Fostering innovation in young enterprises in international context by cooperation of 6 universities, 2 chambers of commerce & public cross-border authority
The Knowledge Alliance Rhine-Waal aims to strengthen the cooperation of entrepreneurs, unis and research institutions on both sides of the German-Dutch border. (

It focuses particularly on young research-intensive companies and entrepreneurial students. It supports the development of new products, provides assistance to both entrepreneurs and students and simplifies the search for partners, labs and research institutions on both sides of the border.

The "Young SMEs subsidy scheme" is one initiative of the Knowledge Alliance. It fosters innovation in young enterprises with grants of max. 70% and max. 70 k€ which are awarded to young enterprises from both side of the German-Dutch border working together on the realisation of innovative products.

Working in these innovation projects, the students acquire entrepreneurial skills in an international context. An entrepreneurship-toolbox for lecturers in universities was developed and implemented to provide guidance for the students; additionally, training programmes, such as the iGarage and entrepreneurship classes offer the young entrepreneurs coaching their innovation process.

A Science Compass set up through the project cooperations gives users an overview over top expertise, contacts and facilities from the border region in several scientific fields.

Resources needed

1.5 mio. € budget for the "Young SMEs subsidy scheme";
4.5 mio. € total budget for the "Knowledge Alliance Rhine-Waal"

Evidence of success

15 Projects implemented; 1.4 M€ of 1.5M€ Budget for the Young SMEs scheme used; many young entrepreneurs gained CBC experiences; region presented itself as start-up region.

4 projects resulted in new market products; 2 projects improved SME's product range; 5 Innovative products still in development; 80%SME survival rate (comparable survival rate in peer group is 67%); 2 firms started Joint venture; 5 of 15 SMEs still active in CBC; 1 SME completely internationalised; 6 had employment growt

Difficulties encountered

Sustainable financing beyond the project duration was difficult to find or was not found at all.
In Europe every project has to be new, so succesfull innovation projects can't be repeated or simply prolongued.

Potential for learning or transfer

Essential points for the "Young SMEs subsidy scheme" to stimulate cross-border Innovation, cross-border cooperation, internationalisation and Innovation in young SMEs in the context of Interreg A are the following points:
- a relatively high subsidy rate (e.g. max 70% and max 70K€)
- offering assitance in writing project proposals
- offering assistance in finding a relevant partner in the neighbouring country
- a short term application procedure
- a clear grant system
- a good jury judging the projects' innovativeness, business and entrepreneurship qualities

After the subsidy has been granted, a support and control System is needed (a) for carrying out the project and (b) for the right application and implementation of the subsidy scheme.

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Main institution
Euregio Rhine-Waal
Düsseldorf, Germany (Deutschland)
Start Date
July 2012
End Date
July 2015


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