© atene KOM/Tommi Vollmann – COM³ project partners during the kick-off in Kortrijk, Belgium

How can local and regional authorities support the digital transformation of SMEs and thereby make rural areas more attractive places to live, work and invest in? This question guides the work of the Interreg North Sea Region project COM³. Its 20 partners now came together for a kick-off in Kortrijk, Belgium. In close cooperation with the Lead Beneficiary, atene KOM coordinates the project, communication and financial management of COM³.

Local and regional public authorities, business and innovation support organisations, higher education and research institutions and private companies from seven North Sea Region countries join forces in COM³. Over the next three years, they will jointly develop and test a set of support, training and guiding measures for local and regional innovation intermediaries.

„We believe that strengthening these important local and regional actors in their role as facilitators and enablers is the best way to create a dynamic environment for rural enterprises”, says Peyman Khodabakhsh, COM³ project developer and project manager at atene KOM. “If those intermediaries have the tools and competences they need, this will also help SMEs in their region to fully benefit from the advantages of digital technologies.”

The starting point of the work in COM³ is the situation in nine pilot regions around the North Sea. In these regions, project partners will analyse the specific digital challenges that SMEs are facing. Depending on the region, the focus is on companies in traditional sectors such as agriculture or retail, the tourism sector or the data-based economy.

First results of a survey on these digital challenges are expected in spring 2020. The 20 project partners will then meet again for their second partner meeting in Lincoln, United Kingdom.

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