Project Details

Title: Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility through Public Policy
Priority: 1: Innovation and the knowledge economy
Theme: Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Jan 2012 - 31st Dec 2014


Total budget: €2,547,790.71
ERDF contribution: €1,973,144.09

Lead partner

CISE - Centre for Innovation and Economic Development – Agency of Forlì-Cesena Chamber of Commerce
Corso della Repubblica, 5
47121, Forlì

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Giulia Bubbolini
      Phone: +39 054338224
      Fax: ‘+39 054338219

Project summary

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is defined as "a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis."

In recent years, public entities have recognised CSR’s potential as organisational innovation to improve social conditions and promote regional development and competitiveness. However, positive socio-economic impacts are limited by lack of coordination. While CSR should incorporate both social and environmental elements, public policy is often divided into disconnected segments.

COGITA groups 13 partners (PP) to improve public policy promoting CSR solutions, which combine social and environmental responsibility. Within this integrated concept, COGITA considers 5 sub-themes: raising CSR awareness and capacity; CSR in public procurement; CSR criteria in public funding; inter-firm collaboration / local supply chains; communication / branding.

All PP have CSR

experience, though activities and levels of intensity vary. COGITA provides an opportunity to share these experiences, to identify and implement tools that public authorities, intermediaries and other public stakeholders can adapt and adopt in order to promote an integrated CSR approach in their territory.

Within the context of promoting competitiveness through responsible behaviour, COGITA’s overall objective is to improve public policy to support uptake of an integrated concept of CSR in SMEs, with a view to promoting responsible and sustainable regional development and growth.

The specific sub-objectives are to:

• facilitate exchange among EU regions on good practices related to public policy for integrated CSR approaches in SMEs;

• promote an integrated concept of CSR among public authorities and regional stakeholders, with a view to improving related policies and tools;

• foster participative policy design and pave the way for effective policy implementation;

• design and test the

implementation of an integrated CSR concept into public policy and instruments;

• foster EU networking of public and private entities committed to promoting CSR.

Project activities are divided into 4 components, each with an allocated leader. Management and Coordination (PP1) and Communication (PP8) support implementation of technical activities divided into exchange of experience (PP2) and feasibility checks on implementation of integrated CSR initiatives (PP3).

COGITA improves 13 public policies and increases capacity of 39 partner staff members and 52 stakeholders, in addition to defining a model for integrated CSR policy. In the long term, COGITA increases effectiveness of regional policies on responsible economic development and organisation innovation, thus sustaining regional competitiveness. A multiplier effect is ensured through intense, targeted communication activities to other entities interested in promoting this form of responsible, innovative development.

Project achievements

COGITA kicked-off in Krems (Mar.12). In three years of activity a further series of interregional meetings and events have been organised across the EU (Barcelona and Limassol in 2012; Brussels, Ghent; Birmingham and Kaunus in 2013; Athens, Kosice and Bologna in 2014). Events covered management (C1), communication (C2), exchange of experiences and reviews of technical activities (C3/C4) including some visits to responsible regional enterprises. Partners also participated in small group exchange events, focused on good practice exchange (C4).

5 sub-groups were created: CSR awareness raising / capacity building within SMEs; CSR incentives in public procurement; CSR criteria for public funding for regional SMEs; Inter-firm collaboration and regional supply chains; Communication and Branding. The COGITA concept paper was developed presenting the integrated approach to CSR and criteria for selecting good practices (GP) and was updated at project conclusion.

Partners undertook regional SWOT

analysis and prepared descriptions of their CSR GPs. These were shared with other partners, with a focus of providing advice, sharing experience and gaining in-depth knowledge on GPs. Participatory, small scale workshops were used to promote open debate. An overall GP Report was prepared.

Partners developed 20 Fact Sheets, divided by sub-group, describing challenges and matching them to GPs and other solutions. Partners then analysed which challenges and GPs apply to their local level, in order to prepare a first version of their Implementation Plan. Completed of the Implementation Plans (C3) was supported by a feasibility check (C4) of the measured proposed. 2 partners (PP3 and PP13) undertook pilot actions to test the measures, using regional resources. A number of partners are ready for implementation at the start of 2015.

Partners created Regional Steering Committees (RSC), which were involved project outset, including contribution to the SWOT, Implementation Plan development

and feasibility checks. Members include public authorities (national, regional, local), SMEs and SME representatives, associations and NGOs and others (e.g. large enterprises; banks). In some cases the RSCs will continue as long-term cooperation boards at local/regional level.

Communication activities (C2) included local and regional events and media, website, gadgets, press releases, the COGITA brochure and 2 newsletters. A on-line survey was launched to provide insight on companies’ perception on CSR and public policy. 230 companies from 12 countries participated and a report was prepared. Key public events include a conference in Cyprus, entitled CSR: Awareness and Transparency (October 2012), a Joint Event in Brussels with 4 other projects working on similar themes (March 2013), a Political Forum in Brussels (October 2013), the Final Event in Bologna (October 2013). Some partners also organised local final workshops. An analytical report on EU networking was prepared.


results of all project phases were grouped into the CSR manual, which is available on-line. It is structured into 10 easily understandable steps to improving CSR policy for SMEs and includes links to the COGITA templates and deliverables.

COGITA has successfully produced all its foreseen outputs, and has made them available to the public.

In terms of direct and immediate results foreseen in the application form COGITA has achieved the following: 64 staff members and 153 regional stakeholders with increased capacity; 13 partners gaining input for improved regional policy (from exchange and feasibility checks); 354 public/private entities with greater awareness of CSR potential (through participation in feasibility check); 6 inter-regional partnerships with long-term perspectives; 1 widely disseminated model for implementing the integrated CSR approach.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
CISE - Centre for Innovation and Economic Development – Agency of Forlì-Cesena Chamber of Commerce, Forlì ITALY Emilia-Romagna +39 054338224
Lower Austrian Government, Dept. Economic Affairs, Tourism, Technology, St. Pölten AUSTRIA Niederösterreich +43 2742 / 9005 16 764
Bretagne Development Innovation, Cesson-Sévigné FRANCE Bretagne +33 2 99 84 53 00
Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol CYPRUS Kypros / Kibris 35725002604
Entreprise Flanders, Brussels BELGIUM Région de Bruxelles-Capitale / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest +32 9 267 40 00
Birmingham City Council, Birmingham UNITED KINGDOM West Midlands +44 (0)121 303 3448
Athens University of Economics and Business –Research Centre, Athens GREECE Attiki +30 210-8203445
Green Network, Vejle DENMARK Syddanmark +45 61513338
Upper Silesian Agency for Entrepreneurship and Development Ltd. Gliwice, Gliwice POLAND Slaskie +48 32 33 93 110
Agency for the Support of Regional Development Košice, Košice SLOVAKIA Vychodne Slovensko +421 556822811
Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas LITHUANIA Lietuva +370 37 300589
Eindhoven City Council, Eindhoven NETHERLANDS Noord-Brabant +31 402 382 274
General Council of the Catalan Chambers of Commerce, BARCELONA SPAIN Cataluña +34 934169491


As of 31 December 2015, this website is no longer updated. Follow news on interregional cooperation at