The European Community First action plan for innovation


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The Community First action plan for innovation foresees, among its priority actions, a thorough exchange with the Member States and leading players in the field on the issues of start-up and growth of technology based enterprises and companies with a strong component of radical innovation.

This exchange was launched with a round table chaired by Edith Cresson on 9 December 1997 in Paris, and which gathered government officials, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and researchers, etc.

The round table helped to identify relevant themes and factors conditioning the success of technology-based and other innovative firms.
Further to the round table, three working groups have been set up to examine each stage in the development of the firm (gestation and birth; start-up and consolidation; growth). The list of participants is included in annex.

The objectives of the working groups were:
• to identify what constitutes good practice,
• to point out weaknesses and insufficiencies which may exist in the European Union (or in certain of its regions) relative to competing areas elsewhere in the world (especially the United States)
• to make proposals for possible action, in particular at European level.

These proposals for action concern private actors in a first instance. However public actors have an important role to play in fostering a favourable environment or in stimulating interaction between the different actors (in particular though public/private partnerships), without necessarily adding to public expenditure.

The work was carried out in three stages. Written contributions were called for by 20 March. A core group drawn from each working group met on 26 or 27 March 1998 in Luxembourg with the objective to analyse and further elaborate on the submitted contributions. A first discussion paper was then issued and circulated to each group. The current set of documents attempts to synthesises the contributions and comments to date.

The three discussion papers were reviewed in detail at the Luxembourg conference on 18 and 19 of May.

A careful reader will notice some overlap between the analysis and recommendations by each group. This shows that the process from the initiation of the idea to the growth of the company is a continuum and cannot easily be split in discrete phases. At this discussion stage, no systematic attempt has been made to suppress this overlap. It is a task to be carried out further to the conference. Only the more striking misallocation of suggestions or examples have been tackled.

To facilitate the synthesis a similar structure has been adopted for each group, reflecting the main issues at stake. Besides the description of the relevant boundary conditions, each group has therefore focused on four main influential factors:

• a conducive environment,
• access to skills and competencies,
• access to financing,
• access to markets,

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The European Community First action plan for innovation

  3. 3. Innovation, creation of new businesses and jobsThe Community First action plan for innovation foresees, among its priority actions, athorough exchange with the Member States and leading players in the field on theissues of start-up and growth of technology based enterprises and companies with astrong component of radical innovation.This exchange was launched with a round table chaired by Edith Cresson on 9December 1997 in Paris, and which gathered government officials, entrepreneurs,investors, academics and researchers, etc.The round table helped to identify relevant themes and factors conditioning thesuccess of technology-based and other innovative firms.Further to the round table, three working groups have been set up to examineeach stage in the development of the firm (gestation and birth; start-up andconsolidation; growth). The list of participants is included in annex.The objectives of the working groups were: to identify what constitutes good practice, to point out weaknesses and insufficiencies which may exist in the European Union (or in certain of its regions) relative to competing areas elsewhere in the world (especially the United States) to make proposals for possible action, in particular at European level.These proposals for action concern private actors in a first instance. However publicactors have an important role to play in fostering a favourable environment or instimulating interaction between the different actors (in particular though public/privatepartnerships), without necessarily adding to public expenditure.The work was carried out in three stages. Written contributions were called for by 20March. A core group drawn from each working group met on 26 or 27 March 1998 inLuxembourg with the objective to analyse and further elaborate on the submittedcontributions. A first discussion paper was then issued and circulated to each group.The current set of documents attempts to synthesises the contributions andcomments to date.The three discussion papers were reviewed in detail at the Luxembourg conferenceon 18 and 19 of May.A careful reader will notice some overlap between the analysis andrecommendations by each group. This shows that the process from the initiation ofthe idea to the growth of the company is a continuum and cannot easily be split indiscrete phases. At this discussion stage, no systematic attempt has been made tosuppress this overlap. It is a task to be carried out further to the conference. Onlythe more striking misallocation of suggestions or examples have been tackled. - page 3 -
  4. 4. To facilitate the synthesis a similar structure has been adopted for each group,reflecting the main issues at stake. Besides the description of the relevant boundaryconditions, each group has therefore focused on four main influential factors: a conducive environment, access to skills and competencies, access to financing, access to markets,The current documents regroups the discussion papers, respectivelyfor: (I) the gestation, (II) the start-up,and (III) the growth working group - page 4 -
  5. 5. I Discussion paper for the “Gestation” working groupThere has been generally a wide agreement on the main issues identified by thevarious contributors. This agreement includes the recognition of a number of generalissues which have been identified at the occasion of the core group meeting: The existence of a cultural / geographical gap between various parts of the EU: Northern Europe, in particular the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, the UK where there are strongly organised activities aiming to create technology based firms stemming from research, countries such as France and Germany, where activities, if intense at present are more recent and southern countries where it has been difficult to identify a strong movement of company creations from University or other research centres. The difference in situations between a limited number of European centres of excellence that produce world class research and the others. While the former appear to generate firms and attract entrepreneurs and sources of finance without too much difficulty, the latter must rely more on public intervention and funding to support entrepreneurship. Any measure taken in the area of stimulation of entrepreneurship and business creation must be given a long term horizon to prove itself. No measures to support in a systematic manner the identification and the development of new business ideas and projects can be self sustaining under the principles guiding normal commercial practice. The issue is how to develop public private partnerships with the best leverage effect.Taking these general remarks into account, the reflections can be categorised asfollows:1. - A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENTISSUES To encourage the best able individuals to venture in new business start-up, rather than to go for (or stay in) employment in big companies or administration, the potential rewards should balance the perceived risks which are being taken. In order to give projects for new businesses their maximum chance of success, it is necessary to “cocoon” the entrepreneur and to handhold him through the business gestation process. A large number of structures, networks, measures have been developed in the past years, producing a wealth of experiences at European level. - page 5 -
