EVITA NEWSLETTER, Issue No3
This is the 3rd Issue of the EVITA Newsletter, a Newsletter that will be edited approximately every 6 months, in order to promote the results and outputs of the EVITA project. The EVITA INTERREG IVC project is a project that builds upon various good practices developed under different regional or interregional development programs, in order to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies in the area of the access of SMEs, to knowledge, information, e-business practices and the globalized digital economy in regions with low IT penetration. Led by the Greek Research and Technology Network GRNET, the project consortium brings together partners from Greece, Spain, Sweden, France, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Latvia and Malta. Apart from ‘donor’ partners who have successfully adopted ICT and e-business initiatives, and ‘beneficiary’ partners from regions which lag behind in their e-business penetration strategies, the consortium includes a third set of players. These consist of organizations with expertise in both the provision of e-learning and ICT training, as well as the drawing up of plans to enhance SME competitiveness and regional development, acting as catalysts in the transfer of the good practices.
This newsletter concerns the first semester of 2010. During these 6 months, and after the successful implementation of the Study Visits and the development of the EVITA training content, the focus was given on the development of the EVITA e-learning platform, the creation of the taskforce of the e-tutors with the Malta e-tutor seminar, the localization and translation of the training content, the 1st EVITA dissemination event in Riga and the first 2 SME practical seminars, one in Riga and one in La Coruna. More details about the implementation of the project van be found at the project’s website www.evita-interreg.net
Release of the EVITA e-learning platform
During this 4th semester of the project, the main issue was the release of the EVITA e-learning platform. Since the initial design of the project, it has been a strategic choice to focus on technology enhanced professional learning, having in mind that in the very close future, the technological possibilities, especially mobile and broadband solutions, will change today's learning scenarios and that the provision of e-learning services will grow substantially, to satisfy the growing demand of professionals in SMEs. Consequently, one of the more substantial deliverables of the EVITA multilingual, interactive and user-friendly e-learning platform, enriched with the training content that was released on December 2009 by the EVITA partner ACC1O Catalunya.
Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit (FTZ Malta) was the responsible partner for the creation of the platform and actually delivered the platform on January 2010, uploading in parallel the EVITA training content, combined with relevant multimedia content.
The platform is freely accessible at the URL http://vle.ftz.org.mt/course/view.php?id=30
and is (and will) be used by trainers, tutors, Policy Makers and local SMEs.
The training content includes courses (in forms of video, ppt, text) on:
- The business models the company must know.
- The digital marketing plan
- Techniques for attracting visitors into a website
- Visit to contact conversion
- Basic skills to get customer royalty
- Social Marketing Strategies: Web 2.0
- Social marketing strategy/ Tools and solutions for the SMEs
- SEO Strategies using web 2.0
- Online reputation management
The Malta e-Tutor Seminar
After the development of the platform, everything was ready for the actual implementation of the relative seminar. Indeed, between the 15th and the 17th March, the Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit (FTZ) hosted an “e-Tutor Seminar” at the University of Malta, with the purpose of training a taskforce of e-tutors who can then be able to deliver via e-learning, the EVITA training courses to their countries.
The seminar provided face-to-face and ICT-assisted training to staff teams from the eight European countries taking part in the project. Rev. Prof. Peter Serracino Inglott, President of the Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit (FTZ) and Chairman of the Mediterranean Institute of the University of Malta, and Mr Ilias Hatzakis, coordinator of the project, welcomed the twenty-five participants from across Europe who attended the course in order to be certified as EVITA tutors.
Opening the seminar, Rev. Prof. Peter Serracino Inglott explained why it was important for universities to support businesses and contribute to projects like EVITA. In this digital age, information and communications were crucial for development. Malta had in the past proposed the idea of the sea-bed as the common heritage of mankind. Today, there should be a drive to make knowledge more accessible to all. The spirit of this project, where regional policy-makers learn to be more effective in their support of SMEs by sharing experiences, and where small entrepreneurs improve their competitiveness by following the courses produced and made available freely through an open-source e-learning platform, was in line with this concept.
