Smart policy making to boost startup activity and competitiveness in Europe
START EASY is an initiative promoted by the Government of Catalonia in cooperation with national, regional & local authorities as well as other stakeholders from all corners of Europe (BE, ES, FR, IT, LT, LV, PL), which endeavours to create the best conditions for growth. The project will improve policy making & deliver smart tools that enable a conducive environment for business to start easy & quickly, boosting business startup activity & competitiveness in Europe.
By learning from one another (peer reviews), exchanging & integrating good practices (GP) from all over Europe (study visits, research and studies, etc.), & developing joint strategies (workshops & other events), the partnership will overcome common challenges identified such as: the difficult and costly process behind regulations governing business creation which tend to discourage entrepreneurial activity; the limited responsiveness of the public administration to the needs of these new startups, thereby making necessary to catch up in the digitalization of public services, once-only principle (OOP) for business data registration, one-stop shop (OSS) models, etc.
Numerous activities have been therefore structured in Phase 1 to promote active interregional exchange and effective stakeholder engagement for joint development of Action Plans (AP), as well as EU-wide dissemination. The plans should conduce improvements in the policy instruments selected, delivering new & enhanced public services & tools that facilitate the entry of new businesses into the marketplace (new projects supporting digital services, OOP, OSS, & administrative simplification in general will be supported). They should also conduce to better governance, engaging multiple stakeholders in policy understanding, development and implementation, in particular key decision and policy makers at the different governance levels (including Managing Authorities (MA)), agents from the startup ecosystem and business enabling institutions (BEI))
The thematic objective (TO) of the OP referred to is TO2 ''Improve the use & quality of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) & access to them'', stressing the need to increase & improve the public services so that they can be individual and accessible from different, while enabling administrative procedures in an efficient way for the final user.
The Government thereby seeks to promote a technological leap forward to have the option to interact digitally with users, to ensure accessibility & security & to fully handle services online as much as possible. This makes necessary changes of the legal framework and organisational setting. This transformation has to additionally follow user-centricity principles, putting the user at the centre of the service.
This is recognised as a driving force behind the change of the relationship between the public administration & enterprises, which in turn should facilitate entrepreneurship & strengthen the competitiveness of the Catalan economy. In effect, the rise of startups evidences the need to adjust public policies & services to their very specific requirements. In this concern, the policy instrument is also considered relevant for future entrepreneurship-oriented policy, tackling startups as new emerging companies - different from traditional companies - that require a new legal & procedural approach. In addition, eGovernment efforts to reduce administrative burden on enterprises should go along with the OOP implementation.
The Metropolitan Strategic plan (PSM) 2018-2020 is the main policy instrument of the Metropolitan City of Bologna (MCBO). The plan identifies the general, sectorial & transversal development objectives in the medium & long term for the metropolitan area, identifying the priorities for action, resources &methods.
The Objective 4 (7 are in total the objectives identified) is addressed to fuel entrepreneurship and economic development toward innovation, creating a pro-business environment. In particular, the Ob. 4.4 focuses on improving the metropolitan OSS network and their services, working to have simplified and unique regulations and procedures in all the 55 municipalities of the metropolitan area, to rationalize the desk resources, encouraging specialization processes, to complete the full integration of the digital platform and to implement the OOP.
OSS are of strategic importance to achieve the overall goal of making Bologna a Start-up Valley, making the OSS not only the node where you grant authorizations, but making them a strategic hub for local economic development, a driving force behind the transformation of the relationship between the public administration and enterprises, facilitating entrepreneurship.
The MCBO & the Emilia-Romagna Region shared the need to encourage simplification policies in the General Framework Agreement (2016), Act by which the competence for the coordination of the OSS network is attributed to the Metropolitan City of Bologna.
The objective of the instrument is to promote private R&D investment, strengthening the links & interactions between business & research, in particular promoting investment in product & service development, & in technology. It also seeks to promote demand, networking & open innovation according to the Smart Specialization strategy, support technological & applied science research, implementation of pilots & preliminary product validation. Important components of the instrument are two financial measures named “Inostartas” and “Inovaciniai čekiai“. The first measure is devoted to support to R&D activities of start-ups & innovative SMEs, including development of prototypes & testing of new products. Overall budget of the measure foreseen is around €9,4 million. The second financial measure supports the cooperation of SMEs with research institutions while providing financial means to use the research results for the development of products & services. It is widely acknowledged & previous evaluations of these financial measures evidence so, there is an utmost need to simplify the administrative procedures for start-ups in order to make the support measures more flexible and easy to use. START EASY will provide a platform to share the experiences & learn from other regions in order to formulate the recommendations & proposals for the further improvement of the financial support, including the possibility of streamlining & making ‘digital by default’ the different procedures.
