iEER-project had the privilege to be invited by the European Commission’s DG Growth to participate in the SME Assembly on 23-25 November in Bratislava. Bringing together 500 entrepreneurs, public policy makers and social partners, the SME Assembly is the largest event for businesses in Europe.

The Assembly was opened by Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, who emphasized that the EER regions are Europe's Silicon Valleys and added that initiatives to support start-ups and scale-ups should build on them.

In Bratislava iEER representatives called for regions and cities to take an active role in implementing the Commission's newly announced Start-up and Scale-up Initiative. iEER project coordinator Christine Chang led a group discussion at the SME Assembly together with Bert Kuby from the European Committee of the Regions. In a small group regional and local representatives, EU institutions, and entrepreneurs pondered what can be done on the local level to better support young entrepreneurs in their start-up and scale up stages.

The group concluded that in order to help European SMEs and startups reach new heights, it is necessary to scale up local ecosystems and interlink them across the continent. To do that, regions need to map their entrepreneurial and startup ecosystems and use the findings to establish contacts between regions. There should be dedicated funding for cooperation as well.

“It was inspiring to have a dialogue with participants from across Europe. The group concluded that we need to map our ecosystems to help regions identify potential connections for cooperation. This is exactly what we are doing in the iEER-project”, stated project coordinator Christine Chang from Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council.

iEER has been initiated by a group of regions awarded with the European Entrepreneurial Region label. In Bratislava iEER was represented by the project’s coordinator Christine Chang from Helsinki-Uusimaa  (EER 2012), General Director Francisco Alvarez Molina from Valencia (EER 2015) and project manager Maria Leye from Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences (EER 2011).