  6. 6. OBSTACLES/PROBLEMS: the social status of the entrepreneur is still very low in a number of countries (G. Unternaehrer) the risks are widely perceived as being very high: not only does the entrepreneur puts at risk his property, but also does not benefit from the same level of social protection as individuals in salaried employment the rewards do not appear to be in accordance with the risks incurred (mainly because of various taxation issues). In particular, tax and social security issues might have a more important impact on entrepreneurship than financing. corporate spin offs are too often seen only as a way of restructuring companies in a socially acceptable manner (E. Rafinon, M.I. Spangenberg) and not as a means of achieving competitive advantage New entrepreneurs are often lost with regard to whom they should turn to in order to receive support. These initiatives do not always present the financial transparency necessary to a rational economic choice in terms of public funding Quite often, no evaluation is undertaken of these different schemes and structures, leading to a situation seen as prejudicial to a efficient utilisation of public funds.ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN raise the profile of entrepreneurship with political decision makers develop awareness at all stages of education (including vocational training and adult long life learning) develop exchange of experiences in the education sector (primary, secondary, higher education) with regards to awareness raising measures (a number of countries such as Ireland and the UK have already implemented such measures in the primary sector) promote “role models” of successful entrepreneurs in order to demonstrate the social benefit of entrepreneurial success encourage research organisations/ large companies to develop “soft” ways for researchers / employees to leave their original organisation (possibility to come back if the experience is not successful) (as in the CEA example described by G. Crespy) adapt social measures to improve care of entrepreneurs (social security, public pension schemes) in order to soften the negative effects of possible failures at the individual level launch a debate at Community level on taxation (including social security contributions) treatment of new businesses, entrepreneurs and investors in new innovative firms. raise awareness with large companies of “positive” reasons to encourage the development of spin offs (create a network of innovative suppliers, ...) encourage the rationalisation of measures and structures (especially at the local/regional level, see E.B Karlsson) to support the creation of new businesses encourage the creation of “quality control” and “labelling” mechanisms, possibly at Community level, which will foster the development of standards of behaviour and would allow potential creators of new business an easier and informed choice in terms of initial contact point - page 6 -
  7. 7. encourage the dissemination of good practice and exchange of experience in the area of evaluation, in particular within those Member States where evaluation is not widespread. Improve the budgetary transparency of various initiatives in order to ensure best value for money. business schools have a major role to play in this domain, although they are traditionally not involved with small firms in their regions. They should be encouraged to take a proactive action (like in Oxford) to support new entrepreneurs, to interact with the technology departments and with local technological establishments and companies2. ACCESS TO SKILLS AND COMPETENCESIssuesIn order to start a business, a number of ingredients are needed such as technology,idea, experience, money, time, commitment. The entrepreneur does not normallyhave all these skills, competences and resources. A main issue is to gather themtogether, through the creation of networks involving company managers, technologyorganisations, etc... or more formal training and support schemes, in order to helphim/her develop a viable business project. A large number of experiences exist withinMember States (D.Fahey, M.Klofsten, F. Snijders, B. Schneider Le Saout, A.Ortega,P. Formica, MENTOR project in Finland,...) or outside (G. Caprioglio’s relation of theCONNECT experience in the US). They are however more or less developeddepending of the country concerned and they are heavily dependant on nationalcultures and conditions. The Business Innovation Centres (BICs) and their Network(EBN) are an example of an initiative supporting the development of commonstandards and good practices throughout the Union, while taking into accountnational specificity.Problems: A number of Member States/ regions, either are unaware of good practice concerning support to the development of new technology businesses (and do not implement these measures would could foster this movement) or “reinvent the wheel” when setting up new measures or structures It is not always possible (even with training) to transform researchers into entrepreneurs, even if their research is of world class level and potentially leads to a good business idea It is difficult to compare the various schemes in terms of main functionality and results A number of scheme are overly prescriptive (often because of government intervention)Actions to be undertaken the Commission should identify relevant practice in this area and provide on an on going basis an updated picture of good practice (“atlas of good practice”) to the relevant actors in Member States. the Commission could provide a tool allowing the various schemes to benchmark themselves against each other in order to provide a tool for mutual improvement. - page 7 -
  8. 8. Member States and national actors should encourage the development of networks which can provide the new entrepreneur with the right type of support at the right moment In particular the development of mentoring schemes allowing new companies to benefit from the support of experienced businessmen should be supported taking example on best European practice Member States, which have not already done so, should develop integrated programmes (on the models of schemes such as Spinno and TOP) to train the new entrepreneur to the required skills Member States could leave more space to individual initiative to develop schemes, possibly fostering the development of independent trusts with a broad mission and flexible control mechanisms (such as the Oxford Trust in the UK) flexible mechanisms should be developed to facilitate the transfer of the project to experienced entrepreneurs, while rewarding researchers who want to remain in the research world. (Possibly by allowing him to keep a share in the company, like in the Weizmann Institute in Israel and some UK universities) the Commission should foster the development of transnational networks (possibly on the models of those described by J. Chef and P. Van der Sijde), with the objective of encouraging those who already have experience in this area to support the Member States/regions who want to develop and/or upgrade their operation3.- ACCESS TO FINANCING Small scale financing is seen as a major issue with regard to the development of new companies, especially pre-seed financing (before the actual constitution of the company, that is the funding of resources needed to progress from a tentative idea arising from funded research to a fundable business plan). However, a certain amount of underfunding can have a positive impact on new ventures.OBSTACLES: financing provided on a purely commercial basis (banking system, venture capital) is most of the time not available (and sometimes not desirable) at that stage. heavy expenses are often needed during the development stage of an idea. Financing R&D is not so much an issue (as it is often supported by public funding), but funding proof of principle and the market research necessary to introduce the product is even more expensive (and often not supported) In particular financing IPR is one area where large sums of money, most of the time out of proportion with the resources of the entrepreneur, have to be found in a very short time. - page 8 -
  9. 9. ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN Support the development (and the exchange of experience) concerning measures aiming to leverage private investment by public funds in order to finance early stages of projects (possibly by financing intellectual input, due diligence, ...) Extend R&D support programmes to enable them to finance “downstream” activities such as market research Reduce cost of IPR for new firms, possibly on the model of “small entity fees” in the US Develop specific mechanisms appropriate to finance IPR expenses: D. Fahey: example of a BIC advancing money to finance filing expenses in exchange of a share in the company, or constitution of “IPR companies” such as the ones developed by universities in the UK with funding coming from the University and Commercial sources, aiming to finance the initial protection of IPR Develop schemes, with public support where necessary, to fund the “proof of principle” act, in particular schemes (such as in the Mines d‟Alès, see G. Unternaehrer) to provide a regular source of income to a would be entrepreneur - page 9 -
