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Virtual Reality to host site visits and improve interregional learning

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VR and Online Collaboration Tools to upgrade the effectiveness of study visits and staff exchanges.
22 October 2021 - ERNACT  project
Maixa Zabaleta | Digital Communication Assistant

In the last couple of months, we have been experimenting with some disruptive technologies in ERNACT. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lack of physical meetings, travelling to different places to attend study visits and staff exchanges became a huge challenge. 

In a typical cooperation project, study visits are usually expensive, logistically challenging and difficult to organise. The hosting partner requires a lot of time and resources to negotiate and agree visits to the target institutions or organisations, engage with their staff and visit specific facilities. And, also, it means that project partners have to pay for flights, accommodation and travel expenses like meals. This is where Virtual Reality (VR) comes into play.

In ERNACT, as part of the (IaaS) Innovation as a Service project, we have had the opportunity to create several virtual reality experiences in a number of labs in the North West of Ireland to improve the effectiveness of study visits and staff exchanges. In these virtual tours people can move through the facilities just by clicking on different points on their screens and also, there are some highlighted tags with all necessary information for visitors interested to know more about the equipment of the place.

During the 'Digital transformation technologies and the future of cooperation between European regions and cities' workshop hosted by ERNACT at the European Week of Regions and Cities, we demonstrated how Virtual Reality, in combination with ERNACT’s project collaboration service (Teamworker), can be used to improve the quality, cost and re-usability of study visits in INTERREG Europe projects. 

Partners attending a concrete study visit can log into Teamworker from their home region, open an agenda and virtually "Walk" through some of the labs in the North West of Ireland. During the EU Regions Week, on the one hand, we showed the example of the WISAR Lab located in the CoLab Innovation Startup Hub (at Letterkenny Institute of Technology in Donegal, Ireland). The Wisar Lab introduces Industry 4.0 processes into small manufacturing businesses. On the other hand, we virtually visited North West Regional College’s Product Design Centre, Northern Ireland’s most exciting centre for entrepreneurs and local companies who want to create new products or enhance existing ones. 

Virtual Study visits can be used in a number of different ways. Partners only need a computer or a mobile device to complete the tour. Furthermore, the organisers can leave the platform open for a few days allowing participants to complete the visit whenever it suits them. Apart from that, this kind of tools can be used during a video conference meetings like Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, etc.

I am not suggesting the physical study visits should be replaced completely, but I think the virtual study visit can improve the quality of the experience and lower the cost.


Take a quick Virtual Tour to the Wisar Lab and Product Design Centre organised by ERNACT!



Click here to email  Ianire Renobales at ERNACT for further information

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