Four regions gain leading-edge technological experience

Fostering competitiveness through technological innovation and the information society is what ESTIIC is seeking to achieve by pooling the specific expertise of four regions - Asturias and Cantabria from Spain, North Rhine-Westphalia from Germany and the Southern and Eastern region of Ireland.

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Cheese quality benefits from modern technology Cheese quality benefits from modern technology

“The idea emerged thanks to the joint efforts of the Government of the Principality of Asturias, IDEPA, the laboratory and the appellation of origin Cabrales cheese, and recognition of the need to support those small producers who work to produce high quality cheese, ensuring that this quality is approved on the market through the introduction of new technologies such as radiofrequency.”
Alberto Meana, Interprofessional dairy laboratory of Asturias

ESTIIC brought together local and regional government, development agencies, business organisations, third level education establishments and research and technology centres from all 4 regions for projects reflecting the regions’ development priorities. Ultimately, ESTIIC aims to improve the effectiveness of related policies and instruments and their responsiveness to the needs of small and medium businesses.

Making it happen

The main element of ESTIIC was a mini-funding programme for projects furthering technological innovation and the information society. Contracts were negotiated and drawn up and then launched in the spring of 2006. The outcome was the approval for funding of eight sub-projects involving interregional cooperation.

The eight approved subprojects covered Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), nanotechnology, individualised publishing strategies, adapting academic research to the needs of small businesses, broadband and regional development, the business potential of eHealth, and the use of spatial information in business processes.

As an example, RFID technology was used to develop a prototype to track and trace foods like Cabrales cheese using special tags. Dissemination activities such as seminars and exhibitions, helped to promote RFID technologies in the small businesses of the four regions.

A show of potential

The subprojects yielded very positive results, the value of which could be seen beyond the four regions involved.

The RFID subproject was of great interest to SMEs in the agri-food sector. Cabrales cheese is only made by family-owned businesses in relatively small quantities yet farmers must comply with EU laws requiring the tracking and tracing of the product throughout the production process. The developments showed that it is possible to tag individual cheese with RFID and to record and maintain specific data to track and trace each cheese.

During the final phase of ESTIIC the regional partners discussed and approved the development of additional activities linked to the topics tackled by subprojects, such as five regional studies, two workshops for SMEs, five international conferences and two study visits, thus ensuring the achievement of the initial objectives in each region. Additionally, these activities helped with the drafting of the European ICT Manifesto for the Regions to support regional policy makers in their attempts to develop successful strategies for delivering the Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas. The activities helped to identify ICT trends and showed how to incorporate these into proactive regional policies.

Draft date

23/12/2009