  10. 10. II Discussion paper for the “Start-up” working groupThere was generally a wide agreement on the main issues identified by the variouscontributors and at the occasion of the core group meeting. These include: Issues regarding business creation: lack of entrepreneurial spirit, lack of reward for entrepreneurs when compared to risks, low return on investment in early stages,... The local level is crucial for the stimulation of entrepreneurship. New industrial policies have to foster relationship between universities, R&D centres and firms. This can be achieved through university spin-offs, the development of company "seed beds", courses for business creators and specific financing instruments. No measures to support new technology based firms on a wide scale can be financially self sustaining in the long term. Although private initiatives and skills are seen as the essential component, public resources should be used to leverage the efforts by the private sector. There is a need to clarify the financial requirements and make more transparent the resources dedicated to support the development of new technology based firms (whether in cash or in the form of technological business support). All measures, be they of a financial, fiscal, technological nature, should be considered in the long term (5 to 7 years) as this is the relevant horizon for new firms development. Frequent disruption is seen as having a negative impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of these measures. Regional policies can contribute to combine existing skills (e.g. financing, production and marketing) in new ways in order to improve firms‟ creativity and to help new companies to take off from the craft stage to the industrial one. Another important issue is the creation of local interface bodies, places for interaction and service centres The working group has identified four broad types of start-ups, each with different specificities that need be taken into account: (i) those arising from R&D activities with a service or software component. These start-ups need few fixed assets and have usually a short product cycle; (ii) those arising from “hard” R&D activities. These businesses often require heavy investments together with access to sophisticated research facilities; - page 10 -
  11. 11. (iii) start-ups established in order to respond to the demand of high tech services from a cluster of enterprises; (iv) start-ups arising from a breakthrough innovation in a traditional sector.1. A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENTISSUES Spatial clusters and other kind of business concentrations (local development areas, industrial districts, science parks) especially in growth sectors, are favourable to the creation of new businesses (ex. Linköping and Dublin). The access to technologies and qualified personnel and other skills is facilitated; New firms, because they have not accumulated experience and lack of internal competencies are very dependant on their environment (administrative, technological, financial, ...) and need support in a number of areas; Their financial structure is usually weak and their credit with financial institutions limited. They need to cash rapidly on their sales.OBSTACLES Overcoming the various administrative hurdles requires a proportionally higher effort than for larger firms. They have difficulty to identify who and where they can get support from. They are very often lost in a maze of support bodies, structures and measures which do not always provide services relevant to their needs. Delays of payments from customers are sometimes more important than access to capital for their financial health. General conditions:- problems of intellectual property rights and the high cost of patents are a hindrance for the creation of new businesses.- fiscal barriers in particular for the transmission or the take over of companies- lack of relevant information on markets, technologies, financial instruments, etc.ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN Administrative simplification should be pursued in Member States so that valuable management time is nor wasted on formalities and that firms‟ reaction time can be shortened. The benchmarking of best practices for the approval and licensing of business start-ups should be developed. Business support bodies should have the possibility (like the associations of categories in Italy) to carry out administrative procedures on behalf of small firms. Business incubators and Science Parks should provide, aside from real estate services, a broad range of services to support innovative firms (on the model of Business Innovation Centres). In particular, they should encourage and support the formation of regional networks of firms with complementary skills (clusters). - page 11 -
  12. 12. Member States should pursue reducing in delays commercial payments, taking as example best European practice. Community, national and regional governments should proceed to rationalise and professionalise innovation and business support measures and bodies, taking first into account firms‟ needs and requirements. Regional Innovation and Technology Transfer Infrastructures and Services (RITTS) and regional Innovation strategies (RIS) projects, promoted by DGXIII and DGXVI can provide examples of what could be achieved. On the supply side, “real services” (technology advice and the provision marketing, export, technology, ...advice) can help firms to survive in the long term (see Emilia-Romagna service centres system, Comunidad Valenciana, Baden Würtenberg, et.) Develop a favourable regulatory framework in research centres and universities in order to allow exploitation of results and the use of facilities and expertise by researchers who want to create (or have created) their own company (ex. CEA and Ecole des Mines d‟Alès, etc. in France). Develop the conditions that will make it attractive for researchers to get involved with new businesses (cultural, career wise, ...)2. ACCESS TO SKILLS AN COMPETENCIESISSUES Very often new firms do not have, on their own, the human and technological resources necessary to operate. They need entrepreneurial, managerial, marketing, financial, ... skills, that the company founder(s) have not developed or gathered yet. They also may need access to sophisticated equipment which they cannot afford.OBSTACLES There is very often a lack of rules governing the use of research equipment in public research structures and laboratories which could be available to these firms. Flexible solutions are usually locally developed. However they are often ad hoc and do not provide for a stable and clear environment (T. Bruhat). Even when this is possible, there is a lack of transparency concerning the real cost of the use of this equipment and of services, leading to a situation where fair competition may be questioned. Firms do not know who to turn to when they have a problem, or cannot financially afford their search for information or support services. New firms find it difficult to attract and remunerate high calibre staff who prefer to stay with large companies. The status of researchers in public research centres (e.g. CNRS, France), and the lack of incentives it entails, can explain the small number of spin-offs. They usually are not familiar with Intellectual Property Rights issues - page 12 -
