The SPRING Launch Conference took place on 8th June. The online event was attended by more than 100 participants. The conference was not designed as a traditional presentation of the project but rather as a working session on knowledge and needs among researchers, policy makers and practitioners, to advance practices in the field of integration of newly arrived migrants.

Guia Gilardoni, the SPRING Project Coordinator, opened the conference by presenting the different work packages and highlighting that the distinction between good and bad practices is not so easy to make. The goal is also to challenge the assumption that bad practices necessarily originate from lack of knowledge.

The role of knowledge exchange in advancing practices

Sarah Spencer (Director of strategy and senior fellow at COMPAS), who moderated the first panel, suggested that knowledge exchange and dissemination has often been left to the final or marginal stages of projects. Times have changed though, and policy makers and experts are now involved earlier in the process. The aim is to make information available without overloading practitioners and policy makers.

The dialogue continued between H2020 integration projects around the relation between knowledge and practices. Asya Pisarevskaya (WP Leader of the SPRING project), Karel Arnaut (Coordinator of the ReROOT project), Carles X Simo-Noguera (representative of the MERGING project) and Tiziana Caponio (Coordinator of the WHOLE-COMM project) discussed the barriers making it difficult to produce knowledge that is both relevant and accessible, and how to overcome them. It was pointed out that communities of practice (CoP) should be involved from the beginning of projects, in order to be not only beneficiaries of the knowledge created but actual co-creators.

The second panel was a strategic discussion on what works in informing/disseminating research findings among Communities of Practice on Integration.

Irena Guidikova (Head of the Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Programmes Division at Intercultural Cities), Michele LeVoy (Director of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants, PICUM) and Katharina Bamberg (Policy Advisor - Migration and Integration at EUROCITIES) stressed the importance of knowledge exchange both among members of EU stakeholder platforms and with policy-makers. They also highlighted that participation is a true challenge, with platforms sometimes struggling to promote it smoothly and successfully.

All three speakers stressed the importance of migrant participation in knowledge exchange, as they are the ones who know best what is needed and also benefit from interpersonal connections as a target group.

Closing remarks

Gemma Pinyol-Jiménez (Head of Migration Policies and Diversity at Instrategies) ended the session by highlighting how integration matters, even though there are different interpretations of such concept, and agreeing on objectives is the most important thing. All stakeholders should be involved in design, implementation, evaluation and learning. Sharing knowledge and making it accessible outside the peer groups is also crucial to achieving goals.

If you missed the Launch Conference you can watch the webinar recording here and get the key insights from our speakers.