In the current European context SME from rural areas meet the challenge not only to grow, but also to survive. The improvement of their innovation capacity is essential to promote the regional economic development and to fight against a rural exodus.

The RATIO project aims (duration 04/2016 – 03/2020), firstly, to identify the innovative potential of these companies. Second objective of the project is to help SMEs to grow and to expand their activities: a learning process to implement and manage innovation. This must be done by creating an effective exchange of experiences in supporting cluster cooperation and international alliances, networks and clusters. This exchange of experiences among regional actors will be followed by the transfer of the lessons learnt to the regional programmes.

The project has been extended for three more semesters from 10/2021 – 03/2023. During this period, it will specifically address the challenge of rural, small and medium-sized enterprises in the Corona crisis, as their disadvantage in innovation capacity has been exacerbated by the impact of the crisis. In this context, effective measures that improve the innovative capacity of enterprises will be particularly scrutinised.

The project will contribute to the reinforcement of the innovation culture in the region, boosting innovative ecosystems where actors (regional and local authorities and innovation partners) and stakeholders (associations, academia, regional governments…) can work together in the action plan, in order to reach the needed policy change for the consolidation of innovative companies in non-metropolitan areas.

The partners come from eight different countries:

Aufbauwerk Region Leipzig GmbH (DE); Regional Development Agency of Usti Region, PLC (CZ); FAMCP Federation of Municipalities, Regions and Provincies of Aragón (ES); Foundation in Support of Local Democracy Malopolska Institute of Local Government
and Administration (PL); Regional Development Agency of Usti Region, PLC (CZ); Vidzeme Planning Region (LV); Municipality of Vila Pouca de Aguiar (PT); Regional Association of Lazio Municipalities-ANCI Lazio (IT)

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