The most vulnerable actors dealing with Smart Specialisation are Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs), which broadly fall behind other players in their ability to innovate.

Transnational Innovation Brokerage System (TIBS) is one of the Interreg Baltic Sea Region program project (Go Smart BSR and Go Smart&Excel BSR extension project) deliverables. It now continues as a permanent business support service in Vidzeme that aims to improve the competitiveness of remotely located SMEs by facilitating their international cooperation and innovation.

Effective TIBS enables SMEs residing in a region with an inadequate innovation ecosystem to access a transnational knowledge pool provided by an extensive network of innovation actors, allowing SMEs to establish more fruitful innovation-generating partnerships. The process of cross-border partnership building is facilitated and managed by local innovation brokers. They evaluate SMEs profiles, acknowledge needs, and based on findings, offer clients the best matching partnership alternatives available in the TIBS network and provide follow-up support for value-added partnership building.

Innovation brokerage services in Vidzeme Planning Region (VPR) have been available since 2019 and provided support to SMEs when many companies in the region were facing challenges because of the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2021, approximately 16 companies received consultations ensured by the VPR innovation broker. The main sectors represented were forestry/wood industry, agro / food industry, and sustainable innovation.

Faced with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy, entrepreneurs have been most interested in accessing funding for the development and growth, developing new products or services, and working with foreign partners, exploring new markets.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies have become more interested in using and developing digital tools, realizing that IT and remote solutions are a way to reorient their business processes. At the same time, the economic slowdown and rising production costs have led companies to become more interested in using production by-products more efficiently.

However, companies were primarily interested in funding for both the testing of innovative ideas and the availability of funding that is less bureaucratic and involves less financial risk. Rural Development Program (LEADER) in Latvia provides excellent financial support for SMEs. Although this funding is small, it is easier to accumulate and implement when starting or developing a business.

Companies are also often interested in expanding their sales of services/products in foreign markets; therefore, the innovation broker explains the TIBS service and draws entrepreneurs' attention to possible product or service innovations that the TIBS network can help address.

The TIBS network and direct cooperation with other innovation brokers have proven to be an essential aspect in building successful international collaboration in the search for solutions that meet the specific needs of each company.