European cities and regions can confront the global locational competition only with joint efforts and potentials beyond individual interests. With this in mind, the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues organised within the network “Oder-Partnerschaft” and in close cooperation with the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region the bilateral economic conference “Berlin-Wielkopolska 2010”, which took place in Berlin’s Science and Technology Park Adlershof on 24th June 2010. Both the number of participants and their affiliations reflect the attractiveness of the event: over 120 participants from Berlin-Brandenburg and Wielkopolska attended the meeting, including renowned representatives from industry, science and politics, who actively helped to shape a successful conference.
The event was addressing issues such as innovation policy with focus on regional cluster initiatives as well as cross-border cooperation potentials within the proliferating industries design and ICT in both regions. The most frequently raised issue was the finance of joint transregional projects. A solution was offered by Ms. Irene Schucht, head of department “Product, Strategy and Development” in Investitionsbank Berlin and project director of JOSEFIN, who introduced the JOSEFIN initiative to the audience. The innovation loan guarantees and coaching offers developed within JOSEFIN will facilitate the access to finance for innovation and internationalisation projects of SMEs in the Baltic Sea Region. Primarily, the conference was designed to provide insights into the current status and trends in the growing industries ICT and design in Berlin-Brandenburg and Wielkopolska. The participants seized the occasion to discover common interests and establish useful contacts for future cooperations. More in-depth discussions on common topics such as Green IT, Future Internet and Design were led in two separate workshops on ICT and design.
Berlin’s Senator Harald Wolf, who was hosting the conference, and the Vice Marshal of the Wielkopolska Voivodeship Leszek Wojtasiak discovered a number of common interests of both regions and agreed on the need to enhance cooperation and to promote it by concrete measures.
The Brandenburg Economic Development Board ZAB presented innovative and technological enterprises from Brandenburg and Berlin on the fair Innovations-Technologies-Machines, which took place in June 2010 in Poznan. This event was a good occasion not only for the extension of sales opportunities but also to find partners for common projects. In a close cooperation with partners from Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie, Dolnośląskie and Lubuskie, the ZAB organised on 10th June a cooperation event called “Business mixer” for entrepreneurs from the Josefin regions. For this reason, short profiles of the enterprises were distributed in the regions well before the event, using channels such as the Enterprise Europe Network. A few days before the event, all participating entrepreneurs received a catalog with the profiles in order to identify interesting cooperation offers.
The meeting took place in the area used by exhibitors from Brandenburg and Berlin, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate the own offers to the participants from Poland. At the beginning of the event, Rolf Banisch from the ZAB introduced the JOSEFIN project, its main idea and results striven for. In the second part, individual meetings of the nearly 50 participants from Germany and Poland opened the possibility for new business contacts and cooperation.
Potential cooperations might be involving the introduction of laser processing steps for medical implants or the development of processing technologies for structural metal sheet enabling steel lightweight constructions. Although a financing instrument for the Brandenburg region is not in use yet, elements of coaching are applicable to support the follow-up process.
On 25th and 26th May 2010, a working group meeting within JOSEFIN Work Package 4 “Transnational Innovation Projects of SMEs and Individual Coaching“ was conducted in Poznan to share insights into the preparation of pilot coaching activities in JOSEFIN regions.
Many of the partners in charge of WP4 reported to be in negotiations with interested companies with internationalisation ambitions and innovation potential. Different approaches, experiences, needs and framework conditions in the regions led to further discussions on the definition of coaching, financing and selecting coaches, case study coaching, public procurement rules while selecting the coach.
The partners agreed on the need for common guidelines for the selection of coaches, which are to be elaborated within the Work Package. Technikdalen
will share its experience in planning and documenting coaching, which is free to be adapted by the organisations developing coaching.
JOSEFIN partners can find further details in section “Meetings” of the partner area.
On 6th May 2010, the Enterprise Europe Network Berlin Brandenburg organised the event “Berlin-Brandenburg: Research & Development for Europe”. The event took place within the European SME Week 2010 and was also part of the Berlin year of Science. Another reason and topic for the event was the half-time of the 7th Framework Programme and the presentation of the newly established Knowledge and Innovation Communities.
About 140 participants attended the event eager to learn more about European research and development promotion, its results and related opportunities for innovation. In addition to a panel discussion, different lectures addressed the promotion of research and development in the European Union. Together with other EU-projects and EU programmes, JOSEFIN presented itself with an information desk in order to outline additional possibilities of financing for innovation projects and cross boarder cooperation of SME.
In the middle of April, the JOSEFIN partners and guests from the Swedish Ministry of Finance, the Polish Bank of the National Economy and representatives of the BSR project Creative Metropoles came together in Riga, Latvia. The new project director Ms. Irene Schucht and project manager Mr. Thomas Hüttich took the occasion to introduce themselves officially. During the meeting, JOSEFIN officially entered into a partnership with the Interreg IV C project "Creative Metropoles".
Again, the need for acceptable conditions for access to finance placed JOSEFIN into the broader context of BSR development. Mr. Alexander Schenk from Swedish Ministry of Finance provided informative and inspiring insights into the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. He stressed that bank lending was the largest source of external SME finance,however, lack of track record, inadequate security and credit rating outside acceptable ranges remain a major obstacle.
Mr. Wojciech Marcinkiewicz from Bank Gospodarki Krajowej (Polish Bank of the National Economy) spoke about the implementation of the EU initiative JEREMIE in Poland. BGK manages the JEREMIE Holding Funds (MHF) in 5 polish cities (Poznan, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Szczecin and Lodz) with 650.000 active SMEs, 22 Guarantee funds, 25 Loan funds, 160 Collective banks and 1,4 billion € credits and loans for investments. The SMEs investment expenditures amount to 5,5 billion €.
