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Friday Inspiration from Dundee

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Hello Jurij

What an exciting day at Inspire HQ in Perth on Tuesday 19th when Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Dave Doogan, SNP Candidate for Mid Scotland and Fife visited.

John and Dave in fact stayed for nearly 2 hours discussing a wide range of business topics and we were delighted to share how a small firm was able to reach international markets by the effective use of technology.

Mr Swinney was very interested in our business model where we use the best management tools available to manage an international workforce and still deliver a seamless and highly effective service for our rapidly growing number of clients.

But we didn’t forget the home market either and asked both Mr Swinney and Mr Doogan, if SNP are re-elected to government, would they look again at another rollout of the successful Digital Voucher scheme.  We banged the drum again about universal connectivity, digital access fast becoming a human right which Mr Swinney is sympathetic to.

In terms of where society is going our call was strengthened by citing the latest stats from South Korean Information Society for example where connectivity is the best in the World with average connection speed almost double that of the UK and USA in 2015. We also pointed out the stats that accessing the web via a tablet or mobile now surpasses the use of desktop PCs.

We also discussed at length about “localisation” which is about Scottish businesses utilising different language versions of their website to engage with the international community. As much as English is the language of international commerce we should take account of the SEO benefits a website in the native language of our customers would deliver.

Another inspiring morning at the office.

Kind Regards

David Dwyer

via Friday Inspiration – Swinney comes to Inspire.


“Innovate or die” has become almost a mantra for companies in this era of rapid technological change and globalization. When we consider such conditions as extreme air pollution in Beijing, factory collapses in Bangladesh, drought in California, and deadly heat waves in India, the darker side of this foundational belief stands out in high relief. Yet we continue to settle for and cling to consumption-based business models that add to these global threats. Many large companies have survived and thrived for decades by selling high-calorie, sugary drinks or distributing apparel made by people working in extreme poverty for unfair wages in unsafe conditions.

Overcoming these challenges and enabling societies to thrive on a planet with increasingly finite resources will take significant innovation. We call this sustainability-oriented innovation (SOI).

SOI is about dispelling the notion of tradeoffs between what seem to be competing goals — performance versus impact, profit versus purpose, human wellbeing versus environmental protection. Our research suggests that when we no longer see these goals as competing, we create products, services, and business models that are holistic rather than fragmented. The potential for SOI exists within all firms. We just need to understand the barriers to unleashing it. Our research suggests that one critical barrier to achieving SOI is the “sustainability tradeoff” view of the world, a mental model that says having a positive social and environmental impact must exist as a tradeoff with more traditional business drivers.

via Sustainability-Oriented Innovation: A Bridge to Breakthroughs.


S3 Platform

On April 27, 2015, in Regional growth, Smart news from others, by Oikos

Smart specialisation is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support to Research and Innovation (R&I). It will be the basis for European Structural and Investment Fund interventions in R&I as part of the current Regional and Cohesion Policy’s contribution to the Europe 2020 jobs and growth agenda.

More generally, smart specialisation involves a process of developing a vision, identifying competitive advantage, setting strategic priorities and making use of smart policies to maximise the knowledge-based development potential of any region, strong or weak, high-tech or low-tech.

This site offers a unique resource and platform for regional development policy-makers and professionals developing such strategies as well as their partners from business, academia and the civil society.

via S3 Platform – Home.


Regional Development – OECD

On April 25, 2015, in Smart news from others, by Oikos

Regional development is a broad term but can be seen as a general effort to reduce regional disparities by supporting (employment and wealth-generating) economic activities in regions. In the past, regional development policy tended to try to achieve these objectives by means of large-scale infrastructure development and by attracting inward investment. Awareness of the need for a new approach is driven by observation that past policies have failed to reduce regional disparities significantly and have not been able to help individual lagging regions to catch up, despite the allocation of significant public funding. The result is under-used economic potential and weakened social cohesion.

via Regional Development – OECD.


The objective of the project is to create institutional capacity and to raise awareness necessary for the implementation of By-law on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for all sectors. Related to this, the project team will provide intense training programmes, seminars, study tours and workshops for different target groups (Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation – MoEU, component authorities, NGOs, universities, chambers and general public) and will also implement four pilot SEA projects on different sectors. More on the project at link.