  13. 13. ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN Development of formal training and comprehensive support schemes to guide new firms during their early stage (such as the one in Mjärdevi Science Park in Sweden described by S.G. Johansson). Develop supply of technological resources and competencies from large firms to new businesses (see G. Crespy for the CEA and M. Spangenberg for Shell). Member states should develop legal frameworks which can allow partnerships between public structures and private firms to develop harmoniously (and possibly encourage such developments through public funding), while ensuring that support provided in such way is properly evaluated and accounted for. The development of network of professional services (together with the appropriate management control and review mechanisms) , as well as financial mechanisms to support the demand of services (on the model of technology vouchers developed in Finland) should be encouraged in Member States Develop mentoring schemes and networks (including at european level) to support the formation of new businesses (see Mentor scheme in Finland, CONNECT in San Francisco cf. Caprioglio; Anglia Enterprise Network, cf. Herriot) Support on IPR should be developed further in order to make firms aware of the various strategies and course of possible action. Promote the development of stock option schemes which can give provide high level staff with the motivation to stay and work with small companies with growth potential use of service centres as suppliers of expertise in the domain of quality control, certification, logistics, just in time, human resources, management and after sales services.3. ACCESS TO FINANCINGISSUES The problems of financing new technology based firms are well documented. Although recent years have seen an improvement in the financing of such firms, the situation regarding seed capital especially for high tech companies is still preoccupying and firms have difficulties to raise financing in their early stageOBSTACLES Too many new firms are undercapitalised and are unable to secure loans under banks traditional rules of operation. To attract financing, companies need to be well managed. Although financial actors such as Venture Capitalist may have an educational role, this is not their main vocation. Return on investment in new high tech firms is too low in Europe, especially when compared to the United States (5% versus 25%) making it difficult to attract commercial investors (however, experienced seed fund management teams may reach higher ROI). In particular the costs of administering small investments is too high when compared to the returns. Private investors are seen as one of the best sources of finance for start ups (as they bring both financial resources and business acumen). While the business angels phenomenon is relatively well developed in the UK and Northern Europe, it is non existent in Southern countries. - page 13 -
  14. 14. While companies complain about the lack of financing, financiers complain about the insufficient quality of proposals from high tech firms (M. Mallone). Companies do not always welcome external investors as this may, in their view, mean loss of control.ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN Facilitate networking between innovation actors (entrepreneurs, researchers, financiers,...) such as in the Anglia Enterprise Network (W. Herriot) and ERVET experience in Emilia-Romagna. Build mutual understanding between technologists and financiers (including banks) by developing audit methodologies adapted to new firms with a high technology component, such as the technology ratings initiatives currently implemented or developed (ING Bank, Deutsche Bank, etc.) Develop public-private partnerships in the domain of seed capital funds (in particular those which are local/regional or linked to a research establishment) and of guarantee funds. Develop public funding of expertise aiming to inform investment decisions in technology firms (Y. Delacour) and to advise companies in the preparation of documents/business plans. Design measures (especially fiscal and legal, ...) to encourage the development of private investment and its involvement with new technology based firms. Review the measures which had been taken to protect small investors (such as Finance Services Acts, ..) in order to facilitate financial brokerage activities, such as business angels networks (see J. Berry on Business Angel Networks). Develop schemes to mobilise private investors to invest in newly formed companies, in particular in via proximity (local/regional) seed capital funds (M. Bulgarelli, Gestiform). Lift bans on prudential rules for pension funds / life insurance companies.4. ACCESS TO MARKETISSUES A new firm has to establish itself in the market and find customers very quickly to generate sales and cash flow. New firms should be able to take full advantage of the single European market in order to develop their sales and reach rapidly a critical mass . In order to avoid failure, the entrepreneur needs to “listen to the market” and to continue to innovate and to fine tune his product according demand. - page 14 -
  15. 15. OBSTACLES Very often new firms lack the necessary market information to develop/adapt their products to suit and serve potential markets. The cost of building up economic intelligence and access to information on domestic and foreign markets is very high. In a vicious circle, new firms have no previous customers and no previous references and therefore cannot demonstrate their worthiness to potential customers. Their weak capital structure make them a risk for potential customers (including public bodies, Community, national and regional governments).ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN Financial support and incentives to research development could be extended to market related expenses The provision and use of economic intelligence by SME should be encouraged, possibly through specific public support schemes. Business schools can be associated to this process (see A. Teboul for the CEA example where market analysis is done partly using business schools students). The rules governing public procurements should be reviewed with a view to become “young innovative firms friendly”. Incentives for large firms to develop links with new firms should be developed. This could be achieved through support to training mechanisms and schemes to encourage large established firms to act as launching customers for new firms International business cooperation should be supported within the framework of innovative businesses support schemes (such as the one developed by BTC/BIC Twente), with a view to find partners to support development in other members states - page 15 -
  16. 16. III Discussion paper for the “Growth” working group1. THE BOUNDARY CONDITIONS FOR GROWTH Evidence from various sources shows that when technology based companies are being created in Europe, notably spin offs from universities or research centres (albeit at a much lower rate than in the US1) they tend to survive but stay small (several empirical studies relate an above 8O% rate of survival and an average size of less than 10 employees after 5 to 7 years of existence). This seems to be less the case for spin-offs of larger companies. Growth is far from being an obvious objective shared by all SMEs. There is a substantial evidence that a fairly large number of SMEs: - have no desire to grow whatsoever and/or - do not really feel that they can grow and/or - shy away from setting growth objectives for themselves, for fear of the trouble and risks involved, or because of their reluctance to adopt the changes (in managerial behaviour, human resources, organisation, financial structure, technology investments, etc.) required to adopt a growth strategy. Company growth very much rests on the private actors themselves. Public authorities have little leeway to positively influence this process. Their action may at best have a limited direct impact. When public measures are decided, their mode of delivery and implementation matters very much. Proximity to firms (i.e. local level) often is a condition for good uptake. However, to grow, companies need a favourable environment in terms of - markets: growth is led by sales and the level of demand is its prime motor. For high tech products or services, or radical innovations in traditional sectors, often the reference market is the European (if not the American) or global market place (thus the importance of interconnecting various networks at European level). - framework conditions: the good functioning of the whole national economic system and of its main components is essential. This is very dependant of national circumstances. (In the group, for instance, it has been argued that Italy was suffering from an insufficient adaptation of its financial system to support growth (cf. Mediocredito Centrale and Coopération Bancaire pour l’Europe). On the other hand, a dynamic interaction between companies in industrial districts is seen as an essential comparative advantage).1 In 1994-1995 in the USA, 464 new firms have been created on the basis of licenses granted by the American Universities. The number of companies created in France from public research is estimated to be on average 30 per year. (Source: Guillaume report, 1998) - page 16 -
