Business gardens and incubators provides SME’s with basic knowledge e.g. about digitalisation, and a framework to develop within it (ecosystem).
The Business Garden program is a national/regional Gov. program established in 1998 to enhance business development in the rural areas. The program is run by SIVA, a public enterprise, and co-owned by the County Councils in Norway (total of 50% public ownership). Business gardens (BG) is an important regional development tool for the County Councils. SIVA also organize a national Incubation Program. The County Council cooperate with SIVA in both programs. The Business gardens are organized as shareholder companies with min 51% private ownership, and min 34% public shares. A Business garden co-locates development-oriented companies in order to promote growth, cooperation and development. It provides access to expertise, networks and an academic and social community. Trøndelag County Council has closely worked with the regional BGs (5) and Incubators (3) in several projects, and they are as such considered an important tool. The coop with the Business gardens enables the County Council to reach out to small- and micro businesses. Public part-ownership and grants gives the BGs legitimacy, and possibility to do subsidized work for their SMEs.
Program: 16,4 mln EUR of annual governmental contribution is allocated to 40 Business gardens and 35 Incubators in Norway. A Local, regional Business garden have 3-15 employees, and it can be established without a national program. Public funding is critical.
Evidence of success
In 2017, around 4000 SME’s received help from both the programs. SIVA will grant about 16,4 mln EUR in annual contribution to 35 Incubators and 40 Business gardens in the next years. Business gardens have proven to be stabilizing environments in rural municipalities where they are located, and have contributed to reduce competence drain, and even increased inflow of people. Regional projects like the partnership btw. BGs, Incubators and County Council.
Organizing and public financing of spesific cooperation projects between BG and County Council because there are many different financial actors involved, with different rules for grants.
Potential for learning or transfer
The established private-public model gives Business gardens more legitimacy in doing a development work with businesses. Less questions on potential upselling. The locally based Business gardens play a key role as intermediaries in the County Councils regional development program and makes it possible to also reach the smallest and most vulnerable businesses. Working with the County Council, and together with each other, Business gardens in turn, increases their competence in infrastructural,- and policy matters. Business Gardens can be established local/regional withouth the large national program behind them, but with some part of public ownership to preserve legitimacy, and public funding for spesific projects.
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