Mr. Audrius Zabotka and Mr. Sander van der Molen from Lithuania introduced the first ready-to-use JOSEFIN Service Model (open interview). Mr. Viesturs Zeps from Investment and Development Agency of Latvia gave an overview of the status quo in the region and introduced the Land and Mortgage Bank of Latvia as a financial partner.
The panel session addressed issues such as the need for flexible instruments for SME’s, JEREMIE as contemplable framework for JOSEFIN in Poland as well as the efforts to reduce collaterals in the JOSEFIN regions. Mr. Schenk underlined that coaching was a crucial part of the JOSEFIN solution and an efficient tool to reduce the risk.
Finally, Mr. Michael Unterberg from EVERS & JUNG presented the market studies of the regions participating in JOSEFIN.
Discussions on SME coaching and project management continued in the evening during a dinner in Riga’s old town.
The second day was devoted to the progress within the work packages, especially to the link between financial instruments and individual coaching. The introduced general blueprint of JOSEFIN’s coaching model triggered further discussions mainly on the cost sharing between SMEs and financial intermediaries.
Ms. Magda Wojdyla from Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region in cooperation with Ms. Ludmiła Ługowska of Promotion and Development Fund of Wielkopolska Voivodship introduced the status quo in workpackage 4 and suggested the next steps.
One of the results of the cooperation between Polish partners within JOSEFIN ist the establishment of contact points for coaching in each regions with the aim of informing SMEs on opportunities for cooperation with companies abroad.
Ms. Erika Hinz addressed the progress made and the next steps of WP3 including the identification of financial institutions for implementation and the potential application to the EIF.
Mr. Lennart Farje introduced questions from the ex-ante questionnaire and the answering frequency, and addressed issues related to the policy maker seminar scheduled to take place in Zielona Gora, Poland.
Mr. Michal Galkiewicz drew the attention of the participants to the phase of regionally targeted communication of finance and coaching solutions developed within JOSEFIN. A strategy for regional communication will be developed and disseminated to all JOSEFIN partners. Each region should appoint a person who will be in charge of the regional communication activities. The contact details of the person in charge should be submitted to the WP2 leader as soon as the person has been appointed.
JOSEFIN partners can find further details on the JOSEFIN website in section "Meetings" and "WPs in Progress" of the partner area.
More than 400 local and regional representatives, experts, stakeholders and European officials discussed the development and implementation of macro-regional strategies at the Forum on Europe’s Macro-Regions on the 13th April 2010 in Brussels, organised by the Committee of Regions (CoR).
Special attention was drawn to the event’s opening session where the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, gave a brief summary on the current debate about Europe’s post-2013 Cohesion Policy. Based on the priorities of the current EU funding period (2007-2013), the Commissioner stressed the objective of his DG to continue a regional policy for the benefit of all regions in Europe, independent from their classification as “Convergence” or “Competitiveness and Employment” units. Consequently, he underlined that the new concept of European macro-regions is not driven by the intention to substitute the classical, well-proven approach of addressing mainstream structural funds directly to the member states and/or their regions. In contrast, macro-regional strategies may serve as an additional policy instrument for those challenges which need to be jointly tackled on the transnational level. However, Johannes Hahn also clearly emphasised the need of a practice-based bottom-up approach, driven by the active commitment of the participating cities and regions, to be crucial for the success of macro-regional development in Europe.
Based on these initial remarks, various workshops addressed specific issues related to the Baltic Sea Region, the Danube Region and the North Sea Channel Area.
An overview of the JOSEFIN initiative was given by Thorsten Kohlisch, Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues during the Baltic Sea Region’s workshop ‘lessons learnt’. He underlined the need for “transnational approaches to innovation support” and emphasised “the involvement of business partners to be crucial for putting the strategy’s aims into practice”.
One of the most crucial points in regional implementation of the JOSEFIN Model is to involve a wide range of institutions in the assessment and implementation process. An important step to obtain the commitment of the public authorities of Lower Silesia was a meeting which took place on April 6th, 2010 in Wrocław. This event was leaded by representatives of Lower Silesia and supported by Martin Jung (Evers & Jung). Among the participants were persons responsible for regional development, for the implementation of the JEREMIE initiative in Lower Silesia and for supporting SMEs..
The participants agreed that using EU structural funds in revolving financial instruments is the best solution to use the funds in a sustainable way with a long term perspective. This reduces deadweight effects (compared to grants), generates leverage effects in the financing and ensures that suchlike financial support instruments will also be available if the amounts of EU structural funds allocated to the region in the future programming periods will be lower.
Three different options were discussed for the implementation of the JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Guarantee in Lower Silesia:
- To open a new window in the existing regional loan guarantee instrument for innovation projects with reduced collateral requirements if the SME accepts
a coach accompanying the implementation of the project. This product could be a subject of fund’s application to upcoming JEREMIE calls for proposal dedicated to guarantee funds.
- To include a specific innovation guarantee window in the call for proposal for the implementation of the JEREMIE loan guarantee in Lower Silesia. Again, this would include reduced collateral requirements and accompanying coaching. This change requires participation and approval of BGK Board, Investment Board of Holding Fund and Managing Authority (Board of the Lower Silesia). Hence, the decision making process may be too time-consuming to be completed prior to the first call for proposal, which will be open in two/three weeks.
- To include the JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Guarantee as a separate new instrument in the future JEREMIE calls for proposal for more innovative projects coming up in 2011/12.
The options described will be further elaborated and potentially implemented within the existing regional frameworks.
