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SUpporting SMEs innovaTion in Adaptation to EU changINg standards

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SUSTAIN (SUpporting SMEs innovaTion in Adaptation to EU changINg standards)

Reporting period: 2021-02-01 to 2022-02-28

Project SUSTAIN is joint effort of project partner to address how European SMEs can successfully adapt to EU standards, overcome barriers related to process of using standards, and increase their competitiveness. Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact to SMEs on decreasing sales, operating at loss and supply chain disruptions. Economic recovery following the pandemic is based on “green recovery” through decarbonization and energy transition. SMEs represent an important part of the European economy with critical role in growth and job creation, but their use of standards and involvement in standardization is typically low.
Standards have important impact as a guarantee of a high level of quality, health and environmental safety to consumers and companies in global market. The priorities for European standardization for 2021 are focused on development of European standards for transitions towards climate neutrality, digital leadership, strengthening recovery and resilience of European industry.
The project SUSTAIN focuses on areas of energy efficiency, circular economy and digitalization, following the strategic priorities of European standardization. The discussion about SMEs’ access to standardization is ongoing, but there are no well-developed models demonstrating path to successful application of EU standards by SMEs. The project aims to address question how business support organizations (BSOs) can offer help to SMEs in process of standardization.
Project partners developed the model supporting standardization of SMEs, consisting of the self-audit tool and standardization mechanism based on drivers, barriers and incentives to standardization. The model results in three types of outcomes: economic benefits for SMEs, customer benefits and environmental benefits. The model should be viewed as a starting point for designing or reviewing a BSO’s approach to support SMEs in standardization taking into account regional aspects and specific situation of the company.
The overall objective of the project is to strengthen joint collaboration between partners through peer learning, and raise their competences to support SMEs in improvement of their procedures of adaptation to EU standards.
Impact of the SUSTAIN project is evident in raising awareness and knowledge of SMEs on benefits of adoption and use of EU standards. Through peer learning activities, the project partners increased their knowledge and capacities to efficiently support SMEs on their path to adoption and use of EU standards.
WP1- Project Management
WP1 is led by LIR, while WEIZ and RT were actively involved in all activities within the WP. Partners conducted regular coordination and management related to project planning, monitoring and reporting in accordance with H2020 rules. Partners signed Consortium Agreement, stipulating management of compliance, rights and obligations of each partner. Reporting procedures are in alignment with rules of the H2020. Partners organized 4 partnership meetings to ensure successful project implementation and support peer learning process. Partnership meetings were conducted via Zoom due to Covid-19 issues. Partners conducted local meetings with SMEs to ensure best practices transfer and knowledge exchange.
Deliverables:
- Consortium Agreement
- Project narrative and financial report
-4 Partnership meetings

WP2- Project Communication and Dissemination
WP2 is led by the LIR, while WEIZ and RT were actively involved in all activities within WP. Partners prepared the Dissemination and Exploitation Plan to define activities necessary for dissemination. Communication activities are conducted via direct, indirect channels and mass media. Direct channels included meetings with SMEs, trainings and implementation of 3 pilot actions involving SMEs, virtual conference and dissemination of DOP to relevant stakeholders. Indirect channels included project newsletters disseminaton. Massmedia involved publishing of 4 press releases in regional media, partners’ websites, social media for general public. Partners prepared Data Management Plan, specifying types of data that project will collect, standards used, curation and preservation of data, exploitation and access to data.
Deliverables:
-Dissemination and Exploitation Plan
-Data Management Plan
-4 Project newsletters
-4 Press releases
-Virtual conference minutes

WP3- Peer learning process

WP3 is led by WEIZ, while RT and LIR were involved in all activities in WP. WP3 resulted in effective peer learning process. Partners conducted regional situation analysis on adoption of EU standards by SMEs. Partners organized meetings with SMEs to analyze best practices and exchange knowledge. Partners implemented 3 pilot actions involving local SMEs, one per project region. Pilot actions focused on consultations with SMEs and development of practical self-audit tool in energy efficiency, circular economy and digitalization. Within pilot actions, partners delivered trainings tailored to needs of regional SMEs. Insights gained from regional situation analysis, pilot actions and research on third party solutions were used in development of DOP.
Deliverables:
- Tool for self-audit
- Report on the pilot actions
- Report on best practices

WP4-Design Option Paper
WP4 is led by RT, while WEIZ and LIR were actively involved in all activities in WP. Partners collaborated on development of DOP. DOP is based on the outcomes of the peer learning process and addresses how European SMEs can successfully adapt to EU standards, overcome related barriers and increase competitiveness. DOP was discussed during Virtual Conference organized by partners. DOP is disseminated through the partners’ networks and shared with interested innovation agencies to spread gained knowledge.
Deliverables:
- Design Option Paper
Model developed within project offers innovative approach to support SMEs in effort to adopt and implement EU standards. Main outcomes of project are self-audit tool dedicated to SMEs and DOP. Tool is useful instrument for initial self-assessment of SMEs on potentials for improvements in areas of energy efficiency, circular economy and digitalization. DOP should be viewed as a starting point for designing BSO’s approach to support SMEs in standardization. Partners developed two-stage model supporting standardization of SMEs, consisting of self-audit tool and standardization mechanism based on drivers, barriers and incentives to standardization. Model is based on theory of organizational change as a dynamic process characterized by continuous interaction between external and internal environment of companies. Incentives are complementary to drivers and barriers, acting to increase impact of drivers while mitigating impact of barriers. Special attention was dedicated to implementation of regional pilot actions: development of self-audit tool; workshops tailored to needs of SMEs; knowledge exchange and transfer of best practices between regions. Impact of SUSTAIN project is evident in raising awareness and knowledge of SMEs on benefits of adoption and use of EU standards. Through peer learning activities, partners increased knowledge and capacities to efficiently support SMEs on their path to adoption and use of EU standards.
Training LIR2
Kick-Off meeting SUSTAIN
Training Romagna Tech
2nd Partnership meeting SUSTAIN
Training Weiz
Training LIR
Virtual Conference 1
Final meeting SUSTAIN
1st Partnership meeting SUSTAIN
Virtual Conference 2