Streamlining Public Support for SME Innovation
InnoBridge Project Final Event
September 30, 2020, Sofia
High regional expenditure on R&D does not necessarily lead to innovation and increased regional competitiveness if the regional economy is hampered by insufficient exploitation of its own R&D results and from a lack of access to public R&D results. Increasing SMEs’ competitiveness is at the core of the InnoBridge project by improving the Innovation Bridge and related policy instruments for SMEs: “Bridging the innovation gap through converting R&D results into commercial success in a more effective and efficient way”. This enables SMEs to better realize their innovation potential and to act as a catalyst for creating more high qualified jobs and regional growth.
After 3 years of intensive inter-regional learning and 18 months of Action Plan implementation that applied into practice actions aiming at improving their regional R&D and innovation performance and SME’s competitiveness, InnoBridge project 9 partners from 8 regions in 8 countries spread over Europe are ready to share their hands-on experience.
The conference brought together European political figures, practitioners, academia, policy makers, business community, intermediary organizations, civil society, and offered a platform to share best practices, to explore and discuss opportunities for streamlining public support for SME innovation.
The conference Streamlining Public Support for SME Innovation in European Regions aimed to provide answers to questions such as How can we improve regional policies to support innovation and R&D? What measures can assure that R&D results are available to SMEs? How to raise and mobilize the existing skills and how to build skills for the future? How to seize the benefits of digitalization for improving the region’s innovative performance? What has proven to work: regulatory frameworks, access to finance, increasing entrepreneurial capacities, diminishing administrative burden on start-ups, or else?
“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” The words of Henry Ford captured the essence of the interregional approach of the InnoBridge project final event, organized by Sofia Development Association. The hybrid event brought together about 100 participants – mostly online but also physically in Sofia – key players from academia, research and technology institutes, regional and local authorities, managing authorities, business organizations, SMEs, experts from 29 cities in 14 countries.
“The SME sector and innovative solutions coming from the industry are critical for a speedy recovery of the economy in post-COVID-19. It is also important to ensure that the next Multiannual Financial Framework will provide access to and sufficient resources for innovations, especially in support of SMEs, for further investments and development,” stated the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova at the event opening.
An outstanding group of dynamic and leading-edge speakers offered their insights and experience in developing regional policy mixes to foster innovations and make R&D results available to SMEs. While this policy area was relevant when the InnoBridge project was launched in 2016, it matters even more now after the COVID-19 crisis affected strongly our economy and society. The panelists identified important trends, such as flexible refocusing of support measures, centers of knowledge as core of innovation ecosystems, links that allow making professional decision without professional cost. Event participants shared examples of innovative actionable solutions.
Here is the hands-on quick dive into the various topics discussed: barriers and challenges to innovations in the European regions; replicable good practices; ways to connect business and universities; how to fill the missing elements in the entrepreneurial ecosystem; how to mobilize the existing skills in the region and nurture the skills for the future; policy recommendations for the way forward.