Project summary

Circular economy is a new approach of economic development models. It provides the potential to use one’s waste as resource input to others productive chain thus offering a longer life cycle of the products and a more environmentally friendly business approach. This regenerative system is of high priority in the EU. SinCE-AFC is being developed along with the on-going EU action plan for Circular Economy and the respective National Circular Economy Action Plans across the EU countries.

Although the principles of circular economy are already applied by many large industries, SMEs, which represent the 99% of the businesses sector, still remain uninvolved due to lack of motivation and support. Thus, the regional SMEs policies improvement towards a more regenerative economy is of high importance.

SinCE-AFC aims at involving SMEs of the Agri-Food chain in circular economy through the promotion of the appropriate managing and financial horizontal mechanisms. All the Agri-Food agents committed to production, processing, packaging, distribution and final consumption are expected to operate in a coordinated way to better adapt to circular economy.

This objective will be achieved via the intense collaboration and interregional exchange of experience of 9 partners representing 7 Regions from 7 EU countries. The partnership’s tasks will focus on the investigation of efficient practices, via interregional thematic learning events, study visits, import workshops, stakeholders’ meetings and consultation processes, of how the relevant policy instruments can be improved in order to assist SMEs to enter circular economy. The core results will be depicted in a joint study reflecting the related regulatory framework and good practices at regional and EU level.

The project will promote innovation, derive knowledge and develop close collaboration with the Interreg Europe Learning Platform as well as with the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform and the RIS3 Platform Group.




from 1 Aug 2019
to 31 Jul 2023

SME competitiveness

What policy instruments does the project address?

SMEs of RCM need to be integrated into value chains by restructuring their production, improving productivity factors and entering new markets. The Investment Priority 3d gives priority to horizontal clusters of partnerships and productive partnerships between SMEs of RIS3 champion sectors such as the Agri-Food sector. Specific objective 3d1 is very relevant and could include the following indicative actions:

•the creation of clusters in selected value chains to produce innovative products

•the development of cooperation schemes between tourism and the Agri-Food cluster, in order to encourage new entrepreneurship

•Investment support to reduce production costs through new production methods

•SME funding projects of all industries to improve efficiency in the use of energy inputs and natural resource saving.

The low use of ICT for non-managerial applications and the low information maturity in public administration are recognized as a problem to be solved by axis 2. To become more circular, SMEs will need ICT applications to measure circularity, to identify available inputs or to have access to digital mechanisms and learning platforms on how to become circular. The Specific Objective 2c1 bears relevance to improving governance through digital applications. Indicative actions under 2c1 could be actions to promote eGovernance, digitization of open data and "smart cities" systems.

Both instruments can be improved to include mechanisms that support circular economy principles.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Regional Development Fund on behalf of the Region of Central Macedonia
  • ANATOLIKI S.A. Organisation for Local Development

The PSM is the main policy instrument of the Metropolitan city of Bologna and identifies the strategic directions for intervention. At the moment the plan 2.0 is under approval.

The specific objective 2.5 is in close connection with the Bologna Environmental Charter (promoted by the Metropolitan City of Bologna and undersigned by almost all Italian metropolitan cities, in June 2017 during the G7 Environment). It highlights the need to protect the rural territory, stimulates agricultural activities, enhances and safeguards the landscape, promoting sustainable, multifunctional and social agriculture.

The project will also contribute to the 4.1 goal: Manufacturing and innovation. This objective involves the promotion of entrepreneurship, innovation in supply chains and manufacturing. It is strictly applied to the Emilia Romagna RIS3 and is aimed at fostering new production concepts and business models to add value and strengthen the development of highly innovative areas with high potential for growth.

