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Brussels, 12th June 2006

Stimulating entrepreneurship - Good practice examples and programme of SME days in Member States

The European Charter for Small Enterprises supports small enterprises, in particular by improving their legislative and administrative framework. During its six years of existence, the Charter has become a core document of SME policy. It is now the reference frame for 44 countries and it is also used at regional policy-making level. The Commission has produced a brochure containing 40 examples of good practice to promote entrepreneurship, whittled down from the 155 submitted by Member States, Norway, Bulgaria and Romania. Below some examples from this brochure are given. A series of SME Days are being held, in Brussels today and in many national capitals, during June. The programme of the SME days can be found in part 2 of this Memo.

1. Good practice examples

Ireland: Seed and Venture Capital Programme

To stimulate and encourage the Venture Capital community to invest seed capital in high tech, high risk start-ups and the SME sector and to help technology-based high-risk start-ups having difficulty accessing the necessary finance, Enterprise Ireland partners the private sector in creating specific venture capital (VC) funds for the high tech sectors. Management of the funds is left in the hands of the fund managers. The Irish approach to developing the VC market differs from many other national approaches as Enterprise Ireland enters into VC partnerships on an equivalent basis, whereby the State agency receives an equal share of any return on investments. This approach to intervention in the VC market ensures that the national economic and social good objectives of supporting the development of the VC market can be achieved while ensuring the State does not have to take a subordinate position in the funds.

By the end of 2004 15 funds were fully operational; investment of €38.7m. 81 investments completed. Start-ups attracted €15.1m (39%) of the investment; early stage companies €20.2m (59%). Total of €133m invested in 75 companies since 2001. Companies in the regions accounted for 31% of total invested (by value) since 2001, software for 62%, life sciences almost 19%.

Norway: Capital meets innovation: Presenting business cases to investors

Seed Forum Norway was set up to give early stage companies with international potential a unique possibility to present their business cases to investors by creating a meeting place where capital meets innovation. It is a match-making tool/market place for start-ups and investors. Prior to participating in a Seed Forum international event the selected companies are invited to participate in obligatory pitch training. Companies are trained in presenting their business cases and negotiating with investors. There is a run-through of the investor presentation to ensure the international potential. Steps in the process: 1. International nomination process. 2. International selection process. 3. Intensive international pitch training, personal coaching, development of presentation material, networking and transfer of knowledge, quality assurance. 4. International Seed Forum Events – investor match-making.

Seed Forum facilitates at least 150 company presentations annually.1 public euro to Seed Fund has resulted in 21 euros in direct investments. 97% of participating companies would recommend the programme to others; 80% of investors would like to follow up one or more of the companies after the last event; 33% of investors still had a dialogue with companies from previous events.

Belgium: Counter-guarantees to promote access to investment credits

In order to boost micro-credit and working capital for micro-enterprises in the Walloon Region, SOCAMUT can provide a counter-guarantee of up to 75% (instead of 50%) of the guarantees subscribed to by the Mutual Guarantee Societies for 80% (instead of 75%) of the bank loan (maximum of EUR 150 000). In addition, SOCAMUT can contribute to the costs of drawing up and examining the dossiers to an amount of EUR 500 per dossier. SOCAMUT has capital amounting to EUR 14 436 805.74 at its disposal, to which equal contributions are made by European funds and regional funds. Thanks to optimum risk-sharing between public and private sectors, this measure enables significant gearing to be achieved. By the end of 2004, SOCAMUT had provided counter-guarantees for 146 dossiers for a total of EUR 3 351 534, corresponding to bank loans of EUR 14 945 306 and underlying investments of EUR 22 343 913. The direct gearing ratio in relation to the bank loans is 4.46 and the indirect gearing ratio in relation to the investments is 6.67.

UK: “Regulation Checklist” for small firms on

To give businesses, in particular those at the smaller end, a complete all-round perspective on the regulations that apply to them and to point them to relevant details on Government departmental sites, SMEs in the UK can get a tailored list of regulations that are relevant to their business, including tax, VAT, employment law, health and safety, patent law, consumer protection law. Each regulation is linked to easy plain English guidance. Users can save their list or sign up for e-mail alerts about each regulation. They can also ask for their list to be e-mailed to them.

