SMILIES PROPOSAL WINNER IN THE MED PROGRAMME
Islands' main economic activities are Agriculture and Tourism and the related Agro food and Building industries, all of which present a high seasonality. Other existing handicrafts activities and industries are declining. As a result seasonality tends to increase. To compensate that trend economic diversification through the development of new industrial activities,high-tech, knowledge-based, ecology friendly and compatible with the existing economic activities is a viable solution.
A shift to such knowledge-driven industrial activities can upgrade the quality of job opportunities in islands. But small insular industries are handicapped for that shift, since they are located at the edge of the European periphery. Their cost of access to strategic expertise, markets, clients or providers, often located in central European marketplaces is high. Coordinated local action plans supported by the involvement of all local actors and better links to remote strategic (national and global) actors are required. The program proposes to organise such a networking in concrete cases on the field, with focused actions from which sustainable policies and infrastructures supporting industrial innovation will be defined. The project bring together Local Authorities, Chambers of Commerce, SME Associations, Technical Centers, Training and R&D providers and Universities for developing existing industrial SMEs' and industry start-ups' innovation projects. The geographic focus is on Crete, the Aegean, Cyprus and Sicily, offering a good variety of sizes and institutional frameworks The program will identify, for each region, innovative industrial activities reinforcing or exploiting their Tourism Activities, Agrofood and Building Activities for developing Local or Exportniche markets. Based on the partners' expertise and existing local activities and experience, innovation will focus in the use of innovative materials (smart textiles, electronic plastics, ) to produce innovative products, using innovative processes and to sell them through creative design and marketing, supported by a management efficiently handling globalisation and innovation and Information technology solutions and the new networking possibilities they offer. Pilots reinforcing local cooperation and synergies and bringing locally unavailable expertise closer, markets, providers and clients will support Small Industry projects in line with the identified activities through consulting, mentoring and training interventions making extended use of Information technologies whenever required. By sharing experience out of these pilots, industrial policies adapted to the islands context will be defined, actors involved will be networked and sustainable support infrastructures allowing to share resources required for their implementation will be set up.