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Lead Partner: Umbrian Regional Waste and Water Agency
Reuse Centres are usually managed by SMEs, often social enterprises, that receive, prepare for reuse and distribute goods extending their product lifetimes with important social and environmental impacts, promoting a circular economy vision. They are a powerful vehicle to promote qualitative growth, help develop human capital and strengthen social cohesion. To fulfil this mission reuse centres need to have an economically sustainable business model, an issue that will be at the centre of the project. SUBTRACT will concentrate on the post start-up and scaling-up phases to render reuse centres effective and durable, i.e. to have a steady flow of incoming and outgoing goods well prepared for reuse, a professional management, a suitable financial strategy and an attractive image for the users. The project will research knowledge, exchange experiences, develop guidelines on how to develop the full potentials of reuse centres and render them competitive and will provide guidance to the ERDF managing authorities and other policy makers on how to assess and govern reuse centres in their territory. It will strengthen them in their capacity to enact efficient policies of sustaining reuse centres in becoming self-sustaining, evaluating their management, their investment and innovation readiness, measuring their impact. The elaboration of business principles and models will help actors along the reuse chain (regional and local governments, waste management authorities, NGOs, social enterprises) to collaborate effectively and strengthen networks. Measures will be identified and rendered operational that enforce waste prevention and preparation for reuse activities and favour citizens’ contributions. Efficient awareness strategies, campaign models and other suitable measures will be developed and tested to stimulate the supply and demand of reusable goods and render them attractive and desirable.
Lead Partner: Pannon European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation
INTER VENTURES promotes the internationalization of SMEs in EU border regions, thus contributing to their growth and increased competitiveness. INTER VENTURES brings together partners from five European border regions, representing various stages of evolution of SME ecosystems, from occasional cross-border cooperation through more structured networking to international clusterization. During the project implementation Partners will intensely share their experiences and learn jointly via Thematic Study Visits, Interregional Meetings combining training with discussions. Regional stakeholders will be intensively involved in the process through RSG Meetings and Webinars including training, brainstorm sessions and assisted workshops.   Lessons learnt will be adapted to regional conditions explored through targeted surveys of regional SMEs. As a result, tailor-made regional Action Plans will be elaborated that can lead to the desired improvement of the five selected regional ERDF programmes for the enhanced internationalisation of SMEs.
Lead Partner: Ministry of Development and Investments
Statistics reveal that succession of business ownership between generations can be a life -or-death situation for many companies in Europe: only 30% of family-owned businesses  survive the transition to a second generation while only 10% of them can overcome the  transition to a third generation.  Success Road will address this challenge by helping manufacturing companies of the  textile, clothing and footwear sectors prepare and manage their succession, both in the  context of family successions and when selling to third parties.  The project overall objective is to help project national and regional authorities implement  policies and new succession measures in their operational programmes so that SMEs  can better face the succession phase and secure their future after a change of  ownership. Working to strengthen the overall sustainability and long-term viability of European SMEs will further contribute to the growth of the economy by preserving jobs and  boosting economic growth. Objectives • To analyse the gaps between the current and the desired state of successions and  transfers of companies and examine the parameters and obstacles at play.  • To sensitise regional and local policymakers and civil servants about the problems  and risks of the succession process in order to foster the creation of tools to help business owners withstand the succession process.  • To shape a business-friendly legal and institutional ecosystem by creating incentives  and removing barriers to entrepreuneurship. 
