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Wallonia to boost its cutting-edge ecosystems by joining the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) (USA)

A Walloon interdisciplinary team of economic, scientific, public and venture capital actors will join MIT REAP, a programme for accelerating economic and scientific ecosystems. It's back to school time for the participants.

 

At the beginning of 2020, Wallonia-Brussels International (WBI) led a mission to Boston where it was able to meet numerous economic, technological and scientific partners and to strengthen existing links with the best North American programmes that could serve Wallonia's interests.

Among the programmes presented, the mission selected the MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP), a method for stimulating and developing entrepreneurial and technological ecosystems. This programme aims to support strategic players in building bridges between innovation and entrepreneurship at the local and, above all, international level, across all sectors. The ultimate goal is to accelerate the Region's economic and social progress with new, innovative strategies in line with markets and geopolitical developments.

 "Our participation in MIT REAP will fully support the implementation and development of the Walloon recovery plan strategy," explains Pascale Delcomminette, General Administrator of WBI and Wallonia-Export & Inestment Agency and MIT REAP participant. “We have put together an interdisciplinary Walloon team for this mission whose objective will be to implement the strategy defined during this programme, to initiate major economic benefits and to contribute to meeting the challenges currently facing our Region.”

 

Surrounding themselves with the best to maximise the benefits for Wallonia

Spread over a little more than two years (end of 2021 - beginning of 2023), MIT REAP must support the implementation and development of the Walloon strategy and integrate the new orientations linked to re-industrialisation and the "post-COVID-19" economic recovery. Through the experience of its faculty and the methodology derived directly from its research, MIT REAP is committed to generating positive socio-economic benefits within the participating regions. Teams from the renowned university will guide participants in (re)defining and implementing a strategy to strengthen the impact of innovation and entrepreneurship, thereby accelerating the economic and social progress of a region. MIT REAP will feed the reflection and the construction of a strategy by drawing on experiences from other regions of the world (peer learning).

 

Wallonia in force in the USA

The choice of the partner institution is the result of a Walloon international policy and driven by the Research & Innovation Platform of Wallonia-Brussels International (WBI). The latter has had a Scientific Liaison Officer in Boston since 2014, whose job is precisely to facilitate transatlantic collaborations with universities and innovation centres. For several years now, the Competitiveness Clusters and Universities that make up the Platform have been expressing the desire to work together with scientific and industrial operators in the Boston area and the North-East of the USA.

To be able to apply and be accepted, Wallonia assembled a team ("Team Wallonia") of twelve representatives, decision-makers and experts from the five pillars that make up the innovative ecosystems: universities (UMons), companies (AGC Glass, Ecosteryl, I-Care), clusters and federations (BioWin, Agoria), investors (SRIW, LeanSquare), incubators (The Faktory, La Smala), and public administrations (SPW, AWEX & WBI). During these two years, the Walloon team will attend several three-day workshops between Boston and Wallonia. These workshops will be interspersed with implementation phases in Wallonia. Our Region is not alone in this endeavour as 6 other teams are part of the same cohort (2021-2023), namely: Los Angeles (USA), Manizales (Colombia), Eastern Province (Saudi Arabia), Northern Ireland (UK) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), as well as Egypt.

These teams will therefore come to feed the reflections during the workshops, will expose their own challenges and the solutions they wish to bring and are therefore already natural working partners for Wallonia.

 

What concrete benefits can Wallonia and its companies expect?

Since 2012, many other regions around the world have already followed this programme and have all, at different levels, recorded some degree of impact. This varies, of course, according to their stated objectives and the structure of the entrepreneurial ecosystems.

For example, the most common strategic interventions deployed within the Regions following MIT REAP are the creation of new Public-Private Partnerships (27%), the creation or reinforcement of Innovation Centres (18%), the setting up of new Training Programmes (16%), the establishment of Acceleration Programmes for companies (12%) or the implementation of New Public Regulations (11%).

 

Focus: What is MIT REAP?

R-E-A-P. Four letters to identify a sequential and participatory programme for the development of innovative entrepreneurship for the benefit of regions around the world. Through the experience of its faculty and the methodology derived directly from its research, MIT REAP is committed to generating positive socio-economic benefits within the participating region.

The 2021-2023 cohort, in which Wallonia is participating, will be the 8th of its kind.

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