EU Interreg GoDanubio

Participative ecosystems to foster the revitalization of rural-urban cooperation through governing circular bioeconomy in the Danube regions and cities.

Project duration:

Project start date: 01-07-2020

Project end date: 31-12-2022


Overall: 2713796.5 EUR

ERDF Contribution: 2214155.21 EUR

IPA Contribution: 92571.8 EUR

ENI Contribution: 0 EUR

Danube regions and cities face major societal transitions regarding demographic change. The rural exodus is caused by better employment opportunities for the youth and the prospect of a better life in cities. The movement of labor leads to depopulated areas leaving an aging and increasingly unskilled population behind. However, regions can make a significant new beginning. But a multi-level participative governance approach and new institutional capacities are needed to pool existent excellent competencies and development potentials.

Co-creating future strategies to increase the attractiveness of rural areas is the key to give the youth new incentives to revive rural areas. Circular bioeconomy is used as a tool that promises to foster regional development: It is a concept focusing on the transition of a fossil-resource based economy towards an economy making use of sustainable production of biological resources and processes to develop new products, thus setting rural areas and their development into focus.

The concept catalyzes interdisciplinary cooperation also between different policy areas/levels to actively address demographic change, by enhancing value creation through new collaboration, business models and value chains raising the attractiveness to stay and even move to rural areas.

Long term goal of the project is to enhance the socio-economic status of the regions, contribute to environmental, climate and resource protection as well as foster development of rural areas. An ecosystem for systematic multi-level governance with actors from the interested public, academia, industry and political decision making will be developed.

That ecosystem gives space for co-creation and new forms of integrated urban-rural cooperation leading to increased institutional capacity to tackle demographic change. Thus, overcoming the persistent lack of engagement of societal actors in the political system by giving them ownership to address demographic change.

Project website

EU Interreg ARDIA-Net

EU Interreg ARDIA-Net
Developing an Alpine Space Research, Development and Innovation by lowering barriers for cross-regional cooperation.

Project duration

Project start date: 1.10.2019

Project end date: 30.6.2022


Total eligible costs: 1.591.414 EUR

ERDF grant: 1.169.952 EUR

Ardia-Net aims to develop a multilevel, multinational and coherent Alpine RDI Area for cross-regional and interdisciplinary cooperation and implement a joint funding framework and pilot projects, addressing circular bioeconomy and health economy megatrends.

ARDIA-Net project is led by BIOPRO Baden-Wurttemberg and involves 7 other partners located in 6 different Alpine regions. ARDIA-Net tackles a common challenge to many Alpine Space (AS) regions: the excellent AS innovation hot spots operate in a disconnected way since there is a lack of a multilevel transnational governance for a cross-regional S3 approach. S3 across the AS relies on existing capacities in relevant priority areas, such as digitization, agro-food, health, materials, which represent huge synergy potentials at cross-regional level. For this reason, actors should cooperate transnationally along the value chains to have an impact and implement the macro-regional strategies, such as EUSALP.

The challenge is to create a Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) area which, other than the Interreg-program, addresses the regions’ specific interest in synchronizing and funding joint activities across regions. This can lead to a mutual benefit for the alpine regions, through a smart connection of S3.

Furthermore, the improvement of the macroregional cooperation can significantly enhance the growth of new cross-sectoral value chains in the fields of circular bioeconomy and health economy, which are based on critical mass of actors and investments.

ARDIA-Net aims to develop a multilevel, multinational and coherent Alpine RDI Area for cross-regional and interdisciplinary cooperation and implement a joint funding framework and pilot projects addressing CBH megatrends. Regional S3 are aligned through synergy diamonds developed in the S3-4AlpClusters project, allowing the identification of mutual benefits, highest potential for innovative products and services related to CBH and contributing to common EUSALP priorities (eg. advanced manufacturing or eHealth).

ARDIA-Net’s partnership is actively involved in regional policy deployment and is composed of actors of new CBH value chains. It allows the efficient synchronization of RDI calls, the alignment of relevant actors, leading to hands-on innovative projects covering entire new CBH value chains, from research to market. ARDIA will result in a ready-to-use funding environment and innovation beacons for future cooperation in S3-implementation.

