Kick off meeting of Finestra Project
(Leece, Italy)
April 2th, 2000

FINESTRA PROJECT (RECITE II PROGRAM)

Basic Data

Epirus' Work Plan

Management

Epirus' Financial Data

Themes

Instruments of Innovation Finance

Transport and Mobility

Alternative Tourism (eco-tourism)


BASIC DATA:
"Finestra" is an EU co-financed inter-regional project, funded under Article 10 of the European Regional development Fund. The Region of Epirus, as the contractor regional partner, and the BIC of Epirus (Business Innovation Center of Epirus), The University of Ioannina, and the Epirus S.A. aa the local partners are representing the Epirus, one of the seven 'partner regions' in the project. The European Commission (DG Regional Policy) has approved the project (official starting date, April 27th). The project will last until the end of 2001, and aims at increasing the entrepreneurial development of each region by the transfer of know how among the partners, and by the set up of interregional collaboration among the participating regions. Emphasis is given on the study of public and private partnership, in order to optimize the use of the Structural Funds for regional development. The official "kick off" took place on April 27th, in Lecce Italy, during the partners' two day official meeting. The subject of the meeting and the details of the work program were finalized and agreed during the Lecce meeting.

The 5 themes, which have chosen for collaborative actions among the partners, are:

1. RENOVATION URBANE
2. SERVICES TO SMEs
3. TRANSPORT & MOBILITY
4. TOURISM
5. INSTRUMENTS OF FINANCE

 

 


The partners of the project will work in separate groups on each of the above subjects. In each group the partners will transfer the know how to each other, and will implement pilot regional projects on the subject of choice. The outcome of each working-group will be disseminating to the rest of the partners, via meetings, conferences etc.

The total approved budget by the E.C. of the project is 3.38 million Euro, (ERDF contribution: 2.27 million euro)

The FINESTRA project is one of the 55 projects which were selected through the launch of RECITE II program (see RECITE magazine, June 1999).

PARTNERS:
There are seven "partner regions" in the FINESTRA project

1. Bastia (Corsica),
2. Vale do Ave (Portugal),
3. Santiago (Spain)
4. Epirus (Greece),
5. Southeast Ireland (Ireland)
6. Umbria (Italy)
7. Lecce (Italy)

The project is co-ordinated by an Italian consultancy firm, which specializes in EU projects "Europrogetti & Finanza". The coordinator of the project is Mr. Paolo Motta, assisted by Mrs Colette Renier, Barbara Lomonaco, and Monica Minso: e-mails: recite@epf.it / finestra@epf.it / p.motta@epf.it


EPIRUS' WORK PLAN

A) MANAGEMENT:

The legal responsible of the project is Mr. I. Liakopoulos, Secretary General, Region of Epirus.
The management unit at the local level has the following members:
1. Mrs E. Papanikolaou: ggphp@otenet.gr
(member of the comite de pilotage of the program)
Representative of the Region of Epirus
2. Dr. D. Skalkos: bicepirus@ioa.forthnet.gr
(local responsible of the program)
Representaive of the BIC of Epirus
3. Dr. D. Fotiadis: akolovou@noc.uoi.gr
Representative of the University of Ioannina
4. Mr N. Mantis: ioap@epirussa.gr
Representative of Epirus S.A..

As it has already been mentioned, the associate partners are (the responsibility of each partner is shown below):
a. BIC of Epirus
b. The University of Ioannina
c. Epirus S.A. (representing the prefectures of Ioannina and Thesprotia)
The BIC of Epirus is expected to use its network of members in the region to advance the project and to engage the local and regional authorities and relevant agencies

B) EPIRUS' FINANCIAL DATA:

The Region of Epirus, as the main partner, participates in the above program with:

TOTAL AMOUNT:
ERDF CONTRIBUTION:
PARTNER's CONTRIBUTION:

280.000 Euro
196.000 Euro (70.0 %)
84.000 Euro (30.0 %)

[INTERREGIONAL COORDINATION - for Europrogetti 25.200 Euro]

The BIC of Epirus has undertaken the financial management of the project (financial mamagement by Mrs K. Filippou)

C) THEMES:

The region of Epirus participates in the following three (3) themes of the project:

1. ECO - TOURISM: partner responsible - Epirus S.A.
2. TRANSPORT & MOBILITY: partner responsible - University of Ioannina
3. INSTRUMENTS OF FINANCE: partner responsible - BIC of Epirus

The working group of tourism includes the regions of Vale do Ave, and South Ireland as well (Vale Do Ave is the "leading partner"). The working group of transport and mobility includes the regions of Umbria, Vale do Ave, South Ireland as well (Umbria is the "leading partner").
The working group of instruments of finance includes all partners of the project, with Europrogetti & Finanza the leading partner.
The theme in which Epirus will give emphasis, is the tourism (ecotourism, agro tourism), since it is the most important sector of activity for the region's development and future.

D) INSTRUMENTS OF INNOVATION FINANCE:

a. BASIC DATA:
The backbone of the regional SMEs consists of small companies of less than 10 employees. These are family type companies, operating with the traditional way, and producing products sold mainly in the regional market. These companies experience tremendous difficulties in adjusting to the global market, and international economy. The major problems are the lack of specialized personnel, the lack of international experience and know how, and the lack of adequate funds. A business directory with data in Greek, and in English of the 180 biggest manufacturing SMEs of the region has been prepared by the BIC of Epius, and it is available in the web site at: www.bicepirus.gr/SMEs. The companies are categorized by sector of activity, and prefecture of operation.

