On March 13, 2020, at the headquarters of the Prahova Chamber of Commerce and Industry, took place the symposium “Smart specialization and digitization in the South-Muntenia region. Funding options and opportunities. The role of clusters and digitization centers”, organized by Wallachia Hub together with representatives of the university environment from the Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiești and USH ProBusiness from Spiru Haret University – Ploiesti branch, with the participation of cluster managers and member companies.

The symposium discussed a series of documents under debate at regional level, namely the socio-economic analysis of the South Muntenia region and the evaluation of the regional strategy of smart specialization and discussed a number of new regional objectives, based on the experience of members associative structures of the business and university environment. Thus, the objective of digital transformation and its connections with smart specialization trends and objectives was highlighted. Also, there was the issue of a more precise definition, compared to the previous strategy, of the areas of regional smart specialization based on a methodology that can more accurately identify the local potential from an entrepreneurial perspective but also the target of regional welfare.

In this context, the Wallachia Hub cluster consortium, as well as the Prahova Chamber of Commerce and Industry have shown their willingness to collaborate with the South-Muntenia Regional Development Agency on these objectives. With regard to the instruments that the future regional competitiveness strategy should take into account, their aim is to focus on innovation, digitalisation and internationalization objectives and to increase the importance and decision-making power at regional level of defining and budgeting them.

Last but not least, the Smart eHub consortium presented its experience regarding the development of a digitization center for the Bucharest-Ilfov region. In this context, those present agreed to set up a regional digitalization consortium, Wallachia eHub, which will benefit from the experience of the consortium in the Bucharest-Ilfov region for the development of an action capacity at the level of European practices.

The Wallachia Hub Consortium has as members the following entities: Danube Engineering Hub Ploiești (consulting engineering, GIS applications, urban planning, IT&C), Bio Concept Prahova Valley Ploiești (organic agriculture), Danube Furniture Cluster (furniture industry), CERMAND Târgoviște – Energy Center Renewable to the Black Sea and Danube (new energy sources), USH ProBusiness University Entrepreneurship Center and ACEX, Association of Export Business Centers. The consortium also developed partnerships with the Prahova Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Smart eHub digitization center in Bucharest. The consortium includes a significant number of companies in the region (over 50) specialized in various fields. Representative companies of the consortium were present, such as HEVECO, BLOM (consulting-engineering, GIS solutions), and Haptic R&D Consulting (consulting, technology transfer, innovation and digitalization).

The South-Muntenia region, as probably other development regions, needs a strong local decision-making structure, in public-private partnership, both for the elaboration and implementation of competitiveness strategies, and for the budgeting of its own intervention tools for targets regional competitiveness based on innovation, digital transformation, but also internationalization. The lesson of the moment is that we will have to intensify our specialization efforts towards those areas that come with solutions for human health, because we will not be able to close indefinitely the chains of human interaction that ensure economic and social life. Thus, I anticipate that global and regional or national interest will grow in another, less invasive, environmentally friendly way of farming and agri-food production, as well as in preventing the occurrence of zoonoses – diseases transmitted from animals to humans – as in the case of coronavirus. Both areas are constantly supported by us through the concepts of organic farming and One Health and I think they can be very good on the regional specifics. Deep organic farming can stop diseases through viable alternatives to aberrant intensive methods of producing human food, and “One Health” will allow us to identify ways of transmitting diseases from animals to humans by working between veterinary medicine and human medicine, between environmental protection and the agri-food industry through everything that contributes to a comprehensive approach to human health”said Assoc. prof. PhD Costin Lianu, Director of USH ProBusiness, President of Inter-Bio.

The Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiești intends to get more involved in the development of the regional innovative ecosystem, both together with the Prahova Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and with the Wallachia eHub consortium. Digital transformation as well as innovation or internationalization in business are objectives in which we will make our contribution“, said Prof. Ph Irina Gabriela Rădulescu, UPG Ploiești.

In the opinion of Danube Engineering Hub, the areas of smart specialization should be defined by entrepreneurs who want to take initiatives in this direction, and access programs to funds should be simplified and take into account the real needs of the business environment. SMEs have few attractive tools to help them invest in research and innovation”, said Costin Trandafir, president of the Wallachia Hub consortium.