The aim of the Enlarged Local Stakeholders Group event was to present the final draft of the Regional Action Plan developed on the basis of the results of the co-creation process.
FINN illustrated the process that led to the decision about which actions have been included in the plan among the several options discussed during the LSG meetings.
As an introduction, the main findings of qualitative research realized by the Udine University have been presented, too. The goal of the assignment was to collect bottom-up evidence of financial needs and knowledge/understanding/satisfaction of FVG SMEs for the existing FI landscape devoted to boost innovation.
The debate during the event has been limited, considering that the majority of the attendees knew quite well the project Innova-FI, partook in the action plan design process, and had previous opportunities to read and comment on it.
Below is a summary of the feedback per set of stakeholders:
Regional government/ERDF managing authority: unfortunately, there is a considerable delay in the release of the new ROP 2021-2027; for this reason, it is hard to establish a direct link between the Innova-FI action plan and specific measures that will be financed and deployed once the new programming document has been approved. Anyhow, all regional government departments involved recognized the added value of the EoE process and of the Local Stakeholders Groups' work along with the project until the Action Plan definition.
Business Angels appreciate the effort of the FVG region to sponsor actions that will better connect the public and private financial instruments offer targeting innovative SMEs and startups. A strong remark is that implementation choices related to the foreseen actions will be fundamental to encourage potential beneficiaries to make use of the financial instruments. So far, many measures have failed because of too much bureaucracy complexity.
Interreg Europe regional contact point highlights the importance of its involvement for having direct access to information useful to feed the process of the new programming 2021-27. Ms. Nazzi also recognizes the coherence of the FVG Action Plan with the Interreg Programme 2020 principles and the success in the active involvement of a wide range of local stakeholders in the long term.
The Workshop results are below:
1. Analysis of the financial needs of regional enterprises (results of the research carried out in the framework of the Innova-FI project by the University of Udine/qualitative part: case analysis on a sample of companies that have benefitted from public support measures):
- Focus on the "signaling" or "certification" role played by public intervention, i.e companies that managed to access public funding are considered more reliable by the market;
- Relationship between innovation and access to financial and intangible resources; the pro-active role of the public;
- Governance and control:
- Strengthening the control and management processes in the company, mainly favored by participatory investments
- Need for access to external sources of finance (especially equity), but mistrust of market investors (investment funds) for reasons related to the preservation of control structures and reasons related to 'relational' aspects.
2. Actions included in the Innova-FI action plan are of interest both from the policymakers' perspective and for the market. Nonetheless, their feasibility will depend on a very complex regulatory framework as well as on high-level decision-making.
3. In terms of financial instruments, both from the demand and offer side the regional market is quite conservative. This represents a barrier to the agile introduction of new financial support measures funded through EU money.
Key conclusions and policy recommendations:
#1 The LSG members have access to all material - including the event’s recording – through the cloud-based platform, where they can continue to comment on the FVG Action Plan.
#2 FINN will inform the LSG members about the changes eventually requested by the JS and will circulate the final version of the FVG Action Plan.
#3 Considering the information gap and the conservative attitude of local companies, it is very important that any new policy and measure will be communicated effectively to the proper target groups, to increase the expected impact.
#4 Any measure to enrich the portfolio of FIs shall include a set of KPIs and a plan for monitoring its effectiveness, with the complementary goal to collect information useful to improve the FIs.
#5 There is evidence that companies that have access to public funding instruments improve their control and management functions; this side effect if beneficial for the enterprises’ competitiveness, it is therefore important for the public to seek the enlargement of the beneficiaries’ range.