Both the Netherlands and Germany are among the biggest exporters of agricultural products in the world. Simultaneously, the two neighbouring countries are the most important trade partners for each other in this sector. In this context, it comes as no surprise that there are numerous enterprises within the Dutch-German border region working in primary production, the processing industry, and trade and distribution.
Generally, the agricultural sector is very international: products from the region are not only exported to the neighbouring countries, but to the entire world. Especially within the last decades, the agricultural sector experienced substantial changes strongly influenced by technological developments and market trends. Additionally, agricultural entrepreneurs have to cope with a decreasing inflow of new, sufficiently trained employees; adequate training possibilities for staff in the agricultural sector are missing.
The INTERREG-project Regional Skills Lab, co-funded by the EU, is tackling these very problems. The project aims to bring entrepreneurs and employees from the agricultural sector together in test centres, so-called Regional Skills Labs. In these centres, Dutch and German employees get the opportunity to get to know new technologies, and to develop innovative business ideas and solutions responding to current market trends.
Each Regional Skills Lab focuses on a specific topic:
Moreover, another important feature of the project is that entrepreneurs and employees from both Germany and the Netherlands participate in the Regional Skills Labs jointly. Thus, the participants can establish first cross-border contacts with relevant actors and get to know the characteristics of their (future) export market in the neighbouring country.
The project budget amounts to around 2.2 Mio. Euro. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the EU, as well as by contributions of the project partners and the INTERREG-programme partners Province Gelderland, Province North Brabant, Province Limburg, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Throughout a period of almost 4 years from May 2017 – December 2020, 10 new product-market-combinations are envisaged to be developed involving more than 200 entrepreneurs and around 500 (future) employees in the agricultural sector.
The participating project partners are IMBSE GmbH, Huis van de Brabantse Kempen, CITAVERDE College Roermond, Stichting AOC-Oost Nederland, Agrobusiness Niederrhein e.V., HAS Den Bosch, as well as 40 SME. Additionally, other interested entrepreneurs and employees from the agricultural sector are very welcome to participate in the Regional Skills Labs. If you are interested in participating, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.