SL started by recapping previous INTRA activities in phase 1 of the project and highlighting that each partner had selected a number of Good practices in a particular region that they felt could either fill a gap not already covered by existing framework policy to encourage SME internationalisation or that would add positively to what already exists. SL also thanked the stakeholders that were able to attend the second round study visit (SV2) to Badajoz and it was agreed this a valuable exercise for the region allowing stakeholders to deepen their understanding of the chosen good practices but also reflecting on our current available support.
All participants agreed that there was scope to improve current running programmes and that the importance of digital support especially was crucial going forward. In particular, DH agreed that the current SMEs innovation programme led by Coventry City Council, should present digital support for SMEs internationalisation. The current application of the innovation initiative called “testbeds” is going through approval. DH expect to have this contracted and started in the coming months. Being the programme manager for the Innovation strand, and based on the learning from the SV2 in comparison to our current support with the GP e-commerce, DH decided that current programme will include e-commerce support for SMEs internationalisation. Some element of support will be introduced in several current projects under ESIF Priority 1 and Priority 3.
According to the needs of the SMEs, a larger initiative can be proposed for the next round of ERDF calls in March 2019. This will mean that SMEs will benefit through the current projects digital support for internationalisation and this will hopefully be increased in the next round of ERDF calls in 2019.
Phase 2 of INTRA will monitor both changes as pilot/incremental the first year and a result of a more dedicated support in the following years and after the end of INTRA. This measure is expected to provide a longer time impact after the end of the project by supporting more SMEs.
Finally the regional stakeholders were informed of the next activities in the project after receiving the INTRA partners/stakeholders this week. This included working with the stakeholders into phase 2 of the project with the finalising of the improvement plan and the implementation of the RSG meeting for the next 2 years (supported by INTRA) but also for the longer term.
Stakeholders all agreed to continue supporting the INTRA activities and to work closely with our respective organisations.