Two EU Projects help European SMEs to adapt to the Digital and Green Transition

Submitted by Imogen Allan on 09 December 2021

The Covid-19 crisis has strongly impacted the EU economy. 60% of SMEs reported a decrease in turnover in 2020. Businesses are now facing new consumer demands and must meet sustainability goals, while all industrial ecosystems have to adapt to the post-crisis economy.  

To help businesses through the pandemic, the Commission launched the 2020 recovery package. The package recognises that SMEs need further support to adapt and modernise, as they typically do not have the same resources as larger companies. 

Adaptation can be an opportunity for SMEs to reduce their environmental footprint and improve resilience. As many SMEs face similar challenges, alliances can facilitate the pooling of resources and improve support networks. 

In addition to this, tech-savvy SMEs who use innovative technologies can help traditional SMEs to adapt to the digital transition. As well as supporting each other, cluster organisations are key to bringing SMEs together. 

In May 2021, the Commission updated its industrial strategy to account for the changes brought about by the pandemic. The updated strategy confirms the priorities set out in March 2020 while responding to the new challenges of creating a sustainable, digital, resilient and global economy.   

SMEs are at the core of the updated strategy and 2 new EU strategic alliances - ReSTARTSMEs and STrategic Alliances boosting Railway SMEs (STARS) – were launched to help businesses adapt to the post-crisis economy. 

Details of the projects are as follows: 

  1. ReSTARTSMEs aims to help SMEs innovate their processes, products and business models through adopting new technologies. The assessment process will be launched soon and will be available on the ReStartSMEs’ website by mid-December. In 2022, the consortium partners will organise a series of local workshops, hackathons and trainings.  

  2. The 'STrategic Alliances boosting Railway SMEs' (STARS) project helps the uptake of Advanced Technologies of SMEs in the rail sector. The project also addresses over 2,000 European SMEs in the mobility-transport and construction sectors. It has already started and activities include the Pact for Skills charter, commitment to a stronger European resilience through new skills, a two-day working meeting in Turin, developing a STARS blockchain network and creating a web platform. 

Read more about SME support and the 2 projects here. 

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