Joint SME Finance for Innovation
Start date: Dec 31, 2008,
End date: Jan 23, 2012
The Baltic Sea Region (BSR) shows a strong knowledge based and innovative economy. Accordingly, SMEs play a significant role as drivers of the innovation process. In the context of future-oriented understanding of territorial co-operation, regional development highly depends on the ability of key-actors to participate in international markets. However, especially SMEs often focus their business activities on rather local markets. JOSEFIN identifies key areas of intervention for providing targeted and individualised support to SMEs on their way to international markets. As nowadays, commercial banks are reluctant to provide access to finance for SMEs, the support of JOSEFIN consists of stimulation of direct transnational co-operation, as well as of provision of improved access to finance to innovate and to exploit innovative products and services.For this, the key actors of the innovation process, namely Incubators, Technology Transfer Centres, as well as Public Development banks will jointly take up and adjust or develop concrete tools and instruments to be used in Germany, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden and Norway.The JOSEFIN partners will identify a roadmap toward SMEs international activities as a highly individualised process in which generalised and standard instruments will be factors of limited impact. More concrete, JOSEFIN identifies two key-needs of SMEs support for assisting them in the process of bridging the significant development gaps. The first instrument will offer a highly focused and individual coaching of SMEs in preparation of cooperative, transnational innovation projects and will fulfil the role of a useful tool for preparation of the application for their funding. In this field, JOSEFIN mainly will take up, adopt and apply the achievements of previous BSR projects.The second instrument, a new JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Guarantee, will advance existing regional financial support instruments for SMEs. It will provide a new and innovative risk sharing facility in the BSR. Actors of the financial sector will use the new and innovative instrument to lower barriers in access to finance for SMEs.The combination of individual coaching for SMEs and the guarantees offered by the JOSEFIN partner regions will significantly reduce the risk for both sides, banks and companies. Access to finance for innovation projects carried out in transnational partnership of SMEs will be improved by the JOSEFIN Innovation Loan and will unlock investments of SMEs in innovative products and services and support them on their way to business internationalisation and sustainable growth. Supplemented by the the CIP, JEREMIE other regional and national loan products, the volume of the regional fund facilities achieved by the JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Guarantee in million EUR per region is: Berlin 10; Estonia: 6; Latvia: 30; Lithuania: 37.4; Lower Silesia: 7.5; Lubuskie: 5.5; Western Pomerania: 25; Wielkopolska: 32.5. = Total of 153.9 Achievements: The regional market studies, conducted in the framework of JOSEFIN, showed that lacking access to suitable finance due to risk exposure and low collateralization is the most pressing challenge for SMEs in the BSR. Companies lack support in building know-how and developing strategies for market entry and internationalisation. With the JOSEFIN Service model, a tool has been developed that applies exactly at these needs of SMEs. It combines coaching and financing for innovative SMEs, boosting their capacities and potential. JOSEFIN has implemented the JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Guarantee in almost all of the partner regions. A lot of SMEs have been coached and approved for finance. The best and innovative projects received guarantees to improve their business, going abroad and enter new markets.With the JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Guarantees, the access to finance for SMEs in several regions of the Baltic Sea has been improved, increasing the development chances of technology oriented andinnovative SMEs. JOSEFIN achieved the goal to provide much quicker coaching and financial access due to the convinced house banks that benefit from the risk sharing model of the JOSEFIN guarantee model. The volume of fund facilities providing guarantees in all JOSEFIN regions together is 153.900.000,00 EUR. By the project end 15 innovative SMEs have been approved for funding, followed by many more after the project end.With the JOSEFIN handbook and supporting documents like the implementation toolkit JOSEFIN provides tools for SMEs, regional stakeholders and financial institutions. These published instruments will make sure that results and outcomes of JOSEFIN can be used by other BSR regions in the future.For the JOSEFIN partnership it was a major goal to strengthen and continue this development beyond the project lifetime. With the proposal, Regional Contact Points and the Cooperation Agreement the partner regions state their commitment for the continuation of JOSEFIN servicesafter the project lifetime. Cross-project cooperation and established dedicated contact points in JOSEFIN regions under cooperation within the EEN have underlined the importance of international cooperation and improved access to finance for transnational business activities of SMEs. JOSEFIN contributes to the internationalisation of SMEs through transnational networks and additional benefit from fostering transnational cooperation.As a result of experiences with the role of regional and national policies to enable frameworks for JOSEFIN services, the project was able to discuss policy options that were developed by regional authorities with policy makers from the BSR regions. JOSEFIN has bundled these experiences in policy recommendations, which provide a starting point for more SME friendly innovation policies to help foster the internationalisation of SMEs. The policy recommendations were addressed to the European Commission, stakeholders, regional authorities and policy makers.
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