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Setting-up a network of Technology Dissemination Centres to optimise SMEs in the olive and olive oil sector

Final Report Summary - TDC-OLIVE (Setting-up a network of Technology Dissemination Centres to optimise SMEs in the olive and olive oil sector)

The objectives of the Olive project were:
i) To set up a physical and virtual European network of Technology Dissemination Centres (TDCs) as means of support to SMEs of the olive sector, as well as a bridge between them and R&D institutions.
ii) To improve through a training program technical competence, technology innovation processes and competitiveness of SMEs of the olive sector.
iii) To promote the olive oil and table olive consumption in non-Mediterranean European countries through a change of mentality in Central and North-European consumers.

The project was conceived with the idea to contribute to transform SMEs of the olive sector into modern businesses, capable of using new technologies in order to get access to the Technological Innovation System, and with highly qualified staff.

The work programme comprised the following blocks and work packages:

1st Block of activities: Development of a physical and virtual network of TDC
WP1: Viability study to fulfil the objectives stated in TDC-Olive proposal
WP2: Setting up of TDC system architecture.

2nd Block of activities: Dissemination work. It included the dissemination of TDC to SMEs and other sectors of the society, and the promotion of olive products in non Mediterranean countries.
WP3: Dissemination, activities and information campaign of the TDC-OLIVE project: SMEs
WP4: Dissemination activities and information campaign of the TDC-OLIVE project: other sectors.

3rd Block of activities: Training of SMEs.
WP5: Development of training modules
WP6. Implementation of pilot training
WP7: Implementation of training and workshops
WP8: Implementation of on-line training modules.

4th Block of activities: Project management
WP9: Project Management

The main results of the project were the following:
1. Creation of a network of four physical and virtual Technological Dissemination Centres (TDC; in Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain) to overall support the TDC Olive project. With more than 30 000 total visits during 2005, the TDC network became an innovative and successful tool for SMEs. After the end of the project the sustainability of two TDCs was ensured since both the Greek and the Spanish would continue to work, sponsored by different Institutions.
2. Publication of the 'Olive Encyclopaedia' for SMEs.
3. Publication of the 'Olive Encyclopaedia' for consumers.
4. Report on 'Familiarity & Consumption / Non-Consumption of olive products and Consumer knowledge of the beneficial effect on health' and dissemination activities. One of the key targets of TDC OLIVE was to promote the consumption of olive products in non-Mediterranean countries. To achieve this target, among other promotion and dissemination activities, surveys were carried out at by European SMEs and business associations, consumer associations, citizens and scientific community. The surveys aimed to gather and analyse data about the olive oil market in some European countries and were conducted in the form of specially prepared questionnaires containing a number of questions to determine each participants familiarity, consumption / non consumption of olive products, and consumer knowledge of their beneficial effect on health. The results of this study demonstrated that the majority of participants representing Spain, Italy and Greece, were familiar with the use and consumption of Olive and Olive oil products, whereas, at least 10% of participants from Germany and over 50% of participants from the UK, indicated that they were not familiar with the use and consumption of olives and Olive oil products.
5. Publication of 24 articles in technical and scientific journals, as part of the dissemination activities aimed to widespread the olive culture throughout the world.
6. Other dissemination activities, mainly devoted to: a) the design of three different leaflets in order to promote TDC-Olive project, health benefits of consuming olive products and the future actions that would continue the activities carried out during the lifetime of the project; b) participation in more than 30 courses and seminars; c) organisation of three conferences on 'Latest trends in olive industry' in Spain, Italy and Greece.
7. Development and delivery of 5 thematic training modules especially addressed to SMEs. The training programme of the TDC Olive consisted of 5 different modules (ICT, Food Quality, Environmental issues and EU related legislation, Regulations related to olive products industry, Promotion and consumption) delivered through a four steps approach (Development of modules - Implementation of pilot sessions - Delivery of training and workshops - Implementation of on-line training modules). At the end of the project, more than 500 participants had attended the TDC OLIVE training programme in 3 different European countries (Greece, Italy and Spain) and moreover, other 380 students have attended the on line courses.

The main contribution of the TDC OLIVE project was to provide the industry with technical information and first hand data about the situation of the olive sector in some European countries. This information could be used for future studies in the area of enterprise, or to complete the information of an observatory on the sector. Therefore, the TDC OLIVE did not have technical results to apply to the olive industry beyond the applications derived from the practical use and exploitation of possible innovations introduced through the project's training programme or other project developments.

In this regard, the main publishable results of the TDC OLIVE were:
1. The network of virtual TDC and its contents
2. The 'Olive encyclopaedia' published by the members of the Consortium
3. The report on the conclusions obtained from the statistical evaluation of the surveys carried out during exhibitions
4. The articles published in scientific and technical journals
5. The contents of the training modules including their respective and different courses
6. The promotional flyers and leaflets of the project.