Lead Partner: ANATOLIKI S.A. Organisation for Local Development
Circular economy is a new approach of economic development models. It provides the potential to use one’s waste as resource input to others productive chain thus offering a longer life cycle of the products and a more environmentally friendly business approach. This regenerative system is of high priority in the EU. SinCE-AFC is being developed along with the on-going EU action plan for Circular Economy and the respective National Circular Economy Action Plans across the EU countries. Although the principles of circular economy are already applied by many large industries, SMEs, which represent the 99% of the businesses sector, still remain uninvolved due to lack of motivation and support. Thus, the regional SMEs policies improvement towards a more regenerative economy is of high importance. SinCE-AFC aims at involving SMEs of the Agri-Food chain in circular economy through the promotion of the appropriate managing and financial horizontal mechanisms. All the Agri-Food agents committed to production, processing, packaging, distribution and final consumption are expected to operate in a coordinated way to better adapt to circular economy. This objective will be achieved via the intense collaboration and interregional exchange of experience of 9 partners representing 7 Regions from 7 EU countries. The partnership’s tasks will focus on the investigation of efficient practices, via interregional thematic learning events, study visits, import workshops, stakeholders’ meetings and consultation processes, of how the relevant policy instruments can be improved in order to assist SMEs to enter circular economy. The core results will be depicted in a joint study reflecting the related regulatory framework and good practices at regional and EU level. The project will promote innovation, derive knowledge and develop close collaboration with the Interreg Europe Learning Platform as well as with the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and the RIS3 Platform Group.
Lead Partner: Municipality of Florence
The European Crafts sector is a rich and complex interwoven tapestry combining tradition, heritage, culture, skills and design. Crafts encompasses a wide range of disciplines as a mirror of the diversity of European cultural identity. CRAFTS CODE aims to enhance the competitiveness of craft SMEs by developing a framework to stimulate policy learning and build capacity to improve the implementation of regional development policies and programmes. The project idea is based on efforts made by the partners for the implementation of policies and projects supporting the competitiveness and the skilling up potentials of SMEs belonging to the crafts sector, in order to innovate it and mitigate the risk of disappearance of many traditional crafts and manufacturing. Crafts is a peculiar productive sector deeply linked with tradition and transmission of "knowledge", and plays a key role as innovator in Europe’s economy and social stability, even if most SMEs are not performing R&D activities as traditionally defined. Their competitiveness depends on their capability to improve processes, products and services. 
Lead Partner: Government of Catalonia
START EASY is an initiative promoted by the Government of Catalonia in cooperation with national, regional & local authorities as well as other stakeholders from all corners of Europe (BE, ES, FR, IT, LT, LV, PL), which endeavours to create the best conditions for growth. The project will improve policy making & deliver smart tools that enable a conducive environment for business to start easy & quickly, boosting business startup activity & competitiveness in Europe. By learning from one another (peer reviews), exchanging & integrating good practices (GP) from all over Europe (study visits, research and studies, etc.), & developing joint strategies (workshops & other events), the partnership will overcome common challenges identified such as: the difficult and costly process behind regulations governing business creation which tend to discourage entrepreneurial activity; the limited responsiveness of the public administration to the needs of these new startups, thereby making necessary to catch up in the digitalization of public services, once-only principle (OOP) for business data registration, one-stop shop (OSS) models, etc. Numerous activities have been therefore structured in Phase 1 to promote active interregional exchange and effective stakeholder engagement for joint development of Action Plans (AP), as well as EU-wide dissemination. The plans should conduce improvements in the policy instruments selected, delivering new & enhanced public services & tools that facilitate the entry of new businesses into the marketplace (new projects supporting digital services, OOP, OSS, & administrative simplification in general will be supported). They should also conduce to better governance, engaging multiple stakeholders in policy understanding, development and implementation, in particular key decision and policy makers at the different governance levels (including Managing Authorities (MA)), agents from the startup ecosystem and business enabling institutions (BEI))
Lead Partner: University of Eastern Finland
The ECoC-SME project recognizes the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) Programme as a yet under-utilised opportunity for cities and regions to develop existing and prospective local small- and medium enterprises (SMEs) via their early engagement in the event. The project focusses on the mega-event's potentials to trigger, strengthen and diversify local entrepreneurship by encouraging their creative, 'unconventionally' cross-sectoral cooperations, clustering and networking, as well as their internationalisation.In the project, via an iterative process of interregional and local-participatory learning and co-creation, the Partners explore and share approaches and practices to invigorate their local-regional SME sectors and align them with the special contexts (phases, scope, themes) of the mega-event in their regions. Exchanges between 'past/present' and 'prospective' ECoCs -- Leeuwarden, Matera, and Rijeka, Timisoara, Kaunas -- under the coordination of an expert team at the University of Eastern Finland, and twenty ‘Local Learning Labs’ result in new practices and projects tailored to the five territorial contexts and their local/regional policy instruments: the (Regional) Operational Programmes of North Netherlands, of Basilicata Region in Italy, of the West Region of Romania, and the local development strategies of the Municipalities of Rijeka (Croatia) and Kaunas (Lithuania). Action Plans will be drafted to enrich these instruments and selected measures will be implemented in these cities and regions during the third year of the project. There is growing interest both from the part of the EU Commission and the participating cities in achieving an efficient use of local and EU resources and maximizing benefits from the ECoC. However, there are no concrete guidelines offered to ECoC hosts for the engagement and encouragement of local SMEs. Therefore, experiences will be shared also with the ECoC Programme to improve its guidelines for applicant cities. (Header picture: photo by Pierre Blaché, from Pexels.)
