The WE-EEN project is an initiative forming part of the Enterprise Europe Network. Its aim is to increase environmental awareness among SMEs in the waste management sector through consulting, training and international events.
Around 2.6 billion tons of waste was produced in Europe in 2008, over 90 percent of which constituted industrial waste (source: Eurostat, latest data). In Germany, environmental awareness is high and industrial production is subject to strict national regulations governing environmental protection. Nonetheless, many companies do not know what directives need to be observed and how to implement them correctly.
This is where WE-EEN comes in. This project is composed of eleven partner institutions in the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and funded by the European Commission. On the one hand, the project partners aim to raise awareness of the issues among those responsible in all participating countries and promote the implementation of the European directives for environmental protection in industry. On the other hand, WE-EEN is to pave the way for an independent environmental services sector in south-eastern Europe.
Furthermore, the strengthening of the SME sector in all participating regions is a major concern for the EU. The WE-EEN project benefits Bavarian experts in a number of ways, by providing entry to the hitherto largely untapped south-eastern European market, enabling them to establish contacts with local SMEs, and at the same time expanding their European network. Technology transfer also allows them to lay the foundations for an independent environment sector in this region and thus promote the local economy and small businesses in particular. The local industry, for its part, benefits from expert advice and makes contacts with suitable service providers both at home and abroad.
Project goals and fields of work
With the help of knowledge transfer initiatives, WE-EEN is planning to train first the EEN employees, then companies, and to lead them through the maze of regional, national and EU regulations.
1st Phase (2012)
- Evaluation: determining the status quo in the countries/regions participating in the project, analysis of the general conditions, needs assessment in small and medium-sized enterprises
- Identification of experts (authorities and private entrepreneurs) who are prepared to share their know-how in knowledge transfer initiatives
- Training of EEN employees so that they can advise SMEs even more effectively
2nd Phase (2013)
- Publicising the initiative among SMEs in the participating countries/regions
- Concrete advice for companies
WE-EEN is firstly aimed at EEN employees, then primarily at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and environmental service providers in the participating countries.
In the first instance, WE-EEN plans to pass on to its own employees, with the help of experts, basic knowledge on the subject of environmental protection in industry, to enable them to adequately advise SMEs seeking help.
SMEs in the waste management industry are to be brought up to speed on issues concerning environmental protection in the industry. Many companies are still very uncertain about how they can implement effective environmental protection within their own organisation. More environmentally friendly processes secure a long-term competitive advantage above all and are not just, as is often assumed, a financial burden. For example, production costs can be considerably reduced through more efficient use of resources. WE-EEN aims to correct this misapprehension among small and medium-sized enterprises. In particular, the WE-EEN partners are planning specific workshops for SMEs that are tailored to their individual, local situation, problems and needs. The project thus also acts as an intermediary for putting companies in touch with experts at home and abroad.
Environmental service providers, in their turn, gain access to the hitherto largely untapped south-east European market and are able to make contacts with local industry, while the training gives them a means to prove themselves as competent service providers.
BayFOR as a partner
BayFOR is the only German partner in the WE-EEN consortium. It is responsible for identifying Bavarian experts in the waste management industry who are willing to support and establish knowledge transfer through training and consulting services in the participating countries.
Like the other participants, BayFOR starts by analysing the local situation, then searches for partners who are prepared to share their know-how. The aim is to activate and intensify existing local contacts and to find experts for knowledge transfer. In the next phase, the WE-EEN partners, including BayFOR, organise regional training that addresses the local situation and current problems and provides information on EU directives.
BayFOR is also planning an international event for the end of 2012. Furthermore, it is responsible for disseminating the results in Germany. From 2013 onwards, BayFOR will also offer free environmental consulting for SMEs as part of phase 2.
Funding: CIP (Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme) – EU Comission
Project duration: 01.01.2012-31.12.2013
Project budget: the level of funding is around Euro 870,000.
The WE-EEN consortium is composed of eleven institutions which are partners in the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). The main participants in the consortium are chambers of commerce and industry that not only have precise knowledge of the local economic situation, but also have the necessary contacts with industry and the local authorities.
The participating partner institutions are:
Coordinator of this project:
Unioncamere del Veneto (Italy)
Arad Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (Romania)
Technical Institute of Heraklion Chamber (Greece)
Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Bulgaria)
Chamber of commerce and Industry of Slovenia (Slovenia)
Plovdiv Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Bulgaria)
Chamber of Economy of Montenegro (Montenegro)
TERA Tehnopolis Ltd. (Croatia)
Foundation for Management and Industrial Research (Macedonia)
Institute Mihajlo Pupin (Serbia)
Bavarian Research Alliance (Germany)