Project summary

The organic market in the European Union has developed significantly in recent years, the total value being approximately 19.7 billion euro with a 9% growth rate in 2011. As organic production grows in Europe, the sector’s focus is on competitiveness and sustainability. While EU public policies have played an important part in the development of the EU organic sector, regional authorities have huge potential to prioritise support for organic approaches, such as market development. In this respect, the EC proposal for an Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming encourages regions to find the most adequate policy and funding mix to support the development of the regional organic sectors.

The overall objective of SME-ORGANICS is to improve policies and programmes under the Investment for Growth and Jobs goal in order to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of SMEs in the organic sector of 7 EU regions plus Aargau Canton (Switzerland). The project aims at supporting SMEs in improving their performance in order to enforce the growth capacity of the entire organic regional sector in regional, national and international markets. The interregional learning process will take place around four areas: i) production and processing; ii) commercialization and marketing; iii) training and advice; iv) organic value chain efficiency and governance.

The main outputs of the project will be: Method Guide, Diagnosis reports of the regional organic sectors, Good Practice Guide, Policy Road Map, Regional Policy Briefs and Regional Action Plans with recommendations for integration into RIS3. Stakeholders benefiting from the project will be all actors in the organic value chains at the regional, national and EU level: cooperatives, agri-food industries, retailers and distributors of organic products, advisory services, chambers of commerce and agriculture, experts on regulatory issues of the organic sector, policy makers, EU’s DGs and other initiatives in the organic sector.




from 1 Apr 2016
to 31 Mar 2020

SME competitiveness

What policy instruments does the project address?

“Enhancement of SME competitiveness” is Objective 3 of the Navarra ERDF 2014-2020 Operational Programme and it is targeted towards the improvement of productivity and efficiency of SMEs as well as to adapt the productive system towards higher added value activities. One of the investment priorities under this thematic objective is “3d. Support to SMEs for growing in regional, national and international markets as well as in innovation processes”. Through this priority, SMEs will be supported in accessing new markets by training, fostering the creation of partnerships, commercial and productive establishment, international acquisition of companies, etc. Cooperation between SMEs in internationalization processes will be supported by fostering association of companies, exporting consortia, etc, in order to allow SMEs to increasing their chances for success in international markets. These measures complement other measures in the OP for Smart Growth and ESF of the region 2014-2020. The organic sector in Navarra, mainly made up of micro SMEs and free-lancers, has a very limited national and international presence. SMEs in the organic sector need support for achieving growth in regional, national and international markets in order to seize the opportunity of the growing EU market. Support to SMEs needs to be accompanied by an increase efficiency and distribution of the added value across the chain.  

Which partners are working on this?
  • Regional Development Agency of Navarra - SODENA
  • Department of Rural Development, Environment and Local Administration of the Government of Navarra. 
  • INTIA - Institute for Agri-food Technology and Infrastructure of Navarre

Priority Axis 1 of the ROP ERDF supports the enhancement of the innovation capacity of the regional economy, mainly through the development of the competitiveness of companies. The ERDF OP supports SMEs growth, mainly of those companies with the capacity to become even larger (entreprises de tailles intermédiaires: ETI). Investment priority 3d aims at supporting the capacity of SMEs for growing in regional, national and international markets as well as supporting their engangement in innovation processes.

In this respect, the Aquitaine region, which features limited number of medium size SMEs with respect to the national French average will benefit from the SME-ORGANIC approach. The main actions of the ERDF OP in support of SMEs that could also be applied to companies in the organic regional sector are:

 - Modernisation, industrialization and mutualisation of resources. In the frame of the « usine du futur » (factory of the future), an organic company (Meneau) has already been selected.

- Development paths for supporting exports of SMEs;

- Facilitation and animation of the regional organic ecosystem for the development of joint projects and association of SMEs in the different organic sub-sectors.

Which partners are working on this?
  • INTERBIO Aquitaine/Limousin/Poitou-Charentes

Axis 3 "Competitiveness of SMEs" of the Puglia ROP ERDF 2014-2020 includes 4 Investment Priorities (IP) that could be improved through the SME-ORGANICS project: IP3a "Promote entrepreneurship, in particular facilitating the economic exploitation of new ideas and the creation of new companies; IP3b “Develop and implement new business models for SMEs, in particular for internationalization”; IP3c “Support the creation and enhancement of advanced capacities for development of products and services” and IP3d “Support the SMEs competences to grow on regional, national and international markets to take part in innovation processes".

The current high levels of unemployment call for promoting entrepreneurship and investing in skills and capacities in order to strengthen and start new businesses.

Puglia region is characterized by an almost absent strategic vision for the growth of the organic sector in terms of regional territorial/local development. The SME ORGANICS project can foster the definition of new models and tools related to organic districts, based on experiences of other Italian and project regions (i.e.Aquitaine) as well as the strengthening of the social and organic orientation of existing and new businesses. The above mentioned areas of the OP ERDF Puglia Region 2014-2020 should be improved in order to strengthen the investments for organic SMEs creating more links, synergies and connections among SMEs in the sector and fostering an internationalization approach. 

