Local food as engine for local business
Start date: Dec 31, 2011,
End date: Dec 30, 2014
The SMEs in the local food sector are often micro SMEs that have low involvement in clustering, cooperation and innovation, and they have a great potential of playing an important role in creating jobs and opportunities in rural areas. All participating regions have various degrees of policies and experiences regarding the local food sector, and will benefit from sharing knowledge and good practices. The project will improve competitiveness and contribute to sustainability through encouraging local food production and consumption.ObjectivesLOCFOOD aims to Improve regional policies and strategies regarding the food-related SMEs in rural areas, to enhance entrepreneurship, business development, competitiveness and economic growth. To get an overview and understanding of the existing policies and strategies in the regions, a mapping will be conducted.Internal and external factors that characterise the local food sector in each region will be identified and analyzed to find areas for policy improvement. The regions will share knowledge and exchange experience, including a better understanding of the local food sector, and characteristics of good regional policies and strategies for local food SMEs. Recommendations for regional policymakers will be outlined in a good practice guide.PartnershipThe partnership consists of 13 partners from 9 countries (NO, SE, UK, CH, IT, ES, EH, SI and BG). The partners include regional authorities, bodies governed by public law and one university. All participating partners are in good position to influence regional policies, and generate and disseminate knowledge. The partnership has various experiences when it comes to creating targeted policies for local food SMEs. All partners share a common interest and have benefits to gain from improving regional policies and strategies for the sector.ActivitiesThe main activity of the project is to exchange experience dedicated to the identification and sharing of good practice, through workshops, study visits and regional mapping activities. The activities in Component 3 (Exchange of experiences) will help identify good practices and share knowledge among the participating regions. The results and findings will be outlined in a good practice guide.Outputs and resultsThe outputs of the project are: Conferences, workshops, study visits, mapping of existing policies and internal and external factors influencing the sector, and a good practice guide for policy improvement that will be disseminated to regional policymakers throughout Europe.The expected results of the project are: 12 improved regional policies and strategies, and 39 staff members with improved capacities (knowledge/skills/expertise) resulting from the exchange of experience (3 staff members per partner). Achievements: The opening conference took place in the Marche region in Italy in the end of April. The main objective of the opening conference was for all partners of the project to give a presentation of their regions challenges and opportunities in connection with SMEs and food production. The partners competence relevant in relation to the project was also a vital point under the opening conference During the opening conference the first steering committee meeting was held focusing on operationalizing the project activities in more detail and agreeing on the way forward. A special focus was on the activities in connection with the mapping of the regional SMEs food producers in the partners region. As part of the opening conference we had a study visit to the local food fare, the Tipicita, taking place in Marche for the 20th time. This was an excellent opportunity to see how local food can be presented and sold in the local marked. The fare, Tipicita, gave us also a good introduction to the variety and quality in the local food marked in this part of Italy. The Tipicita is a well established arena for promotion and sales of local products and is a best practice that can be adjusted and adopted by the partners of the LOCFOOD project. At the Tipicita we also distributed information and a brochure about the project to the visitors of the fare. The visotors was a mix of general public, producers, buyers and public stakeholders from different levels. The main activity after the opening conference has been to map the regional stakeholders and theirs, politics, strategies and program relevant for the SMEs in the food production sector of each of the partner regions. Understanding the regional instruments and how they works to promote, or in worst case inhibit, the development in the sector is important for this project. Also a strong focus has been on understanding the producers and their position in relation to innovation and entrepreneurship. As a first step in getting a better understanding of this sector we are analyzing the CIS (Community Innovation Survey) conducted in each of the partner countries. After collecting the data we see that one of the challenges in the data material is that the small, and in our case micro, enterprises is not included in this survey. In order to get satisfactory data and understanding of this sector we plan to conduct a survey among the sample of producers in all the partner regions. We are very pleased to have succeeded in establishing a ccoperation with another Interreg IVC project dealing with food production, the I4Food project. The I4Food project focuses on the food industries as the LOCFOOD project focuses on small sized, often micro sized, food producers. Both projects are planning a mapping of both strategies and producers. By working together we will be sharing competence and experiences that hopefully will strengthen both projects and the results. The contact between the project was established during the Lead Partner Seminar in Copenhagen in January and has developed from that. We are planning to attend some of each other's workshops and study visits as well as planning to have a joint final conference in 2014 during the open days in Brussels.
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