Joint initiative boosts innovation and cuts costs in Bulgarian-Greek border region
A European territorial cooperation project in the border region of Greece and Bulgaria has seen the development of an innovative toolbox for identifying and mitigating high production costs for firms in the region. A pilot application of the toolbox to 15 companies has resulted in significant productivity and efficiency gains.
" Regarding our benefits from participating in the CROSS.INNO.CUT project, we can report that the company reduced by 30 % the cost of marketing and also achieved a 10 % increase of sales, as a result of incorporating in its operations the suggested methodology and solutions. "
The motivation for this project arises from the need to enhance the competiveness of firms operating in the Greece-Bulgaria border region, while at the same time fostering a culture of innovation and cross-border linkages between firms in the area. Focus was placed on developing a dynamic toolbox and methodology that could be used to identify high costs in firms’ production processes and to formulate effective action plans that could be used to mitigate them.
Technological collaboration at its best
The project draws upon the notion of Innovation Management Techniques (IMTs), methodological approaches for improving the competitive position of firms through innovation.
Through a collaboration between Greece’s Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Bulgaria’s South West University “Neofit Rilski”, a technological platform was developed containing an auditing toolbox for firms’ production processes. At the same time, 100 companies in the border region were selected using the innovation toolbox developed by the universities. After a rigorous audit, cost-cutting action plans were developed for 33 companies, 14 of whom ultimately implemented them.
This project has resulted in the development of a tool that allows for the identification of excessive production costs on the basis of objective and quantitative data. Importantly, the toolbox may be adapted for companies of any size. Moreover, the project has fostered links between industry and academia in the region. The project has effectively realised the core aim of the European Territorial Co-operation objective, by creating the structures for and proving the benefits of cross-border cooperation.
The project was recognised as an example of best practice in the category of innovation and entrepreneurship at the first European Territorial Cooperation Conference in May 2014.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “CROSS.INNO.CUT – Cross Border Implementation of innovative cost cutting technologies” is EUR 1 334 373, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 134 217 from the Operational Programme “Greece-Bulgaria” for the 2007 to 2013 period.