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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Maintaining a broad base of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is very important for the economic development, wealth and sustainability of a region. To help create a business-friendly environment and boost SMEs' competitiveness on a regional level as well, the European Commission provides analysis, shares best practices, programmes and policy initiatives.

Fostering collaboration by connecting European entrepreneurial regions

Cooperation among regions is key to sharing and promoting best-practices that support entrepreneurs. Regions with forward-thinking and promising entrepreneurship received the European Entrepreneurial Regions (EER) label. This project furthers collaboration between EER labelled regions, supporting entrepreneurs with themed actions such as access to finance.

Overview of the project

The goals of the project are to

  • foster collaboration between EER labelled regions
  • facilitate peer learning on innovative practices of start-up and scale-up support
  • develop and implement concrete joint action plans in support of start-ups and scale-ups in the EER regions
  • help entrepreneurs scale across the Single Market

Phase I of the project ran between January 2019 and July 2020, with the involvement of 10 EER Regions: Catalonia, Île-de-France, Lower Austria, Marche, Lombardy, Western Greece, Central Macedonia, Flanders, North Brabant, Northern and Western Ireland.

It started with the development of in-depth mapping reports on each of the regions to better understand and identify the potential synergies among them. In conclusion, five thematic areas were identified: access to finance to start-ups and scale-ups, network start-up/scale-up support, agri-food, MedTech and Industry 4.0/Digital transformation. As a result of a co-creation exercise with the regions, they were further developed into action plans.

The project’s process and methodology were recorded in a guidebook, ‘Fostering collaboration across entrepreneurial ecosystems - Guide to mapping, action plan design and peer learning for regions’. The guide presents all the steps and phases of the project, so other regions can study the methodology to foster collaboration and follow the process on their own.

Phase II of the project started in September 2020 and will last until January 2022. It welcomed another 8 regions that will build on the work from phase I. The new regions are Asturias, Valencia, Navarra, Helsinki-Uusima, Malopolska, Pomorskie, Gelderland and Northern Ireland.

In phase II, new action plans will be developed to reflect the new regions’ interests in cooperation (e.g. circular economy, social innovation) and the new framework conditions (i.e. the impact of COVID-19). Phase II also implements the action plans of phase I (e.g. in the field of digital economy, medtech, network of EER regions), to develop common interregional services or projects.

The project is a joint initiative of the Directorate-General for Entrepreneurship and SMEs and the Executive Agency for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises, implemented by a consortium led by Technopolis Group, together with IDEA Consult, EBN, and the University of Athens.

Phase I documents

In-depth mapping reports of the regions

Guidebooks on support to SME policy from structural funds