On 29 and 30 March the Mini Europe mid-term conference was held in Baia Mare, capital of Maramures in North-West Romania. Mini Europe is an Interreg IVC project in which 8 regions work together in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship. The aim is to transfer successfully 16 good practices from one region to another. The participating regions are Maramures (RO), Észak-Alföld (HU), Mid Sweden, Valencia (ES), Veneto (IT), Western Greece, North West England and Flevoland (NL). The conference brought entrepreneurs, stakeholders and project partners together to evaluate the results until now and to plan the major themes and activities for the second half of the project.
During the conference, Andries Greiner, monitoring board chairman of Mini Europe, thanked the Romanian partners for their great hospitality. He also expressed his gratitude to the Swedish partners, for bringing Summer Entrepreneur to his region, Flevoland. Summer Entrepreneur is a programme in which young people are supported to start a mini business during the summer time, as an alternative for a summer job. The programme will also be imported by Veneto and Western Greece. Bert Gijsberts, as an entrepreneur and a member of Elca (the European Landscape Contractors Association), emphasized in his speech the importance of European cooperation for economic growth and innovation. This was highly supported by Mihai Patrascu, director of Baia Mare airport and advisor of Maramures’ president.
During the workshops, three themes were discussed; ‘Is cluster development an effective way to boost economic development?’ ‘Does the existing infrastructure reflect the needs of young and female entrepreneurs?’ and ‘What can regional governments do better from the perspective of entrepreneurs?’ Concerning cluster development, one of the conclusions was that they should develop around a real need. A cluster should ideally start with cooperating companies and not be a top down process. Clustering is not a short term project, but a process that takes time and patience. Good practice exchanges between the regions can help to get through the development process more quickly.
Concerning the workshop about young and female entrepreneurs, it was concluded that female business networks can be a powerful tool to stimulate female driven businesses. The women entrepreneurs from Maramures, who aren’t organised in a business network yet, will try to come to Hungary in June this year for a good practice exchange on female business associations. Concerning the last workshop, one of the conclusions was that entrepreneurs need to be involved in an early stage of policy development, which is not always the case now.
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