Project’s website

EU Interreg AlpLinkBioEco

Linking bio-based industry value chains across the Alpine region

Start date: 16.4.2018
End date: 16.4.2021

Total eligible costs: 2,036.020 EUR
ERDF grant: 1,730.617 EUR

A missing holistic transnational/regional approach in the Alpine Space causes existing actors in the bio-based economy to operate disjointed. Relevant clusters operate disconnected, important value chains are not established especially for producing high value applications and products that address critical societal needs: circular economy, environmental sustainability, local employment and quality of life. As the Alpine Space regions possess huge biomass resources and the necessary knowledge and technology to use them in sectors such as green chemicals, biopolymers or bio-based materials, Alpine Space competitiveness potential remains then untapped.

AlpLinkBioEco created a cross Alpine Space circular bio-based strategy, establishing awareness, assessing, selecting and creating transnational/regional new value chains connecting all relevant actors, and demonstrating the implementation of successful business opportunities.

Main results of the AlpLinkBioEco project are:

1. Value Chain Generator Tool

The Value Chain Generator (VCG) Tool is one of the main outputs of AlpLinkBioEco and it has been developed by the Institute of Complex Systems, School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HES-SO//FR HEIA-FR).

It is a software that allows to match actors from different sectors and countries to create novel bio-based value chains and it has been tested and successfully exploited by the project partners for this purpose during the project. Both intra-regional as well as cross-regional new business opportunities can be envisaged if data is shared, as it was the case during the project. The primary users of the VCG are the stakeholders of innovation ecosystems, companies, researchers, policymakers, but also cluster managers. New users are invited to join, since the source code of the VCG software is available under a permissive software license.

VCG website

2. Joint Masterplan on circular bio-based economy

The Masterplan collects inputs, resources and assets analyzed through the AlpLinkBioEco Project and gives valuable recommendations to boost the definition of a joint bioeconomy strategy in the Alpine Region.

Project’s website

AlpLinkBioEco – Creating BioBased Value in the Alpine Space (2021)

AlpLinkBioEco – Joint Masterplan on circular bioeconomy (March 2021)

EU Interreg S3-4AlpClusters

Multiple countries’ effort to enable the Alpine regions to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth of economically viable activities.

Start date: 1.11.2016
End date: 30.4.2019

Total eligible costs: 2.521.964 EUR
ERDF grant: 1.929.500 EUR

The S3-fAlpClusters project enhanced smart industrial transition in the Alpine regions through the interplay between clusters and Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3).

The Smart Specialisation concept is an integral part of the EU Cohesion Policy. Several EU regions have developed their Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3). The challenge is to implement S3 through clusters. In the Alpine Space, the implementation of S3 by clusters and cluster organizations can offer an innovative approach for improving innovation capacity.
Cross-regional approaches can serve to support coordinated actions between different sectors or regions. Transnational cluster cooperation helps to achieve a critical mass of SMEs and enhances cross-regional collaboration in relevant Alpine Space areas.

The activities of fourteen project partners included:
– exchanges of information and knowledge among political decision-makers from different regions of the Alpine region, including business, academics and civil society
– facilitation of innovation through cluster initiatives (innovation groups) across the Alpine Space with a strong technological orientation and a high degree of complementarity between the clusters
– cluster-to-cluster cooperation involving all relevant stakeholders: regional political bodies, academic institutions, business and civil society.

Project’s website

Final publication

Bersier J., Keller M. (2019. Smart Specialisation Strategies with Smart Clusters. S3-4AlpClusters.

Achieving circularity of plastics in Ivory Coast

The aim of the project was to develop a competitiveness strategy and action plan for the circularity of plastics sectors in Ivory Coast.

The project addressed the fundamental challenge of the CDI manufacturing sector by facilitating the implementation of competitiveness initiatives and promoting investment in higher value-added products, and integration to global value chains. 

