New firm creation and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital to the renewal of local economies and the creation of job opportunities but are affected by many barriers in the operation of markets and institutions that need to be addressed through policies at local level. This project assesses the barriers, the policy responses and the policy implementation arrangements through a series of case study reviews. These reviews lead to improved policy approaches, strategies and action plans for local entrepreneurship and enterprise creation by local actors and their partners in national authorities.
The following key themes are analysed, with countries asked to recommend issues of particular interest to them:
Developing skills and competences for entrepreneurship: Success in enterprise creation is underpinned by a comprehensive set of skills and competencies among entrepreneurs, including strategic skills, small business management skills and entrepreneurial competences. These can be instilled by appropriate strategies, structures and actions in university and vocational education and in continuing professional development and are favoured by appropriate incentives and support programmes offered through local economic and employment development policies. LEED good practice criteria and assessment tools will be applied to analyse and benchmark these approaches internationally and provide policy guidance.
Increasing the skills of SME workforces and management: Lack of skills is one of the most significant constraints to the growth and competitiveness of existing SMEs and an area in which local skills and training policies have an important role to play. However, many existing programmes do not achieve the necessary impacts because they are poorly adapted to the needs and modes of functioning of SMEs. This theme examines the local skills policy approaches that are best suited to the support of skills enhancement in SME workforces and management.
Getting the business support framework right: This theme addresses how to develop appropriate policy structures, which should encourage rather than crowd out private sector involvement in business support.
Accessing finance: Lack of investment capital for business start-up and development projects is one of the major constraints to the creation, survival and growth of enterprises in most local economies. This theme identifies effective policy tailored to local needs.
Networking for innovation and growth: In an economy increasingly characterised by open and collective innovation methods and knowledge as a factor of production, the ability to create firm start ups and competitive SMEs is often boosted by market and technological ideas provided by other companies and organisations in their wider networks and supply chains. This theme examines the networking gaps and systemic problems and how policies can build better relations for knowledge generation and exploitation.
Achieving policy coherence: There is substantial policy support for entrepreneurship and SMEs at local level, implying a need for appropriate arrangements for the co-ordination and integration of actions. Effective and efficient policy requires coherence between national and local interventions and the tailoring of policy to local levels. This theme examines arrangements for policy coherence and tailoring.
This project continues a series starting in 2011-12.
Case study reviews will be undertaken in participating countries covering the local dimension of entrepreneurship and SME policies in the country as a whole or in selected case study localities covering relevant themes. The reviews contain the following components:
The project will provide analysis of the quality of entrepreneurship and SME policies, programmes and actions at local level and recommendations for public authorities at national and local levels. The findings and recommendations will be presented in country reports and policy actions plans, which will also be disseminated through working seminars.
NOTE: The cross-country comparative projects review and benchmark country policies on LEED themes; identify gaps, strengths and good practices; and make recommendations in the form of an action plan. In 2013-14 these reviews analyse the contribution of labour market policy and training to quality job creation locally; how to boost entrepreneurship and enterprise creation in both the private sector and the social economy; and ways to deliver smarter local economic development.