Co-in-Co Project

The Icelandic meeting took place in Suðurnesbær in the middle of June. It was the first of two f2f meetings in this 2.5 years project.

The main goal of this meeting was to build up trust and working relationships among the partners. Then, to give a brief description of Cluster work and explain how the Book of Business is a helpful tool for micro-businesses, and lastly, build up a team of adult trainers that might use this knowledge and experience in their upcoming workshop in their homelands.

Hansína B. Einarsdóttir opened the meeting and welcomed the consortium on behalf of the Icelandic team; then, Diana Medrea-Mogensen, project manager, provided the group with a short overview of the project, structure, and primary goal. Hansína then assigned a group task to take a few minutes and write their expectations for the meeting on Post-Its.

These reflections would then be used as a bone structure to reflect on at the end of the meeting.

Many of the partners had never met in person, so getting to know each other was essential. We used “The Human Bingo”, prepared by Ruta Pels. It was a brilliant icebreaker to find out what we had in common based on interest and experience. It created a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere and helped set the stage for professional work.

After short administrative work, we dived into a central theme of the meeting; Cluster work and training the trainers. Lovisa Ulfarsdottir, took the stage and presented many diverse cluster types and structures, different sizes of clusters, finances, management, and other essential purposes. She finished her presentation with a few examples of their cluster work in Norway.

On the afternoon of our first day, we explored the South of Iceland and visited one of the newcomers in the south Iceland tourism, Gunnhildur Helga Gunnarsdottir, Managing  Director at Skálholt, new restaurant and accommodation

We learned that a small local cluster is beginning to form among the people working on preserving and producing authentic local food. The cluster includes e.g. local farmers, nearby hotels, different restaurants and people offering tours to explore local food productions. The partners had the opportunity to try out some of the food and beverages in Skálholt. On this tour, our consortium could enjoy one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, called the “Golden circle“, seeing Gullfoss, Geysir and the deep lagoon Kerið.

On the second day, we started by evaluating the first day based on personal and professional feedback. The overall conclusions were positive, and the consortium felt that the first day was well composed to working further on the main subject, Cluster work and training the trainer.

Hansína again opened day two, this time with a presentation on Networking. She emphasized in her presentation the importance of networking for small and micro businesses, not only how crucial professional Networking is but also the importance of personal Networking for those companies and their owners. She then gave a short presentation about “Risk management”, why this is relevant for cluster work and what has to be taken into consideration when looking to minimize the risk in this type of cooperation, especially for micro rural businesses.

Then all partners doing cluster work training in their homeland participated in a workshop to discuss how to structure the activity around clusters and what should be focused on when preparing the training for their workshop. Questions raised during the workshop were mainly about how to select partners who might be interested and what kind of information they would need to have to “sell the Cluster idea” further in their culture.

Step by step, then arranged a working lunch, followed by another workshop and roundtable discussions, with two members of the tourism cluster “All Senses” ASG operating for ten years in West of Iceland. The members Thordis G Athursdottir, the cluster manager, and Unnur Halldórsdóttir, a chairman of the ASG board and former hotel owner, gave introductions and a short historical overview of the ASG. They told about the goal of the ASG, the main structure and operation, who could participate, the annual fees and other management tools. They mention the importance of ethics, trust, rules, and value that the cluster members jointly formulated at the beginning of the cluster work. The main goal of the cluster was to market West Iceland, enhance professionalism in the tourist field, and build a network.

The Co in Co consortium had the opportunity to ask questions and elaborate on how they would build their cluster back home.

At the end of day two, the group was invited for dinner at MAX, restaurant sited in the Blue Lagoon area, with  sightseeing and storytelling at each scenery.

The third and last formal Coin Co workshop in Iceland started with feedback and learning discussions on the second day. The consortium was particularly pleased about having the chance to meet with rural people that had both formulated and worked in a cluster.The third day was about BOB, or the Book of Businesses, which resulted from one Erasmus plus project Minds into Matter, from 2018, which was the company Step by step managed. The approach was “how we in Co in Co can use this tool – this idea, to help

micro business to create their own Book of Business for their personal and professional benefit. Ruta and Hansína presented some Books of Business from that MM Erasmus project. 

Based on that presentation and the project ideology, we had three workshops discussing and trying the ideas and how to embed them into the primary goal of the Co in Co project.

The consortium concluded that this ideology would give meaning and be worth using when presenting it in the countries where the cluster trials will occur.

The formal meeting then ended with an evaluation of the day. During the last part of the meeting, the group had lunch at a place called hjá Höllu, where we met the owner, Halla, a local person working within a cluster in the Grindavik area.

 During this lunch, the Icelandic partner arranged a meeting with the manager of a marketing office in Reykjanes peninsula, Visit Reykjanes, Þuríður Aradóttir, who gave the group valuable information about how she has been using the cluster idea with the local tourist business to market the area jointly.

At the end of this third day, the consortium of Co in Co was invited to a final farewell dinner at Step by step premises in Sandgerði.

On behalf of the Icelandic team

Hansina B Einarsdóttir

Step by step