The main objective was to develop a competitiveness strategy and action plan for plastics sectors in Ivory Coast, embedding a circular thinking approach. This involved undertaking deep-dive analysis in the priority sectors to understand market needs and the CDI positioning towards competitors.

The project provides strategic opportunities informed by markets and a circular economy approach. The project includes the attractiveness assessment of the plastics sector’s market industry in applications, such as consumer goods, constructions, agriculture and options to build a circular economy ecosystem. This entails work with the recycling sector and the eco-friendly alternatives. It focused on the formulation of private sector initiatives dedicated to enabling recycling programs and procedures in the plastics sector with applications in consumer goods, agriculture, construction, and shoes industry. This includes investments in eco design, recycling, using plastic trash for building material, packaging and plastic culture.

Client: IFC, The World Bank Group

Date: 2019

EASTRIP, developing educational programs in East Africa

The project aims to increase technical vocational education and training (TVET) programs in selected Regional Flagship TVET institutes and support regional integration in East Africa.

The proposed East Africa Skills for Transformation and Regional Integration (EASTRIP) initially involves three East African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. The project’s development objective is to increase the access and improve the quality of TVET programs in selected Regional TVET Centers of Excellence and to support regional integration. The project supports the development of highly specialized TVET programs at diploma and degree levels for training of technicians and TVET faculty, as well as industry recognized short-term training, targeting regional priority sectors in transport, energy, manufacturing, and ICT. The objective will be achieved through complementary interventions at three different levels: center, national, and regional.

This consultancy provided technical support to Tanzanian Regional TVET Centers of Excellence in ICT (DIT Dar es Salaam Main Campus), Agro-processing and manufacturing (DIT Mwanza Campus), Energy (Arusha Technical College) and Transport (National Institute of Transport) to prepare a five-year Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for support by the EASTRIP and Ethiopian Regional TVET Centers of Excellence in Agriculture and Electronics. Additionally, the consultancy has the objective to contribute to capacity building of the targeted institutions and their management and academic teams. The Strategic investment plan – SIP – provides an investment program and budget for each of Regional TVET Center of Excellence covering key dimensions, namely governance and management, industry linkages, market relevant and competency based training programs, training of school managers and teachers, training facilities and equipment outreach and support for non-project national TVET. Specific attention was given to gender issues. Attention was given to strengthening the organization and management capacity of the TVET centers for the development and implementation of the SIPs. This includes (i) sharpen the program focus defined in draft SIPs, (ii) identify activities for each of six areas, (iii) revise and align corresponding budgets to the support centers, and, (iv) finalize SIPs and corresponding Annexes.

We have reviewed the current status of Strategic investment plan, engaged center management and staff in activities, defined key concepts and definitions for Regional TVET Centers of Excellence, elaborated on a stakeholder map. Furthermore, a series of interviews and focus group discussions with governmental officials and industry representatives regarding national development and investment goals was conducted and validated via Validation workshops. Needs assessment regarding skills shortages and capacity for collaboration with industry helps to design the capacity building program for Centers management and defined cooperation modalities with industry for fine-tuning of the training program.

Client: The World Bank Group

Date: 2018

Founding a Syrian-Armenian Center of Excellence (SAIZ)

A center providing technical education and training schemes in the field of manufacturing, engineering and agricultural production, focusing on women entrepreneurs.

SAIZ, the Syrian-Armenian Center of Excellence was established with the support of the Private Sector Development PSD (esp. Syrian SME). First, a needs assessment and feasibility study was commissioned by the GIZ to assess and develop technical education and training schemes in the field of manufacturing and engineering. Dedicated attention was given to training needs of women entrepreneurs. Second, a strategy plan was developed and implemented to establish SAIZ as a national recognized technical training provider in the field of manufacturing and agrofood production. VDI/VDE-IT has been appointed to run the analyses and to support the development and implement capacity building to make SAIZ operational.

Partners: Private Sector Development PSD (esp. Syrian SME), VDI/VDE-IT

Client: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Date: 2017 – 2018

Construction and tourism value chain analysis in Tajikistan

The project contributed to job creation in Tajikistan by identifying job opportunities and designing programs in tourism and construction materials’ value chains.