On 4th and 5th March, the Regional Development Agency (ARR) organised a meeting within JOSEFIN Work Package 6 "Impact Assessment, Evaluation and Policy Recommendations" in Zielona Góra, Poland.
The meeting started with a welcoming speech of Hanna Nowicka, Chairman of Regional Development Agency in Zielona Góra and short presentation of meeting agenda. The objectives of the meeting were to address the achievements made so far and make further steps towards the evaluation plan, methodology, measurable indicators, measuring time and allocation of responsibilities.
On 4th March Lennart Färje, WP6 Leader spoke about what has been done
within WP6 till then (since WP6 meeting in Szczecin 22-23.10.2009. He also presented the answers sent by project partners concerning the ex-ante evaluation. By the means of special-made questionnaire, each partner was requested to answer 5 questions about participating in JOSEFIN:
1. Which reasons were decisive for your institution to join the JOSEFIN partnership?
2.Which expectations were decisive for your institution to join the
3.Which specific economic needs and demands will be addressed by JOSEFIN in your particular region/ country?
4.In what way could JOSEFIN contribute to the innovation and business
support policies in your region/ country?
5.Who in your organisation should be responsible for the evaluation of JOSEFIN?
It was agreed that according to project workplan the ex-ante
evaluation report should be prepared by the end of July 2010.
On 5th March, Mr. Thorsten Kohlisch introduced the experience of the Policy Maker Seminar in the TEICO-NET project. It was agreed that a detailed plan concerning every PMS within the entire project should be prepared. The plan should describe input and output of every seminar. Mr. Kohlisch also addressed the preliminary aims of the PMS within JOSEFIN:
- INFORMING political-administrative decision-makers about the aims, instruments and (expected) impacts of JOSEFIN;
- STRENGTHENING political support to foster the smooth implementation of JOSEFIN;
- INTEGRATING JOSEFIN in regional development, innovation and / or internationalisation strategies in order to foster sustainability of JOSEFIN;
- DISCUSSING, DEVELOPING AND RECOMMENDING concepts for future joint measures / instruments to boost competitiveness and innovativeness of SMEs in the Baltic Sea Region.
JOSEFIN partners can find further details on the JOSEFIN website in section "Meetings" of the partner area.
On 1st and 2nd March 2010, the project partners met in Stockholm to discuss the JOSEFIN innovation loan guarantee and the updated work plan, the regional market studies, a workshop in exchange of experiences in setting up the regional partnerships, the coaching model developed within WP4 and of course the review process and next steps.
Fast progress was reported from Lithuania: INVEGA presented a financial instrument based on an existing JEREMIE loan funds with the option of including a further EIF counter-guarantee. Congratulations!
In Latvia, LIAA is in advanced talks with the "Land and Mortgage Bank" regarding an existing loan fund with CIP counter-guarantee.
The polish regions are aiming at regional solutions based on JEREMIE funds.
In Sweden, Innovationsbronn has declined to implement a financial scheme based on the JOSEFIN model. Teknikdalen is in talks with ALMI, Swedbank and SEB for further options.
In Norway, an innovation loan scheme already exists (run by Innovation Norway). Oslo Teknopol will discuss whether the implementation of JOSEFIN’s financial instrument is conceivable
In Germany, IBB (Berlin) and ILB (Brandenburg) are preparing a joint application for a CIP counter-guatantee to develop existing loan products towards a JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Guarantee. The banking survey for Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern revealed a huge demand for banking counter-guarantees.
After addressing the results of the regional market studies, introduced by Michael Unterberg, the participants were focussing on the combination of JOSEFIN and JEREMIE and the letters of intent which have already been signed.
In addition, both the JOSEFIN Coaching Model and JOSEFIN Pilot Coaching were presented with the information that the registration form for interested SMEs has already been prepared.
During the second day, existing regional financial instruments and the status quo of the planned JOSEFIN instrument in every region were discussed.
JOSEFIN partners can find further details on the JOSEFIN website in section "Meetings" of the partner area.
On 27th and 28th January 2010, a JOSEFIN project meeting focussing on the Work Packages 3 and 4 was held in Berlin. The meeting was hosted by Lead Partner Investitionsbank Berlin (IB).
Among the attendees, most of whom are affiliated with WP3 and WP4, were representatives of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) from the Polish Bank Association Arkadiusz Lewicki and Magdalena Malachowska, and the representative of the partner project BaSIC Carolin Domann.
Issues related to the JOSEFIN coaching model were scheduled for the first day. The session was preceded by a brief introduction. Carolin Domann reported on new achievements within BaSIC. She also underlined the advantage of using synergies between both projects in order to provide complementary advisory service to innovative SMEs with international ambitions. Omar Saoudi of Wielkopolska Agency for Enterprise Development started the WP4 session with a draft for a JOSEFIN coaching model proposing a common procedure complemented by flexible regional approaches. Several objections regarding the executive status of coaches within approved projects as well as the SME and coaching criteria have been expressed and subsequently discussed.
A brief introduction of Mr. Lewicki from the CIP preceded insights into approaches towards SME coaching shared by representatives of Teknikdalen Foundation Sweden and Lithuanian Innovation Centre.
The second day was dedicated to Work Package 3. Representing the WP3 Leader, Erika Hinz opened the first session with an update of the working plan outlining the following steps. Subsequently, the links and Interfaces between WP3 and WP4 and the corresponding time schedule were introduced by consulting engeneer Holger Zeiser.
Project Manager Dr. Torsten Mehlhorn carried on with the upcoming Steering Committee decisions scheduled for the meeting in Riga, which is due to take place from 13th to 14th April 2010. First of all, the application form is to be updated. This is due to the recently gained insights indicating that there are different regional needs and conditions, which is again suggesting the need of national (well-matched) guarantee instruments rather than the initially planned joint transnational fund for all regions.
