Facilitating the access to digitalisation for SMEs active in bioeconomic value chains


A lot of knowledge on digitalisation and its potentials for SMEs is available in private service providers, research institutes and at the level of universities. Small enterprises which are often managed by a single person who is already overwhelmed with a lot of other tasks may have great difficulties in recognising and using the potentials, that digitalisation is offering. The economy in peripheral and rural areas is often dominated by such very small enterprises. They lack an exchange of experiences in their geographical area. And furthermore, research institutes and universities are normally not located in such areas. The question is: how can we transfer the knowledge on the potential of digitalisation to SMEs, with a particular focus on small ones in peripheral and rural areas. The project therefore will map the available knowledge, collect good practises, develop new approaches and link relevant initiatives and actors in the alpine area. The project will put a thematic focus on natural fiber based materials value chains and will demonstrate precise measures for the sustainable transformation and the role of digital remedies (technical and non-technical) as enabler to overcome existing barriers. Pilot cases will be developed for the application in specific value chains. Attention will also be given how awareness raising and education can support this approach accordingly.


The project aims at increasing the economic capacity of very small SMEs in the alpine area. These very small SMEs form the major part of all enterprises in the alpine area. They need therefore special attention. The project is addressed to all small SMEs, but will pay special attention to natural fiber based value chains. This thematic focus will help to identify potentials of digitalisation and the transfer of this knowledge to very small SMEs in a systemic way. It is therefore transferable to most of the very small SMEs in the alpine area.

What has been achieved?

The project had its kick off on July 24th 2019. The responsible for WP “Mapping of actual state of play and needs” provided the partnership with a methodology to a) Understand the actual level of digitalisation and its potential for a value chain with special focus on the use of natural fibers, namely to which extent representatives of the value chain (SMEs) apply digitalisation tools and b) to reveal key factors and bottlenecks enabling the capacity of digital adoption along the value chains. The national partner reports on the “actual state of play and needs” shall be finalised until November 2019.

Coherence with EUSALP Action Plan

The EUSALP-Action plan describes under Action 2 very well the difficulties of the many very small enterprises in the Alpine area. The access to skilled labour and training opportunities as foreseen in Action 3 offer a reply to these challenges. Digitalisation (Action 5) offers a huge potential to overcome the gaps and handicaps of SMEs in mountainous areas. But these potentials need to be identified, known and applied. It is in this cross-cutting respect that "Smart SMEs" strive to provide solutions. The project will look at the potentials of transformation of knowledge on digitalisation in general and thematically focus on the value chain of natural fibers. The thematic focus will help to formulate general recommendations.


  • Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für die Berggebiete (SAB), Switzerland (Lead Partner) (AG5 Coleader)
  • Ecoplus. The Business Agency of Lower Austria Ltd. / Clusters, Austria (AG2 member)
  • BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH, Germany
  • Poly4EmI  hosts by Anteja ECG d.o.o., Slovenia (AG2 member)
  • University of Maribor, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Slovenia (AG5 member)
  • Hub Innovazione Trentino – Fondazione, Italy (AG2 member)
  • Provincia Autonoma di Trento – Dipartimento Sviluppo Economico, Ricerca e Lavoro, Italy (AG3 Leader)

Further Information:






Cover image Source: Dji-agras, pixabay