Supporting knowledge capacity in ICT among SME to engage them in growth and innovation

Project background

Throughout Europe, a digital gap exists between urban conglomerations and the rural regions as there are challenges to the provision of broadband services in rural and remote areas. This has resulted in a significant backlog in the digital activities of small companies active in rural areas, jeopardising their opportunities for competition and therefore crucially needed work places in areas often affected by demographic change. Today's programmes to promote small businesses' ICT uptake are often unable to overcome this digital gap as they are designed on regional or national levels, not matching the specific needs of rural areas' SMEs.

Importance of the project for Kainuu

SKILLS + is important for Kainuu for two reasons:

  • Finland is among the most advanced EU member states when it comes to digitalisation. In SKILLS+, we are contributing effective practices that have already been tested in Kainuu and Finland, and in that sense we are also disseminating the policies, projects, technologies and business models that are behind these good practices, and
  • We are importing tried and tested practices that help the regional growth, for example, by linking clusters for joint actions and access to larger markets. These good practices support the current regional development programs that are running concurrently with this project in field of digitalisation and ICT.

    Project Objectives

    The overall objective of the project is to enhance the ambition of rural SMEs by promoting the uptake and integration of modern ICT tools in daily business routines. Its aim is to optimise existing policy instruments by either giving more priority to the specific needs in rural areas or by proposing complimentary measures to increase the share of available funding for rural areas in order to overcome the digital gap between urban agglomerations and the periphery.

    The project addresses public policies on national, regional and sub-regional levels, including EU (ERDF, ESF, EAFRD), aiming at promoting ICT skills in rural areas.

    Project partners

    The project includes 12 partners from 11 European countries:

  • Ministry for Regional Development and Transport of Saxony Anhalt (DE) – Lead partner
  • Kainuun Etu Ltd. (FI)
  • Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia (LV)
  • Managing Authority of Regional Operational Programme of Western Macedonia Region (EL)
  • Malopolska Regional Development Agency (PL)
  • SørTrøndelag County Authority (NO)
  • Zadar County Rural Development Agency (HR)
  • Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) (BG)
  • Castilla y Leon Regional Government Regional Ministry for Culture and Tourism (ES)
  • Pannon Novum West¬Transdanubian Regional Innovation Nonprofit Ltd. (HU)
  • University of Latvia (LV)
  • Technical University of Ostrava (CZ)

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    Project information
    Hankkeen tiedot

    Interreg Europe: PGI 00088 SKILLS+

    Implementation time:

    1.4.2016 – 31.3.2021


    2 462 041€
    ERDF 85%
    National and own funding 15%


    Interreg Europe -programme