TIBS system is recognised as a good example of international support for SMEs

GoSmart BSR Innovation Broker Ilona Platonova participated at the conference “New Industrial value chains for Growth” in Tampere, organized by members of The Vanguard Initiative, who are driven by a political commitment made by regions to use their smart specialisation strategy to boost new growth through bottom-up entrepreneurial innovation and industrial renewal in European priority areas.

Topics that were discussed in the conference closely correlates with GoSmart BSR project objectives and activities, for example, Inter-regional Innovation Investments, the Future of Smart Specialisation, Regional Innovation Ecosystems in Horizon Europe, Inter-regional Smart Specialisation Strategy and Fostered Inter-regional Cooperation Policy among others.

One of the main objectives in participating at this conference for GoSmart BSR was to identify common fields of interest for TIBS for future cooperation with other similar networks in Europe, that would help expanding innovation brokers network and thus would also ensure its sustainability and availability on a much broader scale.

During the conference it was useful to meet representatives from other similar networks. One of such networks is working in Zuid region in the Netherlands, where such support for local companies is managed on the national level. They expressed interest in collaboration and sharing best practice to activate their regional agencies that work with companies. Representatives of Zuid region see TIBS as a good example of how inter-regional partnerships and system for international partner search can be established and successfully implemented.

There is another organisation in Finland from Hame region that expressed interest in cooperation and, although, Kouvola is already one of the GoSmart BSR project regions, it is a good sign that TIBS is recognised in other regions as well. It is anticipated that such cooperation with other networks would serve as a ground for future merger of networks.

In the conference EC also highlighted their future priority areas, tendencies and topicality for EU regions to address when planning further facilitation of innovation and smart specialisation.

Valentina Pinna from DG Regional and Urban Policy presented European Commission’s position on support for inter-regional innovation after 2020. There will be new instrument called “Component 5” to support European value chains and inter-regional innovation.  It encompasses:

  • investment in large companies or innovation, if that helps SMEs;
  • commercialization support starting from TRL 5+;
  • strand 2 of the component is appropriate for “less mature” regions to facilitate innovation;
  • it will be devoted for place-based ecosystems that can provide with custom-made support within a legal entity;
  • possibility to train staff of the support ecosystem or help train employees of the companies;
  • efforts targeted towards scale-up and sustainability improvements of various activities.

European Innovation Council (EIC) admitted that ecosystem in Europe are still very fragmented and EC would love to see more cooperation. In their presentation they highlighted several support instruments that are available to ecosystems since 2015.

EIC provides coaching, mentoring and advisory services for start-ups by ecosystem players, and also can provide funding for support systems such as TIBS. Several recommendations were received from EC about smart specialization development in the regions:

  • Building block of the S3 should be a cluster;
  • Learning from industrial regions like Arctic clusters in Finland about their specialization and focus area;
  • Invest in intermediaries such as clusters or technology transfer centres, as they play fundamental role in the regions;
  • Expand connections beyond regions using thematic smart specialization platforms;
  • Regional innovation budget is a precondition for successful development of smart specialisation;
  • Peer reviews with experts from similar challenges areas can be supported by Interreg.

Visiting the conference gave many new insights and reflections about what the best strategy for further development of TIBS could be. More such fact-finding visits are planned in the future, we will continue to post about the progress.