SME competitiveness: successful policy improvements

By Platform

The SMEs competitiveness session at Europe Let's Cooperate 2021, attracted more than 200 participants, and delved into the emerging policy concepts for the programming period 2021-2021. Luc Schmerber, Rene Tonnisson, and Mart Veliste, Thematic Experts for SMEs competitiveness at Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform, moderated the session.

Laurentiu David and Ilaria Ramaglioni, policy officers in SMEs competitiveness at Interreg Europe, presented an overview of the key results and achievements regarding Interreg Europe projects in SMEs competitiveness during the programming period 2014-2020.


Presentation of the state of play and key results achieved by the projects funded within the thematic objective SME competitiveness

During the period 2014-2020, Interreg Europe has co-financed 66 projects under the thematic objective SME competitiveness, bringing together 535 partners from 29 Partner States

The main topics addressed by the projects are: support to sectors (Cultural & creative industries, Food, Social enterprises, Tourism, transport, maritime industries); support to SMEs (Internationalisation, Digital technologies / Digitisation / ICT skills, Access to finance, Business transfer, industrial transition, administrative burden); entrepreneurship (Young and female entrepreneurs, Support services, business incubation, administrative burden, Specific sectors, e.g., rural, green economy, social enterprises, cultural & creative industries) and innovation capacity of SMEs (Digital uptake / Industry 4.0, Cultural & creative industries / Design, Blue and green economy, specific territorial areas (e.g., rural, peripheral and cross border regions). 

The projects cumulate already 170 policy changes, with an influenced amount of EUR 273 M of Structural Funds and other regional development programmes.  

Thematic analysis of the TO3 projects - Emerging topics for the future 

Over 650 good practices are available on the Interreg Europe good practices database. From entrepreneurship awareness to business transfer, they cover the whole lifecycle of businesses, and explore a broad range of support services such as soft support (training, coaching, networking, etc.), physical infrastructure (business incubators, coworking spaces, living labs, innovation centers, etc.) and funding schemes (vouchers, loans, grants, alternative funding, etc.).

As far as emerging topics for future projects are concerned, the growing importance of the transition to a sustainable, human-centric and resilient European industry, often summed up under the Industry 5.0 paradigm was highlighted. 

Illustration of project results – successful policy improvements 

Three outstanding policy improvements achieved thanks to the cooperation within Interreg Europe were showcased:

  • SME internationalisation – Compete In: Regional Export Centre Gävleborg 

Annika Lundqvist, Head of International Office at the Municipality of Gävle, how regional stakeholders joined forces to design and implement the Regional Export Centre Gävleborg, a virtual export centre, bringing together under the Team Gävleborg banner the competences of all involved stakeholders, with the aim to provide jointly an improved support for the international development of SMEs in Gävleborg. 

Christine Chang from Helsinki-Uusimma Regional Council, Paola Paolinelli and Francesca Orazi from Marche Regional Authority explained how the iEER project contributed to increase the maturity of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the partner regions. In particular, the transfer of the Aula Emprende practice to the Marche region was showcased.

KI-plus programme at the Austria Wirtshaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (AWS). The Policy Learning Platform hosted a peer review on the topic of fostering the trustworthy use of artificial intelligence (AI) in companies, and helped the beneficiary organization to improve their dedicated programme for SMEs. More information on the peer review service is available here.

Image credit: stokkete on Envato Elements.
Regional policy