Photo: Rural SME partners during the first project workshop in Tipperary, Ireland.

The Rural SMEs partnership is particularly proud of the online high level dissemination event (final conference) which took place on 19th March 2021; not only in relation to the content and level and expertise of speakers but also due to the high level of participation and commitment from our local stakeholders and policy makers in all Rural SMEs countries (Spain, Ireland, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Portugal).

The content was a mix between sharing Rural SMEs’ results and relevant topics related to the project main aims, with the objective of attracting potential audience beyond partners’ countries.

It was especially interesting and inspiring hearing, step by step, how the policy instrument of the Operational Programme of Western Greece 2014 - 2020), P4 – RDF-RWG was successfully changed with immediate results. On these grounds, the Managing Authority of Regional Operational Programme of Western Greece published on 13/3/2020 a call for proposals to create a regional support mechanism for entrepreneurship in the territory which incorporates actions 1 and 2 of the P4 Action Plan (pre-incubators and innovation vouchers) into a single scheme. This policy change has led to improved management of the addressed Policy Instrument for enhancing entrepreneurship and innovation at the regional level.

In addition, the participation of Mary Fogarty in this high-level dissemination event was special and emotional for all project partners. Mary Fogarty, owner of The Cottage Loughmore in Tipperary, Ireland, is one of the good practices from Rural SMEs. On these grounds, Mary participated in two transnational meetings of the project in Ireland and Hungary and her business was selected as one of the best examples of entrepreneurship within Rural SMEs.

The presentations about “Instruments to support rural entrepreneurs and SMEs at European level; a view to the next programming period financing” and “State of play of interregional cooperation” with the participation of Joint Secretariat were also very successful and useful for the audience to have an idea about the financing opportunities for the next seven years (2021-2027).

Finally, both round tables “How to improve policy gaps to promote competitiveness among rural companies” and “New tools for regional innovation and competitiveness. Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs)” reached a great expectation and acceptation among the audience. At this point, and speaking about the first round table, it is worth highlighting the participation of representatives from the Managing Authorities from Hungary, Romania, Western Greece and Ireland.

Last but not least, it is important to mention the relevant role and good job done by the moderator, representing the School of Industrial Organization – EOI, from the National Ministry of Industry in Spain.