As the end of phase 2 of the Interreg Scale Up project approaches, the project held its final conference in Murcia, Spain. The conference provided a platform to discuss developments in the scale up of business not only in the specific partner regions but also in the general European context.
On 18 November 2022, the Interreg Europe Scale Up project held its final conference in the premises of INFO- the regional development agency of the Murcia region in Spain which led the project consortium of six EU regions (plus Advisory partner). During the conference, the six partner EU regions gave an update as to the progress of their action plans after having selected the best practice/s to be implemented in their regions along with lessons learned and next steps they will be taking beyond the project.
The conference was attended by several speakers including Mr. Alexander Lembcke, OECD Head of Unit for the Economic Analysis, Data, and Statistics Division, Ms. Sophia Zakari, Policy Adviser at SMEunited, and Ms. Diane Bulon, Interreg Programme Officer. Mr Lembcke presented the key takeaways from their recent publication, Unleashing SME potential to scale up. He noted that the scale up of businesses imply a substantial transformation. Scaling up does not only mean increased growth and turnover but also changes in the way a company works. This is linked to how scalers create most new jobs and are seen as long-term job creators because they sustain their transformation. Mr. Lembcke shared that it is important to work on sustainability policies for SMEs to grow. He shared 3 observations on how regional development agencies and policymakers can do so:
- Understand the firms that have potential to scale in your area;
- Create links between firms to help them understand the process of scaling up such as barriers and challenges;
- Highlight the importance of hiring people who think and work the same way as they do.
On the other hand, Ms. Zakari emphasized that while better policies are needed to support entrepreneurs, we also have to keep in mind that not all the entrepreneurs are willing to scale up and become a big enterprise. Thus, these policies should still be developed and improved to account for all types and sizes of businesses.
Finally, Ms. Diane Bulon shared more information about the Interreg 2021-2027 programming period. Specifically, she discussed the thematic EU priorities of the programme, the cross-cutting priority of Capacity Building with innovative approach, and the second open call which will run from 15 March – 9 June 2023. She advised that when creating a proposal, geographical scope is an important criterion. She also highlighted other services offered by the programme such as Peer Review and Matchmaking events.
The Interreg Scale Up project was formally launched in August of 2019 for an initial duration of 36 months. The project was later granted a 6-month extension for an overall total of 42 months. These months were further divided into two phases: phase 1 which ran for 30 months while phase 2 followed afterwards for 12 months.