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Peer Learning of Innovation Agencies for Services of Access to Finance for Innovative SMEs

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AccesSME (Peer Learning of Innovation Agencies for Services of Access to Finance for Innovative SMEs)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2017-11-30

Innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) usually lack the internal resources to successfully commercialise innovations. And yet, these SMEs often find it very hard to obtain finance because they tend to have riskier business models, which are important to create new markets, but are also difficult for banks to value. However, there are many other sources of finance that could be utilised by the companies - venture capital, risk finance, crowdfunding, participation in international and national research and innovation (R&I) funding programmes etc. SMEs usually do not possess required competencies and extensive knowledge of these measures. Innovation agencies could play a key role in encouraging SMEs to explore new sources of financing by designing and delivering a number of advisory actions and implementing specific initiatives, together with an array of other services for small businesses. Yet very often innovation agencies require the deeper knowledge themselves to promote all available opportunities for access to finance to the business community. Additionally, some agencies lack the institutional and organizational capacity for such activities. This is usually one of the main reasons why various financing options are not exploited as much as possible on a national/regional level by the SMEs, resulting in lost opportunities for business growth. AccesSME project will help to overcome these hurdles by exploring 3 sources of acces to finance:
1) Business to business (B2B) matching for partnerships and investments
2) Horizon 2020 SME Instrument
3) Crowdfunding.
Partners identified and analysed elements of implemented good practices, which in turn were developed to address identified challenges. Three meetings of the consortium – in Athens (Greece), Tallinn (Estonia) and Vilnius (Lithuania) were held to discuss the delivery of the improved services, to provide a basis for design options and include them in the Design Options Paper (DOP). These options allow for adapting schemes to the specific national or regional environment. All the meetings involved the peer learning between organizations.
The information that was gathered in meetings and from outside sources were included in this DOP and organized to be as practically usable as possible – project partners prepared guidelines, checklists and step-by-step guides for different issues. It should help other innovation agencies to use this information to develop new services for their clients or to integrate into existing services. Some points covered could be used when organizing business-to-investors events, consulting companies about participation in Horizon 2020 SME Instrument or how to attract financing from crowdfunding.
The Design Options Paper will enable the transfer of good practices from one agency to another, not only for those participating in the project but for innovation agencies across the EU. By using collective experience and knowledge, partners developed new approaches to address the identified shortcomings and failures of existing practices, in sustainable and effective ways. Thus, the partnership provided an insight of challenges faced by innovative SMEs and a set of tools which will facilitate all innovation agencies to improve their services.
AccesSME project meeting in Athens
AccesSME projekct meeting in Tallinn
AccesSME meeting in Vilnius