The second semi-yearly General Assembly meeting of 2017 took place in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting was co-hosted by the Belgian partner of the EU STEM Coalition (Flemish Ministry of Education) and focused on the regional approach. Due to the presence of several new (platform) members, the morning programme was dedicated to the platform approach in general.
Following up on the feedback on the Tallinn meeting, the programme contained more room for discussion between the members. The meeting was opened by Ms. Beatrice Boots (director of the Dutch national STEM platform) who presented the developments in the six months since the last meeting. These included the presentation of the network at the Directors-General for Higher Education meeting of the Estonian Presidency following the inclusion of the EU STEM Coalition in the European Commission's Communication on a Renewed EU Agenda for Higher Education, the new members (Norwegian Centre for Science Recruitment), the midterm evaluation of the Erasmus+ project, the new platforms and organisations present, including UPSTI (France), FACE (France), CESAER (technical universities) and SATW (Switzerland), and finally the cooperation with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and JA Europe (entrepreneurship education network).
Following Ms. Boots introduction, Mr. Geert Asselbergs (project manager EU STEM Coalition) then presented the discussion model and programme for the day. With the help of a ranking table (see meeting documents) the participants then placed their organisations in a progress-matrix for each of the key characteristics of the platform approach: (1) the triple helix approach, (2) scale and impact, (3) expertise and monitoring and (4) systemic change. The main objective of this exercise was to associate specific types of interventions (e.g. programmes for school-company partnerships, financial incentives) with the role of the organisation in regard to each of the four discussion topics.
After the first two discussion rounds, the focus shifted to the thematic part of the region, starting with the presentation of Mr. Michiel Scheffer (regional executive for the Dutch province of Gelderland), who presented the regionalised STEM approach in his region, the alignment of national funding and policy instruments with regional agendas, the specific challenges of border regions and the available EU-level instruments (e.g. Interreg). His presentation was followed by Mr. Dirk Bochar, secretary-general of the federation of engineeris associations (FEANI). Mr. Bochar presented his new strategic plan with specific focus on deeper collaboration with related organisations through 'Engineers Europe'. In addition, Mr. Bochar discussed the potential role of national engineers associations in the implementation of national STEM strategies.
After lunch, Mr. Laszlo Nadai of Obuda University (Hungary) and special advisor to the state secretary for education introduced the second round of discussions, which focused on Expertise and Monitoring and Systemic Change. Once again, the participants ranked the role of their organisation in regard to these two key characteristics of the platform approach, which was then discussed in a plenary setting.
The final presentation of the day was given by Mr. Kim Kofod Hansen, director for regional development of the Central Denmark Region (Midtjylland), who presented the current state of affairs regarding the regional Technology Pact in his region. In his presentation he highlighted the importance of a regionalised STEM strategy (modelled after the Dutch Technology Pact) and the six main priorities of the implementation plan in his region.
The meeting was closed by Ms. Beatrice Boots at 16.00h.