App4Inno Project

Establishment and promotion of new approaches and tools for the strengthening of primary sector's competitiveness and innovation in the South East Europe

Short Summary

Project SEE/D/0223/1.2/X “Establishment and promotion of new approaches and tools for the strengthening of primary sector's competitiveness and innovation in the South East Europe” with an acronym APP4INNO has started on 1st of October, 2012 with the financial support of the South East Transnational Cooperation Program. The Action is under the program’s priority axis “Facilitation of innovation and entrepreneurship”, area of intervention “Develop the enabling environment for innovative entrepreneurship”.

The project lead partner is Veneto Agricoltura – Regional Agency for Agriculture, Forestry and Agri-food sectors from Italy. There are altogether 15 partners from Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Albania, Croatia, and Ukraine.

APP4 INNO project’s starting point was the need of creating transnational networks among small and microenterprises that can establish permanent innovation processes and can mobilize critical mass. To this purpose, it sets up a transnational competitiveness support system for exploiting the innovation potentials of the agricultural SMEs across the SEE regions, creating the framework conditions for SMEs to access innovation, technology transfer and cooperation as major keys for their competitiveness in the international markets. It will act by “transferring” and spreading approaches, services and tools to improve the competitiveness of the agricultural SMEs, not only in terms of improvement of productive processes at the level of the single SME but also, and above all, in terms of clustering enterprises in order to increase the efficiency of the applied production means.

At its first move, the project defined the approaches and methodologies for strengthening the competitiveness of agricultural SMEs as well as the specific sectors (fields of action) and the types of SMEs where the defined approaches can have the most effective results. This is necessary in order to make available the operative support tools for competitiveness tailored to each involved territory. The defined approaches and related tools are then set in place by equipping (in terms of human resources and IT instruments) a permanent transnational SMEs support system, hosted by the partners and able to activate synergies, at national level, with institutions as well as other technology and innovation actors. The transnational service platform represents a transnational “meta-cluster” of SMEs that, in the identified fields of action, are able to cooperate, create synergies and aggregate critical mass.

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Project background and main objective »

In South-East Europe agriculture developed in different degrees. Enterprises could not develop competitiveness in the international market. The project area has strong agricultural potentials but suffers from isolation. These SMEs are hardly able to reach markets beyond their local borders, and the markets are dominated by large enterprises and extra-EU competitors.

The project addresses the low competitiveness of the agricultural SMEs due to the lack of innovation, R&D and internationalization services. It focuses on the innovation potentials by the high quality/traditional productions and establishes a transnational platform of services for the support of innovation, technology transfer and cooperation of SMEs for their competitiveness in the international markets.

The innovation of the project lies in the introduction of a transnational concept addressing the lack of innovation and competitiveness of agricultural SMEs. The transfer of methodologies and tools used by other sectors as industry, to the agricultural SMES is the key element. The involvement of policy making institutions can share common goals for a competitive and sustainable agriculture.

Methodological approach »

The result-oriented approach is in line with the Programme implementation approach of supporting ’visible and concrete co-operation projects’ as outlined in the SEE OP. All project activities are ’knowledge-based’. The project defines the approaches and methodologies for strengthening the competitiveness of agricultural SMEs, and then equips a transnational SMEs support system. The application of the approaches and services take place by pilot projects. The mainstreaming plan spreads project achievements in other regions and countries. Then an external independent evaluation will follow. The project methodology foresees the sharing of principles with the agricultural SMEs, project stakeholders and target groups. This participative and multi-level approach complies with EC addresses.

Agriculture is a rigid sector bound to local habits and with an average age of the entrepreneurs higher than in other sectors. In this social and cultural environment, the introduction of innovation can be achieved only if the objectives, targets, methodologies and tools are shared with the target groups. ‘Messages’ to the SMEs will be clear, building on their local needs, putting traditions and local cultures in a light of being potentials. The project can count on the institutional roles of the partnership for counteracting constraint. The perception of EU policies as limitations is lessened by the policy support roles of the partners.

To avoid overlapping with measures of Structural Funds, EAFRD and IPA, a check has been performed. The reinforcement and spreading of innovation and competitiveness constitute a concrete address of national and regional policies of countries and regions involved. At sectoral level, the aim of developing common approaches and tools for the promotion of innovation and competitiveness in agriculture and the improvement of skills of the operators is coordinated and coherent with the main national and regional policies in agriculture and rural.

Main target groups are institutions, R&D actors and business support actors, who are involved as partners. Institutions will have an opportunity for improving their policy and government actions. The SMEs involved will act as aggregation nucleus for a wide number of SMEs. Stakeholders are: enterprises of the next segments of the productive chains, scientific bodies of the agricultural sector, agricultural associations of entrepreneurs, and final consumers. All target groups and stakeholders will have full and free access to all project results.

Expected outputs and results »

The main outputs are as follows: operational methodologies and tools, interactive web site with wiki and twitter tools, transnational platform for the competitiveness of the primary sector, Web based system for the transnational platform, methodology for the data collection and analysis. The impact will be a higher income for the agricultural SMEs, making the agricultural sector more attractive for the young generations to preserve the environmental and social functions of agriculture.

The participation of target groups and stakeholders ensures that results reply to local needs. The institutional and political sustainability is ensured by the institutional profile of the partners.

Sustainability will be promoted in the framework of the actions for the involvement of the institutions and by the project mainstreaming plan. The financial sustainability of the new structures is ensured by the financial management and operative commitment of the partners. The transferability of the results will be provided by the dissemination activities. The partners will promote the project achievements within other networks.

11 regions with diverse social-economic, infrastructural and cultural characteristics belong to 9 countries thus the project cooperation area is representative of the whole SEE area. The involvement of enterprises is a transnational added value to create cooperation and internationalisation opportunities to local productive systems.

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European Union European Regional Development RefundSouth East Europe

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