The Upper Silesian Agency for Entrepreneurship and Development Ltd. (Polish acronym: GAPR) has been established in 1998 as Local Development Agency Ltd. in Gliwice and started its operation in 1999. Its main purpose and mission was to encourage economy development of the municipalities that founded the Agency, to promote entrepreneurship approaches in their society and to support SMEs development.

The name of the Local Development Agency was changed into the Upper Silesian Agency for Entrepreneurship and Development Ltd. on 2013 along with the merger of GAPP S.A. Moreover, merging GAPP S.A. Upper Silesian Agency for Entrepreneurship and Development Ltd. added to its history and experience activities carried and gained by GAPP S.A. in the previous years.

During past years Agency’s activities, besides encouraging economy development and entrepreneurship, have been also focused on civilians, youth, unemployed and others, raising their awareness of entrepreneurship, law, social policies, business, economy, labour market.

The most important goals for the Agency are to support social development and increasing the regions competitiveness, this is achieved by supporting the development of SMEs located in the area of the Agency, ensuring favourable conditions to enhance their development; cooperating with regional and local authorities in terms of implementation of projects concerning social policies, raising societal and entrepreneurship awareness; supporting companies’ development by providing advisory and pro-innovative services on national level within the network ventures; converting degraded post-industrial areas into areas of economic activity; participation in international projects supporting the increase of regions and local competitiveness; development of objectives in international system of pro-innovative services, provided by business - environment institutions in different countries for SMEs located in the Central European region; initiating cluster activities and providing consultancy on internationalization and optimization; assistance in establishing new businesses and providing advisory and support for start-ups; consultancy on EU grant applications preparation.

GAPR is also an intermediary organization experienced in emerging industries consulting, cross-cluster cooperation and networking. It is cooperating with logistic, tourist, medical, rail, transport, ICT and other clusters in Silesia Region. Among other activities, the Agency focuses on clusters’ development and their promotion in the region, technology transfer, and providing innovative services.

During its operation, GAPR has completed and is still pursuing a number of EU projects:

•In 2005 – 2011 two regional projects titled “Regional Network for Promotion and Technology Transfer” aimed to create a set of mechanisms enabling more effective communication and cooperation between enterprises and the R&D institutions.

•In 2009-2013 three projects were realized providing advisory services of pro-innovative character for enterprises around the country: Audit of Marketing Needs, Marketing Audit of a Young Company and the Strategic Audit of an Enterprise have been elaborated, standardized and applied.

•Since 2012 the Agency has been implementing a project concerning the formulation of regional policy to support the development of the concept of corporate social responsibility in the SME sector. The project is being implemented by 14 partner institutions across the EU. It aims to raise awareness of the companies on CSR and promotion of good practices identified by the partners.

•Since 2012 GAPR has been implementing COGITA (Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility through Public Policy) is an interregional project, bringing together 13 regions covering the whole of Europe and a budget of over €2.5M, which promotes social and environmental responsibility within SMEs across Europe within INTERREG IVC Programme.

•Since 2009 till 2012 the Agency had implemented 5 projects within Central Europe Programme (Via Regia Plus; CNCB; CEBBIS; BATCo; MINNOVATION)

•Since 2012 GAPR has been implementing e-Create – Cultural Routes, Entrepreneurship and Technologies Enhancement project within INTERREG IVC Programme, aiming at identifying shortcomings in public policies which promote tourism along cultural and historical routes and to bundle resources to increase the competitiveness of enterprises in rural areas.

• Since 2011 the Agency has been a Work Package Leader in CluStrat – Boosting innovation through new cluster concepts in support of emerging issues and cross-sectoral themes – Strategic project within Central Europe Programme, responsible for mapping procceses of emerging industries and cross-cutting issues in clusters among Central Europe.

• Now GAPR is a partner of COMPETE IN in project Interreg Europe and leader of SMART_watch, Interreg Central Europe project.