Securing the future for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

How can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow and remain competitive in the European market? Together with partners from Europe, Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH has been working on new approaches for solutions for the region since August 2019 through the Interreg Europe project "Scale Up - Supporting concentration and robustness of SMEs within the renewed EU industrial policy". The first phase of the project was concluded with a regional closing event on 8th December 2021. At the same time, Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH, together with the state of Hesse, drew an initial conclusion and announced the launch of the "Open Innovation Challenge" to support SMEs.

Promoting growth, supporting SMEs

The Scale Up project contributes to accelerating regional economic development through improved and targeted support measures for SMEs. “We want to help businesses more easily overcome the hurdles they face on their growth path" said Hesse's Economics Minister Tarek Al-Wazir. "I am also pleased to be able to support Regionalmanagement Nordhessen in its following project"Open Innovation Challenge" in the future."

As part of the project, Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH, together with the state of Hesse and other stakeholders from the region, examined and analyzed existing support services in Northern Hesse for SME growth promotion and developed new concepts. With partners such as Hessen Trade & Invest, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Science Park Kassel and the SCALE UP consortium, an intensive exchange process took place to improve and further develop the regional instruments.

"The tools developed are designed to support the ability of SMEs to grow in regional, national and international markets" explained Kai Georg Bachmann, managing director of Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH.

Three good examples from Northern Hesse

The first phase of "Scale Up" focused on sharing experiences and best practices with partners from Europe and local stakeholders. Together with the regional stakeholders, Regionalmanagement Nordhessen selected three Best Practices from Hessen to present to the European partners: the MoWiN Innovation Lab of, the innovation consultancy of IHK Hessen innovativ from Nordhessen, and the Scale Up initiative of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) Hessen. "We chalk it up as a great success that the MoWiN Innovation Lab is now being transferred to the Greek and the Polish project partners as part of their implementation phase" reports Dr. Astrid Szogs, Head of the Cluster Mobility, Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH.

Open Innovation Challenge launched in Northern Hesse

Nordhessen is introducing (as one measure in the implementation phase) the "Open Innovation Challenge". It is modeled on the Open Innovation Challenge from Lazio Innova, Italy, which gives SMEs the know-how to solve problems resulting from global trends and challenges such as digitalisation. The project started on December 1, 2021, and will run until January 31, 2023.

In a first step, challenges are formulated together with the SMEs, which draw on the expertise of other SMEs to solve them and develop proposals for doing so. Next year, these challenges will be pitched by the SMEs to potential solution providers at an event. This is also supported by funds from the state of Hesse.

Network for scale-up measures in North Hesse

"In addition, both the exchange and updating of innovation and scale-up content within the stakeholder group and the work on joint initiatives are to be deepened. Ultimately, the aim is to create an information network in Hesse through which scale-up content can be exchanged" Kai Georg Bachmann emphasized. Participating stakeholders include Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH, IHK Hessen innovativ, EEN Hessen, the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing, Science Park GmbH and Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH.

Caption: The photo was taken during the regional SCALE UP stakeholder meeting in February 2020.