Improving the Access of SMEs from Rural Regions to.. (EMBRACE)
Improving the Access of SMEs from Rural Regions to the Knowledge and Information Society
Start date: May 31, 2006,
End date: Jan 30, 2008
The project "EMBRACE" aims to design, develop and implement specific spatial development policies, initiatives and actions for the benefit of SMEs located in rural and undeveloped urban areas. Their access to Knowledge and the Information Society should be increased. "EMBRACE" intends to establish a pilot virtual network, available both online and offline, where SMEs can have access to a wide range of business services and tools, such as consulting and training in key topics, matchmaking for accessing investor funds, e-commerce, etc. The goal is to overcome existing barriers that these SMEs face, by providing assistance and value-added advisory, e-commerce and information services, which can boost their efficiency and competitiveness, and lead to the development of transnational cooperation and globalisation of activities. Achievements: The EMBRACE project has achieved the following results: - Existing situation analyses in five regions in Greece, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria, highlighting problems and restrictions faced by SMEs in rural and underdeveloped urban areas as regards their access to the knowledge and information society, and a synthetic diagnosis of the findings, - Study on 31 national, EU and international good practices dealing with providing business support services to SMEs in rural and underdeveloped urban areas with the aim of improving their access to the information society; identification of benchmarks through these cases and benchmarking of the project partners, - Policy documents and action plans for each participating region aiming to overcome the problems identified and improve the access of SMEs to information society tools. Furthermore the project carried out the following communication activities: - The EMBRACE Portal acting as an online business support centre (one-stop shop) with four regional nodes: Central Macedonia; Emilia Romagna; Lower Austria, Vienna and Burgenland, the Central Hungarian region, - Dissemination plan aiming to set the guidelines for information on the project through several means, - Multilingual project brochures, info packs and CD-ROMs exhibiting the EMBRACE Portal and distributed at major project and programme events, - Workshops, seminars and conferences in order to build up co-operation with local/regional actors, familiarise the end users with the EMBRACE Portal and its use, and raise the awareness of local, regional, national and EU stakeholders, - System of indicators for monitoring the progress of project implementation and evaluating its performance; ongoing, ex ante and ex post evaluation of the project’s performance and impact, - Follow-up strategy aiming to maintain and expand the project’s results, - Intelligent tools for project management (private website, templates, dynamic scheduling, etc.).
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