As a result of globalization the production of goods and services is getting increasingly spread over companies and countries. Goods are nowadays processed in many sequential stages at the most suited location for the activity. Multinationals lead the process. Small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) try to participate as partners, but they face serious challenges to get access to the markets and to add value in these global value chains (GVCs).

On the other hand governments and non‐governmental institutions and organisations, inspired by research on the importance of the participation of SMEs in GVCs, are seeking to implement policies and programs intended to support entrepreneurs in this field. 

In INNOSUP project H2020 ‐ CSA‐LS 671524, we learn together with innovation agencies from three European regions about SMEs in transnational business value chains, or even GVCs, and the support they receive or need. In this project we wanted to challenge some of the ‘myths’ surrounding the nature of GVCs and the added value our SMEs can create in them. 

At the beginning of the project, the perception prevailed that the multiple types of support offered to the companies of our target group were often misdirected and failed to provide relevant support to the type of businesses we aimed in our project. At the same time, the existing public support measures were seen to largely neglect the real needs of this category of SMEs. Some of the interviews revealed that indeed part of this critique is true. But, surprisingly or not, in many other cases, SMEs much welcome the efforts public support makes. Consequently, in addition to providing critical comments on certain public support measures for the innovation and internationalisation of SMEs and how they relate to the participation of these businesses in GVCs, we present a few suggestions for how regional and EU small business policy can potentially be reconfigured to cover the needs of these firms.