Development of interregional financial assistance .. (DIFASS)
Development of interregional financial assistance to SMEs and of non-grant instruments
Start date: Dec 31, 2011,
End date: Dec 30, 2014
DIFASS aims to unlock potential for innovation, internationalisation and sustainable growth of SMEs in Europe by improving access to finance.Innovative SMEs are often faced with problems when obtaining loans from commercial banks and intermediaries as valuing risks in technology innovation or foreign markets is problematical and as SMEs often cannot provide sufficient collateral. Resulting from the global financial crisis, requirements to obtain a loan have even been further increased (BASEL-III). It becomes more challenging to achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy with respect to innovation and the knowledge based economy, when access to finance is one of the main problems of innovative SMEs.Thus, it becomes a field for stronger engagement of the public sector. However, public financial resources are limited and need to be used as effective as possible. The development of interregional financial assistance to SMEs and of non-grant instruments is therefore an important task.Regions participating in the DIFASS project have teamed up to exchange experiences on good practice established in their regions, to develop or improve policies in that field and to support the transnational transfer of selected good practices towards more regions.The partnership consists of regional authorities and development agencies from 20 European regions cooperating in policy development and implementation and operation of revolving financial support instruments and related services. They will be supported by scientific institutes carrying out analysis on background mechanisms of good practice examples and framework conditions for successful transfer into other regions.All participating regions will develop a Policy Implementation Plan based on exchange of experience on good practice to improve own policies tackling access to finance for SMEs, innovation, internationalisation and sustainable growth.DIFASS will support the transnational transfer of two selected good practice examples and the pilot implementation in eight up-taking regions.transfer of knowledge and assistance to pilot implementation will be provided for - an internet based Micro Finance Management tool from Hungary to regions in Estonia, Spain, Italy and the Slovak Republic and- a programme to support internationalisation of SMEs business from Andalusia to regions in Denmark, Italy, Romania and Sweden. Achievements: During the first project period the Consortium has mainly been busy with formal and administrational arrangements like the set-up of a project book keeping, the public procurement and contracting of external service providers, and the selection and contracting of First Level Controllers in decentralised systems. An Evaluation Plan and detailed work plans for the different components had to be elaborated. Also the common dissemination tools, a communication plan, project logo, style guide and a website have been developed for the project. The first electronic newsletter has been disseminated, and 2 press releases have been published in the partner regions. Hosted by the Lead Partner Pannon Business Network Association a 1, 5 day Kick-Off Meeting has been organised on May 10th to 11th 2012 in Sárvár, Hungary. Almost all 26 partner institutions were represented, and the first International Management Group Meeting held. The partners introduced their regions and the work of their institutions, the Component Leaders introduced the tasks of their components, how they plan to achieve good results, and what kind of input they need from the partners. The dates for the next meetings were scheduled, and the dates saved. A Dissemination Liaison Group has been formed during the Communication & Dissemination Meeting, so each participating region has an appointed Dissemination Manager taking care of the project's communication tasks. How to comply with the publicity guidelines of the Programme has been presented as well as the main issues of project implementation. The scientific partners elaborated a work plan for their analysis of the background mechanisms of good practice, and a template for the collection of detailed information about the already identified good practices, that has to be filled in by the partners. The information will be used for the Good Practice Fact Sheets, serve as a basis for the presentations at the workshops on exchange of good practice, and for the scientific analyses. A concept for the organisation and structure of the eight thematic workshops for the exchange of experience has been developed by Component 3 Leader WSX Enterprise, and the preparations of the first workshop on Microloans in Tallinn in September started with collecting more good practice examples to be introduced and discussed. Also technical arrangements regarding the venue have been made by the host Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol Foundation. The Lead Partner participated in the Lead Partner Seminar in Copenhagen in January, and the Finance Seminar in Vienna in June, organised by the Joint Technical Secretariat. A representative from the Autonomous Region of Sardinia attended the Communication Seminar in Sofia in April, and informed Component 2 Leader Business Development Friesland Foundation and the consortium at the Kick Off Meeting about the details and communication guidelines. The project coordinator participated in the Online reporting seminar and the Experience exchange seminar in Barcelona in June, both organised by the JTS. Also the Component 3 Leader was present at the seminar on the methods of the exchange of experience.
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