Until 2021, the secondary sector in the Region of Western Macedonia (RWM) relied mostly on the production of electric power from lignite, contributing to the local economy. On the other hand, RWM is the region with the highest unemployment rates in Greece and in addition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic almost all SMEs reduced their economic results, except for the food sector. However, some branches of the food sector are recently facing problems because of the international competition and the lack of regional supporting measures.
At the same time, RWM is getting rapidly into the post-lignite era, which is expected to generate new difficulties for non-energy connected SMEs, however, food-related internationalisation aspects had never been faced as a specific regional policy instrument. RWM should reposition existing initiatives as pieces of a coherent territorial strategy based on the food sector to promote the economic attractiveness of the region, in order to manage and develop in a sustainable way.
Policy instrument’s improvement
The main characteristics of the policy instrument consist of activities to improve the food sector regional governance in internationalisation. The University of Western Macedonia (UoWM) elaborated an Action Plan for ROP Axis 3 structural funds, that combines the project objectives and lessons learnt, with the regional strategy on the RIS3 food sector related to the internationalisation of SME funding.
The selected policy instrument will be improved thanks to the activities included in the Regional Plan, based on the exchange of experience of the FRiDGE Project. This action refers to the policy instrument and contributes to its direct and formal improvement as it is related to the implementation of a new project.
Action for supporting local agri-food products
The Agrifood Partnership of Western Macedonia (APWΜ) is a civic non-profit-making organisation that was established to support and promote agri-food products produced in Western Macedonia on the local, national and global markets. APWM acts as a regional food cluster and it is the organisation that will be implementing the Regional Action Plan.
In the context of the action, APWM will proceed to activities related to promotion, networking and attracting new members such as:
- Collaboration with a Branding Agency to create the APWM full promotional identity.
- Use of social media platforms to achieve visibility and brand recognition.
- Organisation of webinars for food markets.
- Participation in the European Cluster Collaboration Platform.
- Creation of small groups within the partnership aiming at specific markets according to their interests.
- Creation of networking activities with academic and research institutes.
Good Practices behind the action
The main Good Practice chosen to be transferred in the Regional Action Plan is “Accelerating growth and internationalisation among Ostrobothnian food industry SMEs” since it constitutes a holistic approach to internationalisation concerning marketing issues.
“Food Forum and Food Team: Regional Food Innovation Cluster Networks in South Ostrobothnia” is the second Good Practice chosen, as the approach of creating small “teams” or networks is a flexible way to promote collaboration in specific thematic within a wider context.
Involvement of stakeholders
Action Plan is endorsed by FRiDGE Western Macedonia Regional Stakeholder Group, which was also involved in the elaborating period of it, and the Managing Authority of Western Macedonia ROP 2014 - 2020. Also, UoWM will choose the members of the core stakeholders’ group to form a Monitoring Team for the implementation of the Action Plan during phase 2.
You can find the full Action Plan of Western Macedonia here: Action Plan of Western Macedonia.