  17. 17. - legal and regulatory environment: for instance, regulations fixing social or fiscal thresholds have a strong impact on the attitudes of company managers as regard the creation of jobs or the pursuit of growth. In this area stability is perceived as being almost as important as the relevance of measures. - culture: in particular a climate favouring entrepreneurship and innovation is felt to be a key factor. Reaching a social and political consensus on a long term commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship is necessary. In addition, adaptability has to be promoted in many domains. Establishing the proper environment needs time. It calls for a combination of public and private efforts over the long run. Public actions which exert a leverage on private actors are considered to be the most effective. Furthermore, close articulation between national and Community policies is necessary. The latter have a specific added value in promoting the exchange of experience, the evaluation and dissemination of good practice.2. A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENTSTAKES growth can only be achieved in a climate favouring entrepreneurship, innovation, risk taking. This climate can only be built over the long term through a.o. changes in the education systems and social values and attitudes.OBSTACLES European culture and systems of values tend to be risk adverse, not prone to admit the “right to fail”, and increasingly driven by the perspective of short-term returns. the place given to entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, experimentation in education systems still is too limited. changes in social attitudes and behaviours are very difficult to induce. In many instances, the European system is felt to be over-regulated, thus stifling initiatives.ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN promote actions to foster entrepreneurship at all levels in the education system. Examples of good practice in this area include: * the contest recently launched in Germany by the Federal Ministry for Research and Education with a view to shortlist 12 “entrepreneurship” projects at universities out of which 5 will ultimately be financially supported. * the creation of university chairs in entrepreneurship and company creation in Germany and the UK. * the experience launched at Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble to include in the curriculum of engineers (and mark) practical work done for SMEs. - page 17 -
  18. 18. * the review in Germany of primary and secondary schools handbooks to assess whether and how they promote entrepreneurship (directly through the examples used and indirectly through the implicit role models conveyed). * the “Business Birth-rate Strategy” launched by Scottish Enterprise in Glasgow which followed a two year “enquiry” and has resulted in a comprehensive strategy and a programme of activities ranging from schools and universities enterprise activities, cultural change programmes and new finance sources to create more entrepreneurs in Scotland. stimulate diffusion of available know-how (i.e. combination of technical/market know-how) to alert would-be entrepreneurs on opportunities. review insolvency and bankruptcy laws to avoid “excessive punishment” for failure. promote high standards of corporate governance mobilise company managers through emulation. This could, for instance, include actions such as: * regional, national or even Community prizes for the best business plans (a good practice example can be found in the Bavarian and Berlin Business Plan contests sponsored by McKinsey and venture capital companies). * support to the clustering of small hi-tech companies. * the formation of a European club of high-tech - high-growth companies (for instance based on the example, and possible grouping of, national clubs such as the Spanish AINTEC, French “Croissance Plus”, Comité Richelieu, etc.) * benchmarking techniques provide a useful tool to sensitise company managers on methods used by the “bests in the group” to achieve and sustain a.o. growth. Spreading their use would be beneficial. * case studies and success stories are also an effective mechanism to spur emulation by other companies. For instance, in less favoured regions like Extramadura concrete “demonstration” projects (e.g. the Community funded Transtex project; c.f. Crespo) illustrating the successful absorption and adaptation by local companies of technologies from northern countries can have a very high impact on local businesses‟ attitudes regarding technical innovation and growth strategies. facilitate the transmission of companies: promote entrepreneurship among the managing staff (in preparation of MBO‟s and MBI‟s).3. ACCESS TO SKILLS AND TO COMPETENCIESSTAKES companies willing to grow have to constantly upgrade their internal competencies (e.g. through training, recruitment) and to be able to easily, effectively and timely access external competencies (expertise, networks, partnerships) - page 18 -
  19. 19. they have to “change gear” at the right moment: this may mean that the creator hands over his/her leading role to a qualified CEO able to manage the growth phase (cf. Lernout & Hauspie). they also have to establish a mesh of relations with a.o. service providers, users, technology resource centres (e.g. to refresh their innovation potential when their first product has to be renewed) (cf. Mustar, Auberton-Hervé).OBSTACLES(i) internal competencies lack of availability of qualified personnel (e.g. the current shortage of IT specialists in some European countries) social and fiscal thresholds difficulty in using, in certain countries, appropriate incentives to attract highly qualified staff (e.g. stock options) reluctance of the founder of the company to pass the relay to a professional manager recruited from outside.(ii) external competencies difficulty in accessing / paying costly ad hoc high quality external expertise (on the contrary, to recruit a young inexperienced graduate to support export policy may prove a risky choice). difficulty in identifying possible partners and in joining networks which need to be open and evolutionary (for instance, able to offer appropriate European contacts when the company is willing and ready to attack international markets).ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN(i) internal competencies promote an equity culture and illustrate, through success stories, the benefits of e.g. business angels and venture capital companies involvement in SMEs (access to expertise, networks, markets). Also promote the uptake of the most effective management techniques. stock options: examine tax treatment of stock options to facilitate rewards (and therefore recruitment) of qualified managers. This tool can also be promoted in order to facilitate the transmission of companies (i.e. page 4). pension schemes: foster transnational portability of pension rights to facilitate recruitment and mobility of experienced managers. Intellectual Property Rights are a key asset for growth companies. The regulation governing the ownership and licensing of IPR in university or research centre co-operations with industry have to be clarified and made more conducive to hi-tech firm creation and growth (see Auberton-Hervé and the influence of the Bayh-Dole act in the commercialisation of American universities research results).: - page 19 -
