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Lead Partner: Region of Peloponnese
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.
Lead Partner: Resources Recovery Regional Agency
SMEs form the backbone of the economy, however, their potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy use remains untapped. The huge number of SMEs operating across the EU means that a change in their energy behaviour is an essential part of the shift to a low carbon economy. The specific target of SME POWER are non-energy intensive SMEs: a silent majority that does not yet recognise the benefits of committing to this shift. SME POWER’s overall aim is to ensure that public policy for the low carbon economy is better adapted to the needs of non-energy intensive SMEs, thus enabling them to be a key driver in the low carbon shift at European level. A driver thanks to improved energy conditions in their buildings and processes. A driver thanks to their role as a multiplier when developing more energy efficient products. A driver thanks to the positive examples set for workers when investing in capacity building measures. These 3 drivers for change are at the core of the SME POWER learning activities. As European policy makers approach the complex world of support for low carbon SMEs from different angles, interregional cooperation is key to identifying good practices that can be integrated, merged and adapted. SME POWER’s partnership gathers complementary experiences and builds on a shared vision. Policy support must be designed with a synergic approach, promoting measures that target all the drivers for change. SME POWER groups 7 policy partners, improving 5 ERDF and 1 national policy instruments and it welcomes 1 Advisory Partner. Thanks to the design and implementation of an Action Plan for policy improvement, SME POWER achieves reduced emissions and increased use of renewables in non-energy intensive SMEs. SME POWER places itself at the centre of a shift from support to low carbon public sector towards the private sector. If supported by effective policies, as encouraged by SME POWER, SMEs can become a driver to reaching the ambitious EU 2030 energy targets.
Lead Partner: Fejér Enterprise Agency
The lack of access to credit and financial exclusion can be a serious obstacle to business creation in many European regions. Microfinancing of SMEs and support to social entrepreneurship is an already tested and proven tool which can contribute to a high level of quality and sustainable employment, reducing disparities and poverty; and thus contributing to the realization of the « Inclusive growth » priority of the Europe 2020 strategy. There is a wide variety of microfinance programs across Europe, however, there are significant differences in how these microfinance initiatives reach their target groups. Therefore, the “ATM for SMEs” project is aiming at improving the access to microfinance in the participating regions by sharing and exchanging the local knowledge on innovative solutions. The "ATM for SME"s consortium is lead by Fejér Enterprise Agency (HU), and is characterized by a balanced proportion of managing authorities and microfinance institutions, and a European-level advisory partner. The intensive interregional policy exchange and learning process, planned in the framework of the project, allows the gathering of evidence on the feasibility of these good practices, and capitalising on the experience accumulated in the  participating regions.     The 9 regional partners will prepare 9 action plans in order to integrate and deploy  good practices learnt from interregional cooperation within the identified regional or  national policies.
Lead Partner: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Tourism ‘until 31/12/2016 Regional Tourist Development Board of Auvergne’
Destination strategies for the competitiveness of the local SMEs The aim of Destination SMEs is to assist European territories in designing effective destination management strategies in order to provide tourist SMEs with a favourable environment for growth and improve their competitiveness.The project brings together 7 partners from 7 European countries (France, Italy, Malta, Ireland, Finland, Latvia, Slovenia) consisting of a mix of public authorities at national, regional and local level and agencies having a delegation of competences from their public authority. Creating effective tourist destinations Tourist SMEs need favourable conditions to succeed and to increase their competitiveness.  Only a well-managed "Destination" can offer such conditions.. how? Strengthening the identity of the territory Establishing a territorial tourist development strategy Ensuring a cohesion between the various tourist offers in the area Allowing cooperation among stake holders & an effective governance system The project: exchange of experiences and knowledge transfer Thanks to the interregional exchange, the analysis of policies and best practices from different countries and the involvement of relevant stakeholders within each area, the partners will have the opportunity to improve their territorial policies or to develop new destination management projects (action plans), giving an effective support to SMEs of the tourist sector.
Lead Partner: INTIA - Institute for Agri-food Technology and Infrastructure of Navarre
The organic market in the European Union has developed significantly in recent years, the total value being approximately 19.7 billion euro with a 9% growth rate in 2011. As organic production grows in Europe, the sector’s focus is on competitiveness and sustainability. While EU public policies have played an important part in the development of the EU organic sector, regional authorities have huge potential to prioritise support for organic approaches, such as market development. In this respect, the EC proposal for an Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming encourages regions to find the most adequate policy and funding mix to support the development of the regional organic sectors. The overall objective of SME-ORGANICS is to improve policies and programmes under the Investment for Growth and Jobs goal in order to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of SMEs in the organic sector of 7 EU regions plus Aargau Canton (Switzerland). The project aims at supporting SMEs in improving their performance in order to enforce the growth capacity of the entire organic regional sector in regional, national and international markets. The interregional learning process will take place around four areas: i) production and processing; ii) commercialization and marketing; iii) training and advice; iv) organic value chain efficiency and governance. The main outputs of the project will be: Method Guide, Diagnosis reports of the regional organic sectors, Good Practice Guide, Policy Road Map, Regional Policy Briefs and Regional Action Plans with recommendations for integration into RIS3. Stakeholders benefiting from the project will be all actors in the organic value chains at the regional, national and EU level: cooperatives, agri-food industries, retailers and distributors of organic products, advisory services, chambers of commerce and agriculture, experts on regulatory issues of the organic sector, policy makers, EU’s DGs and other initiatives in the organic sector.
