On 10 March 2020, the European Commission published its new industrial strategy Making Europe's businesses future-ready: A new industrial strategy for a globally competitive, green and digital Europe.
The strategy displays a comprehensive set of actions addressing three key priorities:
- maintaining European industry's global competitiveness and a level playing field, at home and globally,
- making Europe climate-neutral by 2050 and
- shaping Europe's digital future.
Moreover, the new European industrial policy includes a dedicated strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 'for a sustainable and digital Europe'.
The SME Strategy announces a series of measures fostering the sustainable and digital transitions of European SMEs:
- 'Sustainability advisors will be appointed within the existing Enterprise Europe Network to help SMEs with environmental and social challenges and improve access to skills.
- Up to 240 Digital Innovation Hubs will advise SMEs on how to integrate digital innovations into their products, business models and processes.
- The new European Innovation Council (EIC) will make available €300 million as of next year to encourage breakthrough innovations delivering Green Deal objectives.'
The EC equally plans to take action on improving the access to markets for SMEs in the Single Market as well as better access to finance. The most significant actions foreseen are:
- 'Creating an SME Initial Public Offering (IPO) Fund with investments channelled through a new private-public fund set up under the InvestEU programme and launching a gender-smart finance initiative to stimulate funding for female-led companies and funds.
- Create the ESCALAR initiative, a mechanism to boost the size of venture capital funds and attract more private investment, to help high-potential enterprises to grow.'
A further interesting aspect is the importance given in the new EU Industrial Strategy to the governance of Industrial Ecosystems bringing together academic and research institutes, suppliers, SMEs and larger companies.
Source: European Commission - a European Industrial strategy - Factsheet
This is definitely a topic where regional and local authorities can make an impact through smart policy making, as demonstrated in Interreg Europe projects. Examples therefore are:
- Projects dealing with University-Industry collaboration in order to improve Europe’s innovation performance. See hereby our policy brief on this topic;
- Projects dealing with improving the governance of regional innovation ecosystems – see hereby our webinar on better RIS3 governance - and the business support ecosystems -see hereby the learning bag from our workshop on mastering the digital transformation of business support.