Even though entrepreneurs already have a seemingly significant range of support tools to develop their ideas and intentions, it has been concluded that some support systems and tools are no longer available, funding of several previously proposed funds has come to an end, or the available support systems don’t fulfil the expectations. The circumstances call for an assessment of the current situation and a search for new and innovative solutions to improve systems and tools. If the current support is not sufficient or desirable, it is necessary to look for alternatives to new and perhaps even unusual support.
Considering the aforementioned issues, 7 partners from Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany and Finland, has launched the Interreg Baltic Sea Program 2014–2020 project “Strengthening smart specialisation by fostering transnational cooperation (GoSmart BSR)”.
The main expected result of the project is the development of a functioning and sustainable transnational innovation brokerage system, which will support small and medium-sized enterprises to increase the capacity of implementing smart specialization strategies in their regions. The system will be tested together with several entrepreneurs from each partner region, who will be recognized through practical workshops, lectures and seminars during the implementation of the project. In each of the partner regions, also in Vidzeme, a specialist –innovation broker – will be selected to take part in an intensive training program to build his/her competences and skills in the sector. Afterwards specialists will work to ensure the link among the needs of enterprises, the resources of research institutes and the influence of policy-making institutions.
Specially trained brokers will provide personal and practical help to strengthen transnational knowledge and experience, such as the specifics of foreign markets, the methods used for business development, etc. At the same time, sectoral representatives will jointly implement common activities for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises by studying examples of good practice in different countries, exchanging knowledge and experience, and gaining contacts.
It is increasingly emphasized that high value-added products and services must be created to achieve business excellence, considering the benefits of the region and the potential of innovation. In the long term, niche products, highly skilled workforce and innovative technological solutions are the optimal scenario that every business needs to aim to increase its competitiveness. It is planned that the developed brokerage system will allow entrepreneurs to gain access to knowledge that is not yet shared by competent organizations abroad and in our region. The system will also serve as a valuable database for building new relationships and directing the development of the company to a whole new, cross-border level.
The first project partners’ meeting was held in Białystok, Poland, during which the partners presented their organizations, discussed the project implementation plan, responsibilities, decided on the next steps of project activities, as well as got acquainted with the project’s communication and financial guidelines. However, as soon as all the administrative issues of the project will be solved, intensive work on analysing the regional situation will begin to lay the foundations for the planned innovation brokerage system.
The Lead Partner of the project is Białystok University of Technology (Poland) and the total budget of the project is EUR 1 759 767.50, of which 85 % are co-financed by the European Union. The project started on October 1, 2017 and will last 36 months until September 30, 2020.