Monday, 16 November 2020 11:31

How can PA Education support small and medium sized enterprises?

Written by  Nino Simic, Communications Officer, HA Capacity/PA Education

The Covid-19 pandemic has severe negative effects on many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). In order to reduce the damage as far as possible, the EUSBSR together with the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) has initiated a European support program. The goal is to include the other two remaining strategies, the Adriatic-Ionian and the Alpine. 

The rapid negative development also requires rapid responses. As major European initiatives take time and are complex, the European Commission has turned to macro-regional strategies for help. Macro-regional strategies are by their nature flexible, allow actors to respond quickly to new societal challenges and, in this case, to find a way to quickly create an effective support structure for SMEs. The idea is to help companies broaden their markets through internationalization, access to new markets and collaboration opportunities with new partners.  

Making most of existing structures

Within the Baltic Sea Region, there is already experience of a successful way of achieving this by mobilizing clusters and business networks in transnational cooperation. The programme took place within the framework of BSR Innovation Express, which ran between 2012 and 2017. That programme was effective, above all because it didn't have a need of completely new structures. Instead the work was done by coordinating existing regional programs. 

Participating regions could apply their own already existing rules and administrative procedures. Funds were approved to clusters for use within the countries' borders, but the program was still transnational because the calls were coordinated between regions in all participating countries. The SMEs that were part of the programme received funding through their clusters in order to participate in collaborative initiatives. 

EU macro-regions joining forces

The program will have a sequel in Innovation Express 2.0. The development of Innovation Express 2.0 is initially led by Mr Anders Bergström, policy area coordinator for EUSBSR PA Education and Ms Judit Schrick-Szenczi, priority area coordinator for EUSDR PA8. An initial information meeting took place on 5 November gathering 35 participants from 15 countries where participants discussed how a new program can be constructed, how to obtain commitment from stakeholders and reach an agreement on how to coordinate joint calls. 

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