In order to fulfill the SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE and RATIONALE of this Project, which will eventually increase the competitiveness of the region’s furniture sector for participation in the joint EU market - COOPERATION and TRUST need to be established among cluster members across borders: RESULT 1. Strengthened capacities of furniture producers in BG-SER region for participation in joint EU market.The idea behind RESULT 1. is to organize a B2B event, analyze its results, explore potentials for a joint business activities and provide business certifications where it is necessary for export (ACTIVITIES 2 and 3) B2B event will gather representatives of 33 furniture SMEs, 15 support organizations and cluster management representing and affecting at least 3500 employees. RESULT 2. Transfer of best practices from BG to SER furniture cluster. The idea of RESULT 2. is to provide a “learning and friendship-motivating environment” for cluster managements. The format of a study tour, training and Design workshop should allow for both sides to learn about each other and to plan next steps in their business cooperation. (ACTIVITIES 4 and 5) RESULT 3. Educational cooperation fostered among schools-faculties; Both Balkan furniture clusters are very determined to increase their competitiveness internationally, therefore they need to compete with innovation and quality, not only with price. ACTIVITY 6. Purchase of web conferencing equipment ACTIVITY 7. Exchange of curricula and joint training through web conferencing and webinar format ACTIVITY 11. Organizing a Design workshop master class RESULT 4. Joint marketing and PR initiatives ACTIVITY 8. Developing a research study "Competitiveness of BG-SER furniture cluster cooperation projects in EU-CEFTA- Russian Federation markets". ACTIVITY 9. Design, printing and dissemination of a joint, multilingual product catalogue. ACTIVITY 10. Organization of a final conference. ACTIVITY 12. Establishing a joint E-commerce website, as on-line furniture shop in SER, BUL, ENG and RUSS language
The project envisioned and achieved the following results:
The project has strong cross-border impact, especially in networking activities and developing a sound framework for cross-border business cooperation and support. More than 50 companies, educational, professional, public institutions and support organizations from both sides of the border had been involved in learning, networking and promotional activities. More than 730 people have been directly involved in project activities or were informed about project activities and results through a number of promotional events. Educational cooperation and transfer of best practices in education through video conferencing format involved more than 40 SR-BG professors and students and created linkages between 4 educational institutions. Over 50 MoUs that lay foundations for future cooperation between Bulgarian and Serbian companies and institutions, has been signed during the course of project and 12 joint furniture design projects was created as a result of Design workshop master class for 20 students from Nis and Sofia universities. Two joint initiatives created as direct result of project activities, involving mixed BG-SR teams/companies have been already brought to life. E-commerce web site, gathered 8 companies from Serbia and Bulgaria with number of their products (~100) presented in on-line furniture shop in SER, BUL, ENG and RUSS language to increase their visibility and presence in global e-commerce sales that grows more than 19% each year. 400 sets of promotional material and 1000 pieces of multilingual catalogues presenting Serbian and Bulgarian producers have been disseminated to the companies and project stakeholders on different networking, learning and promotional events.
The project was successfully completed in September 2014.