In particularly, the point 4.1.d addresses the need to foster the circular economy, developing eco-design, short and integrated supply chain, rational use of stocks, reduction of waste and inefficiencies, transformation of waste into raw and secondary materials for other productive processes, energy efficiency in production processes.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Metropolitan City of Bologna

The Regional Development Programme of Hajdú-Bihar County for 2014-2020 integrates the strategic goals of the county at both sectoral and territorial levels. The objectives of the programme include 8 priorities; within this project we plan to address Priority 1: Sustainable environment focusing on Measure 1.3: Complex waste management. Due to the significant shortcomings in reducing waste generation and at a larger scale, waste quantity, there is a strong need to find new, innovative applicable solutions for waste streams considering circular economy issues. The policy instrument encourages the further development of up-to-date waste management through the creation of new cooperations, common investments and other enhancement. There is a specific focus on reusing, recycling or energetic/other utilization of waste. It is also an essential objective to ensure an attracting and safe livelihood for citizens.

The main aim of the policy instrument is clear but an improved structural background is required with an appropriate approach, enhanced capacity and the potential to integrate enhanced governance of waste management to support a sustainable economy including Agri-Food issues. New methodologies are also needed.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Hajdú-Bihar County Government

The key objectives are to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises through in-company innovation and investment and to accelerate the start-up and expansion of new start-up firms and create employment.

The instruments are delivered primarily through Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices but depending on the sectors other public agencies such as BIM for the marine sector and Bord Bia for Food are also involved.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Donegal County Council

The main objective of the ROP is to improve economic competitiveness and social cohesion within the Wielkopolska region. The main thematic objectives of ROP have been put under Priority Axis 1 ‘Innovative and competitive economy’. The primary reason for this is that there are very close links between support for research, technology development and innovation and increase in the competitiveness within SMEs. In the current socio-economic situation of the Wielkopolska region, the further development of its economy is primarily dependent on the ability to support Research & Development and innovation, aimed at simultaneously improving conditions for business operations.

Under this priority the investments priorities concerned by the project will be the internationalisation of the regional economy and the development and implementation of new business models for SMEs, particularly for internationalisation.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Wielkopolska Region with the seat of the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region in Poznan

The internationalisation of SMEs is addressed through 2 policy instruments:

1.Competitiveness Operational Programme 2014–2020: envisages soft measures by providing support to transnational cooperation between SMEs and R&D institutions from abroad, through action 1.1.3 Create synergies with the HORIZON 2020 RDI actions and with others RDI programs. Thus, through COP, SMEs will be assisted to write and successfully implement projects financed by Horizon 2020 and others RDI programs financed by European Commission.

2.Regional Operational Programme 2014–2020: intends to increase the competitiveness of SMEs and envisages measures to support SMEs older than 1 year to grow in the value chain, to gain access to finance and to provide them assistance, in order to access new markets.

In the current programing period, the main challenges faced by SMEs are related to the rapid adaptation to the market as well as the continuous improvement of delivered products and services. Thus, ROP 2014-2020 will support companies, from all the fields of activities, including those active in Circular Economy, with potential to develop/maintain its position on the market by supporting their business operations. ROP 2014-2020 proposes interventions to support the access to international markets for SMEs.

This last policy instrument will be addressed through SinCE-AFC project, since South Muntenia RDA is acting as Intermediate Body for Regional Operational Programme 2014–2020.

Which partners are working on this?
  • South Muntenia Regional Development Agency

OPIC 2014-2020 aims at smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and achievement of economic, social and territorial cohesion. The OPIC 2014-2020 is a financial instrument supporting the innovation development integrated in Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization of Republic of Bulgaria. It aims to support SMEs to improve their resource efficiency and to stimulate pilot and demonstration initiatives aimed at promoting industrial symbiosis and exchange of information between the partners in the value chain.

-Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs in particular priority axis 2 „Entrepreneurship and Capacity fir growth of SMEs “Foreseen actions for improving the implementation of regional policies supporting SMEs in all stages of their life cycle to develop and achieve growth and engage innovation. The PI should be improved because by now the planned actions don’t foreseen the city administration role as accelerator of creative business ecosystem by boosting entrepreneurship ideas. It is necessary then the municipality to support the quick adaption of innovations in agriculture economic sector and improve SMEs competiveness. Improvement of PI is needed, because:

-There are opportunities for improvement which links local authorities and all actors in policy making dialogue for implementation of tailor-made solutions for development of the regional entrepreneurial environment by strengthening the administration role in creating environment for SMEs.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Devnya Municipality