Project summary

IMPROVING SMEs COMPETITIVENESS IN REGIONS WITH AN AQUACULTURE BUSINESS ECOSYSTEM

More than 90% of businesses in EXTRA-SMEs regions are inland and coastal SMEs operating across and around the aquaculture value chain, contributing to growth and creation of jobs. Along the chain, these economic operators are characterized by systematic weaknesses in reaching international markets and exporting their products. To this end, EXTRA-SMEs will support public authorities to join forces and exchange experiences in a) administrative simplification, b) expansion in new markets, c) innovative value-added product solutions, d) personnel up skilling, and e) resolution of stakeholders’ conflicts of interests.

 

OBJECTIVE

EXTRA-SMEs brings together 8 regions from 7 countries, to achieve expansion of rural and coastal SMEs in wider markets for the promotion of their products, through simpler and improved administrative processes, and innovative technologies.

 

EXPECTED IMPACT

- Increased capacity of 200 staff of public administrations to effectively support SME competitiveness

- 14 million euros unlocked to support projects on the modernisation of the wider network of aquaculture SMEs

- Increased awareness and consensus building among the wider aquaculture sector, the workforce, and citizens, to support measures for SMEs internationalisation operating locally (over 1000 individuals).

 

MAIN OUTPUTS & BENEFICIARIES

- 8 action plans to improve the addressed policy instruments, benefiting managing authorities and beneficiaries

- 4 interregional workshops, 2 site visits and 1 EU-wide policy learning symposium to promote capacity building among partners and stakeholders

- 13 policy briefs to transfer lessons learnt to EU public authorities

- 1 benchmarking online toolkit for the assessment of the extraversion performance of SMEs

- 4 joint thematic studies and analyses reports on territorial needs and pathways for the improvement of SMEs internationalisation.

€1,765,617.00

from 1 Jun 2018
to 31 May 2023
Topic

SME competitiveness

Partnership

Lead Partner
Partner

What policy instruments does the project address?

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

The Operational Programme (OP) Peloponnesus 2014-2020 aims to enhance regional economic development by boosting SME competitiveness, under Thematic Objective (TO) 3. Still, since most regional SMEs operate in the agri-food sector, a number of interventions under TO3 are also covered by the EAFRD and EMFF programmes.

 

The OP, however, acknowledges that measures to boost innovation for agri-food SMEs is a priority of developmental nature, where ERDF resources need to be directed. Accordingly, the OP dedicates ERDF resources to actions for all SMEs relevant to RIS3, including SMEs of agri-food sector.

 

To this end, EXTRA SMEs will address:

“Priority Axis 3 - Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs”, and investment priorities 3a, 3c, and 3d.

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

The OP aims to tackle the disadvantages of the regional economy, aggravated by the long-lasting recent national economic recession; nonetheless, Peloponnese continues to rank low in entrepreneurship and trade compared with the EU average. This is particularly important for the aquaculture-based industries in the Peloponnese, for which innovation, internationalisation, and exports have a high economic potential and export dynamic; to this end, the OP can be improved to support launching of new and value-added products and services in the international market.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Region of Peloponnese

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

The ROP aims to help Liguria Region to better achieve Europe 2020 targets, by focusing on SME diversification and competitiveness, through investment in innovation and enhancement of productivity and creation of jobs. Measures concerned are in Priority Axis 3 of the ROP namely:

3.1 Promote entrepreneurship, in particular by facilitating the economic exploitation of new ideas and promoting the creation of new businesses, also through incubators.

3.2 Develop and implement new business models for SMEs, especially for internationalization through consolidating, modernizing, diversifying the region’s production systems.

3.3 Support the creation and expansion of advanced capabilities for the development of products and services.

3.4 Supporting the capacity of SMEs to engage in growth in regional, national and international markets and in innovation processes by improving access to credit, business financing and risk management.

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

ROP of Liguria needs to be improved to enable SMEs expand in wider markets and create the conditions for new jobs’ establishment, in a region severely lacking of added-value local food products; the Liguria region falls behind in specialized traditional food production, a trademark in Northern and Central Italian regions. ROP’s improvement through the creation of new business models will diversify the region’s product portfolio, and maximize profits due to higher market prices applied.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Liguria Region

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

The ROP aims at promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the region; it places emphasis on boosting research, technological development and innovation, SME competitiveness, the shift towards a low-carbon economy, the promotion of sustainable and quality employment, and social inclusion. Measures concerned by the project are included in “Priority Axis 3: Promoting Competitiveness of SMEs”:

 

3a: To promote entrepreneurship, in particular by facilitating the economic exploitation of new ideas and fostering the creation of new firms, including through business incubators, with consideration of the "Small Business Act".

3c: Supporting the development and expansion of advanced capabilities in the development of products and services.

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Westpomeranian region suffers from high rate of unemployment, and its score on innovation is only modest, in spite of efforts recorded during the recent years. On the other hand, the rate of agri-food exports has been increasing, making the aquaculture food sector hold significant potential for regional growth. The ROP can be improved to further support this trend by enabling the formation of clusters and the launch of innovative products, so as to further boost the export dynamics of the region.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Northern Chamber of Commerce in Szczecin

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

The Regional Operational Programme (ROP) aims at promoting smart sustainable and inclusive growth and addresses the major development challenges: regional competitiveness, sustainable urban development, the low-carbon economy, and economic and social infrastructure at regional and local level. Measures concerned by EXTRA SMEs are in the two investment priorities of Priority Axis 3 (competitiveness of SMEs):

3a - Promoting entrepreneurship, in particular by facilitating the economic exploitation of new ideas and fostering the creation of new firms, including through business incubators.

