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Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness

Danube Alliance sprang to life to strengthen the competitiveness of SMEs in the Danube region by increasing the resilience of the supply chains. The new flagship project of the European Danube Region strategy’s (EUSDR) Priority Area 8 will built on the intelligent services and sustainable supply chains based on the experience and knowledge from other Danube projects, namely GoDanuBio and DanuBioValNet.

The Alliance was formed as a response to the still-going Covid pandemic situation, which revealed the economy’s weak points. Global value chains showed to be vulnerable in extreme situations, not being able to function effectively when the suppliers were compromised due to the pandemic lockdowns, geopolitical conflicts, extreme weather, and other events.

The project was presented on the 3rd EU Macro-regional Strategies (MRS) Week, the biggest Brussels-based event dedicated to connect key stakeholders from the Ministries of four MRS (EUSBSR, EUSDR, EUSAIR, EUSALP), representatives of EU institutions, research and academia, various sectors, civil society organisation and citizens. The project is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of State and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour, and Tourism.

Multi-Method Approach

To support SMEs’ inclusion into more sustainable and resilient value chains, Danube Alliance focuses on understanding, analysing and resilience promotion of selected (bioeconomic) value chains. These goals will be achieved using a multi-method approach. First, value chains’ use cases will be identified by the expert team to understand the main features and consider social and ecological benefits.

Miscanthus grass is a highly productive crop which can grow on the marginal land and in a relatively cold weather conditions.

For example, in the case of Miscanthus grass, several valorisation options can be applied in addition to its general use. It can be utilised as a raw material for biofuels (ethanol, briquettes, pellets), carbon sequestration, or even as a building or isolation material. Numerous valorisation options can also be applied for the agricultural waste from its cultivation, increasing value chain circularity, economics, and ecological benefits.

In the second step, project will identify the key actors and simulate the data-based scenarios for the resilient value chains by analysing and modelling the selected value chains in more detail. Building on the results of analysis, value chains will be adapted to the regional needs with the support of regional stakeholders. The Alliance will further provide the implementation strategies and adopt digital solutions to improve the resilient value chains’ development.

Collaborative Platform and Project Incubator

To support SMEs, the Alliance will act as an open collaborative platform. The established partner network will include regional developers, clusters, business associations and more. The platform will incorporate needs of the Danube region and incubate the value-chain project ideas to accelerate cohesion within the partner network. Capacity building will be enabled by coaching and skill development to build and simulate the resilient value chains. Digital business modelling will enable building the tailor-made partnerships and identifying funding options. The platform will offer visibility to the collaborating companies and other stakeholders by communication and dissemination activities of the project’s findings.

Value Chain Generator

Establishing of the resilient value chains can be supported with tools like Value Chain Generator (VCG), a software for establishing the most suitable trade connections in the value chains, including waste and energy recycling streams. VCG uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to connect actors from different sectors and countries into novel bio-based value chains, helping them with transition to the green and circular economy. The system identifies possible linkages between the buyers and suppliers of multiple products and by-products (nationally and internationally). By identifying such business and market opportunities, the system can help suppliers reduce the waste and energy losses to maximise their profits, making value chains more sustainable, resilient, and lucrative.

Call to action

To support SMEs transition to the resilient value chains, policy makers could create incentives to include key actors, as well as establish funding programmes such as vouchers for transformation of the value chains.

If you are interested to participate, you are welcome to contact Benedikt Sedlmayr in the Danube Alliance office: benedikt.sedlmayr@vdivde-it.de

This blog was prepared in cooperation with Hannah Herzig and Benedikt Sedlmayr (VDI/VDE-IT), and Martina Vilhar (Anteja ECG).

Sources:

AlpLinkBioEco — Linking bio-based industry value chains across the Alpine region: Value Chain Generator. Interreg Alpine Space 2018–2021.

BioPro: Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness: Strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs in the Danube region.

Danube Region Strategy Alliance: Danube Alliance for SME Competitiveness- a new flagship project is in sight!

DanuBioValNet — Cross-clustering partnership for boosting eco-innovation by developing a joint bio-based value-added network for the Danube Region. Interreg — Danube Transnational Programme 2017–2019.

GoDanuBio — Participative Ecosystems for fostering the revitalization of rural-urban cooperation through governing Danube Circular Bioeconomy. Interreg — Danube Transnational Programme 2020–2022.

The AlpLinkBioEco Value Chain Generator (VCG) — live version.

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Blog posts about the world of value chain transparency

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Maja Berden Zrimec

PhD in biology, content writer, senior researcher and project manager, algae expert