On Wednesday 27th November 2019, STOB regions Interreg Europe project contributed and shared results and solutions of “regions promoting business transfer” alongside distinguished experts in the field during the SME assembly 2019. The masterclass entitled “ Upgrading Growth policy with Business Transfers” was arranged as part of the final day of the flagship event of the SME week, the SME assembly 2019, held in Helsinki between 25th – 27th November.

52 participants were warmly welcomed to the content-rich Masterclass by Juha Tall, PhD, Seinäjoki UAS, where an introduction ot the topic and masterclass was provided.

The four keynote presentations during the Masterclass:

-Best practices in Promoting Business Transfers- Cases within Transeo Members
Marie Depelssemaker, Secretary General of Transeo Association

-Finnvera boosting Business transfers in Finland
Pauli Heikkilä, PhD, CEO of Finnvera Plc

-Regions Promoting business Transfer
Sandy Morgen, Project Manager STOB region Interreg Europe of Lead Partner IHK Projektgesellschaft mbH

-Case - Buyer experience on Business transfer
Tuomas Tukeva, Entrepreneur and CEO of Utec Ltd

Focusing on STOB regions’ input towards the masterclass, the aim of the masterclass was to 1) promote business transfer to a wider audience, beyond that of the project partnership and stakeholders, and 2) disseminate the project’s methodology, activities and results, as well as a summary of the key learning points in reflection of the soon to be completed phase I of the project.
Through the presentation the project achievements, relevance and effectiveness thus far was communicated, STOB regions provided:

-Increased and widespread awareness raising of the topic of Business transfer across the EU,
-Effective transfer of knowledge and good practices between the regions (see STOB regions’ good practices here), proving strong additionality. 
-Increased cooperation and networking between regional, national and EU level stakeholders connected to and inspired by the project.
-Eight regional plans formulated. Selected results from the action plans of the project partners can be categorized into 1) Awareness Raising 2) Coordination of information and 3) Advisory services.
To summarize the presentation and the closing of phase I of STOB regions the following points were iterated:

To succeed in improving SME competitiveness policies, in line with the methodology of Interreg projects, the importance of the division and relationship between the of two phases of the project was stressed; phase I: interregional policy learning and phase II: implementation phase.
Partners committed towards addressing the regional challenges approached it in a evolutionary way, rather than reinventing the wheel, strong knowledge exchange and adoption of Good practices supported such approach. In addition, certain project partners succeeded to raise attention from regional to national level. It is important to stress the actions contained in regional Action plans are not proposals but concrete activities endorsed and supported by the relevant managing authorities to address the regional challenges in the sphere of business transfer. 

Following each presentation, round table discussions were held with per-distributed questions for each table to explore, discuss and jointly-document. Guiding the discussions were mentors, whose task was to clarify the questions and in order to stimulate relevant input from the participants and document the findings.

Questions posed to the participants during the round table working group sessions were:
1. How to promote dissemination of best practices among EU member states?
2. What financial instruments and services would be most effective in promoting business transfers?
3. How EU could support regional action plan development in promoting business transfers?
4. How to increase the number of the buyers in business transfer market?

Mentors at the table, comprising of experts in the field of business transfers included:
-Ninetta Chaniotou, Director, STOB regions, Kainuun Etu Ltd.
-Markku Franti, Head of Corporate Advisory, Nordea
-Markus Leinonen, Project Manager, STOB regions, Kainuun Etu Ltd.
-Sakari Oikarinen, CEO, Confidentum Ltd.
-Juhani Rouvinen, CEO, Enterprise Agency, Savonlinna Region
-Juha Tall, Seinajoki University of Applied Sciences

Mika Haavisto, (Federation of Finnish Enterprises) and Jari Huovinen, (Confederation of Finnish Enterprises) offered a description of the Business transfer Forum Finland as well as closing remarks to conclude the masterclass.

Valorizing from the occasion, in light of the outputs of the masterclass, a working paper (WP) on upgrading growth policy with Business transfer will be created, to form input and contribution towards the updated EU commission Small Business Act with a new small business strategy as well as the Finnish government’s new Entrepreneurship strategy.

The presentation slides of the STOB regions’ project can be found here.