COM³ beyond COM³

12 July 2023 - Published by P. Khodabakhsh
After four years of collaboration (2019-2023), the 19 partner institutions from the seven countries of the North Region brought the COM³ project to an end. Being municipalities, regions, business support organisations, universities, or private companies, all COM³ partners contributed to changing the life of entrepreneurs and workers in rural areas. The great resources, training solutions and policy recommendations will keep inspiring other to tech-enable companies, whatever their size or sector.

Back in 2019, COM³ partners, supported by the Interreg North Sea Region programme 2014-2020, started working together with the ambition to tech-enable and digitally transform Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural areas. In nine pilot regions, COM³ partners designed and tested innovative use cases. Businesses engaged in COM³ in a variety of ways, including networking, digital skills workshops, support for online sales, peer learning, student-based projects, and discussions about open data.

Among many brilliant ideas, the Municipality of Vejle in Danemark acquired a live-streaming studio, to help small companies and restaurant to create promotional videos and host online events.

The University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom developed an original pilot named UoL 4.0 Challenge, in which teams of students are paired with businesses to explore how digital technology could lead to new commercial ideas and new ways of interacting with customers and suppliers.

Changing the life of companies and entrepreneurs in rural areas

Supported by a team of academic partners, the COM³ project was able to measure the positive outcomes of these digital support initiatives for small companies in rural areas. The findings shed light on the remarkable impact of the project. 84% of businesses that engaged with the project reported that their participation in COM³ significantly improved their understanding of digital technology, while 74% experienced a tangible difference in their use of digital tools. Twenty-five percent reported a growth in sales.

This success story sets the stage for inspiring similar initiatives not only in the North Sea Region but also beyond.

Find the full COM³ results here.


The COM³ model

To help other municipalities, regions, and business support organisations to tech-enable small businesses in their area, the COM³ partners created various resources, including e-learning courses, quick-win strategies, inspiring stories, and policy briefs. All these great resources are freely available on the COM³ support model on the learning platform

The model is specifically designed to help staff and developers in municipalities, regions or business support organisations, empower small companies on their journey towards digital transformation.

From assessing the unique needs of companies to providing tailored business support initiatives, COM³ encompasses a comprehensive framework built upon the best practices and invaluable lessons learned from pilot regions involved in the project. It covers key areas such as Networking and Connections, Utilisation of Data, Skill Development, and Customized Business Support Initiatives.

COM³ support model


The COM³ Book

To inspire staff in municipalities, regions, and business support organisations who are eager to embrace technology and empower local companies, the COM³ partners also developed the COM³ book. It serves as a comprehensive guide to those seeking to make rural areas attractive places to live, work, and invest in.


Beyond COM³

While the COM³ project officially ended on 30 June 2023, COM³ partners will keep supporting small companies in their regions and help them embark on their digital transformation. With the support of the North Sea Programme, some partners continue their digital journey, and engage to design data solutions for citizens and businesses. They also strive to promote an understanding of how data can be used for the greater good of society. Visit the project website