Project summary

Welcome to the Regional Creative Industries Alliance website

- a project striving to shape better regional policies towards a modern business ecosystem using the transformative power of creative SMEs as a key competitiveness factor

RCIA aims to improve the Structural Funds policy instruments related to the SME competitiveness through interregional policy learning. This is done by:

  • Focusing on supporting creative SMEs to set impulses for higher growth
  • Positioning Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) as “the missing link” throughout sectors and disciplines regarding innovation and competitiveness
  • Increasing the attractiveness and innovative image of a city/region/country (attract talent, create & retain jobs in the territory)
  • Positioning CCI as a pillar of the competitiveness policy.

By exchanging 20+ good practices between regional policy-oriented stakeholder groups and implementing the learnings through 8 regional action plans we aim to increase the number of collaborations between creative SMEs and companies from the wider economy. This shall lead to a higher competitiveness of both types of SMEs and eventually to new products and solutions developed through cross-sectorial collaboration.

RCIA intends to

  1. Strengthen the creative SMEs competitiveness by improving their skills (development/execution of business plans, interaction with investors, mentoring programmes) and to support their growth on global markets
  2. Adapt various funding mechanisms to the particularities of CCI (including the possibility of capacity building measures for banks)
  3. Increase the awareness of the companies from the wider economy on the transformative power (added-value) of creative SMEs for their own competitiveness
  4. Develop/adapt/improve the eco-system from classic spatial cross-collaboration into a holistic approach.


from 1 Jan 2017
to 31 Dec 2021

SME competitiveness

What policy instruments does the project address?

The goal: to provoke a structural change in SMEs through high-quality, innovative and target group oriented offers. This will have positive effects on the productivity and profitability of organizations and will furthermore secure employment. The measure addressed (no. 9): Support for growth in companies, where the focus is put on operational investments in connection with growth phases of SMEs.

The objective: to support companies in growing and adopting new technologies through:1) Acquisition of new technologies for production and services; 2) expansive projects in the field of production and production-related services; 3) investments for new businesses or structure-improving business relocations; 4) investments for the production of new products and services. There shall be some significant improvements in the quality of operational services, embedded in innovative approaches.

Austria currently develops its national CCI strategy positioning CCI as central economic factor and impulse-giver for making Austria a competitive innovative location. In order to achieve this goal it is necessary to strengthen both the competitiveness of creative SMEs (their business structures, their embedding in innovative industrial value chains, their capacity to internationalise) but also their transformative impact on other economic and non-profit sectors (including public). What needs to be improved is the way this cross-sectorial interaction can be developed and supported through the SF


Which partners are working on this?
  • Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH

TO 1 – Reinforce research, technological development and innovation. PI TO1b – Reinforce research, technological development and innovation by fostering companies’ investment in R&I, by developing links and synergies between companies, R&D centre and higher school. Measure 2.3.3 - Support to the installation of creative hubs in university city and/or city with more than 50 000 inhabitants.

Creative Wallonia is a program that place creativity and innovation at the center of the Walloon economic strategy, meant to impulse a new creative economy dynamics by fostering collaboration between Cultural and Creative Industries and “traditional” industries.

The Creative Hubs are the territorial representative of the Creative Wallonia program. The objective is to support and boost SME’s competitiveness by helping them to connect and to grow together through new creative economy principles that bring new opportunities for value creation and growth and to improve SME’s agility in a fast changing environment.

The Government expects this policy instrument to trigger structural changes generating new states of minds leading to new economic value creation (new creative processes, cross-sectoral collaboration, creation of start-ups, new business models, etc;).

As a new policy instrument, there is potential for improvement on Private-Public partnership governance, CCIs spillovers, cross-over collaboration between CCIs and “traditional” companies.


Which partners are working on this?
  • Public Service of Wallonia

Priority Axis 2 encloses 2 investment priorities dedicated to urban micro-enterprises and SMEs which will be supported for investments in equipments and promotion, being considered eligible companies acting in a wide variety of creative sectors, identified in National Competitiveness Strategy and in the 8 Regional Development Plans, (photography, leisure&sports, libraries&archives, museums, patrimony, publishing, advertizing, media, cinema, architecture, design, web design, gaming, software).

Investment priority 2.1. Promoting entrepreneurial culture, mainly through economic exploitation of new ideas and encouraging the creation of start-ups, including though business incubators,aiming to consolidate the market share of SMEs.

Investment priority 2.2. Supporting the creation and development of advanced production capacity and services of SMEs aiming at improving the economic competitiveness through raising productivity of SMEs.

As creative industry sectors are entitled to apply for funding in order to improve their material and immaterial assets, to promote their products and services to the wider economy, to lower energy efficiency costs, but also to improve the internationalization dimension in case of SMEs, there is a strong need to raise the share of the companies acting in the eligible creative industries NACE codes from the total companies applying for ROP, Priority Axis 2, maximizing therefore the impact of ROP measures on the creative industries regional environment.

Which partners are working on this?
  • North-West Regional Development Agency

There sub-priority addressed is 3d) Supporting the capacity of SMEs to grow in regional, national and international markets, and to engage in innovation processes. The objectives of the policy instrument addressed are: i) the foundation of new innovative businesses, ii) the promotion of product and procedures innovations and iii) fostering of SME collaborations for the emergence of economies of scale. Low SME competitiveness and productivity levels, reduced SME innovability and internationalization procedures and the non-existence of economies of scale represent the key reasons for the identification of the above objectives.

