Project summary

INTRA project focuses on the role of public authorities in creating internationalization services to support the competitiveness of the regional economies and thus contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy. Developed by the project partners, it builds on internationalization research findings as well as highlights the importance of regional quadruple helix partnerships to bring together universities, business, civil society and local authorities as the main stakeholders in research and design of new internationalization policy models, wider acceptance of the good practices identified within the INTRA regions and preparation of new project proposals to be funded under the respective national Cohesion policy 2014 - 2020.

INTRA partners will exchange, explore and disseminate good practice in ways to promote internationalisation and improve competitiveness of the respective regions involved. INTRA has 6 partners from six different EU28 member states: Regional Development Agency for Podravje - Maribor (SI), Regional Agency for entrepreneurship and innovations – Varna (BG), Foundation FUNDECYT Scientific and Technological Park of Extremadura (ES), University of Algarve (PT), Coventry University Enterprises Limited (UK), CAPITANK (IT) and is supported by the Managing Authorities for ERDF and represent the active stakeholders in internationalization.

The objectives of INTRA are to provide comprehensive mapping, evaluation and benchmarking of various internationalisation services available across the regions, highlight good practices/gaps that promote/impede on SMEs at various stages of the internationalization process. Upon the selection of GP the viable strategies/instruments to enhance good practices and address gaps within the regional development programmes will be elaborated and described in the Policy recommendations and implemented in the regional Action plans as to contribute to the internationalization policies aligned to the needs of SMEs and gaps not filled by the existing instruments.


from 1 Apr 2016
to 31 Mar 2021

SME competitiveness

What policy instruments does the project address?

Thematic Objective: (3) Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs, of the agricultural sector (for the EAFRD) and of the fishery and aquaculture sector (for the EMFF) Selected Investment priority: 2.3.4 Developing and implementing new business models for SMEs, in particular with regard to internationalisation Specific Objective: enhance international competitiveness of SMEs.

Expected results: increased capacity of enterprises to integrate into global value chains; increased export-intensity of enterprises; increased export of services.

Quoted: “(…) neither support nor business environment is fully developed to help Slovenian enterprises integrate in international economic flows or to provide support for export-oriented enterprises.

 Reasons for improvement: no regional support structure for SMEs internationalization foreseen and no special actions for the East and West Cohesion Region. The institutional framework for the implementation of the actions is not described as well as the cooperation between different stakeholders is not defined although the beneficiaries are: SMEs, institutions, chambers, associations, NGOs, networks, Regional development institutions, public institutes. Therefore the main challenge to be addressed is the stakeholder cooperation in internationalization of Slovenian SMEs that will result in the Action Plan and the preparation of joint programme/project on regional level. 

Which partners are working on this?
  • Regional development agency Podravje - Maribor

OPIC 2014-2020 is the instrument, directly related with the achievement of the EC purposes for growth and jobs, smart growth (Priority Axes 1, 2). The SME support for internationalization is included in Priority Axis 2: “Entrepreneurship and capacity for SMEs growth”; Investment Priority 2.2.; Specific purpose 2.2. OPIC includes many measures for stimulating the export, including raising the SMEs competitiveness, improving their management capacity, etc. There are no, however, measures addressing the SMEs by regions, especially tailored for those in remote areas. At regional/local level measures for encouraging internationalization are foreseen in the Municipal Development Plan of Varna 2014-2020 (MDPV). They are included in Priority Axis 2 of the document: Entrepreneurship and growth capacity of SMEs. The realization of these measures is supposed to be funded by different sources that are not specified, thus putting them into risk never to be realized. Another disadvantage is that the policy instruments at national and regional/local level are not well synchronized. The great challenge of the project is to elaborate a measure for stimulating the SMEs internationalization in remote areas, with the close collaboration between the national and regional/local stakeholders. It will be proposed for adoption in OPIC 2014-2020. A respective measure, which will be funded only by OPIC, will be included in the actualization of the MDPV too. This will guarantee its implementation.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Regional agency for entrepreneurship and innovations - Varna (RAPIV)

This policy instrument has been included in the ERDF Operational Programme of Extremadura region, under the Priority Axis 3 “Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs”, Investment Priority 3 (d) “Supporting the capacity of small and medium sized enterprises to grow in regional, national and international markets and to engage in innovation processes”.

