The needs and challenges of the c/b area in the field of sustainable economic development are basically related to the low productivity and low competitiveness. The level of patenting is very low in the c/b area and this goes also for the results of the scientific and technological findings, whose connection with entrepreneurship is rather limited. In addition, most of the operating businesses are not linked to international value chains, raising also the issue of exports. The situation is worsened by the serious “brain drain” faced not only in national level in the participating countries but also – and more significantly – in local level, towards bigger urban centers that offer more opportunities, especially to the young people.
One of the most important tools towards sustainable economic development in the c/b area is the RIS3 pack of strategies that concern the Greek side, but their suggestions will also benefit the Albanian side of the borders. According to the priorities set in RIS 3 for Epirus and Western Macedonia, the focus should be on the development of Human Resources and ICT, on the enhancement of the “young” entrepreneurship and the boosting of competitiveness of SMEs.
The common target markets for the 2 regions participating in the project are the agro-food sector, tourism and creative industry. The c/b area is in need of structures and facilities that will enhance the entrepreneurship and competitiveness in the area, especially towards those vulnerable to the risk of unemployment; women, young people, people with disabilities, etc.
Business Clubs aim to provide a respond to this challenge. The “Business Clubs” project aims to establish business support facilities in 5 cities of the c/b area. The innovation and novelty of the Business Clubs lies in the location. Business Clubs will be set up in the center of knowledge and learning; the libraries. Each library will organize a specific space where the working positions will be set up. In addition, the beneficiaries will develop web tools that will allow the potential start-uppers to have access to particular resources according to the field of expertise, office facilities for a creative business environment, IT tools that can guide them through an effective management and the opportunity to interact with people in the same field, join groups and achieve contracts outside their local environment.
The cross-border cooperation in this project will allow for the c/b area to commonly develop in the enhancement of entrepreneurship. The interaction of the start-uppers will allow the exchange of experiences and at the same time it will promote the actual cooperation in business level. Similar facilities may more or less exist at least in the Greek side of the borders. In the same time none of this is so easily accessed and approached as a library and certainly not so close to the participating border cities.