7 partners from different European countries joined forces and for 3 years worked shoulder to shoulder to find effective and smart measures to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs’) digital transformation. 6 regional studies, 6 peer reviews, and 6 Business Digital Transformation Assessment Surveys are done, 66 stakeholders got involved, altogether 6 study visits, 30 stakeholder meetings, 14 partner meetings were organized, 52 good practices promoted, 6 informative videos done. At the end of May, all partners gathered at the final conference. But most importantly, every partner has developed and already is in the process of implementation of the action plan, how to promote digitization and thus the competitiveness of SMEs in the regions and countries covered by the project.

Gatis Ozols, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia remarked: “Latvia’s ambition to join a project was driven by need to boost small and medium enterprise digitalization. After analyzing the situation we saw that businesses were using digital platforms and realized their importance, but only 5% were using SMEs support projects. We wanted to motivate and improve our policies to drive SMEs towards digital transformation (DT). Currently, Latvia has quite good conditions – a wide internet availability and progressive government digital services. But unfortunately, the soft skills of SME’s are creating a gap. Digital literacy, education, access to telecommunication and public sector digitalization and security – all those components are vital for DT and further development of the country.”

During the conference, Rūta Ročāne, Finance officer of Interreg Europe Joint Secretariat gave an insight into the state of play of the Interreg Europe program. The main goal of the program is to improve regional development policies. Overall, in the period 2014.-2020. There were 322 million euros available which were used through 258 projects. Together 5674 good practices were gathered, and 1 spent euro made a leverage of 4,4 euro.

During the DigiBEST project Latvia – the lead partner of the project – has committed to reduce the fragmentation of the available information on DT of SMEs. A one-stop platform, using the existing platform, was created to provide SME-tailored information, business-oriented services, as well as Knowledge Bank with learning materials to foster the digital knowledge of SMEs. Currently, business.gov.lv platform has 10 000 visitors per month (for comparison – there are 180 000 companies in Latvia). Direct 48% of those visits are direct.

For raising awareness and understanding of the benefits and opportunities offered by transformation, a Digital Maturity Test followed by individual consultations and training are provided for entrepreneurs by the Latvian IT Cluster.

County Council of Trøndelag region in Norway has aimed to improve policy instruments to stimulate DT at the regional level and to implement the relevant actions – including the term “DT” into the main government strategy document for Trøndelag, organization of SME training to facilitate ecosystem, and introducing an additional research activity for improved understanding of the DT needs of SMEs. As well as expanding the County Council’s knowledge base about small and micro businesses to increase the precision of the Policy Instrument

Basilicata region in Italy implements new digitalization services for SMEs, such as an online self-assessment tool and OpenLab activities in the frame of the project “IncHUBatori” competence center to spread the digital culture and to boost technological knowledge and skills. Built a community, ecosystem.

The Province of Granada in Spain on the other hand is promoting digitalization culture and its advantages among SMEs from rural areas through the organization of an awareness-raising campaign. Province is creating a capacity-building program for DT through the improvement of both, digital skills and financial capacity to undertake actions to digitalize companies (personalized technical assistance, dissemination events, activities on funding opportunities).

Austria is reissuing the AWS funding program “Industry 4.0” – which should support companies in being successfully digitalized company, moreover, adding elements that are not immediate digital elements. Austria is also initiating a new funding initiative – “transformation to an economically, ecologically and socially just food system” – to support sustainability innovation in the context of food systems with digitalization as an essential tool.

Tâmega e Sousa, Portugal is establishing a coworking space– fully equipped offices and provided services (access to digital public services, software, etc.) to support remote work. Through a partnership with ESTG, Tâmega e Sousa is also developing a free-of-charge learning program to foster basic digital skills among the population and SMEs of Tâmega e Sousa.