The CO-WORKING Project

The border area in both countries, Greece and Bulgaria, is often characterized by difficulties in access to finance, limited access to the know-how of businesses, weak formal and informal access to mainstream information, lack of support services for the development of competitive products/services, insufficient development of human resources and skills and a poor performance in internationalization.

The CO-WORKING project aspires to overturn these facts by creating an innovative ecosystem in the cross-border region between Greece and Bulgaria, aiming to encourage business creation. The implementation of the system is based on the establishment of two support mechanisms for the pre-incubation of businesses based in the two countries respectively.

Unlike a common business incubator, the pre-incubator will only support business ideas/projects and not businesses already in operation.

The project aims at accelerating early-stage teams to develop a business idea under real-life conditions, before taking an entrepreneurial risk, with the goal to transform initial ideas into viable proposals that go beyond the so-called “valley of death”.

The expected results are directly related to the specific objectives and as a whole are the means to achieve the overall objectives of the project.

The results of the CO-WORKING project are related to

(a) the development of a strategy, spaces and tools for cooperation

(b) the implementation of cooperation bootcamps; and

(c) the implementation of accelerated cooperation activities.


Project area of Implementation

The geographical area of intervention of the project covers a large part of the border between Greece and Bulgaria with a direct focus on the areas of NUTS III of Thessaloniki, Haskovo and their surrounding areas.

More specifically, as far as the Greek territory is concerned, the activities will be implemented throughout the area of the Regional Units of Thessaloniki undertaken by the Alexander Innovation Zone and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

In Bulgaria, activities will be carried out throughout the territory of the Haskovo Region, which will be undertaken by the University of National and World Economy and the National Company Industrial Zone PLC.

The two Universities involved in the project will provide scientific support for the overall implementation of the project and will cover research needs in the field of entrepreneurship.

The outreach activities will be carried out along the cross-border areas with the aim of attracting potential early-stage groups as well other stakeholders and cross-border areas interested in exploiting project results and participating in the acceleration activities in the pre-incubation stage so as to benefit from them.


Project objectives

  • The development of a pre-incubation strategy in the cross-border region based on consultation with local stakeholders and empirical evidence, fieldwork, building on existing international methodologies.
  • The installation and equipment of two pre-incubators.
  • The development of a Business Idea Diagnostic Tool related to a pre-incubator “Toolkit”. On this basis, early-stage teams can develop their own Business Model Canvas (BMC) and validate their business ideas based on a business diagnostics methodology.
  • The organization of training weeks with the aim of providing the teams with the basic principles of entrepreneurship, leading to a series of events.
  • The launch of a holistic acceleration mechanism, including personalized education, mentoring and training support; as well as business missions.
  • Consultation with key stakeholders, policy recommendations and capitalization.
  • The creation of a mobile network of advisers and an advisory unit between the two project areas well beyond the end of the project.
  • The entire support mechanism is expected to be interconnected with the University Career Centers and any other organizations that may be related to the innovation and entrepreneurship in the cross-border region. 

Project sustainability

CO-WORKING is being developed and is to be implemented in a way that ensures the durability of its achievements. This means that consideration has been given to the future use of its results and deliverables. Thus, the project background and multiple benefits and results are addressed to an audience capable of making use of them.


The expected post-project monitoring activities will include the following:

  • All deliverables can be immediately exploited and put into practice for added value and profitable activities for the stakeholders.
  • The printed and digital material that will be produced (publications, brochures, videos) will be available beyond the 24 months of the project duration and online for individual users.
  • The development of a healthy network between the regions involved will continue even after the completion of the project.
  • The studies that will be developed through the project constitute a scientific resource for the entire region and will be available to educational and research institutes as well as individual researchers and scientists. 
  • All project beneficiaries will participate in the development of best practices and will therefore have an additional incentive to expand the implementation of the project when the opportunity arises.
  • Knowledge networking platforms will continue to be a constant and permanent basis for information and awareness-raising in the long term, as they will yield significant benefits to stakeholders.
  • From a financial point of view, no additional funding will be needed in the long run.
  • The required human resources will be covered by the existing staff of the participating partners.
  • The innovative technological approach of the project will facilitate the continuous dissemination of results.
  • The partners are committed to contributing to the operation and promotion of the project and to cooperate with other legal entities for its optimal exploitation in the future.