The kick off meeting of the SME POWER was successfully concluded after two days of works carried out by the 8 partners involved in the activities at European level. The project leader, ARRR Spa, hosted this first meeting in Florence at the beautiful headquarter of the Tuscany Council in the Pegaso hall at Palazzo Strozzi Sacrati on September 10th and 11th.

The President of ARRR Spa, Marco Meacci, welcomed the opening session and welcomed the partners to Florence; hoping that this project will bring to Tuscany Region some good ideas and experiences from other EU countries helping to improve the overall system supporting energy efficiency culture in SMEs. After this introduction, the Tuscany Regional Minister for the Environment, Federica Fratoni explained in her speech how "the fight against climate change also comes from SMEs, which represent the productive driving force of the region and can give an important contribution in terms of environmental sustainability ". 

The Minister also explained how, in this context, "the SME Power Project represents an opportunity to take advantage of European funds to support the transition towards energy efficiency, with the consequent reduction of costs by companies, contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions"

Roberto Bianco, the project Manager for ARRR, introduced the project target, phases and the stakeholders who will support the Managing Authority in the achievement of the project aims.

The working day continued with a very interesting study visit. The partners were accompanied by Engineer Valerio Marangolo, responsible for the technical management of the structural funds and the community programs of the Tuscany Region, to the Ermini Adone Srl in Reggello (Florence), a company that makes metal products which in 2016 was supported by the Tuscany Region ERDF 2014-2020 for an amount of € 158,000.00. This contribution enabled the enterprise to introduce in the productive process a high-innovation and low-energy laser metal cutting system. This represented a clear example and a good practice, for all project partners, of how energy efficiency can embrace a high standard of improvement in the production cycle of SMEs. 

The new system guarantees Ermini Adone Srl an energy saving of 55% (from an energy consumption before the intervention of 19 toe / year to a post-intervention consumption of 8.6 toe / year) and a CO2 equivalent reduction of 34 , 7 tons / year.

The meeting continued on Thursday 11th September with the discussion tables between the project partners who could thus share their respective experiences and start the analysis of European funds dedicated to energy efficiency in SMEs. Some strengths and weaknesses were highlighted and this will be the starting point for a further discussion of the policies with stakeholders at local level. In this regard, as foreseen by the project, all partners activities will be supported by a working group of Regional Energy Stakeholders composed by the Managing Authority, some representatives of the Trade Associations, Chamber of Commerce, the Academic sector and the Media. This group will have to fill in a joint document (so-called "energy support map") which will be completed in the coming months and which has the objective of mapping the support measures for SMEs and assessing their effectiveness so as to lay the foundations for orienting the European Funds for Regional Development (ERDF) towards supporting energy efficiency of SMEs. 

This meeting was hopefully the beginning of a fruitful partnership that will have the goal of sharing evaluation methodology, analysing the current state of the regional policies and identifying their strengths and weaknesses for an easier and more accessible for SMEs means of funding.