SILVER SMEs aims at developing regional policies that take advantage of the Silver Economy to boost SMEs in our rural areas. After 5 years of inter-regional exchanges of solutions that promote the development of SMEs from the Silver Economy, SILVER SMEs now takes action!
Our partners implement Action Plans to support the Silver Economy in their regions and address the specific challenges of their territory. Today we meet with Vesna Kozar, Project Manager at the Soča Valley Development Centre, (Slovenia). She reports on how their Action Plan is boosting the Silver Economy in the Northern Primorska (Goriška) Development Region.
What is the main action developed in the region thanks to your SILVER SMEs Action Plan?
The Soča Valley Development Centre is developing a network of centres for the Silver Economy in the Northern Primorska region. This network aims to:
- Raise awareness of the opportunities offered by the Silver Economy sector for local businesses
- Promote existing services and products for older adults already available in the regions
- Support municipalities in carrying out activities to promote and develop the Silver Economy in their territory
- Become a reference and contact point for all the Silver Economy service providers and for the potential users in the region.
How do you technically implement these actions?
The aim is to establish a first centre as one department of the Soča Valley Development Centre as a pilot action before expanding the initiative. The action started at the end of 2021 and will run until the end of the SILVER SMEs project.
The action involves various stakeholders, including municipalities and chambers of commerce. The first steps of this action are partly financed by the municipalities of Bovec, Kobarid and Tolmin, which are also among the founders of the Soča Valley Development Centre. In the future, Cohesion Policy funds should also provide funding for the network of centres for the Silver Economy. Other sources of funding are also explored in order to make of this Silver Hub an integrated incubator for all three municipalities.
How are these actions helping to cope with the specific challenges of your territory and what are the benefits for businesses and older adults?
Western Slovenia has an ageing population and few services are available for older adults. We also found that businesses need more financial and technical support to develop innovative goods and services, as well as more networking opportunities.
In the Northern Primorska Development Region, for example, there is a lack of home care services for older people living in remote rural areas. Therefore, there is a potential demand for such services and related products and opportunities for SMEs. Our action targets both SMEs willing to enter the Silver Economy market and older adults living in remote rural areas.
By helping SMEs to enter the Silver Economy market, our Action Plan will therefore support the emergence of this cross-economic sector, benefiting both the growth potential of local businesses and the quality of life of older adults living in rural areas.
How has interregional cooperation helped you to build your Action Plan?
The interregional knowledge exchange with partners from the SILVER SMEs project and experts was a source of inspiration for the design of our Action Plan. In particular, we were inspired by a good practice collected during the first years of the project, the Cross-border Silver Economy accelerator developed by SEAS 2 GROW, an Interreg 2 Seas Mers Zeeën project.
In the future, the Soča Valley Development Centre also intends to participate in other initiatives and research projects in order to gain additional knowledge about the Silver Economy market.
Discover more details on these measures in the Soča Valley Development Centre’s Action Plan!