In the context of the ongoing financial crisis, the Region has identified the need for improving the above instrument towards better illustrating the forces that could leverage the emergence of economies of scale. Within such an environment of economic pressures, the Cultural and Creative Industries, due to their inherent characteristics, are recognized as a key player and a potential candidate to initiate or to heavily influence a spill-over effect that could help the Region achieve its objectives, as stated in the Priority Axis 3. In that respect, goal of the Region is to improve the instrument, through positioning CCI activities in the core of its measures to accomplish higher SME competitiveness levels.


Which partners are working on this?
  • Region of Central Greece (Sterea Ellada)

Thematic objective “Improving competitiveness of the SMEs”

3.1.Investment priority: promoting entrepreneurship, in particular by facilitating the economic utilization of new ideas and fostering the creation of new firms, including through business incubators.

Main objective: Formation of new enterprises, growth of existing enterprises and increase of manufacturing proportion in economy will be facilitated that will have positive influence on job creation, productivity and demand for innovation services. For successful functioning of entrepreneurship support system not only necessary financial support will be provided, but also advisory services and infrastructure.

Indicative activities to be supported: Improvements in availability of financing including guarantees, loans, investments, transaction structuring, consultations, training. Likewise incubator services within business incubators (pre-incubation support, loans, consultations, mentoring, seminars, support for the development of prototypes etc.), including for the enterprises of creative industries, will be provided.

Financial instruments: Exact financial instruments will be determined based on SME access to finance market gap analysis and adjusted to market situation, as well as on the learnings from the RCIA project.

Target group in the RCIA project: SMEs of the creative and cultural industries and their support industries that lack the required focus to reach their potential starting-up their business and for growth.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Joint Stock Company “Development finance institution Altum”

The policy instrument aims to improve the environment for competitiveness of creative SMEs (CSMEs), through the Measure 1.3.3 “Supporting actions to improve the offering of services based on high knowledge and high technological value”. Creative Industries have been identified as main topic in the regional policy and in the regional smart specialization strategy, but there are no specific measures or instruments defined, which address the Creative Industries specific needs. For that reason the policy should be developed on the basis of best practices learned from other EU regions, which participate in this project as project partners and will share their learning experiences in the field of support to the Creative Industries Ecosystem. A main aim of the policy instrument is the creation of high skilled jobs through the support for competitive growth of SMEs – and the potential of creative SMEs is here particularly high. Through synergies between local institutional stakeholders, this measure aims to develop a local ecosystem able to encourage the creation of new companies (start-ups) and the improvement of the competitiveness of all local SMEs. All initiatives in the action plan developed, will contribute to empower specializations, with a focus on Creative SMEs and creative startups for a greater impact on the overall level of competitiveness and attractiveness of the region. The improvement can take place both through new projects as well as improved governance mechanisms

Which partners are working on this?
  • IDM Suedtirol / Alto Adige

Priority 3 - Competitiveness of enterprises, ACTION 3.7 Increasing competitiveness of SMEs, ACTION 3.2 Equity instruments.

The objective of the instrument is the SMEs competetivness increasing, by:

1. Investments in tangible and intangible assets associated with increased production capacity

2. Diversification of the company through the introduction of new products / services;

3. Introduce a fundamental change in the production process and new or improved products / services;

4. Use of modern technology - developing products and services based on ICT

5. Support for investment activities related to the extension of export

6. Implementation of results of research and development and innovation

The analysis of SMEs operating in Lublin Region shows low levels of competitiveness of enterprises, resulting primarily from small expansiveness of the SME sector to other markets and low-scale innovations.

Support planned under the said actions aims at breaking down barriers related to access to know-how, financing possibilities, as well as at stimulating operations forming a common value chain of companies. Particular focus is to be placed on creative companies, given their potential to increase the territorial attractiveness and the innovation potential of business entities from other sectors.

To be improved: competitiveness, productivity, empowerment, and efficiency - thanks to implementation of innovative solutions developed with the involvement of creative companies.


Which partners are working on this?
  • City of Lublin

Investment Priority 3.4: Support the capacity of SME to grow into regional, national and International markets and into innovation processes.

Specific Objective 3.4.1: Promote growth and consolidation of SMEs, particularly by improving their

finance, technology and access to advanced support services.

This instrument includes programs for SMEs on access to finance for developing their business activities, to foster their growth and improve business competitiveness, also through the creation of spaces for networking and co-operation, seminars, workshops and working conferences focused on topics of interest for different business sectors. The goals are: to provide CCI with a financial scheme allowing them to raise funds to set-up projects; to improve the professionalization and competitiveness of CCI; to foster public-private cooperation based on transparency and co-responsibility; to enhance a change in philosophy from a subsidy culture to a funding and returns culture within Catalan CCI; to induce a progressive independence of CCI from public subsidies.

The improvement is needed to increase the creative SME competitiveness through business plans with an innovative character and high growth potential; to consolidate Catalonia as a pioneer region at international level on territorial policy clusters as mechanisms to support the inter-sectorial SME cooperation; to better align with the Catalan RIS3; to support and promote the innovation of SME through various forms of financing.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Barcelona Official Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Services and Navigation