European Regions for innovative productivity

End of May 2008 the INTERREG IVB Northsea Project "ERIP" was approved. Leadpartner is OneNorthEast from UK. Role of the Hanseatic Parliament in this project is to ensure a transfer between the Baltic and the North Sea Regions.


As manufacturers in low cost economies (LCEs) extend their capacity & those in high cost economies become more innovative & their supply-chains more sophisticated (e.g. Japan),EU manufacturers are under increasing pressure to be leaner,more innovative & flexible.
In the NSR the application of innovative manufacturing,production techniques & practices (particularly 'lean' & 'ag-ile' methods) is limited to a few large market leading companies. However, 99% of Europe's manufacturers are SMEs (accounting for 58% of employment in the sector & significant levels of national/regional GDP).
The application of lean/agile techniques by SMEs remains largely constrained by their lack of resources & knowl-edge and is a significant economic failing undermining the competitiveness of supply-chains across the NSR. This issue has not been adequately solved by any one Member State & thus requires a transnational approach to enable & deliver a transferable solution.
Through a strategic multi-dimension partnership vehicle, ERIP will establish a network of Innovative Productivity Centres (IPCs) to develop & test lean/agile SME production techniques & devise a new SME focused lean change methodology which will be transferable across NSR.
An initial partner conference determined widespread application of lean/agile techniques & practices as a driver of innovative productivity is a barrier across the NSR:
-Knowledge & application of innovation,lean/agile techniques & practices is not widespread
-Regional government are unaware of the true potential of lean/agile
-Innovative productivity,lean/agile techniques & practices generally originate in LCEs. This tacit knowledge & know-how is generally held within LCEs with perhaps only limited cascade to other businesses (within their sec-tor) in the supply chain
-Lack of resources to transfer knowledge into SMEs
-Current training is largely academic, formal 'text book-based' & lacks an industrial dynamic
-Limited understanding of (& failure to embed) lean/agile across organisations

ERIP will address these issues & raise the innovative skills & capacity of SMEs. Partners have significant experi-ence in supporting manufacturing change. ERIP will transfer the mature base methodology used in the North East Productivity Alliance (NEPA-a 4 year ESF funded public/private initiative to improve manufacturing efficiency) across the NSR as the initial core of the ERIP model. NEPA success rates of 60% in implementing lean/agile changes compares with standard success rates of 10% (Bhasin & Burcher, 2006) & to-date interventions have been made in 150 companies increasing average productivity by 20%. Best practice knowledge used within the methodology will be enhanced transnationally by exemplar companies & jointly implemented across partner re-gions.

The Lisbon Agenda aims to increase knowledge & innovation for growth. ERIP supports Priority 1.1 to 'build the innovative capacity of businesses & services' & competitiveness of the NSR economy by supporting manufactur-ing SMEs to adopt new lean/agile production techniques via a transnational network of IPCs specifically tasked to improve penetration of lean/agile processes. The methodology is determined (& will be influenced) by industrial participation. Only joint transnational cooperation & implementation can deliver more innovative SME working practices to ensure more future employment in high-value manufacturing by increasing workforce skills & reduc-ing transfer of jobs to LCEs.
More information on the project website: