Hanse-Parlament established an innovation network for SMEs in the Baltic Sea Region
During the EU project "BSR QUICK" structures were created for systematic cooperation between universities, small businesses and chambers: the Baltic Sea Academy has already started to work and focused centers of excellence are being established.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are vital to the prosperity of modern societies in the Baltic Sea region: they account for about 70% of all jobs, unlike big companies they create new jobs and train a large proportion of young people. In order to take on these responsibilities in the future, SMEs need to constantly innovate.
Public innovation promotion programmes do not meet this demand because they focus too much on high technology and large enterprises. "In cluster policy for example, 95% of small and medium enterprises are not included," says Jürgen Hogeforster, Chairman of the Hanse-Parlament.
The Hanse-Parlament has recognised this gap and began to close it within the „BSR QUICK“ project which is part of the EU INTERREG Baltic Sea Region Programme. Within just three years, a great number of measures for SMEs have been implemented, including knowledge and technology transfer, research and development, vocational training and promotion of international cooperation.
The two most outstanding results of the project are the university network "Baltic Sea Academy" and the commenced development of competence centers for SMEs.
Baltic Sea Academy
The Baltic Sea Academy (BSA) is an SME-specific infrastructure consisting of universities, chambers and associations. 15 universities and colleges from nine Baltic Sea countries are working together at the BSA to offer solutions for SMEs, e.g.:
- Transfer of innovation, technology and knowledge to SMEs in cooperation with chambers and associations.
- Applied research and development focused on specific needs of the SME sector.
- Development of Bachelor and Master programmes, in particular dual degree programmes.
Centers of Competence
Hanse-Parlament and the Baltic Sea Academy have identified six areas of growth with specific innovation needs of SMEs: i.a. energy efficiency and environmental protection, human resources and organisational development as well as resource-saving construction.
For each field a Center of Competence will be established: Specialised universities cooperate with chambers of trade, industry and crafts in the Baltic region and support specifically the innovative capacity of SMEs, e.g. through research and development, development of dual bachelor's degree programmes and further education, knowledge and technology transfer.
Initial but tangible work has already begun: Training programmes on corporate social responsibility and energy efficiency have been developed and run, and a project to promote the participation of women and senior people in work life is being conducted.
Tailored Innovation Promotion
The QUICK programme provides SMEs in the Baltic region with broad innovation promotion, addressing all relevant areas. Through the cooperation network it provides tailored services from a single source. These measures, among others, have been realised:
- Development of 3 new further education programmes designed to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, that were implemented in the Baltic Sea region 28 times with over 800 participants.
- Transfer of 5 best-practice measures of further vocational training and implementation in the entire Baltic Sea region.
- 8 Business Forums on new technologies as well as international cooperation match-making events which were attended by over 600 SMEs from all Baltic countries.
- Development of 3 strategy programmes: economic, regional and educational policy for the promotion of innovation in SMEs.
Appreciation by Commissioner Hahn
At the General Assembly of the Hanse-Parlament and the QUICK project on November 15/16 in Brussels, the overall results of the project were presented to the public, including members of the European Parliament and of the EU Commission. "The Hanse-Parlament makes a valuable contribution to achieving the objectives of the EU Baltic Sea strategy, particularly to increase prosperity in the region," said Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy. "I would like to thank you especially for your initiative to involve the academic community in the promotion of SMEs." Hahn also praised the atmosphere of trust that the Hanse-Parlament has created, so that 50 member associations from all Baltic countries can work together constructively.
At a reception in the Hanse-Office, the strategy programme "Innovation in Regional Policy" was presented, which was appreciated by the member of the European Parliament Jan Olbrycht.
Having been invited by the Hamburg MEP Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, the representatives of the Hanse-Parlament and the Baltic Sea Academy discussed with other parliamentarians the objectives of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy. In this context Tunne Kelam, MEP and member of the Baltic-Europe Intergroup, called for closer cooperation between the countries in the Baltic Sea region and also praised the work of the Hanse-Parlament: "Your conference in Brussels is an encouraging sign for us."
At a conference Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, received the economic strategy programme of the Hanse-Parlament, and the chances of a European tax reform for SMEs was discussed.
BSR-QUICK in a nutshell
„Qualification, Innovation, Cooperation and Key business for Small and Medium Enterprises in the Baltic Sea Region“ Duration: 2009 to 2012 Budget: 3,688,000 Euro, part-financed by the INTERREG Baltic Sea Region programme of the EU
Main measures inter alia.:
- Establishment of a Baltic Sea Academy with 15 universities from nine Baltic Sea countries
- Development of an infrastructure and innovation promotion network with cooperation of chambers, SMEs and universities
- Development of 3 SME-specific innovation clusters
- Knowledge and technology transfer
- Conducting R&D projects for 75 SMEs
- Preparation of business and investment plans for 500 SMEs
- Development and implementation of further education programmes on new technologies
- International business forums and cooperation events for SMEs in all sectors
- Development of 3 strategic policy programmes and their insertion in political decision-making processes at regional, national and international level
The Hanse-Parlament is an association of 50 chambers of commerce, industry and crafts as well as other SME supporters from the entire Baltic region. The members serve a total of approximately 450,000 small and medium enterprises. The aim of the Hanse-Parlament is to promote medium-sized companies and to strengthen the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region.
The results of the QUICK programme were summarised in a multilingual brochure which can be obtained from the Secretariat of the Hanse-Parlament:
Blankeneser Landstr. 7, 22587 Hamburg, Germany
phone: +49 40 822447-0
email: email@example.com www.hanse-parlament.eu
Detailed information can be found in 8 books that have published in by the Baltic Sea Academy.
10 Steps to a New Regional Policy
Presentation of an innovative programme in Brussels at a conference with members of the European Parliament and EU Commissioner Hahn
The Hanse-Parlament presented a compact strategy for an innovative regional policy in the Baltic Sea region. Core elements include international cooperation, tailored in-novation support measures and a system of financial compensation among all Baltic Sea states.
Therefore, the Hanse-Parlament has adopted a new strategy for the Baltic Sea region, to secure innovation, growth and prosperity. The strategy was developed with 39 partners (chambers, universities, public administrations) from all Baltic Sea countries as part of the EU-funded project “BSR QUICK”. Through this strategy, the sub-regions will be able to ex-ploit their full potentials, which benefits the entire Baltic Sea region.
The strategy in a nutshell:
1. Cooperation und Integration
Close cooperation between the countries and regions of the Baltic Sea region is mandatory and must be expanded. Cooperation is a source of innovation, strengthens the competitive-ness of the region and provides critical market sizes.
2. Regional competition and fiscal compensation
Cooperation does not mean absence of competition, but merging strengths in order to achieve the best performance of each location and region. Financial compensation between financially stronger and weaker regions is in the interests of recipient as well as donor re-gions.
3. Equal living conditions and functional division of labour
Equality may only relate to a few basic conditions. It has to be combined with a concerted division of labour between locations and regions according to their respective strengths, so that they complement each other perfectly.
4. Individual cultures and regional self-esteem
A unified culture is nonsense. It is detrimental to the people and the environment. Diversity promotes creativity and innovation. A balance of regional self-esteem and appreciation of the diversity of the Baltic regions is required.
5. Endogenous potential and smart specialisation
Investments should be directed to the promotion of region-specific strengths. When individual potentials are being tapped even rural areas can grow. The prerequisite for this is the coop-eration between rural areas and urban centres, as well as excellent transport infrastructure and communication networks.
6. Regional economic cycles and promoting existing business
Strengthening regional economic cycles should be given priority. Consistent development of already existing companies stipulate economic success and is also the most effective tool for attracting new businesses. Skilled labour, entrepreneurship, initiative and creativity are the main endogenous potential of a region and should be encouraged.
7. SMEs and networks
Small and medium enterprises strengthen regional development, create jobs and therefore have the highest priority. The chambers should be strengthened and developed as central promotion agencies for SMEs. They must provide services comprehensively in the entire region.
8. Innovation and knowledge partnerships
In order to boost innovation, cooperation between universities and SMEs has to be improved. Chambers can act as intermediaries and provide services to rural areas. For fields with out-standing growth prospects specific centers of competence for SMEs are being developed.
9. Decentralisation and autonomy
In response to globalisation, greater regionalisation and decentralisation is taking place. This development should definitely be supported. Regional and local circles reduce costs, allow growth and promote direct social interaction.
10. Centre concept and infrastructure
The range of public and private services must be extended in rural areas. This can be done inexpensively: Due to modern technologies, intensive networking and HR and organisational development small, decentralised units have become considerably cost effective. Megalo-mania should be replaced by the principle “small is beautiful”. Development and maintenance of good transport infrastructure ensures the development of centres and regions.
Like the Hanse-Parlament, Tunne Kelam, MEP and member of the Baltic-Europe Intergroup, also called for closer cooperation between the countries in the Baltic region and praised the work of the Hanse-Parlament: “Your conference in Brussels is an encouraging sign for us.”
The detailed strategy programme has been published as a book by the Baltic Sea Academy: „Strategy program for innovation in regional policies in the Baltic Sea Region“.
The Hanse-Parlament is an association of 50 chambers of commerce, industry and crafts as well as other SME supporters from the entire Baltic region. The members serve a total of approximately 450.000 small and medium enterprises. The aim of the Hanse-Parlament is to promote small and medium-sized companies and to strengthen the competitiveness of the Baltic Sea region.
The Secretariat of the Hanse-Parlament is glad to answer your questions:
Blankeneser Landstr. 7, 22587 Hamburg, Germany
phone: +49 40 822447-0
More information can be found in the book „Strategy Programme for innovation in regional policies in the Baltic Sea Region” (texts printed in English, German and Polish language)