CASTLE was born to answer regional needs to improve SMEs logistics policies. It relies on a solid past cooperation among ten partners in Italy, Poland, Greece, Slovenia, Spain, Germany, Hungary & Austria, especially developed in Interreg initiatives.
The CASTLE objectives and rationale are rooted in past research & study activities on the regional logistics EU status and perspectives, which elected SMEs logistics networking as a priority intervention area for public policies. In fact, EU regions strongly base their future economic competitiveness on SMEs and on their ability to face new globalised production and market imperatives, which impose to manage scattered supply flows, to face the requirements of flexibility and capillarity, to integrate the value chain. Logistics is the oil and a strategic tool in SMEs' economic machine and in regions' sustainable development, as its efficiency impacts on SMEs market presence and on the environment. Nevertheless SMEs systems lack logistics innovation & training and rely on SMEs individual logistics organisational models, mainly based on all-road transport solutions.
CASTLE creates an operational matrix of best practices & experiences exchange for the development of SMEs logistics public policies which can shorten the divide between transport & logistics effectiveness vs environmental protection & energy saving (win-win policy making in a regional merging of the Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas).
CASTLE improves policy making through the surveying, analysis, exchange & transfer of best practices, the creation of a new regional policy tool usable by policy makers and joint partners policy making exercises (EU CASTLE Forum). These activities are also triggered on a bottom-up approach in terms of logistics governance consolidation, thanks to the set up of Regional Forums on Logistics which bring SMEs logistics needs to policy makers on the base of the triple-helix principle.
CASTLE's "policy-learning" matches more & less experienced regions and improves policy makers skills on 4 fundamental innovation topics:
- Strengthening the logistics supply & the logistics industry.
- Improving the logistics demand in the production systems (industrial areas & clusters).
- Strengthening logistics training for SMEs systems.
- Institutional & governance consolidation in logistics, public-private cooperation in policies set up.
An ongoing best practices capitalisation, dialogue and transfer among the partners and with other EU regions is established also thanks to a specific enlarged transfer programme which targets 40 EU regions. CASTLE mixes training, ICT, industrial & economic, transport public actions to create a new SMEs logistics policy cross-sectorial approach to set up and improve SMEs logistics clustering and networking and increase regional competitiveness and sustainable development.
The thematic pillars of project were investigated by selecting and capitalising 20 BPs in the CASTLE Regions (Emlia-Romagna, Valencia, Stuttgart, Wielkopolska, Crete, West Transdanubia and Maribor/Slovenia).
Other 30 BPs were deeply investigated outside the Partners' Regions by means of a EU survey & site visits, based on a commong methodology, in order to enrich the database (#50 in total) of CASTLE BPs in the project's fields:
- strengthening the logistics supply;
- improving the logistics demand in production systems;
- strengthening logistics training;
- the institutional & governance consolidation in logistics as transversal theme.
For each BP, the following features have been highlighted: Implementation steps, Critical success factors, Concrete results, Lessons learnt, Public’s role, with the final aim of helping regional policy makers to improve their capacity of building logistics policies to support regional economic competitiveness & logistics environmental sustainability. Further to the collections, the partnership organised an award to prize one BPs collected abroad.
The award Committee (members from the partners) assessed the quality of best practices according the following criteria:
- Technical and analytical background in preparation of logistics public actions / measures / policies, including the economic sustainability of the actions;
- Help to policy makers to improve their capacity of understanding regional needs and building logistics policies;
- Support to the regional economic competitiveness and logistics environmental sustainability (win-win policies);
- Capacity of developing a public-private cooperation in logistics solutions implementation.
The winner, Logistics in Wallonia (www.logisticsinwallonia.be), was prized in a ceremony in Bologna (Italy) during the project final conference, recognised as example of excellence inspiring other local & regional contexts and stimulating further development of logistics policy initiatives for SMEs. The 50 BPs were jointly analysed by partners during 3 sessions of transfer forums to grasp any possible and useful inputs to the improvement of policy making of the partners and of other EU regions. In these transfer forum meetings, the partners were at same time both trainers and trainees: they were trainers when the BPs were found out in their own local territory and explained to the other forum participants; they were trainees for the BPs found out in the others’ territorial contexts for which they received adequate instruction on the ways to replicate and transfer them. From these forums, trainees took home enough material to work on, locally, in the sessions of the Regional Forums on logistics. Partners in fact identified interesting people to assist in the regional forums and estimated the impact that these events could have on political levels. A top-down approach has been used: through the trainers of the partner, mainly internal staff, BPs were transferred to the local contexts.
Each partner defined the priority policy aims and tools (e.g., law, plans, financing, etc.) that CASTLE aimed to improve and also in some cases support in the development. Round tables for practice hunters stimulated the public-private dialogue with the aim of working together for developing future public-private measures on logistics and create new-stable mechanisms and structures which can be maintained also after the project end.
The nature of the improved policies have varied significantly from region to region. In EmiliaRomagna CASTLE impacted on Modena Energetic plan and on Regional Plan on Transport & Logistics 2020; in Wielkopolska on the Regional Innovation Strategy and on the Regional Programme; In Stuttgart on the new nationwide logistic network LogBW; In Slovenia on the National Plan on Logistics; in Valencia on the Transport and Logistics Strategic MasterPlan; in Western Transdanubia on the National development plan; in Carinthia on the foundation of ALPLOCC.