Policies to develop entrepreneurship and innovative SMEs in rural areas

ON-LINE. 19th March 2021. 10:00 – 12:30 CET

Registrations are open until March 15th, 23:59 hours, click here to register

Scope and content

Adoption of innovation and the introduction of measures to support entrepreneurship play a crucial role in the transformation of rural areas towards a knowledge economy. SMEs in Europe are considered as the main driver of our economy and have been placed in the centre of the main EU strategic and policy goals. In spite of this fact, there remains a gap between urban and rural SMEs, leaving a potential avenue for the last ones as a source of economic growth and innovation.

The conference has a practical content oriented to provide useful advice not only at the political level but also to the general public interested in entrepreneurship and innovation processes in rural areas through all Europe. Relevant speakers at European level will look for and guide to the audience to find out solutions to key challenges that face business development in less populated areas, such as access to finance, support measures, access to knowledge or new tools for regional innovation and competitiveness.

Participants will learn about the practical lessons learnt by Rural SMEs project and related topics from qualified experts working in governments/public administrations (at different levels) and other representatives from regions and final users.

Special emphasis will be given to know all the available resources for the economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis.

Rural SMEs project

Financed by the Interreg Europe Programme, the aim of Rural SMEs project has been improving the policies on regional support systems related to entrepreneurship as well as innovation (considering its implementation in rural areas) to increase the creation of innovative SMEs in this environment, but also supporting those which are already established to introduce innovation in their daily activity.

Thanks to 2.5 years of interregional learning process (identification of good practices, exchange of experiences and drafting of local strategies compiling the knowledge gained and adapted to every territorial reality) and 2 more years of Action Plans’ implementation in seven European countries, the project has developed useful results dedicated to actors in different regional contexts. Being aware of this fact, valuable advice for policymakers will be disseminated in the final conference of the project.


10:00 Welcome, practical information and rules

10:10 Introduction to Rural SMEs project’s experience

- Ricardo Pizarro. Director. Society for the development of the province of

Burgos (Spain)

- Erato Malisianou. Living Prospects Ltd. Contractor of RDF-RWG (Greece)

10:30 State of play of interregional cooperation

Vincenzo Caposale. Finance Officer. Interreg Europe Secretariat

10:45 Main needs/barriers for rural entrepreneurs in Europe

Moderator: Eva Curto. Responsible of International Programmes. EOI -

School of Industrial Organization (Ministry of Industry)

- Mary Fogarty. The Cottage Loughmore (Ireland)

- Helena Cvenkel. Deputy Director. BSC Kranj. Collective brand

“Bohinjsko/From Bohinj” (Slovenia)

11:00 Instruments to support rural entrepreneurs and SMEs at European

level; a view to the next programing period financing

Serafín Pazos-Vidal. Head of Brussels Office. Convention of Scottish Local


11:20 Virtual coffee break

11:30 Round table (I). How to improve policy gaps to promote

competitiveness among rural companies

Moderator: Eva Curto. EOI - School of Industrial Organization

- Katalin Barna. Head of International and Cluster Unit. Ministry of Finance


- Adrian George Enache. Public Manager. Ministry of European Investments

and Projects (Romania)

- Michael Murray, CEO of North Tipperary Development Company (Ireland)

12:00 Round table (II). New tools for regional innovation and

competitiveness. Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs)

Moderator: Eva Curto. EOI - School of Industrial Organization

- Fokion Zaimis, Vice-Governor of Entrepreneurship, Research and

Innovation of Region of Western Greece

- Stelian Brad. President Cluj IT Cluster. Head DIH 4Society (Romania)

- Sonia Martel. University of Burgos. DIH LEAF - Livestock, Environment,

Agriculture & Forest (Spain)

- Pedro Rocha. Executive Director. PRODUTECH. Production Technologies

Cluster (Portugal)

12:30 Closing remarks. End of the meeting

Moderator: Eva Curto. EOI - School of Industrial Organization