The pandemic has set enormous challenges for small and medium-sized companies (SME) all over the world. However, the situation can also offer the potential for new opportunities. Believing and supporting research and development is a key to finding and nurturing these new openings. Even in the times of COVID-19 and possible next pandemics or other crises, we cannot stop and forget about the development.
BIOREGIO – Regional circular economy models and best available technologies for biological streams is an Interreg Europe co-funded project. The project aims to develop bio-based circular economy in six partner regions in Finland, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Romania, and France. As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BIOREGIO project has received an extension of its duration to mitigate the effect through bio-based circular economy. BIOREGIO has started its activities in January 2017 and continues until the end of 2022.
On 25 January 2022, BIOREGIO organized an online workshop to boost bio-based circular economy together with SMEs to overcome the impact of the global pandemic. Also, the focus was on how the SMEs can better access funding from Structural Funds or other instruments, as it was recognized as challenging. The BIOREGIO partners and their stakeholders had their slots dedicated to sharing concrete examples from their regions. (Interreg Europe 2022.)
Insights and feedback
Over 40 people participated in the workshop. Using Mentimeter, an online interactive tool, kept the audience engaged and provided valuable insights and feedback in real-time (Picture 1 and 2). Based on the initial question concerning the expectations from the workshop, the audience stressed sharing experiences, knowledge and ideas, as well as interactions. Also, feedback confirmed that the presentations were inspiriting and may be put into practice in other regions.
Sharing inspiring examples
Two examples of inspiration shared at the event come from Päijät-Häme, in Finland and Nitra region, in Slovakia. Kimmo Heponiemi from LAB University of Applied Sciences (LAB) shared the Päijät-Häme region’s example about how the regional grain cluster is developing a pilot laboratory together with LAB. The aim of the structural fund project is to support companies to develop and prepare for new types of product launches, for example, vegan products. Link to Grain Cluster pilot plant project
Jaroslav Michalko from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Sciences at the Slovak University of Agriculture shared an example of a startup company “BioConvert”. The company uses fly larvae to convert food waste into protein-rich animal food. The startup has been awarded as a European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Jumpstarter at the end of the year 2021.
Katerina Medkova works as an RDI specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is the BIOREGIO Communication Manager. BIOREGIO is an Interreg Europe funded project, which started in January 2017 and lasts until December 2022. LAB University of Applied Sciences acts as BIOREGIO lead partner. Link to BIOREGIO project
Susanna Vanhamäki works as Chief Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is the Project Manager of BIOREGIO.
Interreg Europe. 2022. BIOREGIO online workshop. BIOREGIO. Cited 26 Jan 2022. Available at https://www.interregeurope.eu/bioregio/events/event/4996/bioregio-online-workshop/
Link 1. LAB University of Applied Sciences. Viljaklusterin pilot plant. Cited 29 Jan 2022. Available at https://lab.fi/en/project/viljaklusterin-pilot-plant