Consequential budget changes are to be calculated and discussed during the meeting in Riga. Interesting insights related to the implementation of the financial instrument were given by Magdalena Malachowska and Arkadiusz
Lewicki. Insights into the corporate landscape, application regulations
and the demand for CIP funding in Poland were supplemented with a discussion on parallel project funding from different EU Programmes, especially in the case of CIP funding. As for JOSEFIN, the question arose whether a combination of CIP and JEREMIE is conceivable to finance the project (apart from double funding). The discussion was triggered by following statement of the CIP experts, which is referable to Commission’s regulations: „The use of JEREMIE and CIP funding by the same institution would not be an optimal use of Community funds and should therefore be avoided“. In this regard, the CIP representatives suggested that the combination of both programmes in Poland was not possible. However, Mr. Lewicki promised to go into the matter after the conference and to inform the JOSEFIN partners. The results will also be posted on JOSEFIN’s website as soon as available. Subsequently, the representatives of JOSEFIN’s regions introduced their finance instrument models. In this regard, a common ground with regional variations especially in terms of the funding structure, is derivable. According to the working plan, the common concept is due to be developed in Riga as well.
The meeting finished with the schedule for the next WP3 steps.
On 20th January 2001, the first of a two meeting series focussing on Work Package 3 took place in Poznań, hosted by the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region. Next day’s meeting was held in Riga and hosted by the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia.
The Agendas of both meetings were similar starting with the updated working plan. All polish regions as well as the partners from Latvia and Lithuania presented the status quo of the regional market studies, which are planned to be finalised by end of January 2010. In this context, it became clear that there is a need for increased guarantee rates in Poland (up to 80 %) with reduced collateral requirements (today at least 100% collateral is required) to improve access to finance for innovative SMEs with viable project ideas. A draft concept for a new “JOSEFIN Innovation Loan Gurantee” was designed during the meetings. All participating regions agreed on this basic concept and will assess on the regional level if and how this can be implemented. All Polish regions will try to establish the same financial instrument for their regions. WARP and FRIPWW will be the lead organisations for the implementation of such facility in Poland. Furthermore, different options on how to establish the most efficient risk sharing models supported by CIP, JEREMIE and regional revolving funds using EU structural funds were discussed.
In the case of INVEGA, the instrument may even be established by adjusting the existing guarantee scheme. On this account, Lithuania may put additional focus on establishing a financial instrument to cover the coaching costs for the period following JOSEFIN.
On 9th December 2009, the 1st EU Financial Engineering Instruments Day took place in Poland’s capital Warszawa, hosted by the exclusive banker’s club of Polish Bank Association and organised by the National Contact Point of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) under the patronage of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), the European Commission and the Polish Minister of Economy.
The main purpose of the meeting was a cross-sectional promotion of financial engineering instruments supported by the EU in Poland. During the meeting, a set of specialised financial tools available in Poland within the period 2007-2013 was presented and major changes scheduled to be implemented next year were discussed.
The president of BGK Tomasz Mirończuk underlined the role and function of his bank in the future financial support system for SME in Poland. Arkadiusz Lewicki, Director of National Contact Point for CIP, outlined the role of CIP as an information point for beneficiaries and financial institutions regarding matters such as potential alternative sources of grant funding and changes of EU commission’s policies from a non-refundable aid to more effective supporting tools.
The representative of project partner WARP Jarosław Nowicki introduced the EU co-financed project JOSEFIN. Its presentation alongside the EU initiatives JEREMIE and JESSICA suggests an equal attitude towards the project and is an evidence for appreciation.
The meeting in Warszawa offered an opportunity to present the idea of JOSEFIN to the potential partners from the commercial bank sector as well as to the decision makers form BGK. More details are available on the Polish website of CIP at www.cip.gov.pl
The conference that has been organised and mainly chaired by the Wielkopolska Agency for Enterprise Development Ltd, took place on November 6th, 2009 in Baranowo.
Krzysztof Len, President of the Wielkopolska Development and Promotion Fund SA (Guarantee Fund of Wielkopolska region) introduced JOSEFIN and explained in detail its service model, describing the entire process and giving practical examples for potential beneficiaries.
Subsequently, Tomasz Lewandowski (Director of the Regional Financial Institution in charge of the European funds for companies, which operates within WARP Ltd.) outlined the management approach within business support programmes, focussing on the actual needs of SMEs in terms of support/grant tools.
Both presentations were succeeded by a lively mutual debate on coaching services and the necessity of implementing JOSEFIN in European regions.
After the presentation of the JEREMIE initiative and its achievements, held by the representative of the National Property Bank (in charge of this initiative in Wielkopolska), the correlation between JEREMIE and JOSEFIN was warmly discussed.
In addition, JOSEFIN service models from two more partner regions with their minor region-related differences were shared and mutually discussed together with the service model of Wielkopolska.
The final debate focussing on the effectiveness of JOSEFIN’s instrument resulted in the common conclusion that European regions need such instruments including coaching for innovation and internationalisation of SMEs.
On 28th October 2009, Rafał Baniak, Minister for Economic Affairs of Poland, opened the 2nd Economic Conference Poland held at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Berlin, Germany.
It was stated that the economical and the cross-border cooperation between Poland and Berlin is a success story enhanced by JOSEFIN and the Oder-Partnership amongst other supportive programmes and cooperations.
On 28th October 2009, JOSEFIN was presented at the „EU Finance Day of SMEs“ in Riga.
"The "EU Finance Day for SMEs" is a series of events in the Member States that the European Commission is organising to inform about the EU financial instruments for SMEs together with the national financial intermediaries that implement these instruments locally. The aim is to raise awareness about different sources of finance and provide a forum for sharing good practices in helping innovative SMEs get easier access to finance."