The assessment by the UK Small Business Council has been overwhelmingly positive. There were 108 000 users over the last 12 months.

To provide an easy to understand step-by-step guide, offering savings in time and costs, another initiative in the UK is the No-Nonsense Guide to Government Rules and Regulations. It is a “plain English” booklet aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs that explains the legal and official side of starting up a business. It also explains the regulations that might affect a growing business – from getting new premises to employing people.

Portugal: Enterprise in one hour - Cheaper and faster start-up

To start up a business in about an hour, reducing costs and making it easier to fulfil the requirements, a single access point counter with electronic links where it is possible to create a company in about an hour. This is an initiative of the Ministries of Justice, Finance, Labour and Social Security, Economy and Innovation which integrates every necessary procedure to create a company.

More than 1100 companies created since July 2005 in an average time of 1h 15min to fulfil all the requirements. The project started with six counters and, as a consequence of the results achieved, there are now 12 counters in operation.

Finland: Preparing for SMEs’ controlled succession of generation

To help in the careful and timely preparation of generational transfer and/or change of ownership, the ViestinVaihto programme is one of the “branded expert services” offered to businesses via the Finnish Employment and Economic Development Centres (T&E centres). Three days of consultation are devoted to examining suitable conditions for successors, clarifying the situation and expectations of the transferor and the successor, determining the value of the business, specifying the tax and legal aspects and outlining possibilities for financing for a variety of transfer options. At the end of the programme, entrepreneurs receive a generational transfer plan together with recommendations for action. The service is offered as individual confidential consultancy for firms.

Generational transfer plans have been drawn up for 521 businesses (April 2002 –September 2005), and some of them have already led to an actual transfer.
More information:

2. Programme of SME days

Overview of SME day activities in the Member States in June 2006


  • 9 June, press event in Representation 10h30-12h30
  • After a welcome from the head of Representation, an official from DG Enterprise will make a presentation and show a Commission video about mini companies in schools.
  • MEP Mr Rübig will be present and will present the European parliament’s vision of SME policy.


  • Press conference with main SME organisations, 15 June, 11h00.
  • Two radio programmes focussing on EU SME policy are foreseen.

Czech Republic

  • Debate and press conference in annual fair of the chamber of commerce, 15 June.
  • President of chamber of commerce to speak and participate.
  • Industry and Trade minister will also speak at the event.


  • An end-of-day debate (16h00-17h30) sometime on 21 June 2006.
  • SMEs, SME organisations, EIC representatives and journalists are to be invited.


  • Seminar for SMEs (70 participants), 16 June.
  • Preceded by breakfast briefing for press.
  • Main topics: EU actions to support SMEs; financing for SMEs; structural funds.
  • Participation of Maive Rute, deputy SME Envoy.


  • Press conference held jointly with SME organisations, 9 June.
  • Focus will be on Commission actions to support SMEs and on specific success stories from Finnish SMEs.
  • An official from DG Enterprise will present an overview of EU SME policy.
  • A Finnish economist will talk about the impact of Finland’s membership of the Euro on the country’s businesses.
  • Three Finnish SMEs will be present to give their account of how they have benefited from the EU.


Two events will be held:

I. Participation by Paris Representation in the annual ‘planète PME’ fair, Tuesday 13 June.

  • The fair will attract around 10 000 SME owners and representatives from business organisations.
  • Commissioner Barrot will make a speech.
  • The French government will send a minister to participate.
  • A very large number of press packs is to be distributed.
  • DG Enterprise will be represented by several officials.

II. Conference “SMEs and Europe” organised in Marseille by local EIC (working with Marseille Representation), 23 May

  • Commission’s key messages on SMEs promoted.
  • Madame Vlasto, MEP, and rapporteur of the European Charter for Small Business, will be among the participants.
  • Emphasis on joint Parliament-Commission efforts to implement Lisbon strategy for jobs and growth.


