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Sicily and Malta foster innovation through cross-border cooperation

Encouraging results from the projects implemented under the Italy-Malta cross-border cooperation programme, financed by the European Commission in the framework of the Interreg initiative, show that structural funds can play a major role in boosting competitiveness and innovation.

The positive experience from the projects with innovation potential financed under the Italy-Malta 2004-2006 Cross-border Programme showcases the increasing commitment of the Italian and Maltese governments in promoting the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs also through structural funds. The Interreg IIIA ITALY-MALTA Cross-border Cooperation Programme aims at fostering the integration between the south-east coast of Sicily and Malta, by promoting joint activities utilising cultural, economic and social resources, in the framework of sustainable development. The Programme was launched in 2004 and has supported 13 cooperation projects. The programme is being managed by the Sicilian regional government – Ufficio Speciale per la Cooperazione Decentrata - with the support of the Maltese government. Particularly relevant is the innovation potential stemming from the KASA project (http://www.progettokasa.net) aimed at applying advanced ICT tools for mapping and preserving the archaeological heritage in the cross-border area, namely from Roman and Medieval ages, with a view to enhance cultural tourism. Positive experience also comes from the preservation of coastal resources and sustainable management of beaches, carried out under the MASPI project (http://www.maspi.eu) by using an innovative methodology known as BARE, integrated with a geo-referenced system. The ITALY-MALTA Programme also supports the METIC project (http://www.metic-interreg.eu) aimed at establishing a business service centre and Internet platform to help boost process and product innovation amongst SMEs in the cross-border area. The upcoming 2007-2013 ITALY-MALTA Territorial Cooperation Programme will build upon such achievements by placing special emphasis on competitiveness through fostering innovation and research. The largest share of financial resources of the new programme, due to start in 2008, are earmarked to this end.

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Italy, Malta