Source: Eu Finance day for SMEs
More than 100 attendees came together, including officials from European Commission (DG Economic and Financial Affairs, DG Enterprise and Industry, DG Research) and representatives of the European Investment Fund (EIF), the Latvian Finance Ministry, several Latvian Banks, Universities, SMEs and other institutions engaged mainly the support of SMEs. The main issues on the agenda were the European Commission’s SME policies; the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), focusing on CIP Financial Instruments and their implementation; experiences with EU financial instruments in Latvia, e.g. loan guarantees, Venture Capital and other financing sources; presentations of further opportunities for SMEs, as well as their views and needs. During the meeting, JOSEFIN was presented as a new instrument to support the access to finance for SMEs and boost innovation by Anete Vitola of Latvian Investment and Development Agency. The JOSEFIN model received very positive feedback.
On October 22nd and 23rd, 2009, Polish Entrepreneurs Foundation (PFP) organised the WP6 (Impact Assessment, Evaluation and Policy Recommendations) Meeting in Szczecin, Poland.
The meeting started with the welcoming speech of Ms. Barbara Bartkowiak, President of PFP Management Board, followed by a TV feature broadcasted on EURONEWS which introduces the Oderpartnership and JOSEFIN as good practice for the support of cross-border cooperation.
The objectives of the meeting were to discuss the achievements made so far and make further steps towards the evaluation plan and methodology, measurable indicators, measuring time and allocation of responsibilities.
Achievements delivered by two working groups established during the meeting
include a draft of the evaluation plan consisting of 4 parts:
A. Ex-ante evaluation (with or without scenario, situation in the region, SME motivation),
B. Project progress evaluation (level of Project Partners) – progress measurement based on indicators (internal), addressing JOSEFIN in the region (external),
C. Impact on regional business (communities/stakeholders),
D. Policy Recommendation / Policy Makers Seminars - presentation of the JOSEFIN Model, obstacles identified, policy makers support.
In addition, the evaluation methodology for Communication (WP2), Finance (WP3), Coaching (WP4) and Cross-Project Cooperation (WP5) as well as the technical (web-based) and content-related development of questionnaires were discussed.
Furthermore, the allocation of responsibilities and the time frame for the next steps, including the first policy maker seminar, were agreed upon.
Registered partners can find further details on the JOSEFIN website in section "Meetings" of the partner area.
From 7th to 9th October, the 2009 Annual Conference of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) took place in Stockholm. Under the heading “Rising to the challenge – Supporting small business in a time of crisis”, 800 experts from all over Europe entered into discussions on how services for small and medium businesses should be tailored to suit their specific needs under the circumstances of the current economic crisis.
Within the Open Space Forum of the Conference, JOSEFIN Coordinator Dr. Torsten Mehlhorn, chaired on October 8th, 2009 an open space discussion, where a group of EEN experts exchanged views on specific needs of SMEs seeking for appropriate finance for going abroad. The experts realised that key objectives of JOSEFIN, such as
- assisting SMEs already in the preparation phase of entering new markets,
- combining business matchmaking services of the EEN during fairs and events with tailor made individual coaching,
- introducing new models of risk-sharing in financing SMEs
- and creating a new type of counter-back guarantee,
are innovative approaches that should be transferred into future initiatives in other regions of Europe.
The EEN Partners with their direct contacts both to companies and local stakeholders in their regions are in a preferred position to take over the role of driving forces for such initiatives, bearing in mind that “…when you cross a border, the game is the same but the rules are different”.
The participants of the discussion round came up with the idea that perhaps an EEN working group should be established to monitor existing projects and develop new interregional initiatives with the help of the EU commission.
The EEN partners within the JOSEFIN project group will follow up these ideas and ensure that discussions about innovative solutions for financing business activities of SMEs across Europe will be a permanent topic on the agenda of the EEN meetings.
Within the framework of the 2009 European Week of Regions and Cities (Open Days), JOSEFIN was invited to join the Workshop “How can the public sector promote regional innovation?” organised by the transnational Baltic Sea Group (BSG) on October 7th in the Brussels Office of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Perfectly moderated by Pascal Cools from Flanders region, the project managers representing Tampere (Demola), Eastern Norway (Innovation Music Network), Estonia (Cross-border e-ticketing), Southwest Finland (Humak), Riga (Creative Metropoles) and Berlin (JOSEFIN) used the opportunity to exchange their practical experience in order to elaborate new ideas for the future design of regional support tools. “Especially within the European single market, innovation processes rarely stop at political-administrative borders”, Dr. Torsten Mehlhorn underlined during the lively panel discussion. “As a result, innovation support structures on the transnational level, combining the strategic competences of the EU and the applied know-how of the regions, will be of growing importance in the upcoming years.” Moreover, the discussion round highlighted the need for open innovation environments as well as tailor-made approaches for the creative industries and clear-sighted, long-term public sector commitments as core conditions for effective and sustainable innovation policies around the Baltic Sea.
Beyond the BSG-Workshop, the discussion on future EU Cohesion Policy was taking the center stage of this year’s Open Days. Altogether, more than 100 seminars, workshops, debates, exhibitions and meetings involving 214 regions and cities from 33 countries shaped the frame for the largest ever European Regional Policy event.
For more information please visit the Open Days 2009 website.
All presentations of the BSG-Workshop (07A16) can be downloaded here.