Two events will be held:

I. Commission Representation, event SME open day: SMEs in Europe – opportunities, challenges and hopes for the future Berlin, Wednesday 7 June.

  • After a welcome by the Head of Represention at 17h00, there will be a discussion on the theme: “the European single market – opportunity or challenge for SMEs?”
  • At 18h30, Anke Wiegand, from the local Euro Info Centre, will present the EU’s support network in the Berlin-Brandenburg.

II. Commission Representation, ‘Open day’ on EU SME policy Bonn, late June.

  • The event will be animated in partnership with the Mulheim Euro Info Centre.
  • Journalists have been invited.
  • On 12 June, a press release will be issued to coincide with the SME day in Brussels. Issued jointly by the Bonn Representation and the Mülheim/North-Rhine Westfalia Euro Info Centre, it will summarise campaign messages and outline examples of how EU SME policy has created local success stories.


  • Press conference, 23 June.
  • Organised by Commission Representation along with SME organisations and the relevant Greek government department.


  • Representation proposes organising an afternoon event for SME organisations to coincide with visit of Vice-President Verheugen.
  • They are also thinking of organising an additional open day in June on the topic: "what the EU is doing for SMEs?".


  • Seminar The EU is good for SMEs – SMEs are good for Europe” with SME organisations and local EICs, 6 June 10h00-13h20.
  • Press invited, focus on access to finance and entrepreneur success stories
  • Presentation on how the EU is supporting SMEs and entrepreneurship.
  • The manager of the Galway EIC then presents the Irish EIC network’s support for SMEs.
  • Real Irish entrepreneurs then speak of their positive experiences and present their own view of EU SME policy.


  • Press events in Rome and Milan between 6-12 June.
  • Journalists, SME representatives/ associations, chambers of commerce, government representatives and the office of the European Parliament will all be present.
  • Emphasis on environmental dimension to coincide with Commission’s ‘green week’.
  • Representation has been active in promoting SME policy. Big listening exercise in Rome this January and plenty more initiatives to come.
  • In partnership with Confindustria, Representation is organising 12 seminars on growth and jobs, aimed at SMEs. National launch in Rome, 29 May – participation of Vice-President Frattini.


  • Press event with SME organisations, 9 June


I. Vilnius, 15 June, 10h00

  • Meeting/discussion/presentation with the Presidium of Lithuanian Employers Association (15-20 people); media invited.

II. Alytus, June 16, 15:00pm, Alytus

  • Meeting/discussion/presentation with representatives of SMEs organisations; local media present.


  • Press conference, 12 June.
  • Luxembourg’s ‘minister for the middle class’ plans to attend.
  • EICs to participate, along with chamber of commerce.


  • One day seminar, 12 June
  • Speech by Prime Minister
  • Panel discussions organised in partnership with SME organisations, government representatives, MPs, MEPs etc.
  • Portugal
  • One day seminar in northern Portugal, where most SMEs are located, 6 June
  • Entitled: Europe: an opportunity of Portuguese SMEs.
  • Organised together with SME organisations, government and social partners, and with press.
  • Enthusiasm for SME day given the structure of the economy in Portugal, based essentially on micro and small companies.
  • Two panel discussions:

I. 10h30 SMEs: the motor of European competitiveness. Moderated by a leading newspaper journalist. Participants include DG Enterprise official.

II. 11h30 Participation of SMEs in community policymaking.


  • Press event in Maribor focussed on access to finance to SMEs, 16 June


  • Communication event will be organised on 12 June.


  • Press briefing, organised jointly with the EIC, probably on 26 June


  • Press event, 8 June, 10h00 – 14h00.
  • Organised by Commission Representation in association with UK department of trade and industry (DTI), business organisations and prominent UK entrepreneurs.
  • Participants will include representatives of the key industry sectors where the Commission is active on simplifying the regulatory environment.
  • Participants will be invited to take part in a workshop that will be hosted in the DTI’s interactive conference room. This will serve as an introductory “listening” exercise and help identify areas/issues in the UK ripe for priority action.

More information, see the SME policy site

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