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Innovation, our daily challenge by Véra

18 November 2019

This autumn, the European Research and Innovation Days (R&I Days) were held in Brussels. The aim was to discuss and map out the future landscape of research and innovation in Europe. The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation tasked VO Europe, our communications agency and specialised service provider for European and international institutions, to develop this brand new convention as part of its RTD framework agreement.

Together with the client, VO Europe managed to deliver a result that was fully in line with the original objective. The aim was to think outside the box of a classic conference and allow the participants to contribute to its content development. Against this backdrop, the decision was made to create a ‘co-design session’ in a European format, in which the participants, speakers and Commission members are invited to create and think about research and innovation policies in Europe.

In less than 4 weeks, 4.000 people had been signed up, with 7.000 people ultimately registering their interest

As soon as registration was opened, it was a huge success. Everyone wanted to take part in something that would have a real impact,” Michaël Malengrez, Project Director at VO Europe, explains. “In order to meet the requirements of the Commission and put them into practice, we really had to get to know the culture of the European Commission and create a logical connection between the location we had selected, the technical resources and the event. Together with the client, we also had to come up with a different discussion format.

An innovative challenge

The triple challenge was accepted in style. The main aim of the content was successfully put into practice, including a conceptual, narrative and technical implementation in a disruptive location - Kanal, a former Citroen garage.

This gave rise to three activity poles - the Policy conference, including a co-design session and the Horizon Europe Village, the Innovation Hub and a part for the general public.

A cross-functional collaboration between the agencies of the VO Group

Other than its role as conductor of this unique event, VO Europe also performed secretarial duties for the conference and was responsible for managing participants, travel and accommodation as well as managing the content of the conference in direct collaboration with Commission officials and technical providers.

To help take care of all other aspect of this grand undertaking, VO Europe of course relied on the expertise of the other VO agencies:

  • VO Event, specialist in event communication, managed the very complex logistics of a real feat - supervising the constructions, technical material, and ‘catering’, and organising all pre-production staff.
  • SIGN, a graphic design agency, was responsible for the visual adaptation in all formats and materials, including two 3 by 45 metre banners.
  • Voice, an expert digital communication agency, set up the email campaigns, managed participant registration and created an app for the conference.
  • Sense, a content- and value-oriented communication agency, created a video shown during the closing ceremony of the conference and also helped structure the project, which involved several dozen stakeholders.
  • Studio Gondo, a communication agency that connects art and brands, was the first to come up with the choice of location, which certainly inspired the teams to generate meaning by thinking about what the conference entails.

CREASET, VO partner and stand specialist, was responsible for all large-size visual elements, the different stands and the Horizon Europe Village.

4.434 participants at Kanal

Over the course of 3 days, the EU R&I Days organised no less than 131 sessions and lectures as well as an exhibition of the latest innovations. During the 131 sessions, the 4.344 guests were able to enter into collaborative discussions and exchange ideas with more than 600 stakeholders, including the main decision makers of the European Commission. Other attendees included leaders in the world of research, the European ministers of Research, the European Commissioner for Research, Mr Carlos Moedas, and the main innovation stakeholders of the European economy.

3.222 participants at Tour & Taxis for Science is WonderFul

At the same time as the R&I Days, VO Europe - in collaboration with VO Event and Voice - also organised Science is WonderFul, an annual science meeting with the general public, especially the younger generation, organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture (EAC). Each year, this event allows a large number of pupils to practically measure the impact of science on our daily lives. This year, the event attracted just over 3.200 participants, who took part in the experiences and were able to enter into direct discussions with the researchers.

Under the flag of the EU R&I Days, Science is WonderFul was able to extend its offer even more. The surface area allocated to the stands was doubled, for instance, so even more researchers could be invited by the EAC - RTD researchers who had also attended the Science event. This made the event even more attractive than in previous years and as a result, the number of registered pupils in June was of the same level as the final number had been in previous editions.

Our agencies have excelled themselves in organising these exceptional events in close collaboration with the European Commission. VO Group is very proud to have contributed to the success of the European Days of Research and Innovation, especially thanks to the involvement of its teams!

Pictures © European Union, 2019

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