The funding issue for actions, which will contribute to:
* The SMEs internationalization,
* The adaptation of modern technologies, of modern management, and of modern marketing as well as
* The production of new innovative products, remains a major objective in the 3rd structural fund program of the region. The SMEs funding programs of the 2nd structural fund included some disadvantages for the regional companies. As an example, the regulation, which prohibited grants and incentives to SMEs, which had gross sales or number of employees less than a certain threshold, was a drawback for the region's development. Through the Finestra project an effort should be made to investigate "alternative incentive programs" which will allow effective co funding of innovative actions for the regional SMEs. The experience and the know how of the other regions will be very helpful in this effort. The suggested measures and actions will be implemented through the 3rd structural fund, which will be in the implementation phase during the next 6 years.
The suggested work packages of this theme are also shown in the work program analyzed below (see work package 2, on Table 1).

b. PREPARATORY WORK:
In the feasibility phase of the project, during the last year, the management unit of the Finestra project, specifically the director of the BIC of Epirus, participated in the regional working group preparing the draft of the 3rd regional structural fund (3rd S.F.). His section of responsibility was the industry and services measures of the fund. The outcome of this task is a package of measures which gives the basic directions for the proposed funding actions aimed at the regional entrepreneurial upgrading and development. In this "basic outline" of the 3 S.F., the incentive funding actions for SMEs, which will be proposed by the finestra project, could be implemented in the coming years.

E) TRANSPORT AND MOBILITY:

a. BASIC DATA:
Due to its special geographical position, the region of Epirus is of critical importance for the unhindered transportation (of goods and passengers etc.) on the west-Eastern axis. Epirus is one of the junctions places for the whole Greece.
It is obvious that with this realization of large-scale projects of combined transportation, Epirus will play critical role in Greece. The actions of European Community for the modernization of transportation in the European, and especially in the wide Balkan region consists a nice coincidence, in this period of the finestra implementation.
The work in the finestra project will focus on the European Community transport policy, in connection with the inter-connected networks, and the development of inter-connecting transportation through the region. Also special attention will be given to the research and development in less environmental polluting and safer transportation means which could be used in the region (see work package 3 on Table 1).

b. PREPARATORY WORK:
In this field no specific preparatory work has been done in the finestra project. The main reason is the fact that big transport projects are already in the implementation phase, therefore there was no need for major task in the feasibility phase. The two main transportation projects in the area, funded by ERDF, are the new port in Igoumenitsa, and the Egnatia highway, connecting the northwest side of the country with the northeast side (from the Ioanian sea to the Turkish boarders)

F) ALTERNATIVE TOURISM (eco-tourism)

a. BASIC DATA:
Eco tourism is the sector of activity with the highest potentials for development and growth in the region of Epirus. In the 3rd regional structural fund (3rd S.F.), currently in the final stage of approval, alternative tourism is one of the primary objectives for development and growth.
The region combines unique landscape, traditional life, architect, as well as beautiful, and historical places to visit, and an unpolluted environment. Epirus, the land of bridges, offers great opportunities for all kinds of alternative tourism activities. The basic infrastructure, the telecommunication network, and the unexplored history and tradition are the existing conditions on which alternative tourism is currently in the first developing stages.

b. PREPARATORY WORK:
During the feasibility stage of the FINESTRA project, the 5 year business plan on "Epirus' ecotourism development" has been prepared. This plan was implemented through the efforts of the ecotourism-working group, with the assistance of the international expert professor John Swarbrooke. The plan has been transmitted to the experts of the Vale Do Ave region (the leader of the project). The ecotourism working group is composed by 10 members of the regional private and public sector, and has been in place organized by the Epirus' BIC, since March 1999. The task of the working group, in the finestra project, will be the implementation of the eco tourism work packages underlined below. This work will be supported by the project's management unit of the project, and the expertise of professor Swarbooke of The Sheffield Hallam university's tourism department. The working group, with the participation of the expert, is already meeting on constant intervals throughout the last 12 months, and is already implementing a number of pilot projects suggested by the business plan!!

The objectives of the business plan were the following:
(i) To investigate the potential of the region as a sustainable eco-tourism destination
(ii) To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the current product and infrastructure of the region.
(iii) To suggest an action program to help the region achieve its full potentials as an eco-tourism destination.
The aim of the business plan was not just to produce a strategy, but rather to propose practical action to help attract more good quality eco-tourists to the area!

The working group has already implemented the first two (2) actions, suggested by the business plan! These are:

1. A TRAVEL TRADE MANUAL: an eco tourism guide intended for national and international tour operators who would be interested to include the region in their tour packages. The manual is currently published in English, but it will be also published in Greek, and in Germans.

2. AN ECO TOURISM WEB SITE: a site, which currently includes the data of the above travel trade manual. The web site will be expanded, during the finestra project, in order to include information, pictures, separate sites etc. of all the sites, the events, the attractions offered in the region.

Part of the proposed practical actions of the business plan will be implemented through the work packages of the finestra project. These actions are described below in the work package of the local detailed workprogram. The action plan of the Vale do Ave region, on rural tourism development, has been taken into consideration, prior to the choice of the proposed action plan for Epirus' finestra. Thus special effort has been made in order to have actions parallel to the actions, which will be materialized by Vale Do Ave. The same approach was used for the South -east Ireland region.