Mr Ilias Hatzakis, the coordinator of the project, then gave an overview of EVITA and its activities. Since the Lisbon Strategy was adopted almost a decade ago, there has been a strong effort across all of Europe to boost the competitiveness of SMEs through the use of ICT and e-business tools. Some regions have implemented regional policies which have significantly contributed to the SMEs’ access to the Information Society, enabling them to face the challenges of the digital economy. Reinforcing social, economic and territorial cohesion by making ICT products and services more accessible within
less-developed regions became a political and economic imperative. It is therefore crucial that successful policy practices, recognized as “best practices”, are transferred from the regions that have already successfully implemented them to regions that are just now designing policy measures for improvement of SME competitiveness through better access to the knowledge economy.
The 3-day seminar focused on the use of the EVITA e-learning platform and on the techniques and practices of e-business, digital marketing and Search Engine Optimisation, web 2.0 tools, web analytics and related topics. Mr James Cilia, an e-learning expert from the University of Malta, discussed the tools available through the e-learning platform, while Dr Montserrat Pennaroya, CEO of GEA Internet Project Consulting, described ways of attracting visitors to a website and how one could convert those visitors into customers.
After the end of the seminar, the 24 tutors received their certificates from Prof. Peter Serracino Inglott. Following their participation in this course, the certified tutors will in turn be offering localized training to SMEs in their respective regions, including Malta, effectively acting as catalysts and multipliers of the good practices identified.
The Riga 1st EVITA dissemination event:
“E-commerce –policy and development trends in Latvia”
On April 29, 2010 the Latvian Technological Center organized an informative seminar on "E-commerce - policy and developments trends in Latvia" for entrepreneurs and e-government institutions. The informative seminar was organized within the framework of the INTERREG IVC Programme’s project "EVITA" and achieved high responsiveness among entrepreneurs and the state institutions responsible for e-commerce policy. Overall, the dissemination event was attended by more than 65 participants, most of which were companies and individual businessman.
The dissemination event started with the project "EVITA" presentation by LTC Project Manager Diana Krievina, who introduced audience with “EVITA” e-learning platform on the e-business. She informed that the training content on the digital marketing plan was developed by the Catalonian project partner COPCA in English and translated into Latvian and localized. The training content consists of 11 modules - starting with an overview of digital marketing plan, techniques, how to attract visitors to the company's website, the conversion of them to the clients and further to loyal customers, eventually to inclusion of online social media into the company's digital marketing plan, SEO strategies using Web 2.00 and online company's reputation management.
Diana Krievina emphasized on the importance of the SME seminar about web marketing, on May 27 and 28, during which, 30 Latvian companies will be trained by 3 Latvian e-tutors on the following topics: Google AdWords, SEO, e-mail marketing and online social media marketing.
Mr. Intars Eglitis from the Ministry of Economics took the floor with particularly useful presentation, by considering the e-commerce development trends in Latvia and the state e-commerce policy: the proportion of internet users, the Web use for the information searches on a product or service in order to purchase, etc., the state policy on the e-commerce, SWOT analysis of the e-commerce.
The Vice-president Mrs. Mara Jakobsone from the Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association spoke about e-commerce development opportunities and barriers from the point of entrepreneurs. In 2008 only 5.2% of all enterprises in Latvia (with the number of employees over 10) sold the goods or services online, which means that the companies do not use the World Web opportunities to make the profit.
Mr. Gatis Ozols from the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Government, E-government Services Planning Department, introduced the audience with the e-government services: e-documents, e-services’ portal www.latvija.lv, company registration procedure online, public e-procurement.
The Head of Business Development & Sales – Mr. Janis Lievītis from Latvia State Radio And Television Centre spoke about e-signature and options to use it. The e-signature can be used both for document keeping with state institutions and municipalities, and signing with banking-related and unrelated documents.
