Connect Baltic Sea Region+
Start date: Jun 9, 2004,
End date: Sep 8, 2007
The CONNECT concept originated in San Diego in 1985 and was established with success in Sweden in 1998. CONNECT is an initiative helping entrepreneurs to develop high standard business plans and realise their business ideas.Connect links entrepreneurs, through voluntary efforts by service providers/experts, with the financial, technical and business development resources they need to create/develop high growth companies through regional/national/ transnational activities.The Connect concept has proven its viability in periods of economic downturn. It is difficult for start-ups to attract venture capital (VC - early phase investments) due to VC institutions' strict demand for return on investments. The considerable information gap between investor and entrepreneur in high-tech and complex start-ups makes the process more difficult. One reason for this information gap is that the business plans do not hold a professional standard. A result is that good projects are not being realized. It is believed that the information gap is high between investors in West-BSR (W-BSR) and entrepreneurs in East-BSR (E-BSR). The main objective for the project is to develop procedures for improving information flows, increase business plan standards and make sure that CONNECT is linked to values such as high standards, trustworthy, seriousness, high quality and professionalism. The central objectives are to build up links and reduce the substantial transaction costs between R&D, Venture Capital (beyond borders) and knowledge institutions.The main activity is organizing springboards where entrepreneurs (after a coaching process) present their business plan to an expert panel - followed by a discussion, preparing the entrepreneur to meet investors. The central end-objective of the project is to stimulate regional economic development and integration of W-BSR and E-BSR, decrease the gap in development and enhance the chances to become a well functioning part of the new emerging economy. Achievements: New CONNECT networks were established in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Northern Germany, while existing networks in Sweden, Norway and Denmark have grown into big self-standing organisations. Continuously establishing more regional networks in the BSR, CONNECT expands even further. Establishment of CONNECT St. Petersburg (North-West Russia) is planned for the year 2008.One of the most important results achieved is the cross boarder relationship between CONNECT in various countries at various stages of their development. It provides a great opportunity to learn from each other and realize ideas that every network separately could take years to develop.Guidelines for the core activity of CONNECT, the Springboard, have been successfully developed and applied in practice by all networks. Today there is a free cross-boarder exchange on springboards on a pan-Baltic/ Nordic level.The central end-objective of the project, to stimulate the economic development and integration (economic and social) between the different parts of the BSR, contribute to decreasing the gap in development level between the regions in the project, and enhance the chances of becoming a well functioning part of the new economy emerging on global level, has been successfully achieved.
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