COQUIN – strengthening innovation and fostering cooperation in Austria and Italy’s border regions

The COQUIN project, a cross-border initiative in South Tyrol and the Austrian Tyrol, developed management qualification programmes for young employees in a bid to encourage innovation and cooperation. Furthermore, the team focused on internationalising their programmes and discussing future cooperations on a broader level. Visiting organisations in Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg enabled them to implement new ideas to their funding and qualification programmes.

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© A map showing the countries and actors involved in the COQUIN project © A map showing the countries and actors involved in the COQUIN project

" We managed to establish the programmes ‘innovation assistant’ and ‘people responsible for innovation’ on a broader level, involving cross-border cooperation and raising awareness on the fact that innovation matters, even – or especially – in smaller companies. "

Johannes Rohm, Project manager of COQUIN

COQUIN was inspired by the funding programme ‘innovation assistant’, which was created by the ‘Tiroler Zukunftsstiftung’ in the Austrian Tyrol to provide funding to young employees for coaching or specific qualifications in innovation management. The idea was to create a similar system in south Tyrol, while building a network between companies employing innovation assistants in both regions.

Through ‘innovation assistant’, young graduates are employed by enterprises to support them in their innovation projects. This benefits the companies and the graduates, who enter working life and receive technical coaching and expertise, as they are directly involved in the projects.

Creating a network for cooperation

The cooperation goes far beyond a simple exchange between one company and one graduate. COQUIN managed to set up a network of innovation assistants and “people responsible for innovation” in South Tyrol by providing different platforms, such as events, workshops, or meetings at companies.

It also sets up pilot projects to encourage innovation and cooperation. By exchanging experience and knowledge on innovation management, the initial ‘innovation assistant’ project gradually expanded to a cross-border, i.e. European level. It also enabled the development of methodological qualification models in the fields of cooperation and innovation management.

Driving innovation projects forward while creating jobs

The creation of the network improves cooperation between companies and universities, introducing innovative, technical, organisational and social competences into SMEs and driving innovation projects forward.  The regional cooperation ultimately reinforces the competitiveness of the SMEs. In North Tyrol, 60 new assistants were employed after the programme had been promoted by the Interreg-project COQUIN.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Cooperation for qualification and dissemination of innovation assistant networks” is EUR 550 965, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 340 098 through the “Infrastructure and Environment” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Economic Relations, competitiveness and diversification”.

Draft date

30/03/2017