ENABLE is composed of remote regions of Europe distant from both national centres and the economic centres of the EU facing similar challenges and opportunities. A major problem for all regions is the conversion from dependence on traditional industry and/or agriculture, to the knowledge based society. In Thueringen large industry is declining (due to the industrial structure in former GDR), in Western Norway restructuring of agriculture is another. Rural migration is a common problem. In Carinthia there is migration of young people, qualified workers and non-return after studies. In Kaunas the restructuring of industry is similar. This leads to the need for innovation to absorb workforce, re-educate and attract human resources. The overall objective of the ENABLE RFO is to build on a long lasting interregional co-operation on SME related activities and through a strategic interregional program improve the effectiveness of regional development policies and instruments for SMEs.
This increases the basis and ability for entrepreneurship and innovation in the regions whereby creating vibrant, more self confident and competitive regions with a strong internationalised SME basis. Knowledge, experiences and regional policy instruments will be exchanged, further developed, jointly tested & validated and finally mainstreamed in all the ENABLE regions. The new instruments will provide for more dynamic regional leadership, a "can do" attitude and a holistic approach to regional development. ENABLE will encourage and empower the regional human capital, which is the most valuable resource within the knowledge society, to apply their intelligence, experience and visions for entrepreneurship. The jointly developed ENABLE strategic framework includes four development priorities/components to be realised: Management and Coordination of ENABLE, R&D and technology transfer, Cooperation and networking, Start-up stimulation.
The ENABLE overall objective and its implementation has direct relevance to key priorities of the topics for interregional cooperation defined under the INTERREG IIIC programme. All Partners are or have been working in bilateral and multilateral projects in the field of regional development, incl. Objective 1, INTERREG, Innovative Actions and related initiatives. All applicable and transferable gains of knowledge and experience will be combined under the ENABLE joint strategic framework. Significant added value is created in the validation of a new holistic and strategic approach based on a set of building blocks & knowledge today spread across the involved regions as well as on development of complementary new modules. The operation will arise reports, conferences, guides (comp.-topics), websites with all innovative results and instruments drawn up in the projects. 3 regions (Thueringen, Western Norway, Carinthia) build a strong partnership. Kaunas is integrated as learning region.
Brief History of The operation
The actual construction of the ENABLE Regional Framework Operation began early in 2002. The partners themselves have worked and networked together for many years and have long since looked for an opportunity to develop their ideas and jointly develop new approaches under an interregional programme.
The overall objective of the operation is to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies and instruments for SMEs and increase the basis for entrepreneurship in the regions. This is a major goal for each region and is the foundation from which we started the ENABLE process. As will be seen throughout this application it has developed into a full programme with four components, building on existing experiences and priorities in the regions to become a self standing strategic framework for the joint development of new approaches.
To date representatives from the partnership they have attended five Interreg IIIC information days and had five interregional partnership meetings in conjunction with regular electronic communication and discussion to develop the programme. Coupled with the interregional activites, each region has taken a proactive approach to inform and motivate the regional community (public and private) of the goals and opportunities, which ENABLE will offer.
The high level of interest shown to date by the regional partners of ENABLE and the experiences of partners in other European projects has stimulated the establishment of Regional Partnerships in each region. The 4 partners in the interregional partnership came out by analysing existing partnerships and anlysing the comparable situations. This was confirmed with a synopsis of the regional SWOT-Analysis. The accessing country Lithuania (Kaunas County) became a learning partner, to benefit from the enlargement of the EU.
In order for the ENABLE programme objectives to become embedded in the regional psyche and ensure its sustainability beyond the funding period, partnership and networking is critical, both local and global – public and private, with action leading to a solid foundation for innovation and learning. To this end each partner has been heavily involved in the project development process to ensure that the programme is embedded within the region, coupled with this, partners have ensured that key actors within the region have been informed throughout the development process.
The ENABLE RFO has been drawn up after regional consultations with e.g.: Western Norway Research Institut, SIVA, nat. ministries (Norway); STIFT, STIFT Management, Start-Up-Initiative Get Up, IRC/THATI, Technology and Incubator Centres, ministries (Thueringen); University of Klagenfurt, BUILD!, Carinthian Technology Institute (Carinthia); University of Kaunas, nat. ministries (Lithuania).
Each region has established the Proactive Regional Partnerships (PRPs) which have been actively involved in the development of the ENABLE proposal through a series of regional & international meetings & workshops. All regions have made SWOT analysis to define themes, target groups and regional partnerships which are integrated into the ENABLE program. The actual bodies represented on the PRPs are too many to document here (15-20 in each region) but below we give the groups, their role and examples of organisations involved in the regions: The R&D and third level education institution community will transfer research knowledge to the private sector and encourage entrepreneurial spirit within student and academic communities.
E.g: Universities and technical colleges in Thueringen, Western Norway Research Institute, University of Bergen, College of Sogndal West Norway, Institute of Technology, Kaunas, University of Klagenfurt in Carinthia and Technical College Klagenfurt.
Regional Public Sector organisations are responsible for regional planning and seek to improve the environment in which businesses operate. E.g. of organisations complementing the six ENABLE partners: STIFT - The Foundation for Technology, Innovation and Research in Thueringen, Innovation Relay Centres and Euro-Info Centres in all regions, SIVA -The Industrial Development Corporation Norway, SND – The Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund, Carinthia Economic Promotion Units. Technology and innovation centres are represented in all regions and are key partners for involving SMEs and networks of SMEs, also initiatives for entrepreneurship in every region (e.g. Build!, EXIST, Get Up). Finally, representative SMEs and SME bodies are involved to ensure the real needs of the private sector are understood and addressed. Concerning the overall objective of ENABLE these bodies are also the target group of the operation and of the comp. 2, 3 and 4.
ENABLE is composed of remote regions distant from both national centres and the economic centres of the EU facing similar challenges and opportunities. A major problem for all regions is the conversion from dependence on traditional industry and/or agriculture, to the knowledge based society. Rural migration is a problem for all, hence overheating the cities and contributing to the decline of rural areas and creating regional disparity. In Carinthia there is migration of young people, qualified workers and nonreturn after studies. There is a need for more vibrant and attractive regions for people to live and work. ENABLE recognises that human capital is one of our most important resources and strives to increase this capital. This leads to the need for innovation to absorb workforce, re-educate and attract human resources, especialy to enable entrepreneurs as main acting persons for successful SMEs, which support an economic growth in each of the regions.
The common thread is that entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalization are recognised by all as a major part of the solution and we need to cooperate to jointly develop new and better approaches in this area. The relevance of Interreg IIIC is that it allows us to address our problems in the following ways: - jointly develop new approaches building on experience, providing the opportunity to further intensify our interregional activity to solve problems, - involve many other organisations at regional level in the regional development process, - combine our experience from a number of EU initiatives to enhance regional policies through concentrated access to experience of others to improve the delivery of existing programmes and instruments of regional policy, ensuring real cross fertilisation and avoid reinvention of the wheel.