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Mainstreaming INnovative Instruments for SME development in Europe (MINI EUROPE)
Start date: Sep 10, 2008, End date: Aug 30, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) make an important contribution to regional economic performance by creating jobs, supporting innovation and delivering economic growth. MINI EUROPE aims to exchange and develop regional policies in SME development, focussing on the main theme of providing a transparant infrastructure for innovation to SMEs. MINI EUROPE partners will improve existing instruments and import new instruments that will strengthen regional infrastructures to support SMEs in innovation. A specific issue MINI EUROPE will deal with in this context is enhancing cooperation and knowledge exchange between SMEs and knowledge institutes. MINI EUROPE partners believe that providing a good innovation infrastructure to new entrepreneurs will boost economic activities. To accelerate economic growth MINI EUROPE will share and develop regional policy instruments to get more people involved in entrepreneurship.In this context MINI EUROPE will address in particular the issue of increasing involvement of underrepresented groups in entrepreneurshipThe MINI EUROPE partnership combines the experience of 8 regions from all parts of Europe: Flevoland (NL, lead), Tameside (UK), Észak-Alföld (HU), Maramures (RO), ALMI Mid Sweden, Valencia/IMPIVA (ES), Patras Science Park and Veneto region (IT). Veneto region is represented by two partners. MINI EUROPE is initiated by regional politicians sharing the vision that strengthening regional SME development requires an integrated approach built on the interrelated factors described above. By bringing together and capitalising their methods and experiences, all partners can strongly improve their performance in this field. MINI EUROPE will document existing good practice in SME development in the partner regions and from relevant Interreg projects in a Catalogue of experience. The partners will then engage in bilateral experience transfers,matching a partner exporting a specific good practise with a partner importing it. After thorough preparation a delegation of the exporting region will visit the importing region to train and assist local staff directly in implementing the good practise. As each partner has successful tools to offer, as well as development needs related to the project themes, all of them will both export and import two tools. The main themes are further deepened in a series of thematic conferences for regional experts. Two main conferences will address the core issues of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation for SMEs. In preparation for these, thematic video workshops on related sub themes will be organised. At the end of the project each region will develop an action plan to implement the lessons of this project, including policy recommendations and actions to be implemented in regional competitiveness and convergence programmes and other EU schemes. Achievements: SME's capacity for innovation contributes strongly to their competitiveness. Regions can facilitate the innovation process by providing a strong innovation infrastructure for SME's. This is what Mini Europe is about; 8 regions have joined forces to improve their regional infrastructure by exchanging good practices and bringing together their experts during conferences and creative workshops. Until December 2009, the partners have described 22 good practices from their region. Furthermore, 11 good practices relevant to Mini Europe, were collected from other Interreg projects. These practices can be found on the interactive project's website The project partners have discussed with regional stakeholders to determine which good practices from other regions would be valuable for their own region and vice versa. This has resulted in a match between importing and exporting regions. In the current project phase, the partners have started importing and exporting the good practices of their choice. Information is exchanged by means of video conferencing and field visits. Until now, 3 video conferences and 3 field visits were organized. For example, Flevoland (NL) has exchanged information about the implementation of "Summer Entrepreneur" and the "Summer Design Office" from Mid Sweden. The latter is a proven concept where design students with different skills work in a company during the summer to create new ideas for product and business development. And Észak-Alföld (HU) has decided to import the "Cluster Support Environments Model" from the North West Region (UK), which considers the physical infrastructure requirements of a business cluster. Valencia (ES) started importing the Financial Engineering programme from Veneto (IT), which combines a guarantee system for innovative investments, a revolving fund for SME's innovative investments and a venture capital and private equity fund. The financial engineering programme leads to better access to finance and reduced costs for innovation. Mini Europe offers a great opportunity for the participating regions to improve their innovation infrastructure. However, the ambition is to make a larger public profit of the results of Mini Europe. Therefore, we have dedicated many efforts to communication activities; apart from launching the website, 3 Mini Europe newsletters have been published and distributed to more than 7900 contact persons, we published 2 thematic folders (1000 printed copies each) and Mini Europe was news in press and media a 28 times already. About 170 people participated in 3 events we organised (in Lelystad, Sundsvall and Veneto) and we have presented Mini Europe on 19 other events.
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  • 2007 - 2013 Interreg IVC
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