Framework conditions for innovation
Shared challenges Following a worldwide economic recession European countries are looking for ways to stimulate the economy and move towards a sustainable future. European priorities include delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. To do this the EU is consulting on its Europe 2020 growth strategy and each member state is adopting its own national targets. In the Channel area and Southern North Sea there is a great deal of talk about the potential of blue growth and the importance of the maritime economy. Many coastal towns and rural areas are in need of new opportunities to help deliver sustainable community development that encourages economic growth while also caring for the environment. In the 2 seas programme area many small scale coastal fisheries are struggling financially, or are disappearing altogether, being overruled by large fishing companies with more financial resources to buy quota, or struggling under administrative burdens and inadequate policy frameworks. The European Union recognises the valuable role that small scale fishing can play in coastal communities. Historically, small scale fisheries are important for local communities. However, the economic situation and outlook for small-scale fisheries in the 2 seas area is not positive. Their contribution to regional income and employment is low and declining. Nevertheless, history has proven that fishing communities along the coast posses highly adaptive potential to change their way of life and business. Fishermen (and in the cultural mind set of fishing community members) contain a resourcefulness that could be better used to tackle the actual challenges. Increased efforts are necessary to better position and profile the fishing communities and their harbours. Business innovation and quadruple helix approach The project partners will develop new business opportunities, based on authenticity (story telling), attractive products (looks, craftsmanship) and unique selling points (attractive setting and personal touch). Joint ventures between fishing communities will be stimulated to generate solid sales for the SMEs involved. Contacts between fishermen and fishing communities in the 2 seas area will be recreated /tightened for exchange and trade. The project will seek to (re)discover the full innovative potential of fishing communities. Local capacity and valuable assets will be input for the development of new products or marketing channels (new and mixed media, e-marketing). At the same time partners may use region marketing and place branding to stimulate new cross overs and innovative processes. To boost innovation, knowledge flows between research and business in this field must be improved and extended. Due to a relative self-sufficient way of living of fishermen and fishing communities, knowledge exchange with other organisations will/has not developed spontaneous. The project will bring entrepreneurs, interest groups, public authorities, organisations representing end users and knowledge institutes together. This so called quadruple helix approach will act at different levels and scale with different points of view, representing fishery, tourism, marketing, education, food or even fashion. Different expertise, experience and information will interfere and can improve innovation processes. Project partners will develop and test new business innovations and ensure the widest possible take up of effective marketing methods. The partners explore ways to reduce geographical barriers to new knowledge and support the (new) joint ventures in response to market changes and to access (international) markets.