JOSEFIN encountered a positive response from EU official Christopher Todd. At the Day of the European Regional Development Fund, Mr. Todd of Directorate-General for Regional Policy, who is in charge of the regional policies in Germany and the Netherlands, praised the project as particularly interesting and attractive. Thus, he confirmed the greatly positive and supportive attitude towards JOSEFIN considering the meeting with Director General Ahner in Brussels.
Among other projects, JOSEFIN was introduced within the ERDF day aimed at Berlin-based enterprises, which took place in ESTREL Hotel Berlin on October 1st, 2009. Several ERDF case studies from the current funding period as well as useful informations on particular funding opportunities and eligibility were shared by speakers and project's stands. The attendees were welcomed by Senator Harald Wolf (Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Women's Issues). Mr. Todd moved on to the importance of the EU contributions to the regional development. Subsequently, Permanent Secretary for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues Dr. Jens Peter Heuer summarised the achievements in industry within the current funding period so far. During a short break, attendees had the opportunity to gain direct insights from particular project stands. The event was continued with comprehensive presentations of projects and funding opportunities.
On September 30th, 2009, the 10th Forum for Polish Entrepreneurs in Germany was carried out in Berlin. The event has been organised by the Department for Trade and Investments (Embassy of the Republic of Poland in the Federal Republic of Germany) in cooperation with Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB).
During the Forum, various aspects of supporting Polish businesses in Germany and vice versa were discussed. JOSEFIN was introduced by Project Manager Dr. Torsten Mehlhorn of Investitionsbank Berlin as a new instrument to boost innovation and cooperation between German and Polish SMEs on both sides.
The meeting was attended by more than 30 participants.
The World Innovation Days, the largest innovation conference in Wielkopolskie, took place from September 28th to October 2nd, 2009. During the five days, nearly 1000 participants form Japan, Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland attended more than 50 panel discussions and lectures. This year's conference focussed on the role of design in the product development and the significance of both clusters and new financial instruments for innovations.
The third day was dedicated to the financial instruments. Leszek Wojtasiak, Deputy Marshall of the Wielkopolska Region, stressed the importance of new financial instruments for the induction of innovation in the region. In this context, Mr. Len of FRIP introduced JOSEFIN in connection with the new possibilities for financing internationalisation and innovative projects. The presence of many financial institution and stake holders gave the opportunity to raise awareness on JOSEFIN along with the existing financial tools and regional programmes for support of innovation.
The introduction of JOSEFIN during the annual World Innovation Days in Poznan was important and fruitful. Hopefully, this occasion can be used next year to present the fast development of our new financial tool for innovation.
“The European Commission and JOSEFIN are pulling together to foster financial engineering beyond regional and national borders”, Torsten Mehlhorn delightedly concluded after his very open and fruitful meeting with the Commission’s representative on September 29th in the heart of Brussels.
But let’s start right at the beginning: Just before this year’s summer break, JOSEFIN raised awareness among decision-makers on the European level. In particular, Dirk Ahner, the Director-General responsible for the European Commission’s Regional Policy, announced his interest to learn more about the JOSEFIN risk sharing model for improved access to finance around the Baltic Sea.
Following his invitation, Torsten Mehlhorn, accompanied by the Head of Berlin’s Brussels Office, Volker Löwe, and the regional authority’s project partner, Thorsten Kohlisch, took the opportunity to discuss the attributes of JOSEFIN with the European policy-maker and his colleague responsible for the tasks of European Territorial Cooperation, Eveline Petrat.
Especially having in mind the challenges of the current world economic crisis, the meeting partners jointly emphasized the need for tailor-made financial solutions to boost the global competitiveness of European entrepreneurs and regions. In this context, the JOSEFIN partnership received a valuable compliment for perfectly serving the strategic goal of the European Commission to extend the scope of revolving financial instruments within their future funding programmes. Already today, the enhanced substitution of traditional grant schemes by refund-oriented portfolios is a defined priority for the EU Cohesion Policy from 2014.
Beyond the joint task of innovative financial engineering, both sides stressed the growing importance of transnational cooperation between entrepreneurs and/ or research institutions in order to successfully develop and exploit innovation-driven business solutions. As a result, Dirk Ahner and Eveline Petrat underlined the potential of JOSEFIN’s transnational approach to provide a role model for other European macro-regions such as the Central European space or the North-West Europe cooperation area.
Hence, a high benchmark has been set for the 23 partner institutions between Tallinn and Wrocław. At the same time, the Commission’s assurance to back-up the smooth implementation of the JOSEFIN approach in the partner regions provides a solid frame for the work lying ahead of the partnership. Thus, the ground is well prepared to put theory into practice.
A meeting attended by all JOSEFIN partners took place from 16th to 18th September in Dalarna, Sweden
Following the first day's sessions, all attendees visited the Falun Copper Mine that has been recognised as a World Heritage Site. In a guided tour, the copper mining process during many years was described.
In the evening, the team of JOSEFIN was invited to a Swedish buffet dinner by the Governor of Dalarna, Mrs Maria Norrfalk. The soiree took place at the residence in Falun, which was built in the early 17th century and attracted the guests with its old furniture and famous paintings. The occasion to discuss JOSEFIN with the Governor was also taken.
After the second day's sessions, the team faced the surprise task of painting an own Dala horse (the national symbol of Sweden). The attendees became acquainted with the story of the Dala horse and were also given the opportunity to taste local specialities such as horse sausage and venison.
On day three of the meeting , the team had the opportunity to visit local companies, such as Siljan Chark (a slaughterhouse specialising in local meat products) and Nils Olsson Handicraft in Nusnäs, where Mr. Olsson held a lecture about the internationalisation of the company.
The meeting was overall well received by the attendees.
Registered partners can find further details on the JOSEFIN website in section "Meetings" of the partner area.