The project contributed to job creation in Tajikistan by identifying job opportunities and designing programs in tourism and construction materials’ value chains. The project generated a full mapping of all critical components of the specified value chain. It provided a sampling strategy that ensures relevant, robust, and representative data collection. It assessed the enterprise-level dynamics of value chain interactions, labor use, and the drivers or constraints to firm growth, investment, and job creation. This was done via a firm-level survey and complementary semi-structured interviews with main stakeholders. These activities stimulated systematic policy dialogue on the business environment and to help shape the agenda for reform.

Partners: Z Analytics

Client: The World Bank Group

Date: 2017

Project’s final report

Dermastia M., Adeishvili N., Radić D., Beknazarova G., Kasymov A. (2017). Value Chain Analysis of the Tourism Sector in Tajikistan. The World Bank.

Dermastia M., Adeishvili N., Radić D., Beknazarova G., Kasymov A. (2017). Value Chain Analysis of the Tourism Sector in Tajikistan. The World Bank.

Accelerating internationalisation of Estonian SMEs

A project supporting Estonian SMEs to internationalise and innovate.

This project involved professionalisation of network managers in order to better support SMEs to internationalise and innovate. The project was intended to run a needs assessment and organisational diagnostics to prepare an action plan for capacity-building and for improving actions of 11 network managers. The diagnostics covered readiness for internationalisation, strategy development, service spectrum and governance. Based on the organisational diagnostic reports, dedicated actions plans and recommendations for improving actions were provided. Dedicated attention was given on how Estonian network managers can better support export and internationalisation of SMEs.

Partners: Enterprise Estonia

Date: 2017

INSPIRED, empowering SMEs in Bangladesh

Technical assistance for the capacity building of the national SME support infrastructure and the preparation of the Bangladeshi national SME development strategy as well as the management of the SME competitiveness grant scheme.

Reference: EuropeAid/130016/C/SER/BD, Programme Components 1 and 2b

This Technical Assistance (TA) program was aimed at ensuring, under the Component 1, that an adequate policy and strategy for the SME development is established and that that key institutions, such as the Small and Medium Enterprise Cell (SMEC) of the Ministry of Industries (MoI) and the Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SMEF), have adequate capacity and clear roles and responsibilities to support the SME development. Furthermore, under the Component 2, the program aimed at strengthening some of the Business Intermediary Organizations, thus, allowing them to better support their members, increase their membership and work upon behalf of their sector, and support private sector development, in particular facilitate the development of dynamic clusters with efficient backward and forward linkages.

The program included:

  • a multi-sectoral and inter-ministerial national strategy and action plan for theSME development, addressing all aspects of SME support, including improvements in the business environment in line with accepted international best practice
  • a strengthened national capacity to plan and implement SME development
  • an effective SME networking mechanisms aimed at sharing best practices
  • the SME Competitiveness Grant Scheme of €6.5m to business intermediary organisations in the following sectors: agro-processing, natural fibres, leather, plastics, light engineering, electronics, furniture and textiles
  • a support to clusters by using value chain development initiatives that seek to increase the SME competitiveness in agreed sectors and provide capacity building to business intermediary organisations (BIOs) in lobbying, advocacy, networking, public-private sector dialogue and the provision of business development services (BDS) to their members.

Anteja led the development of the SME Cluster Development Policy, promoting linkages, networks and clustering of SMEs on a sector-specific basis. This included advice on the value chain development, training for policymakers and the SME Foundation staff, benchmarking of cluster related organisations, institutional needs assessment analysis for cluster development, development of Cluster Strategy and financial support mechanisms.

INSPIRED was funded by the EU and the Government of The People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The contracting authority was the Ministry of Industries, the main beneficiary. Other beneficiaries were the SME Foundation and the Bangladesh Bank. The programme is aimed at supporting the development of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in Bangladesh.

Partners: BMB Mott McDonald BV (NL), Formaper, Agency of Milan Chamber of Commerce (IT), International Development Ireland Ltd (IE)

Client: European Commission

Date: 2012 – 2016