The final conference of the ICTs for SMEs project was held on 10th November in Kiel, Germany. ICT for SMEs is a project focused on enhancing the competitiveness, sustainability and ability to innovate of SMEs through the use of ICT.
The partners emphasised their appreciation for the transnational dimension of the project and expressed an interest to continue with joint activities in this direction at a more strategic level in the future.
Providing conditions for innovation and how to make best use of the knowledge obtained in the project for the new programme period were two of the major topics at the conference.
Towards the new programme period
Thomas Meier-Ahrens of Wirtschaftsakademie Schleswig-Holstein said that based on their valuable experience in transnational co-operation they would now look to new ways of configuring partnerships for future projects.
Professor Dr. Heydebreck of Inno AG, the author of the new North Sea Spatial Agenda’s study on ‘Facilitating Innovation’ emphasised that public authorities need to provide conditions for innovation by using funds as investment into the future rather than considering them as subsidies.
Potential to create sustainable and competitive regions
SMEs are conductive to creating sustainable and competitive regions, as they are often locally rooted, not exposed to shareholder interests and therefore capable of long-term strategic planning. This does not only make them reliable partners but also a crucial target group for achieving a knowledge-based society and innovation-led economy.
Opportunities for the future
Senior Spatial Development Officer Matthias Woiwode von Gilardi from the North Sea Programme Secretariat congratulated the project on their achievements and said that the future programme period held a lot of opportunities for building on the results of the current project.
There are also challenges for new projects in terms of designing projects that contribute to the Lisbon and Gothenburg Strategies and the Territorial Agenda. This implies establishing stronger partnerships, including a stronger involvement of national partners.
It was emphasised that ICTs for SMEs have played a pioneering role in addressing new target groups, i.e. the private sector and that this should be further strengthened in the new programme.
The focus will shift from the support of innovative best practices under Interreg IIIB to the promotion of technological and system innovation under Interreg IVB. The newly approved BIRD project is forward looking in this respect and provides an example of how this could be achieved.