The aim of the WP2 (Communication and Information) presentation was to give an outline of the achievements during the first project period as well as discuss the main activities of the next project periods.
Michal Galkiewicz summarised the major parts of the JOSEFIN Communication Strategy that has been approved by JTS. Furthermore, communication tools utilised so far, such as newsletter and e-newsletter as well as new function of the JOSEFIN website were presented. In the second part of the presentation, new ways of an effective and enjoyable communication were proposed: the use of WEB 2.0 social services such as Facebook and the initiation of a photo contest. All partners were kindly asked to provide information about JOSEFIN on their own internet sites as well as during all relevant regional events and meetings. The reliance on assistance in terms of reporting on relevant activities was also stressed.
The main issues occupying the WP3 (Financial Support Instruments for innovative SMEs) session were the implementation of regional market studies and the descriptions of regional products and implementation models.
The attendees agreed that every region is free to use its own methodology. However, a common structure of the analysis and reports should be proposed by Work Package Leader Teknikdalen. Draft reports of the regional studies are to be submitted by the end of the year.
The procedure for describing a model for financing on the basis of the product designed by the NRW Bank, which has preliminarily been submitted to the EIF, was also agreed upon during the session. A blueprint provided by the Lead Partner will be adapted by all regions, which shall result in a national preliminary information designated for the EIF.
Registered partners can find further details on the JOSEFIN website in section "Meetings" of the partner area.
The presentation of the WP4 (Transnational Innovation Projects of SMEs and Individual Coaching), held by Omar Saoudi (FRIPWW), focused on the Good Practice coaching models, like the PARP and PHILLIPS, which can be useful for JOSEFIN. Furthermore, experiences from the “move2health” initiative were shared and the Swedish model for coaching was presented.
The participants discussed the steps scheduled for the second project period. The necessity of a common basis for the coaching platform, the regional service models, the profile of coaches and SME allowing criteria was agreed upon.
Guidelines covering different JOSEFIN Service Models are due to be released by the end of 2009.
The aim of the WP5 (Cross-project Cooperation) session was to present and discuss both the achievements made so far and the main activities planned for the project`s implementation during the second project period.
WP5 leader is Wroclaw Centre for Technology Transfer (WCTT) based in Lower Silesia, Poland.
According to the working plan and previous discussions, this aim will be achieved in three steps: STEP 1 – identification of projects and potential partners at local, national and international level; STEP 2 – establishing of cooperation through agreements and personal contacts; STEP 3 – information exchange and other forms of cooperation.
The allocation of responsibilities within the working group has been agreed as follows: WCTT will identify transnational projects, networks or institutions dealing with financial tools and/or supporting activities for innovative SMEs, whereas other WP 5 members will focus on national and regional projects. An aggregate list of projects or networks for possible cooperation (with all necessary contact persons and contact details) is expected as a result of the first step.
First contacts have already been initiated by WCTT and an initial list of projects has been established. In july 2009, WCTT prepared a template for a cooperation agreement that can be adjusted by the JOSEFIN partners to their needs. All the agreements are to be signed by the IBB (Lead Partner) on the part of JOSEFIN. Within the second project period, the list of projects is to be elaborated, three cooperation agreements are to be signed, and presentations at external events are to be carried out.
The areas of cooperation with other projects, networks or institutions may include the exchange of experience, information, companies' needs or cross-project clients transfer. Furthermore, three workshops for other projects' leaders are planned to be carried out within the period 2010-2011 and a series of JOSEFIN presentations will be made at external events. A handbook on leading SMEs to finance is planned to be released in 2012.
During the WP6 (Impact Assessment, Evaluation and Policy Recommendations)session, attendees collected evaluation indicators in four different categories corresponding with the JOSEFIN Work Packages 2,3,4 and 5. The collection is due to be supplemented and amended by the WP6 members considering the additional suggestions made by the other WP Leaders. In addition, WP6 Leader Lennart Färje proposed a questionnaire as a possible evaluation tool.
Issues occupying WP6 after its first meeting, such as the definitions of internationalisation and innovation, have already been resolved in preceding sessions of the Dalarna conference, according to Mr. Färje.
“Internationalisation is a trump card in the competition between locations” stessed the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit during the International Colloquium on Science Parks and Innovative Regions in Berlin Adlershof. International cooperations play a major role for prospering economic development and competitiveness. Thus, initiatives such as JOSEFIN are confirmed to be indispensable for the future.
The Colloquium took place on the September 9th, 2009 in Berlin. The 100th anniversary of Berlin`s technology park Adlershof gave rise to the event. Mr. Mehlhorn took the opportunity to introduce JOSEFIN and induce closer ties to BaSIC. As JOSEFIN, BaSIC is a project of the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013. The initiative aims to build a „Baltic Sea Archipelago of Innovation“ with seamless working conditions for innovative SMEs that will accelerate the innovation dynamics in large cities. The project will identify, select, train and coach SMEs, which will gain access to international markets. In this context, BaSIC will acquaint the selected SMEs with the financial instruments developed within JOSEFIN.
Further objectives of the colloquim were Measuring Performance for Science and Technology Parks (STP) with a focus on relevant criteria to specify sustainable growth, tools for innovative SME support in STPs, opportunities for closer international networking of incubators and STPs. Afterwards, the science and technology parks as valuable instruments for knowledge based economic growth and the impact of science parks on regional economies were discussed.
On 7th September 2009, JOSEFIN was presented at the Conference „Prognoses for financial instruments supporting regional development – Analysis of trends in financial instruments evolution” in Wrocław.