  20. 20. (ii) external competencies develop “mentor” programmes (good practice examples: the Finnish Mentor and Spinno programmes as well as Shell Student Enterprise Project) using for instance large companies executives (possibly re-trained to provide advice/support to SMEs). explore the feasibility of a European “Economic Reservists” Task Force modelled on the American example. review, and whenever necessary adapt university or public research regulations in order to allow/sensitise academics or researchers to work for smaller companies (good practice examples to be found in the Steinbeis Stiftung in Baden-Württemberg). develop mechanisms to provide growth companies with easy access to finance and expertise at the same time (i.e. finance with market information and/or technology expertise in a combined way). Good practice examples in this area include the technology transfer projects linking FzK research centre with smaller companies (c.f. Wüst). The so-called “technology rating” system experimented in Belgium and the Netherlands, coupling banks and innovation agencies. Also the Community Eurotech Data action provides a useful service, albeit of too restricted an access). promote networks of experts with in-built systems of peer review and quality control. Facilitate direct access by companies to sources of competencies. Streamline the overabundant support organisations. truly facilitate participation of young hi-tech companies in European programmes (seen as valuable sources of competencies, partners, as well as finance for growth companies - c.f. Mustar) facilitate the development of “multi-salariat” (allowing for instance the recruitment of temporary managers or the sharing of qualified managers between smaller companies) including the necessary adaptation in social and taxation regulation.4. ACCESS TO FINANCESTAKES growth implies recurrent and urgent needs for equity and/or long term financing in order to sustain the process. Failing to respond to the company‟s successive needs for capital puts it in jeopardy. seed capital is an essential link in the finance chain. Regional or local funds however need critical mass (i.e. to reach the 10 MECU mark) and professional management. rapidly growing financial needs require matching financial management skills.OBSTACLES reluctance of many European SME owners to open their firms‟ capital to external investors when necessary for growth; lack of a sizeable liquid pan-European capital market equivalent to the American NASDAQ. Recent creation of Euro-NM, Easdaq, AIM perceived as a move in the right direction. However, need to conciliate competition and attaining critical mass. - page 20 -
  21. 21. when financing needs are increasing fast, often reluctance of investors to follow (c.f. The Pixtech case, a company led to seek an alliance with Japanese partners and to relocate their new plant because they could not gather together the capital they needed, despite the fact that they had raised 25 M on Nasdaq).ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN organisation of regional or local networks of “angels”. finance mechanisms, which exert a leverage effect on private capital (e.g. SBIC in the USA) or combine public/private financial resources so risks are shared and different competencies are joined by forming a network of organisations/individuals. develop appropriate guarantee mechanisms (e.g. regional guarantee funds). prudent man legislation: such a legislation allows investors to diversify their portfolio investments in higher risk areas (e.g. unquoted companies). It exists in the USA and in a few Member sates (UK, NL, IRL). Its extension should be encouraged.(Raicher) new stock markets for high growth companies (AIM, EASDAQ, Euro-NM) in order to facilitate emergence of pan-European solution with required critical mass and liquidity. regulations for calling on public savings: review and possibly adapt existing national regulations so that more flexibility is allowed in the financing of early stage investments whilst maintaining sufficient protection against fraud or misdemeanour (e.g. in France limitations in allowing to put into contact informal investors with companies seeking equity - c.f. Jullien).5. ACCESS TO MARKETSTAKES for growth companies winning the first big client is important as it opens up other markets. The supply chains between SMEs and OEMs play an important role in providing access to markets, notably for manufactured components and the provision of services. Also willingness to go international should be part of the strategy from the outset is a must if growth is to be achieved. the specific characteristics of high tech markets: cf. G. Moore “in the eye of the hurricane” which describes “cyclonic” high tech markets (with short cycles, brutal invasion of the market by new products when they bring about a change of paradigm, etc.) and the appropriate strategies at each stage of the new product adoption process. The different phases in the adoption cycle call for very specific strategies as each group of users has very different needs. These changes in strategy sometimes imply a U-turn, which companies are not always prepare to adopt. the various time horizons for businesses (e.g. fast reactions in IT versus long lead rimes in biotechnology). - page 21 -
  22. 22. OBSTACLES the European market is not yet fully unified nor transparent. The EMU and introduction of the Euro will have positive effects. However fragmentation still is deeply rooted. transparency and availability of information on markets, in Europe and world- wide, are too limited. public procurement rules more and more tend to privilege price over quality requirements. Possibilities to pro-actively use public procurement to support emerging companies and innovative solutions are reducing (defence and/or other public purchases have had a strong influence on innovation in several countries. The reduction in those public markets creates a range of problems).ACTIONS TO BE UNDERTAKEN develop and disseminate market intelligence and appraisal techniques. examine public procurement rules to see if and how they could be turned to become more innovation and small (growth) companies friendly. promote interconnection at European level of various support networks. develop a European support strategy for clusters aiming at supporting the creation of such networks grouping large and small enterprises, researchers, support organisations and facilitate their cooperation at European level (e.g. in benchmarking or training) using modern communication technologies. ********** - page 22 -
  24. 24. GROUP 1: GESTATIONP. Bradstock (UK) Initiative: the Oxford Trust (1985) is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. Mission: to encourage the study and application of science and technology. Three streams of activity: Education, an Innovation Centre, and a Local Innovation Network. A subsidiary, Oxford Innovation Ltd., disseminates the experience of the Trust and generates profits to return to the Trust. The trust has created: a large Innovation Centre near the centre of Oxford set up as a test bed to support the growth of new technology-based firms. a new incubation centre Oxfordshire BiotechNet, specialised in biotechnology. strong local networks between academia, industry and local organisations an Investment Opportunity Network to link wealthy individuals to young business. a hands-on Science Centre and annual Festival of Science whilst continuing to encourage links between schools and local industry. Results The Trust has helped to create 500 direct new sustainable and high added value jobs in the local economy over ten years (1000 indirect), with an initial investment of £2 million. The Trust still has £2 million to continue the process. Its success is based on a few key principles: it has maintained a close geographical focus (Oxfordshire) but covers all aspects of innovation and technology transfer. It deliberately mixes people from different parts of the local economy to stimulate innovation. it operates an Innovation Centre, maintaining a daily contact with growing businesses it has retained its ability to act independently though many of its activities are carried out in partnership with other bodies. as a permanent foundation, it is able to recruit and retain a professional staff and to develop long term relationship with local partners. It is funded by cost recovery on schemes of activity, sponsorship and grants.G. Caprioglio (I) Initiative: the University of California provides administration and management to a group of volunteers (mainly retired executives from research, industry and finance), who provide free consulting help to individuals and SMEs, ranging from evaluation of ideas and preparation of business plans to assistance in meeting with venture capital officials. CONNECT has had a considerable success during the past 10 years or so and claims to have been a major contributor to the rapid expansion of the new technology industry in the San Diego area.J. Casanova Paya (E) Initiative 1: “Emprenedors Universitaris” aims to stimulate entrepreneurship and support business start-up in university. Its purpose is to improve the technology transfer process from University to the business world, to create business opportunities for graduates, doctorates, teachers-researchers,... to create new employment possibilities for graduates through their insertion in existing SMEs. This project is managed by the Business and Innovation Centre of Valencia with the support of IMPIVA (Valencia Institute for the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) and the main universities in Valencia. Results: Nearly 1000 persons participated in the motivation seminars developed during 1997. 171 business initiatives were detected, and at the end of the programme, 16 new companies were up and running. - page 24 -