The main results to be achieved include:

  • MoEU and other component authorities have necessary capacity and expertise in order to implement By-law on SEA;
  • Active participation of local and national stakeholders (universities, NGOs, chambers and public) on SEA process;
  • Effective implementation of By-law on SEA in Turkey.

Types of services include:

  • Training programmes including study tours for competent authorities on the implementation of SEA;
  • Awareness-raising workshops and seminars on SEA;
  • Preparation of booklets, brochures and training materials;
  • Implementation of four pilot SEA projects;
  • Revision of the draft By-law on SEA;
  • Proposal for amendment of administrative structure of the MoEU.

Project is implemented with EPTISA.


One of the key aims of forthcoming projects – under different forms of German bilateral assistance – will be to support the strengthening of capacities for planning and using IPA and other available donor funds – in a strategic, timely, effective and efficient manner.

The analysis developed for the GIZ ORF was concentrated on the identification of needs for further assistance in order to ensure an effective use of IPA for EU accession, as well as balanced socio-economic development. The study covered Montenegro and was later integrated to regional study to cover Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia.



National agency for regional development wants to actively participate in EU accession processes in order to do so the program for the capacity building of this institution was done based on needs assessment and objectives setting for the future. To do so NARD prepared a large capacity building programme for its employees and its partners.

The project covers three major parts of the capacity building process within the NARD:

  • Preparation and implementation of training programme,
  • Preparation and implementation of full set evaluation system of the NARD,
  • Preparation of 6 major projects.

As a result of the project six new projects to be financed from public funds in amount from 2 to 8 M € will be prepared by the end of June 2015. These will cover at least 70% of the regional agencies from the territory of Serbia and will be deigned to cover at least 5 national sectorial policies.

Some interesting links:




Karstic fields are very dynamic ecosystems which need special attention in terms of environmental management, especially in cases when they are shared between several countries. The CBC project »Sustainable use of water and water resources for Imotsko – Bekijsko field« (IM-BE Field) funded by the EU under the IPA Cross-border Programme is dealing with such a case, the aim being to prepare an integral water management plan for the entire Imotsko – Bekijsko field watershed area. Imotsko-Bekijsko field is a vast inland karstic plain roughly between Split and Mostar that is partially flooded in winter and quite dry in the summer. It is on a large water resource and has a huge potential for agriculture due to its mild climate and vicinity of the coastal tourist centres and major transport routes; however, it is also very vulnerable to pollution.

The project is estimated to cost roughly € 690,000 and involves several partners on both sides of the border, namely the Split-Dalmatia County, Canton of Western Herzegovina, Regional Development Agencies RERA from Split and HERAG from Posušje as well as Municipality  of Grude and several others. The project is based on the requirements of EU Water Framework Directive and the development tendencies in the area of Imotsko-Bekijsko field. Agro-economic study will be prepared, followed by a conceptual design of irrigation & drainage system and an Environmental Impact Assessment and Cost – benefit Analysis for the planned investment. The principles of integrated water management, sustainable agriculture and risk management is being promoted among the local population through workshops and seminars.

One of the planned dissemination activities, a 2-day seminar was implemented by Oikos. The participants were representatives of all the municipalities in the Imotsko-Bekijsko field watershed area, the Split-Dalmatia County, Canton of Western Herzegovina, Agricultural Advisory Service, Croatian Waters and several NGOs. Environmental concepts and legislation was presented and discussed in the transboundary context, followed by the presentation of environmental impacts of agriculture in karstic fields and waste management requirements. Best practices of watershed management were presented from other similar karstic fields, as well as potential funding sources. On the basis of the discussion and current situation in the Imotsko-Bekijsko field, a list of potential projects for future environmental management and development of sustainable agriculture was defined and options for their implementation discussed with the participants. The list of projects will serve for development of further activities when the agro-economic study and irrigation & drainage conceptual design will be finished.