This was an official introduction of JOSEFIN to financial and business support institutions with the goal to share its concept and encourage attendees to adapt the model to their region. The presentation covered issues such as definitions (innovation and internationalisation), organisational and financial frames of the CIP Program and methods of demand estimation. In addition, the financial instruments in Lower Silesia were discussed. Katarzyna Koper of the Lower Silesian Marshal Office reported on news from JEREMIE: the Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego had been chosen to manage the Silesian Holding Fund with an amount of 104 million złoty that will be used to implement existing and develop new financial products.
The WP3 (Financial Support Instruments for Innovative SMEs) meeting was held on September 6th, 2009 in Wroclaw. The first part was dedicated to the allowing criteria, in particular to the definitions of internationalisation and innovation. In this context, the partners agreed that unifying the type of investment was not necessarily needed, since the criteria could be different in each region. A potential SME beneficiary could cooperate with another SME from non-participating regions, however, only SME’s based in the regions of JOSEFIN would be allowed to use guarantee and coaching services provided by JOSEFIN. Once more, the link between coaching and finance support was highlighted. In general, the need for finance should be the precondition for using the individual coaching services within JOSEFIN. If loans would be rejected, the costs for the individual coaching would be covered by JOSEFIN. Other issues on the agenda included the implementation of both coaching and financial support. At the end of the meeting the idea of using JOSEFIN experiences for launching another project in future (maybe in Central Europe) was expressed.
The workshop entitled “Innovation boost with INTERREG. Perspectives of transnational cooperation for communities and regions” took place on 30th June 2009 in Berlin.
The event was organised by the German Institute of Urban Affairs. More than 30 representatives of several German ministries and institutions engaged mainly in the area of building planning, traffic and urban development took part in the workshop. The main issues on the agenda were the development and implementation of transnational strategies for innovations and the discussion of previous experiences. During the workshop, JOSEFIN was presented as a new instrument to boost innovation by the Project Manager Dr. Torsten Mehlhorn of Investitionsbank Berlin. The JOSEFIN model appeared to be very useful for the urban building sector. Especially the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development showed interest in further dialogue with JOSEFIN.
The first member meeting of the European Network of Financial Instruments was held from 18th to 19th May 2009 in Budapest together with the study visit in Hungary. The event was organised by both the Network’s Secretariat (Information Office of the Wielkopolska Region in Brussels) and the Hungarian Ministry of National Development and Economy, and was focussing on the Hungarian model of implementation of the JEREMIE financial instrument.
The meeting was attended by more than 30 participants from Hungary, Latvia, Czech Republic, Lombardy, Andalusia, Wales; from the Polish Regions Lower Silesia, Pomerania, Wielkopolska, West Pomerania; and also representatives of the European Commission and European Investment Fund. Members of the Network met with representatives of the Hungarian Ministry of National Development and Economy, responsible for the implementation of JEREMIE; the National Development Agency, acting as a JEREMIE Managing Authority; and the Venture Finance Hungary Plc. – Holding Fund Manager.
During the meeting, views on implementing JEREMIE were expressed by members of the Network. JOSEFIN, financed within the Baltic Sea Region Programme, was presented by representatives of the Lower Silesia Region. The initiative reveals opportunities how Holding Fund resources can be used for supporting innovative SMEs. The JOSEFIN model developed in the Baltic Sea Region could also be applied in other countries and regions. The cooperation within the scope of financial instruments would be especially useful for the WP3 work. Experiences gained during the implementation of JEREMIE, in particular in terms of European legislation and negotiations with EIF, will be very useful and thus both activities might merge in the future.
On 19th May 2009, the Meritum Bank ICB S.A. organised a seminar for SMEs and banks. During the event, various aspects of supporting SMEs, including JOSEFIN, were discussed.
From 14th to 16th May 2009, a meeting with Guarantee Funds from Western Poland was carried out by FRIPWW. During the event, JOSEFIN was presented as one of the most innovative financial instruments by the President of Board of FRIPWW Krzysztof Len.
During the press conference on March 13th, 2009, various aspects of counteracting the financial crisis in Poland were mainly discussed, and JOSEFIN was presented as one of the ways.
The kick-off meeting of JOSEFIN took place on March 11th and 12th, 2009 in Berlin with an attendance of approximately 70 people. Among the participants were representatives of the initiative’s partners from Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden, including the lead partner IBB; representatives of the regions’ administrations as well as representatives of BaSIC- a partner project within the framework of Baltic Sea Region Programme.
The agenda was scheduled over two days. The topics covered on the day one included general issues concerning JOSEFIN and political keynotes from three partner regions. Furthermore, all partners received a copy of the Partnership Agreement. During the second day, six work packages of JOSEFIN were discussed, and four working groups within the work packages were established. In addition, the BaSIC project was presented.
For all participants, the kick-off meeting was a great occasion to come to know each other better as well as to obtain more specified information about the project and the work packages.
There was a time for...
During the 5th meeting of the “Oder-Partnership Network Group for Economics and Transport” on January 23rd, 2009, the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues used the opportunity to inform regional policy-makers from Western Poland and Eastern Germany about the progress of our project. In this regard, the participants highly welcomed the substantial contribution of JOSEFIN to the cross-border policy field of innovation and SME support. In total, more than 50 representatives from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Zachodniopomorskie, Brandenburg, Lubuskie, Berlin, Wielkopolskie and Dolnoslaskie joined the interregional meeting organised and hosted by the Marshal’s Office of Zachodniopomorskie voivodship.
On January 23th, 2009, JOSEFIN was presented at the FIRST FORUM for local governments and banks in Poznan by the President of Board of FRIPWW Krzysztof Len. The event has been organised by the Office Marshall of Wielkopolska Region with the aim to discuss the financial instruments.
Brochure and handbook
Over the last three years, financial institutions, business development agencies and regional...
open interview (in German)
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