In line with the RIS3 of Extremadura and with the aim of developing an internationalized and competitive business and industry, a series of support measures will be available to companies in order to help them overcome any existing difficulties in developing their export activities. This will be done through two main actions:

- Financial support aimed at promoting the internationalization of companies, the consolidation and strengthening of their export capacity and the access of Extremadura products to foreign markets.

- Technical support to companies, with the delivery of services such as the organisation of trade missions, promotional events, consulting services, etc.

In this context, we consider that these actions should be improved and adapted to the specific situation of SMEs in the framework of the smart specialisation areas of Extremadura in order to enhance the internationalisation of our regional products and services. 

Which partners are working on this?
  • Foundation FUNDECYT Scientific and Technological Park of Extremadura (FUNDECYT-PCTEX)

CRESC Algarve 2020 is the policy instrument which combines the strategic guidelines of RIS3 with the financial instruments for the Algarve towards 2020. it is structured in 5 main topics for intervention:

1. Innovation and diversification - Expand the business economic base, increasing employment and the enhancement of endogenous resources;

2. International Competitiveness - Strengthen the value chains of consolidated and emerging activities identified by the regional RIS3. Create conditions for the enhancement of international position of the region and the increase of the production of tradable goods and services;

3.Territorial Value - Strengthen the regional identity and enhance the natural resources of excellence. Create conditions for the emergence of innovation in green economy, improve energy efficiency and training and rational use of resources;

4.Cohesion and Inclusion - Reduce disparities and existing territorial imbalances, while ensuring a less fragmented territory and a coherent and competitive urban network, capable of stimulating the toughening of the economy;

5.Capacity Building for Employability - Adjust and refocus regional skills for employability and create conditions for the emergence of creative and innovative responses, whether in specialized or advanced offerings. Strengthen regional leadership and empowering partnerships, strengthening the representation in national or international networks.

Which partners are working on this?
  • University of Algarve

For the 2014 to 2020 programming period Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP) in England are responsible for designing and delivering strategies on how best to use this funding. Each LEP area will receive a national allocation from the funds for seven years to deliver its European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds strategy which must be spent in line with a set of overarching priorities set out in the EU regulations. The Coventry and Warwickshire LEP (CWLEP) area has a notional allocation of 135.5m Euro.

The ultimate aim for the Strategic Economic Plan is to improve the economic competitiveness of the Coventry and Warwickshire economy, as this remains the benchmark against which developed economies continue to be measured. To that end, CWLEP is determined to increase employment and wealth opportunities for all. Under the theme 3 Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs, there is a particular emphasis on supporting internationalisation of SMEs. Following the economic downturn the number of new businesses has started to increase in the last two years, it is recognised that young businesses are particularly vulnerable to failure in the first few years of their existence. Investment will also focus on helping established SMEs to enhance their competitiveness on both a national and global level, and on improving their resilience to future economic turbulence.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Coventry University Enterprises Limited (CUE)

The ROP ERDF Abruzzo 2014-2020 is currently being approved by the EC and provides for a total budget of about 231 million Euros. The region, with support from the ERDF, for the 2014-2020 programming period has enabled 8 Priorities:

I. Research, Technological Development and Innovation,

II. Spread digital services,

III. Competitiveness of the economy,

IV. Promotion of a low carbon,

V. Reduction of landslide risk,

VI. Protection and enhancement of natural and cultural resources,

VII. Sustainable Urban Development,

VIII. Technical Assistance.

Competitiveness under Axis III of the production system, measures have been developed for the internationalization of SMEs and support their growth in international markets. These objectives are pursued by the Abruzzo region, including through the identification and support of combinations directed to the development of the innovative capacity of firms such as Innovation Poles as Capitank.

Capitank is the Innovation Pole of the chemical pharmaceutical industry, made up of large companies such as Sanofi, Dompé, Menarini, Alfa Wassermann, the three University of Abruzzo and many SMEs. Capitank will develop important activities in developing activities to promote the competitiveness and the entrepreneurial system and to strengthen its position on the domestic and external markets, as well as to guide the actions of the Abruzzo region in the development of the internationalization of local companies 

Which partners are working on this?