Regional Development Director
Supporting knowledge capacity in ICT among SME to engage in growth and innovation!
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.
SKILLS + has been important for Kainuu for two reasons:
- Finland is among the most advanced EU member states when it comes to digitization. In SKILLS+, we contributed effective practices that were already tested in Kainuu and Finland, and in that sense we were also disseminating the policies, projects, technologies and business models that are behind these good practices, and
- We were 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 in field of digitization and ICT.
The overall objective of the project was to enhance the ambition of rural SMEs by promoting the uptake and integration of modern ICT tools in daily business routines. Its aim was 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 addressed public policies on national, regional and sub-regional levels, including EU (ERDF, ESF, EAFRD), aiming at promoting ICT skills in rural areas.