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

Founding a moringa cluster in Uganda

Joining Ugandan moringa producers to make Uganda a global hotspot for high quality and transparent moringa products.

The cluster aims to group the Ugandan moringa producers, who work with thousands of smallholder farmers and produce high-quality and transparent moringa products, in order to make Uganda a global hotspot for high quality and transparent moringa products.

Partners: VDI/VDE-IT (DE)

Date: June 2021

Cluster’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)


Opportunities for digitalization in natural fibres value chains.

Start date: 1.8.2019
End date: 31.1.2021

Total cost: 233.588,89 EUR
Amount of ARPAF co-financing: 210.230,00 EUR

Funding: co-financed by the European Parliament through the Alpine Region Preparatory Action Fund (ARPAF)
Coordinator: Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die Berggebiete – SAB

– BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH (Germany)
– Department for Economic Development, Research and Labour of the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy)
– Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Maribor (Slovenia)
– Anteja ECG (Slovenia)
– Hub Innovazione Trentino – Fondazione (Italy)
– Ecoplus, the Business Agency of Lower Austria (Austria)

The aim of the Smart SMEs project is to understand to what extent SMEs that produce, process and apply natural fibres use digitalization tools and approaches. The project will also evaluate obstacles that prevent SME’s from exploiting the full potential of digital solutions. An international consortium for the project has been formed, comprising the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Maribor and partners from Italy, Lower Austria, Germany, Slovenia and Switzerland.

Every SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) routinely uses email addresses, but digitalization now offers enterprises a whole raft of solutions to make life easier and business more profitable – from electronic document management systems, promoting goods and services on social media to eCommerce and Big Data. Digitalization measures are only successful when company managers want and support them. SME’s, however, tend to have small management teams that are overwhelmed by other tasks, leaving them little time to identify and use the potential offered by digitalization. Businesses in rural areas have the additional problem of often unreliable internet connections.

The Smart SMEs project will contribute to finding solutions to overcome existing barriers. In addition to this, Anteja ECG together with BIOPRO, will organize and host a Policy Action Forum to bring policy makers from different sectors (digitalization, rural development and bioeconomy) together to begin sharing experiences and to validate the roadmap.

The project will be specifically focusing on enterprises in biobased value chains that produce, process and apply natural fibre-based materials, both cultivated and recycled from biological waste. The project is therefore tackling the idea of sustainable transformation in the Alpine region through the bioeconomy concept.

Project’s website

Project’s report

BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH. (May, 2020). Smart SME’s – Mapping of actual state of play and needs, Synthesis report. Smart SME’s.

Setting mechanisms for moringa production in Uganda

A study identifying opportunities and constraints for moringa production in the refugee-hosting areas in the West Nile region, Uganda, and key success factors required to export processed moringa products locally and internationally.

This study identifies the opportunities and constraints for rolling out moringa production in the West Nile region in Uganda and key success factors required to export processed moringa products locally and internationally. It helps to identify sourcing models that bring value to private firms, the refugee hosting communities, and to the refugees themselves. It points out a viable option of rolling out commercial production and processed moringa products, including refugee hosting districts. The final report outlines investments and competitiveness initiatives needed to translate the highest market requirements into production and process capabilities needed to expand the export of moringa processed products and encourage the private sector’s engagement in refugee-hosting areas. 

Partners: VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik (DE), Research World International (UG)

Client: The World Bank Group

Date: 2020

EU Interreg DanuBioValNet

Multiple countries’ effort to enable the transition from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy in the Danube region.

Start date: 1.1.2017
End date: 30.6.2019

Overall: 2320844,8
ERDF Contribution: 1.857.124,54 EUR
IPA Contribution: 115.593,54 EUR
ENI Contribution: 0

Bioeconomy has a huge potential in the Danube region which could promote development based on innovation, new services, and value chains. The development of new bio-based value chains from primary production to consumer markets requires connecting firms across national boundaries and industries. Together with other expert groups from across the Danube region, Anteja helped to articulate a joint bio-based Industry Cluster Policy Strategy to further promote bio-based value chains. The clusters and SMEs benefit from the innovative tools and methods developed for transnational cross-clustering. Three sector-specific value chains were established and serve as a model for future development of bio-based industry activities in the Danube region. The main stakeholders include the four ministries from the region, the clusters and their SMEs, and the nine cluster organizations involved.

Project’s website

Project’s report

Meier zu Köcker G., Patzelt D., Dermastia M., Osvald D., Švajger G., Keller M. (June, 2019). Common Action Plan towards better framework conditions for bio-based eco-innovation in 1 Danube Region. DanuBioValNet.

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.

EUSALP Transalp

Bringing the circular economy to farmers in the rural Alpine region for sustainable growth by establishing medicinal and aromatic plants value chains and supporting green infrastructure.

Duration: January 2018 – March 2019

Funding: The project is co-financed by the European Union (Alpine Region Preparatory Action Funds – ARPAF).


  • Cluster Agency Baden-Württemberg (DE, Lead)
  • Plastic Innovation Competence Center (CH)
  • Provincia autonoma di Trento (IT)
  • Poly4EmI hosted by Anteja ECG d.o.o. (SI)
  • Bavarian State Ministry for Environment and Consumer Protection (DE)

Medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are botanical raw materials that are used for therapeutic, aromatic or culinary purposes as components of cosmetics, medicinal or food products. There is an increasing demand for medicinal and aromatic plants thanks to an increased production of healthcare formulations. MAP’s-based supplements have a market of $35 billion p. a.

The project aims to bring the circular economy approach to farmers in rural Alpine region for more sustainable growth by establishing medicinal and aromatic plants value chains and supporting green infrastructure networks by promoting sustainable practices and awareness raising.

The main results of the project are a strategic overview on how this cross-cutting topic can work in the Alpine Space, one fully developed medicinal and aromatic plants’ value chain, proposals for upgrading skills of actors and first experiences how green infrastructure networks can work in practice.

Project’s website

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