  25. 25. Initiative 2: Resources Centre for Information and Services addressed to entrepreneurs. Promoted by CEEI Valencia with the support of IMPIVA (One Stop Shop for Business support). It aims to provide a single interface integrating all the support services addressed to entrepreneurs and provides information and training to entrepreneurs on self service. It supports projects from their early stage until the entrepreneurs have created their new businesses. Results: in 1996, participation of 166 entrepreneurs to these services (information, training, assessment) and in 1997, 189 entrepreneurs. Difficulties encountered: location far away from the city, without public transport difficulties to develop a specific marketing campaign of this service users didn‟t take the benefice of self-services provided through a computer lack of standardisation of services Initiative 3: Forum for “the creation of new business”, promoted by CEEI Valencia and IMPIVA aims to provide technical assistance to the entrepreneurs from specialists in an open Forum, to offer a set of basic information to any entrepreneur in small groups, to keep regularly informed the new business about general interest items for the companies. results: in 7 months, 386 entrepreneurs have participated. Actions to undertake: 1) Entrepreneurs assistance regional network providing support to entities promoting local development, universities, professional bodies,... in the process of helping the creation of new business initiatives. coordination of the existing structure of service providers. Many institutions have developed services to support entrepreneurs. There is a “quality” problem of a necessity to coordinate them. 2) Develop a methodology to validate and adapt the “New sources of jobs” at local level. This should be done by regional organisms (BIC) in coordination with local entities (local development agencies).J. Chef (F) Initiative 1: Award to raise awareness of creation of new business / products with students and researchers and incite them to set up their own company. This initiative is run by various actors of the Lorraine region (Regional governments, Higher education institutions, Regional firms).Results: after two editions (95,97), about twenty projects are still alive (either as independent businesses or in larger firms) Initiative 2: U TRANS aims to elaborate a complete way to assist entrepreneurs-to-be from universities or research institutes in creating their own company. The targets are bodies in the field of economic development (Chambers of Commerce, BIC, science parks). The 6 partners who take part in the project are from universities (Twente, Liege, Kaiserslautern) and from the economic world (BIC Promotech, BIC Kaiserslautern, Zernike Group). Results: each partner now has a good knowledge of all the others‟ operations. Partners are now trying to set up original programs in their own region. Then, the group will spread its experience of the academic spin-off abroad. - page 25 -
  26. 26. Initiative 3: TRANSFERT aims to study 4 different experiences, in the field of mechanisms between companies and universities. This initiative is set up by BIC Promotech (F), BIC Zwickau (D) and RIZ NÖ (A) and the Liaison Office of Louvain la Neuve (B). In the course of their meetings, partners study the methods to assist creation of companies from the university, the range of services which the university could offer to the innovative companies, and the integration of new communication technologies in the management of science parks. Action to undertake: Develop partnerships involving company mangers, technology organisations, etc. to support students, young graduates and researchers to set up their own business. Geographical location: regional (Lorraine) could be extended to trans border regions Expected Impact: increase the number of projects and their chances of success.G. Copin (F) See group 3 (Growth)G. Crespy (F) Initiative: The French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) promotes entrepreneurship among its staff members and the creation of spin-offs. It is based on the following principles: assistance to the young entrepreneurs (training programmes paid by the CEA, advice, etc.), a right to failure (entrepreneurs keep the possibility to return within 2 to 3 years), the provision of unsecured loan yielding no interest. Intellectual property rights are transferred free of charge to the entrepreneur when they apply to a patent the CEA intended to withdraw. Usually the CEA does not take any equity shares in the spin off. Results: After 10 years, 80 companies have been created, 60 of them in high technology fields. These companies make an overall turnover estimated at 660 MF and employ more than 1200 people. Questions and Perspectives: How to encourage a larger number of researchers to take a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship. Possible changes: extending to 4 years the possibility to return, encouraging the emergence of ideas for new activities, making the financing of the first step easier : industrial feasibility, pre-sampling, etc. (by setting up a seed capital fund). In order to reach a threshold effect, it is necessary to fulfil several conditions: presence of competitive research centres open to co-operations with industrial companies, presence of specific facilities for new companies (e.g. incubators), presence of industrial companies, mutual co-operation between the young entrepreneurs (advice, export, etc.). Action to undertake (at EU level):Supporting the issuing of seed and venture capital funds, helping the development of networks between new business development regional programmes : exchange of best practices, cross-information on technologies available, need for specific expertise and entrepreneurs, setting up of guidelines, etc.D. Fahey (IRL) Issues: Main areas where business start ups can be supported are idea generation and development, where there is a need for a facilitating environment, skills development , where there are gaps at various stages, finance, as start-ups and small business are almost generally under-capitalised, possibly through the extension of risk capital and support organisations who need to be better resourced to meet demands of start up enterprises - page 26 -
  27. 27. Initiative: Campus Company Development Programme, a joint initiative between the University College Dublin and the Dublin Business Innovation Centre. It is designed to assist entrepreneurs in their establishment and/or development of knowledge-intensive enterprises. It provides a mix of practical training and consultancy support which assists participants in converting the commercial ideas whether that be a product or service from proof of principles to a working prototype and in some cases, managing the successful implementation of the various stages of the business plan through to actual business start- up. It touches a large number of areas from legal consideration to building a management team through product development. Two courses have been run a third one is in preparation. Problems: Providing such significant inputs to a limited number of participants proves very expensive.P. Formica (I) Initiative: Programmed Spin-off “Faenza Model”. The aim of the project was to create new enterprises in the territory taking advantage of the abilities and of the know how of existing companies, the objectives being: for the local authority to promote employment creation through new business set up, for the mother company to gain competitiveness by reinforcing its supply chain structure and to foster strategic outsourcing Results: Since 1995, the programmed spin-off action has facilitated the set up of five new enterprises. The principal sectors are: industrial ceramics, multimedia and plan engineering. New related initiatives, such as the involvement of a university level industrial design school for the diffusion of spin-off mechanism also at academic level, are now arising in the territory.D. Hampson (UK) Comments: Actions to support innovation should take into account national diversityE.B. Karlsson (IS) Initiative: Job Creation Initiative for SMEs is an Icelandic joint initiative under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, two venture capital funds and The Technological Institute of Iceland (IceTec). All the main innovation and service support providers in Iceland have joined their forces into one single activity. It aims at increased job creation, transnational collaboration between SMEs by technology transfer. Foreign venture capital investments programme is planned to be included in the initiative. Results: The products, developed in the initiative, have increased the level of the competitiveness of the companies and also increased the companies turnover and profits. Problems identified: setting up measurable goals, evaluation criteria and follow-up when reaching certain milestones, lack of innovation policy to rely on Proposal. Raise awareness of the innovation process and technology transfer among decision-makers and managers of projects and funds in the public domain.·Simplify the process of entrepreneurs and initiators of technology-based businesses to obtain information on the legal and regulatory environment in Europe. This should be closely connected to the activities within the EU RTD Framework. - page 27 -