Which partners are working on this?
  • CIHEAM MAIB - Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari
  • Puglia Region - Managing Authority of OP ESFR-ESF 2014-2020

Priority Axis 2 of the ROP – “Enhancing SMEs’ competitiveness focusing on Romania’s high-growth economic sectors”, includes two investment priorities dedicated to improving the competitiveness of SMEs. Investment priority 2.1. – Promoting entrepreneurial culture, mainly through economic exploitation of new ideas and encouraging the creation of start-ups, aiming at the Specific Objective of consolidating the market share of SMEs acting in the priority sectors identified in National Competitiveness Strategy and in the Regional Development Plans. The urban microenterprises and SMEs will be supported, including companies in the bioeconomy sector (agriculture), biotechnologies and food processing. SMEs in these sectors cover the whole organic value chain within the processing industry sector, together with machines and equipment’s. Investment priority 2.2. - Supporting the creation and development of advanced production capacity and services of SMEs aiming at the Specific Objective of improving the economic competitiveness through raising productivity of SMEs acting in the priority sectors identified in National Competitiveness Strategy and in the Regional Development Plans. The SMEs will be supported in order to find an optimal growth model for moving up the value chain. This priority will support especially the innovation activities. The ROP has the same content in all the NUTS II, but are implemented regionally via the Regional Development Agencies (Intermediate Bodies).

Which partners are working on this?
  • North-West Regional Development Agency

The scope of the ROP for the Lodzkie Region 2014-2020, with 11 priority axis, responds to the regional development challenges identified in key strategic documents and includes areas of intervention, where support will bring the most visible results. As part of Priority Axis II of the ROP (Innovative and competitive economy), activities have been included in the framework of the Investment Priority 3c: Supporting the creation and the extension of advanced capacities for product and service development. SMEs will be the direct recipients of support provided in the scope of this investment priority. The intervention is aimed primarily at investments leading to the reinforcement of the development capacity of companies and placement of high-quality products and services on the market. Support will be granted to investments connected with the development of SMEs, change of the production process, change of the method of providing services or organizational changes. The Development Strategy for the Lodzkie Region 2020 includes the description of the Area of Development of Intensive Farming for which a number of challenges have been identified: setting up producer groups, development of local and regional markets promoting regional products and organic food products. The strategy included, among other things, a presumption that till 2020 the access to EU funds will accelerate the implementation of innovative solutions and that the organic farming sector will develop.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Lodzkie Region - Lodzkie Marshall's Office

The Regional Operational Programme ERDF 2014-2020 of Finland steers the selection of development projects and investments. Investment Priority 3d will support SMEs through measures drawing from smart specialisation that aim to renew and increase productivity in companies and the strong sectors of the specific Finish regions, as well as to develop new products and services, introduce them to the market and increase added value. The Regional Strategy (RS) of South Ostrobothnia guides the allocation of Structural Funds in the region and sets the priorities for the development of activities. The main target of the RS is the creation of a unique, attractive and innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem consisting of services, infrastructure and entrepreneurial spirit in the region. Through Objective 1 “Regenerative economic life” start-up companies, business transfer and grow-up companies in the selected three priority areas will be supported. Section 1.2.1 of the RS highlights 13 different priorities for creation of sustainable and efficient food systems and new solutions for bioeconomy. Development of regional business sector of food systems and networking, internationalization, promotion of innovation environments, food security and elevation of business competitivity are highlighted. Of those 13 priorities the promotion of organic production and development of organic food chain forms one priority; however no concrete actions to promote organic production are mentioned.  

Which partners are working on this?
  • Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences

The support measures for an innovative and sustainable agriculture in Canton Aargau are legally based on the constitution of the Canton Aargau (§ 51) and the cantonal agricultural law ( objective is a market-oriented and competitive agriculture and whole food supply chain, which can deal with market liberalisation.To achieve this the Canton Aargau’s addressed policy has four main focus areas: a)Maintenance of agricultural production; b)Securing of sustainable production and high product quality; c)Support in start phase for innovative regional products and linking/coupling with ecological values in the region; d)Reinforced/strengthened information brokerage and communication along the whole supply chain. The organic sector in Canton Aargau is well suited to achieve these goals through the long tradition, high consumer acceptance and interest of many enterprises (in particular SMEs) in processing and marketing of organic products.SME-ORGANIC will help to develop measures for the enhancement of the performance and competiveness of regional SMEs and the development of the organic sector as a whole.The department in charge of the regional policy at Canton Aargau confirmed the collaboration with FiBL, with which has an excellent collaboration and support as FiBL is located in Canton Aargau.The collaboration will be laid down in a contract between FiBL and the Canton Aargau.

Which partners are working on this?
  • FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture

The general objective of the Lombardy ERDF ROP is to strengthen the competitiveness and dynamism of the regional economy addressing the regional challenges in terms of development, innovation and growth for an increased social, economic and territorial cohesion. Actions under the ROP aim at strengthening the synergy between all stages in the chain of knowledge.

Under axis 3 “Promoting the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises”, the following investment priorities will be improved by the SME ORGANICS project:

- 3b. Develop and implement new business models for SMEs, in particular for internationalization

- 3d. Support the capacity of SMEs to engage in growth markets regional, national and international and in innovation.


Axis 3 of the ROP defines a first strategic regional priority: investments aimed at promoting entrepreneurship in Lombardy, such as the birth and development of new businesses and even offering a "second chance" for the relaunch of existing businesses by reducing the mortality rate and increasing the opportunities for their success in the market; the development of new business models for companies, in particular with reference to the cultural / touristic / commercial chain. A second regional strategic priority is related to the wider goal of increasing competitiveness, supporting the processes of internationalization of business output (export) and increasing the attractiveness of the system input (attraction of foreign investments). 

Which partners are working on this?
  • Union of the Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Crafts of Lombardy