Lead Partner: Pannon Business Network Association
UpGradeSME is an international cooperation for enhancing SME internationalization.   UpGradeSME is a 5 year learning process with the close cooperation of 8 actors representing 6 European regions of Hungary, Romania, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Spain. Since 2008 the business growth in Europe originated dominantly from export activities, where SMEs are underrepresented. Less than one third of the SMEs are able to export, meanwhile it is an essential element of gaining new know-how and improving competitiveness.   Only 13% of SMEs export out of the EU. There is a numerical evidence that exporting activity is in correlation with innovativeness, new employment. There are internal and external reasons for the relatively weak performance of the SMEs. External reason is that large companies are over-represented in export-oriented industries. Internal reasons are cultural barriers, information shortage, language skills, financing. In the participating countries of UpGradeSME there is a heritage of internationalization support policy instruments. Part of the partners represent innovation-oriented area, while others have more labour-intensive character, providing a mixture of background. Common for our partnership is the focus on internationalization of SMEs. In our cooperation all partners will receive a mirror for their individual instrument provided by the partnership, when each policy instrument is discussed one-by-one in detail. Thematic workshops, international staff exchange programs, interactive discussions with SMEs and continuous exchange of know-how will contribute to the improvement of each internationalization policy instrument.
Lead Partner: University of Gävle
SMEPlus project helps SMEs to increase their energy efficiency. The partner regions will compare & rethink their energy policies, liaise with important stakeholders, exchange solutions and improve their instruments towards SMEs. As industrial SMEs represent 95% of the companies, their impact on economies is immense. The European Parliament set a binding target of increasing, by a minimum of 32,5%, the energy efficiency by 2030 compared to the 2005 level, in all Member States. Therefore, the project partners are sharing their good practices to find the best solutions to contribute to the achievement of the target set. Engaging in discussions and exchanging experiences with relevant actors is the best way to find solutions to increase the involvement of the industrial SMEs in energy efficiency improvement. Common barriers to overcome in the regions are the low interest of industrial SMEs participating in energy efficiency policy programmes as well as low number of industrial SME energy efficiency policy programmes. The Interreg Europe programme aims at enhancing policies and policy preconditions in different thematic fields. To reach this it is important to establish regional networks and stakeholder groups. Thus, as a first step, the SMEPlus partners will identify major regional stakeholders involved in energy efficiency in SMEs in their regions. Political, economic and social preconditions will lead to individual stakeholder groups in the partner regions, including municipalities, business associations environmental protection agencies, etc. To be able to use their experience, expertise and networks, a series of regional stakeholder meetings will take place. The first stakeholder meetings will be organised in Austria (March 2020) and Romania (May 2020). The project partners will a) improve the energy policies by 2020 by exchanging and comparing the regional policy instruments in the eight regions, b) jointly develop regional policy action plans supporting the implementation of energy efficiency programmes and thus utilize the potential in the industrial SME sector c) exchange information and experience and by this help the stakeholders supporting the regional action plans set to overcome the barriers. Therefore, our actions will a) increase the interest of industrial SMEs in participating in the energy efficiency policy programmes, b) support starting-up effective industrial SME´ energy efficiency policy programmes, c) help integrate energy-related policy measures from other sectors in the industrial SME sector. The exchange of experience, workshops and study visits with the stakeholders will help us achieve project´s objectives. The jointly developed regional action plans will also influence the policies for the next Regional Operational Programme period 2021-2027.
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: Provincial Government of Teruel
SILVER SMEs aims to improve the implementation and delivery of Regional Policies for SMEs competitiveness by building on significant opportunities arising from the Silver Economy (SE). This 5 year Interreg Europe project was launched in June 2018.
Lead Partner: Society for the Development of the Province of Burgos (SODEBUR)
The key policy instruments linked to Investments and Growth are managed mostly from the main cities (regional or national capitals), often disconnected to rural areas, and have less impact in areas of lower population density, in particular the actions towards innovation of the SMEs. The promotion of entrepreneurship spirit has to be further developed in rural areas, and in particular the promotion of new niches of business opportunities, such as “Energy, Environment, Eco-industries, ICT or Social Innovation”.