Translation and localization of the EVITA training content
After the finalization and delivery of the EVITA training content, partners started the procedure of translation and localization to their own language and digital reality. The task includes:
a. Translation (Greek, Catalan, Gallego, Swedish, Maltese, Bulgarian, Latvian, Slovenian, French)
b. Identification and reporting of all the regional e-government services for SMEs
c. Identification and reporting of local e-business “best practices” and
d. Addition of other relevant information
Until now, the Latvian, Galician, French and Slovenian sets are ready and uploaded at the EVITA e-learning platform.
The 1st SME s EVITA’s practical training seminar for SMEs (“Uzņēmuma Web mārketings”) in May 27 and 28, 2010, in Riga
The Latvian Technological center (LTC) organized the practical training seminars for SMEs “Uzņēmuma Web mārketings” in May 27 and 28, 2010 in Riga, Latvia. During two days 30 micro, small companies and individual businessmen (even at the establishment process) from different economic industries without an knowledge and experience in web marketing were practically trained on web marketing issues needed for successful daily company’s operation.
Dr. Janis Stabulnieks – the Managing Director of LTC opened the practical training seminars by introducing participants with LTC main activities and the mission. Afterwards, Agnese Janova – the e-tutor of LTC presented the practical use of EVITA’s e-learning platform – the Latvian version of the training content “E-commerce strategy in SMEs”, which is composed of 11 modules starting with an overview of the digital marketing plan, techniques how to attract visitors to the company's website, the conversion of them to the clients and further to loyal customers, eventually to inclusion of online social media into the company's digital marketing plan, SEO strategies using Web 2.0 and online company's reputation management. She emphasized, that the e-training material is available free of charge at EVITA’s web page: htpp://www.evita-interreg4c.eu to everybody, who is interested on self study on the web marketing questions, but before the registrations is required.
Blog’s http://www.webmarketing.lv author and the expert of SEO - Mr. Aigars Armanovs gave the presentation "SEO – web page optimization" by introducing the audience with both theoretical facts and values of SEO and considering the practical use of SEO – with information what every entrepreneur must know in order to be founded at Global web sites by internet users. By contrast, Mr. Egils Boitmanis – the board member of the EB Marketing Ltd. and Google AdWords expert in Latvia, shared his knowledge about development of Google AdWords campaigns and the creation of Google AdWords account. Each participant had to perform the exercise – creation of own Google AdWords’s advertising campaign.
Mr. Ints Vīksna – the e-tutor of LTC spoke on the topic "Online social media marketing" by presenting unused opportunities of various social networks, such as YouTube, Draugiem, Twitter, etc. in the company's reputation building at the Internet. Wide audience praise gained Ints’s attractive analyse and demonstration of one YouTube’s video file - How to plant grapevines – the marketing tool of the winegrowing company.
The last speaker at the practical training seminars was another e-tutor of LTC – Mr. Juris Balodis, who delivered presentation about potentialities of the e-mail marketing, the advantages and disadvantages, best and poor examples. The conclusion part of the practical training seminars for SMEs was dedicated to the questions and discussions with the lectors and experts in e-commerce field.
LTC received very positive feedback and “thank you” e-mails from majority of companies and individual businessmen participated at the seminar “Uzņēmuma Web mārketings” in May 27 and 28, in Riga. Also the press release about EVITAs practical seminars for SMEs was published in June 8, 2010 at one of the most important newspapers in Latvia – “Rīta avīze Latvijai– NEATKARĪGĀ”.
The 2nd SME seminar in La Coruna
On Thursday, 17th of June was held in A Coruña the “SMEs advising workshop”, counting as the 2nd EVITA SME seminar, organized by CESGA. More than 30 SMEs attended the free-admission workshop, focused on topics like SEO strategies, entrepreneurial and online SME support tools, e-Learning, and Digital marketing techniques for SMEs the 2nd EVITA SME seminar, organized by P6 CESGA under the umbrella of the European Interreg IV-C project EVITA. 44 trainees from 41 companies from 10 Galician cities attended the free-admission workshop, that focused on topics like SEO strategies, entrepreneurial and online SME support tools, e-Learning, and Digital marketing techniques for SMEs.