3c - Supporting the creation and the extension of advanced capacities for products, services and development.

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

The ROP needs to be improved to address long standing issues hindering economic development around aquaculture areas, such as degradation of sites, aged processes, low-qualified personnel. Also, the ROP needs improvements to support new opportunities for SMEs competitiveness improvement. More specifically, the most recent relevant Romanian regulation includes special provisions for stimulating the aquaculture sector, in order to increase the investments. Economic activity is not constrained to production, processing and trade, but also extends to other opportunities, as recently the extensive fish farms have started to provide other services, such as ecological tourism, recreational fishing, and educational activities.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Bucharest-Ilfov Regional Development Agency

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

Lapland’s Food Programme 2025 envisions 30% self-sufficiency in selected foods categories, through changes that encourage activities supporting the production of local Lappish food and natural products. The Programme aims to boost entrepreneurship in the food and surrounding sectors, encourage new income and achieve regional development. Aquaculture and the related chain of activities, are found among the industries identified as high potential areas in which development measures can be targeted.

More specifically measures concerned with EXTRA-SMEs include:

- The development of new high quality products

- Support Lapland’s profitability by improving existing and building new business and income models

- The acquisition of young players and enhancement of co-operation between entrepreneurs

- Further development of processing and training

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Lapland’s aquaculture and related industries have the potential to significantly contribute towards the region’s development, by becoming more competitive and self-sufficient in relation to food sustainability. The policy instrument can thus be improved to better address aquaculture related activities entrepreneurship, competitiveness and innovative business models for the regional SMEs. The region’s ageing economy and administrative procedures are also problems which the instrument can help address.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Lapland University of Applied Sciences

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

The Western Greece Operational Programme (OP) 2014-2020 pursues the self-sustaining, extraverted and sustainable reconstruction of the region, focusing on its global identity, values and the environment. The development of the agri-food sector is recognised as a priority (Thematic Objective 3 – TO3), including changes to the traditional model of production in aquaculture.

 

Since most regional SMEs operate in the agri-food sector, a number of interventions under TO3 are also covered by EAFRD and EMMF programmes. The OP, however, acknowledges that measures to boost innovation for agri-food SMEs is a priority of developmental nature, requiring the allocation of ERDF resources; to this end, the OP foresees such interventions. Accordingly, EXTRA-SMEs addresses Priority Axis 3, and investment priorities 3a, 3c, and 3d.

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Western Greece remains Greece’s second poorest region in terms of GDP, well below the EU average, and among the fastest declining as a result of the country’s economic recession. However, even since the beginning of the crisis regional exports growth rate remains positive. This is particular the case for the food sector, including aquaculture related industries, which present a significant opportunity for regional development. To this end, there is significant room for improvement in the OP in regard the formation of clusters and the development of new innovative products.

Which partners are working on this?
  • University of Patras

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

The Regional Operational Programme (OP) 2014 – 2020 aims to enhance research and innovation, information and communications technologies (ICT), SME competitiveness, the shift to a low-carbon economy and supporting integrated urban development. Measures concerned by the project are encountered in Priority 3: “Enhancing the competitiveness of SME Competitiveness” and across the following investment priorities:

3a - promoting entrepreneurship, in particular by facilitating the economic exploitation of new ideas and fostering the creation of new firms, including through business incubators.

3d - supporting the capacity of SMEs to grow in regional, national and international markets and to engage in innovation processes.

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Ireland’s OP is strategically justified based on Europe 2020 strategy and aims to stimulate the in-company innovation and accelerate micro-enterprise start-ups by fostering the creation of new firms, including through business incubators and extraversion. However SME entrepreneurship and competitiveness in coastal and aquaculture intensive regions remains limited, since innovation policy tends to be largely top-down from central governmental and specific regional needs are often neglected, thus limiting regional development and export growth in these regions.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Western Development Commission

MAIN FEATURES AND MEASURES CONCERNED

The Operational Programme (OP) aims at helping Lithuania's economic development as well as facing social challenges. It places a clear emphasis on boosting research and innovation, SME competitiveness, the shift to a low-carbon economy, the promotion of human capital.

Measures concerned by the project are encountered across “Priority Axis 3: Promoting Competitiveness of SMEs” of the Policy Instrument, in all its relevant investment priorities:

3.1 (entrepreneurship): Setting up and development of businesses to increase the level of entrepreneurship, especially of young people, paying special attention to regional SMEs.

3.2 (internationalisation): Stimulating enterprises to give more focus on entering and consolidating their presence in foreign markets, and involvement in international networks.

3.3 (innovation): Optimising business and production processes, adapting original product/service design solutions, foreseeing the introduction of product, process or service standards in SMEs.

 

REASONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Despite the reflection of Europe 2020 strategy on the OP, Lithuania continues to fall behind the EU average in terms of entrepreneurship level, and compared to other countries of similar size and development level, export volumes of domestic goods of Lithuania are small. This is particularly the case for SMEs operating in the economic environment surrounding the country’s water bodies, which are mostly subject to special licenses.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Public institution National regions development agency