covering different purposes:
For example, a company or other organization could give a tour of their facilities to provide an update on their latest developments (e.g., a new robot, a new service) and thus teach others what is possible with the newest commercial-level technology/services. Such an event can be organized as, e.g., a “breakfast meeting” where the participants are served a light meal while the host gives an introduction to its company, followed by a tour in facilities of the company (maybe with the opportunity to get hands-on experience with a technology), and then possibly followed by short updates from other participants. It can be beneficial to proactively schedule follow-up meetings with participants which may become possible partners or customers for the host organization.
Local events can also be organized at e.g. a competence centre in the DIH so that the event is less specific to a company. Holding the event at a competence centre instead of e.g. a conference centre helps to keep costs down. Local events could be, e.g., breakfast meetings, half-day workshops or Local full-day workshops. The target audience for these events are regional, but it can be beneficial sometimes to invite “foreign” speakers to talk about what is done outside the region. It is also advantageous to sometimes invite representatives from industries other than those directly related to I&M robotics to learn about technologies potentially suitable for side-stepping between industries. Topics for the events can include:
- Technical developments, technical skills on certain technologies.
- Business opportunities, industrial requirements.
- Funding opportunities e.g. upcoming EU calls.
- Opportunities for technology transfer: Disseminate information about upcoming and commercially available technologies that may be useful to the ecosystem of companies in the DIH.
DIHs should consider trying to get national/international events organized in their region. This can lower the threshold for regional companies to attend such larger-scale events and thus allow these companies to learn from organizations outside their region, possibly including international organizations. Holding such events locally also gives a low-threshold opportunity for local companies to make their products and services visible to a national/international audience. The European Robotics Forum (ERF) is one example of such an event that is organized in a new city / region each year. Hence, DIHs can work to attract the ERF to their region. There are also several other conferences that “travel” across Europe. It requires an extensive amount of work to organize such large-scale events so collaboration with the local university and other ecosystem members is beneficial.
The companies in a region can also benefit from having a DIH organizing study trips outside the region. Such trips can include visits to relevant industry/research clusters, trade fairs, etc. and can provide the participants with important knowledge regarding important developments elsewhere in the country/world and open-up opportunities for new collaborations. Organization efforts can be kept “light-weight” and a DIH could e.g. rent a house/hostel close to an important trade fair or rent a bus to an event in a neighbouring region. Generally, each participant should pay for themselves. This can provide an extra push for the companies to participate in important events outside their region, and it can also help to build the international RIMA DIH community.
In addition to organizing events and trips, the DIH can also actively inform interested parties about relevant conferences, new technology / business developments and other relevant information concerning I&M robotics so that DIH participants can make good decisions based on the latest developments in the field.
Example: Water Europe organizes workshops including business, organization and local authorities. These meetings facilitate discussions about the latest technology available on the market and the challenges pertaining to the sector. In this way the people have the opportunity to discuss collaborations and start new projects. Generally, the events are organized with presentations from the speakers in the morning and the afternoon dedicated to facilitating business discussions and new collaborations.