Using EVITA contents and training tools and under the title “the 22 basic techniques of Digital Marketing for entrepreneurs and SMEs”, Mrs Montserrat Peñarroya, leaded the workshop. Montserrat Peñarroya is the CEO of GEA Internet Project Consulting and Solostocks.com portal founder (the biggest online B2B marketplace of Spain). In the seminar were also presented the European Interreg IV-C projects EVITA and ICHNOS Plus, along with EVITA on-line training tool and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies, digital marketing and e-Learning tools for e-Business, e-Commerce and web 2.0 for SMEs
The workshop mainly focused on Digital Marketing techniques for entrepreneurs and SMEs, explaining more in-depth in techniques like improving the on-line communications, web sales, visit attraction, converting visits into contacts and contacts into customers. The speaker also talked about how to attract and keep clients on the internet, Web 2.0 and SEO strategies.
Also an early access to a e-Learning platform focused on the seminar topics was provided, with a value-added service like on-line support. The seminar aroused many questions from the attendants, who showed a great interest in EVITA training contents.
The Study on the impact of e-learning on SME competitiveness
On April 2010, partner 4 CCIMP (Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Marseille Provence) delivered the study “e-learning and SME competitiveness”. The study addressed the need to transform lifelong learning by leveraging ICT and highlight how e-learning can positively affect the adoption rate, especially by SMEs, where indeed can lead to cost savings through better utilization of users' time, efficiencies in personnel resources as well as reductions in physical requirements. The study was delivered to beneficiary partners in order to be used with local Policy Makers. The Study included the following chapters:
1. The pathway of the SME manager (choosinf amongst the right solutions & understanding the uses of reference models
2. Public policies (learning from good practices, Positioning oneself amongst the public policies available)
3. Recommendations (Choosing a model of learning region, Fostering innovation)
Appendix 1 : e-learning & VSE/SME (Theoretical benefits, implementation obstacles)
Appendix 2 : Good practices (companies, local communities, professional sectors)
The Corpus on IT Training Strategy Reports
On June 2010, partner 4 CCIMP (Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Marseille Provence) delivered the “Corpus on the IT training regional reports”. The purpose of this Corpus, is to be the basis for the beneficiary partners to create the “regional IT training Strategy Reports for SMEs” with policy recommendations and proposed action plans for the 5 targeted regions. These strategies will take into consideration the local needs and the local Operational Programs concerning SME competitiveness funded by Structural Funds. The Corpus was based on the i2010 annual reports, the OECD and the eBSN policy guidelines reports for e-business.
The Corpus Report was presented during the Steering Committee meeting on June 7th, to the beneficiary partners who made comments in the direction of better adoption to their needs.
The Final Report includes 3 phases:
- Benchmark and Study of SME Support Policy Initiatives on IT training
- Analysis of the initiatives of the Phase 1
- Recommendations to the partners for an IT training Strategy
Release of the communication material
Partner 5 FTZ, after a long scheduling process with all partners, created and produced 9.500 leaflets in order to disseminate the project ideas, main activities and expected results to an extended public in all the concerned regions. The leaflets were created in 9 languages. In parallel, 100 posters with the main EVITA messages were also produced, for the needs of the upcoming dissemination events, SME seminars and Policy Maker Workshops in all beneficiary countries.
The rest of the EVITA priorities are scheduled and have started to be implemented without concrete outputs so far: The e-business practices guide, the regional IT training strategies and the scheduling of the important numbers of events to come are all under preparation.
Website visitability: (400 visits during June 2010)
A long series of events is scheduled for the next semester:
4 SME seminars in Toplice, Santiago de Compostela, Ermoupolis and Kaunas.
8 dissemination events in Toplice, Litija, Liepaja, Santiago de Compostela, Ermoupolis, Rodos, Santorini and Kaunas.
Presentation of EVITA in other events
Creation of the best policy practices guide
The EVITA project falls under the INTERREG IVC program and is co-financed by 81,5% by the European Regional Development Funds and by 18,5% by National Funds.