The support planned as a part of Measure 3.7 of the ROP is dedicated to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and aims to break down barriers connected with access to finance, know-how and to trigger actions composing the value chain of an enterprise. The aim is to increase the competitiveness, improve productivity, enhance effectiveness of work and the scale of the business activity conducted by enterprises from Lubelskie Voivodeship especially by implementing innovative solutions. The support includes funding for enterprises, co-financed up to 70% of the eligible costs, and it may be granted for the initial investment. That is, investment in tangible or intangible assets connected with: the stating up of a new business activity and/or setting-up of a new establishment; increase of the production potential of the existing establishment; diversification of the output of an establishment into new additional products that previously were not made; or a fundamental change in the overall production process of an existing establishment. Identified issues in relation to the policy instrument addressed have to do with the complexity of the administrative proceedings for startups and entrepreneurs in accessing the financial support described. Working towards the administrative simplification of the procedures and rules, improving access to these services (financial and non-financial) through OSS and OOP implementation, would facilitate Start-ups and SMEs the access to funding.
The current Policy Plan strives to create an innovative, creative & sustainable East-Flanders. ‘Stimulating and developing new entrepreneurship’ is one of the 4 major priorities of this strategy. Different studies demonstrate that East-Flanders scores poorly on entrepreneurship. Although the amount of new entrepreneurs & startups is rising, in international comparisons (e.g. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)), East-Flanders is always lagging behind.
Therefore, the policy instrument pursues 4 main objectives:
1. Building a positive image of entrepreneurs: encouraging people to start a business through different actions, especially targeting young people and students
2. Supporting entrepreneurs from a ‘good idea’ to a ‘good business’ through a start academy
3. Facilitating an easy business start-up procedure in close cooperation with all Belgian government actors and business associations
4. Boosting growth for start-ups: triple-helix approach to stimulate performant and growing businesses
The new Policy Plan (2020-2026) which is under development right now, will also focus on:
- Involving and supporting local municipalities in their contacts with start-ups. Realising a network between East-Flemish cities & municipalities on building a business enabling environment (including OSS and OOP principles). Use of new cutting-edge technologies in supporting startups.
- New forms of startups (e.g. freelancers, gig economy), requiring new models of relationship with these startups.
As startups are on the rise, the EU is launching different initiatives to strengthen the startup ecosystem and create a business-friendly environment to fuel entrepreneurship, while the self-government (regional level) in Poland has realised the need to adjust its policies to this business reality. In effect, the activities of the ROP are not addressed to future entrepreneurs to help them create their business. This problem concerns SMEs and in particular startups.
At the moment, there are existing programs of financial support for new entrepreneurs, addressed mainly to the unemployed and graduates. There is still lack of education of the future entrepreneurs' community on how to run the business, especially in smaller centers of the region.
In ROP there are the following instruments for existing entities:
● support for the initial phase of enterprise development;
● support for running and developing enterprises;
● integration of existing Business Environment Institutions (BEI) services to create a comprehensive offer - including product development; access to capital; specialist consultancy for SMEs (e.g. innovation brokers, cooperation platforms).
There is a need to: change the disproportions in the region in terms of supporting entrepreneurship; support and educate in the subject of starting a business, setting up startups and assisting in their development. This should be reflected in the ROP.
In accordance with the Internal Market Directive 2006/123/EC, the Guichet Entreprises service (GES) is the online OSS that enables new entrepreneurs & business leaders to complete the administrative formalities related to a business activity. Any entrepreneur must have the possibility to remotely complete the formalities that are required to start a business, modify the situation of a business & stop a business activity.
The GES intends to become a reference administrative service in the digital domain, to assist businesses digitally to transform themselves & develop their activity. Since its creation, GES has developed numerous tools & new ways of collaborating with public & private partners. Although GES has made progress to achieve these objectives, numerous challenges remain: the business creation pathway in FR remains complicated due to the number & variety of players involved (centres for business formalities, commercial courts…), & to the numerous formalities new entrepreneurs must complete. Administrative burdens are an obstacle to business creation & the development of the French economy. As part of the administrative simplification plan, GES seeks to become the main interface between users & the multiplicity of French organisations involved in the creation of businesses by simplifying administrative procedures, digitising formalities & connecting all the players of the ecosystem of business creation in order to boost business creation and the French economy.
The development of the startup community continues to be one of the priorities of the Latvian Government, as it is recognised in its OP 2014-2020 to which START EASY is addressing. In particular, Program - SAM 1.2.1., Activity 184.108.40.206. "Technology Transfer Program'' has the following objectives defined:
" To provide a contribution to achieve objectives of the Smart Specialization Strategy of Latvia,
" To support the development of the competence of the research result commercialization; promote commercialization of the research results and to transform the research results into successful entrepreneurship;
" To promote innovation activities in SME's and to provide aid to them through the transfer of technologies for the development of new or significantly improved products or technologies
" To promote the establishment of start-up companies in Latvia.
The goal to promote the establishment of startup companies in Latvia is a main area of focus during the START EASY project, and where the Government would like to see some improvement. For that, the aim is to reduce the administrative burden and make the application procedure and other operations easier and much more efficient for the startups to continue prospering and growing.
So far, the program has collected some success stories since the launch, but it has not achieved the results that were expected:
" 10 innovation projects approved
" 40 commercialization projects approved
" 1 highly qualified employee approved and hired
Smart policy making to boost startup activity and competitiveness in Europe
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