Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness

Danube Alliance sprang to life to strengthen the competitiveness of the SMEs in the Danube region by increasing the resilience of the supply chains. The new flagship project of the European Danube Region strategy’s (EUSDR) Priority Area 8 will build on intelligent services and sustainable supply chains based on the experience and knowledge from other Danube projects, such as GoDanuBio and DanuBioValNet

Danube river. (Adobe Stock Photo)

The Alliance was formed as a response to the on-going Covid pandemic, which revealed the economy’s weaknesses. Global value chains proved to be vulnerable in extreme situations, not being able to function effectively when the suppliers were compromised due to the pandemic lockdowns, geopolitical conflicts, extreme weather, and other events.

The project was presented at the 3rd EU Macro-regional Strategies (MRS) Week, the biggest event in Brussels, dedicated to connect key stakeholders from the Ministries of the four Macro-regional Strategies (EUSBSR, EUSDR, EUSAIR, EUSALP), representatives of the EU institutions, research and academia, various sectors, civil society organisations and citizens. The project is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of State and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour, and Tourism.

Multi-Method Approach

To support the SMEs’ inclusion into more sustainable and resilient value chains, Danube Alliance focuses on understanding, analysing and promoting resilience of selected (bioeconomic) value chains. These goals will be achieved through a multi-method approach. First, value chains’ use cases will be identified by the expert team to understand the main features and consider social and ecological benefits. 

For example, in the case of Miscanthus grass, a highly productive crop which can grow on marginal land and in relatively cold weather conditions, several valorisation options can be applied in addition to its general use. It can be utilised as a raw material for biofuels (ethanol, briquettes, pellets), carbon sequestration, or even as a building or isolation material. Numerous valorisation options can also be applied for the agricultural waste from its cultivation, increasing value chain circularity, economics, and ecological benefits.

Miscanthus grass. (Adobe Stock Photo)

Second, the project will identify key actors and simulate the data-based scenarios for the resilient value chains by analysing and modelling the selected value chains in a greater detail. Building on the analysis results, value chains will be adapted to the regional needs with the support of the regional stakeholders. The Alliance will further provide the implementation strategies and adopt digital solutions to develop resilient value chains.

Collaborative Platform and Project Incubator

To support the SMEs, the Alliance will act as an open collaborative platform. The established partner network will include regional developers, clusters, business associations and more. The platform will incorporate the needs of the Danube region and incubate the value chain project ideas to accelerate cohesion within the partner network. Capacity building will be enabled by coaching and skill development to build and simulate resilient value chains. Digital business modelling will enable tailor-made partnerships and identification of funding options. The platform will offer visibility to the collaborating companies and other stakeholders by communicating and disseminating activities of the project’s findings. 

The picture is symbolic. (Adobe Stock Photo)

Value Chain Generator

Creation of resilient value chains can be supported by tools such as Value Chain Generator (VCG), a software that establishes the most suitable trade connections in the value chains, including waste and energy recycling streams. VCG uses the artificial intelligence and machine learning to connect actors from different sectors and countries into novel bio-based value chains, helping them to transition towards the green and circular economy. The system identifies possible linkages between the buyers and suppliers of multiple products and by-products (nation-wide and internationally). By identifying such business and market opportunities, the system can help suppliers reduce waste and energy losses to maximise their profits, making value chains more sustainable, resilient, and lucrative.

Call to action

To support the SMEs transition towards resilient value chains, policy makers could create incentives to include key actors, as well as establish funding programmes such as vouchers for transformation of the value chains.

If you are interested to participate, you are welcome to contact the Danube Alliance office:
Benedikt Sedlmayr:  benedikt.sedlmayr@vdivde-it.de

 

This blog was prepared in cooperation with Hannah Herzig, Benedikt Sedlmayr (VDI/VDE-IT), and Martina Vilhar (Anteja ECG).

 

Sources

AlpLinkBioEco – Linking bio-based industry value chains across the Alpine region: Value Chain Generator. Interreg Alpine Space 2018-2021.

BioPro: Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness: Strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs in the Danube region.

Danube Region Strategy Alliance: Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness- a new flagship project is in sight!

DanuBioValNet – Cross-clustering partnership for boosting eco-innovation by developing a joint bio-based value-added network for the Danube Region. Interreg – Danube Transnational Programme 2017-2019.

GoDanuBio – Participative Ecosystems for fostering the revitalization of rural-urban cooperation through governing Danube Circular Bioeconomy. Interreg – Danube Transnational Programme 2020-2022.