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Galicia and Portugal start a European project of innovation to improve the renewable sector competitiveness

The partnership between three Galician and Portuguese organizations allows the launch of ER-INNOVA, a European innovation project that has just started with the aim of improving SMEs competitiveness of the Galicia (Spain) and North Portugal Euroregion in the renewable energy sector through Information Technology (IT).

Under the motto ‘IT energy’, the project will be implemented in a pilot program of technological tools in about a hundred SMEs, with the idea of spreading out to the whole renewable sector and even, with the necessary adaptations, could be transferred to other activity areas. The project partners are Technology Park of Galicia (Tecnopole), acting as the group leader, the Galician Association of Enterprises devoted to Internet and New Technologies (Eganet), the Foundation to Promote Industrial Quality and Technological Development of Galicia, through its International R&D&i Programs Office (OPIDi); and NET Novas Empresas e Tecnologias, S.A.-Business and Innovation Centre do Porto (NET-BIC Porto). The initiative is cofinanced by the European Fund of Regional Development (FEDER) in the European Union and takes place under the Operational Program for Cross-Border Cooperation Spain-Portugal 2007-2013. Its time frame is biannual (2009-2010) and has a total financing of 931,693.68 of which 75% comes from the FEDER. The project is in line with the Euroregion interest to make a significant contribution to the objective that the EU has made in its 2009 Directive "Promoting the use of energy from renewable sources": that in 2020 20% of energy consumption across the EU comes from renewable sources. The first phase of the project, that is already on, is to make the necessary field work to identify weaknesses and to catalogue the real and specific needs of the energy SMEs of the Euroregion. The analysis performed in the Euroregion economic reality to design the project, reflects that this is characterized by a feeble innovative profile, leading to a slow rise in employment rates and, consequently, to mismatch the job profiles to the called knowledge economy which in turn results in a lower competitiveness of the regional space. From this analysis we conclude that it is necessary to reinforce the business network of the Euroregion through initiatives that promote business modernization and the establishment of collaborative structures among all agents involved in the achievement of R&D&i projects. Furthermore, it was found that one of the sectors with greater potential for generating added value in the medium term is renewable energy, which has a promising outlook based on greater social awareness of the respect for the environment, the need to control and reduce the carbon dioxide emissions (C02) into the atmosphere, the increase of fossil fuels and the current situation of institutional support through european, national and regional policies. However, even if we elucidate a bright future for the renewable energy sector it is necessary to promote actions that strengthen the competitiveness of business initiatives that emerge around it. In the case of the Galicia-North Portugal Euroregion this should be done by focusing the efforts on cross-border cooperation and on the promotion of R&D activities. Moreover, the small size of most companies in the renewable energy sector in the Euroregion places them in a vulnerable situation that restricts their ability to compete. Providing them with the necessary tools to improve their management, modernizing their processes and promoting projects in collaboration with other SMEs is basic for obtaining a strong business network with access to all public funding opportunities. In this sense, it was considered that the Information Technology (IT) is the most effective weapon in the service of companies to enhance their competitiveness. Finally, the design of the project ER-INNOVA was the result of joining all these factors. After the initial phase of consultations, and based on their results, we will proceed to the design and development of IT tools, all of them open source. The scope of these tools will be in the first place, the internal management, through desktop applications such as enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) and management of customer relationships (CRM). Secondly, we will work on tools designed to promote cooperation in R&D&i and also Internet sales. The result will be a web platform for coordinating collaborative projects in the area of research, development and innovation and to promote on-line transactions between the different agents operating in the renewable energy market, with special emphasis on the introduction of electronic invoice.

Countries

Spain, Portugal