Town and Spatial Planning Association of Slovenia, The Maks Fabiani institution and the Municipality of Komen awarded the prize for Special achievements in the field of urban planning in Komen in September 2013.

This year, the award for special achievements in the field of spatial planning was awarded to developers of the Spatial Plan of the Municipality of Ljubljana. The price was awarded to the Municipality of Ljubljana for the management, financing and coordinating of the preparation of Urban Development Plan, as well as developers of the plan the Ljubljana Urban Institute, Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia and Oikos d.o.o. for the strategic environmental assessment.

Projects awarded with a prize or with recognition of Maks Fabiani are also nominated as the Slovenian national selection for the European Planning Award.

Article from national newspaper here.

Photo used in this blog is from T. Jeseničnik.


In last few months we were very active in Macedonia and Albania developing Evaluation of the IPA Cross Border Cooperation Republic of Macedonia – Republic of Albania. The evaluation report was prepared in the framework of the bilateral GIZ German development cooperation with Macedonia and in particular Programme for Regional Economic Development in Macedonia. The evaluation was launched for the needs of the Sector for European Union at the Ministry of Local Self-government of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia.

The purpose of the assignment was to present findings based on OECD DAC evaluation criteria on relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability. The concussions and recommendations of the project were later used for the improvements in the current implementing phase and to better prepare for the new programing period.

The Macedonia – Albania CBC programme helps to improve depth and intensity of cooperation in the area, which is weak due to topographic and geographic nature of the common border (diverse and large area with nature sites and common nature resources), political and administrative nature of the common border, economic disparities and existence of weak historic ties and converging cultural and linguistic circumstances.

The key factors fostering the integration and means to promote positive factors or to overcome persisting obstacles can be seen in language possibilities mostly at the Macedonian side of the border where a significant part of the Albanian speaking population is living. This may help in communications and in integration of people in operations to be later supported by the CBC and other programmes. Similar territorial, natural, rural situation in both countries in the CBC area may give potential for joint approaches and joint approach to opening opportunities and problems solving. Above all common natural resources (Ohrid and Prespa lakes, several protected areas, several rivers and river springs, forest and other reserves) are the key for integrations to protect the living space for inhabitant so the area and for the wider society. Lower cooperation to date offers additional motivation for future exploring of the possibilities and building integration and allowing people to learn and know their neighbouring area and culture.

This is the first process of joint planning and implementation of the cross border cooperation programme and key factors that hindered effective territorial co-operation are similar to several other CBC areas:

  • Weak knowledge of possibilities (opportunities and problems) and possible partners on both sides of the border, which minimises the opportunities for the drafting of joint projects,
  • Low knowledge of the programme and possible actions under the newly established initiatives and lack of understanding of the required procedures under the financial programme,
  • Lack of experience for operation and support to potential project applicants and for project implementing partners and lack of motivation,
  • Language barriers mostly linked to abilities to operate in English language (application, reporting).

Operations financed under the programme were focused to 4 major focuses:

  • Social cohesion through: empowerment of women, social inclusion of persons who served prison sentence, disability and prevention, social integration of the vulnerable groups, women crossing borders for change, civil society forum, children with speech and language difficulties,
  • Business development through: strengthening the SME sector, branding, business without borders, working in the rural, building employment opportunities, integrated alternative tourism, promoting business women, actions on entrepreneurship business support
  • Environmental management through: water resource management, promotion and awareness on environment protection, enable new forms of services, capacity building for environment governance, integrated sustainable management, biodiversity conservation
  • Education through: strengthening education and training capacity, improvement of VET, establishment of a cross border institutionalized partnership.

The cooperation in the area is not stable yet both in financial and in strategic terms. Partners need support in financial support and in management especially in developing projects. Approved projects are not robust actions, which would have time and knowledge to be able to focus on results and on cross border issues. Projects are still capacity building actions of organizations from the CBC area.

The key Community added value of the programme to the CBC area is that it has built foundations for the future cooperation. In political terms the Community added value can be seen in better knowledge of each other in partnerships built and in increased cooperation. While institutional Community added value can be seen in knowledge about neighbors and in ability for joint drafting, implementation and financing of cross-border programmes and projects.