Lead Partner: Municipality of Kristiansand /City of Kristiansand
The need to promote a shift towards a low-carbon economy represents many business opportunities. The Small Business Act highlighted that the EU and Member States should enable SMEs to exploit these opportunities. There are many good practice examples that build the capacity of green and blue companies, but unfortunately, many of these examples are not replicated in other regions and remain unexploited. The objective of GRESS is to improve policies for SMEs' competitiveness by strengthening capacities to trigger and support formation of sustainable and competitive start-ups and spin-offs within the green economy. The partners (NO, EL, PL, IT and BG) apply a policy-learning process in five steps, 1) status on green growth in each region, 2) scan and exchange of experience and identification of good practice for mutual learning, 3) assessment and ranking of relevant practices through peer assessments in RSGs, 4) idea generation on policy intervention with interregional knowledge transfer, and 5) development and monitoring of regional action plans. Five policy instruments will be improved through governance measures, new projects, and structural change. 26 MEUR in Structural Funds, as well as 7 MEUR of other funds are estimated to be influenced by the project. The policy improvements are envisaged to improve awareness on the opportunities for SMEs the in green & blue economy, increase the no. of participants at and improve the quality of training programmes for green start-ups, attract more SMEs to participate and succeed in public procurements of green products and services, improve access of SMEs to risk capital outside the local region, make cities and regions more attractive for young entrepreneurs in green sectors, introduce improved incentive schemes for green start-ups, enhance the performance of ecosystems, increase the no. of competitive start-ups and spin-offs within the green economy and improve their chances of survival.
Lead Partner: Munster Technological University (until 31/12/2020 [Cork Institute of Technology])
Across Europe, public bodies are pressed by an increasing need to provide preparatory support to the economic ecosystem in advance of the closure of anchor firms in their region which act as significant employers. The impacts of a closure of course go beyond direct employees and ripple, wave like throughout the regional services sector and economy. Management of such anticipated structural change requires proactive renewal of business approaches and policy supports. Regions are encouraged to introduce pilot projects based on their own strengths and to provide appropriate business supports for the re-alignment of the regional industrial base. This proactive approach by regional stakeholders is critical to building the resilience of these regions and enabling them to adapt to change. The importance of SMEs and start-ups to the regional economy is widely recognised in terms of the provision of employment, contribution to GDP, driving innovation and supporting regional resilience. It is imperative that the relevant regional stakeholders keep informed, inspired and equipped to provide the appropriate SME and start-up supports, particularly in regions anticipating structural change. The development of this collaborative Interreg Europe project linking partners across borders will seek to develop a Framework and Roadmap for Anticipated Structural Change under Priority Axis 2. It is imperative that industry players, business support organisations and policy makers understand how their ecosystems work and when faced with shocks (firm closures) to collaboratively develop alternative growth and employment through supportive policies and programmes to boost SME competitiveness.
Lead Partner: Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia
DigiBEST is an interregional cooperation project for policy improvement of SME’s competitiveness promotion.   The overall objective of the project is to support and promote SMEs competitiveness through digital transformation of SMEs in rural European territories by proposing solutions to enhance their capacity to use advanced technologies and new innovative business approaches for promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe and its regions. The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Norwegian national funding through the INTERREG EUROPE programme. The project is in the partnership with seven partners from Latvia, Norway, Italy, Spain, Austria and Portugal.