  28. 28. M. Klofsten (S) Initiative: the Linköping area is one of the regions in Sweden which is at the forefront in the creation and development of new technology based firms. During the last 10 years, a network has evolved which incorporates a close interaction between the small technology- based firms - Foundation for Small Business Development in Linköping (SMIL) - and the university - Centre for Innovation an Entrepreneurship (CIE). Three main activities are undertaken by CIE for SMIL members: the entrepreneurship and new business development programme which aims to recruit individuals who have both a plausible business concept and an interest in starting and running a business, the development programmes and the management groups which strive to update the business expertise in the firm by working out solutions to certain known specific problems in their activities, and the club and networking activities whose main aim is to create a social network and exchange of information between firms in the SMIL group. Lessons learned: the model has been successful because of its ability to meet real needs, the core group (a management board of competent and committed people with different roles was available), a clear focus (on the development of the management of small, technology-based firms), credibility (a strong commitment by the majority of the firms), close relations between SMIL and the UniversityH. Nicholls (UK) See group 3 (Growth)A. Ortega (E) The initiative: to incite students to entrepreneurship; mandated by university of Carlos III, Madrid (business department), to develop new models for seed capital and start-ups, studied by the Association of Spanish Venture Capital and the Spanish Administration. Actions to undertake : promote the creation of more capital funds and companies with tax incentivesR. Pagezy (F) See group 2 Start upH. Peganz (A) Initiative: Seedfinancing (Austria) was established in 1989 and is tailored to the needs of the start-up phase. The program‟s targets are new high-tech companies promising to offer superior know how in products, services or processes. Promoter: Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs, Budget: ATS 40 M. per year. Objectives: Technology oriented companies need sufficient funds in order to grow fast and utilise the opportunity window on international markets. Seedfinancing provides up to ATS 6 Mio. quasi-equity. Entrepreneurs are coached by investment managers in management, financing, controlling, planning and marketing. Actors involved: the investment manager of the Innovation Agency, entrepreneurs, other financial institutes (venture capital funds, banks,.....). Results : At the end of 1997 there were 68 companies in their portfolio and the value of investments at cost was about ATS 115,5 M. see group 2 for the Ideas x Investments initiative. - page 28 -
  29. 29. E. Rafinon (F) The initiative: expertise and financial support to employees of a subsidiary of Alcatel Alsthom who want to create or take over firms in the context of prospective human resources management. Follow-up of the spin-off by external experts, (average financing 50MF, maxi 100MF), availability of 20 days to set up the business, redundancy allowances (with possible additions). Problems: internal (fears of the hierarchy and trade unions), confidentiality period (when it is not clear whether the business idea is viable or not), regulatory and fiscal issues (employer‟s contributions and tax), Actions to undertake: generalise mentoring procedures, adapt regulatory and tax framework in order to facilitate this mentoring and the financing for the creation of new businesses.H. Rijckenberg (NL) Initiative: Technical University of Delft Issues: Dissemination of practical methodologies Actions to undertake: Dissemination of best practice at the local, regional, national and community level.B. Schneider-Le-Saout (F) Initiative: Innovation Mart in France (Consortium for innovation) managed by APPEES (association for promotion of creation of new businesses); Objectives: 1. to stimulate initiation and start-up of SMEs, arising from universities (students, PhD, teachers) and research; facilitate interaction between the universities and research with economy, industry and consulting. 2. to develop, manage a private computer network on Internet with safety and private access: co-operation and exchange between the users in order to develop together confidentially plans for new businesses or innovative projects. 3. implementation on Internet of self-training for the creation of new businesses, information and practice workshops for students, teachers/researchers by universities and research centres. Financing: sponsoring, subsidies, voluntary subscriptions and members. Difficulties encountered: lack of co-operation with public agencies, lack of interest from industrial companies for creation of new businesses, cultural barriers for the computer network and the use of new information technologies in management process.; Actions to undertake: implementation of available and professional negotiator “campus companies” and Web campus companies cafeterias , implementation of project incubators in university laboratories to stimulate the joint funding between schools, universities and research centres/ Commission/ firms. - page 29 -
  30. 30. F. Snijders (NL) Background: The European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) is a group of leading research establishments from 14 European countries in the areas of informatics and applied mathematics. The ERCIM institutes have lead to over 50 start-ups coming out. Nevertheless, ERCIM realises that the potential spin off from its research results is much higher than is currently being realised. Main issues: Entrepreneurship is not considered by students at universities and HEIs (unless when entrepreneurship runs in the family or when stimulated by the university or HEI). Although the entrepreneur doesnt need much money during the initiation stage, seed capital should be developed and managed by Research Institutes/Universities. Human resources will prove to be more important than technology for the eventual success of the venture. Especially for high-tech start-ups training in business-skills is essential. Regional/national/community authorities should start financing projects that organise this type of training. With regard to Intellectual Property Rights institutes should therefore establish a policy that assures that access to IPR-protected material is granted to the entrepreneur within certain boundary conditions. Actions to undertake: A European (to take advantage of the European market) scheme to contribute to innovation in the ICT-area in Europe. Its main features would include: training (Business Administration, in the application domain(s), specific ICT-training), Close cooperation with the creator(s)/owner(s) of the research finding, developing the research finding into a marketable product, defining a business plan, acquisition of venture capital, international cooperationM.I. Spangenberg (NL) Initiative: spin-offs in the form of transfer of Shell know-how / research ideas to starters, to turn Shell departments into independent businesses and to help Shell employees to set up their own company in order to contribute to the industrialisation of an area, restructuring of the business. The Small Business Unit of Shell Nederland B.V. co-ordinates the whole process from initiation to start-up. Financing: Shell organisation Results: a higher survival rate (90% after 5 years) because the spin-offs have a network, experience, arose from Shell. Difficulties: time and money of the organisation to create a spin-off program and substantial costs of personnel (one person focal point in the organisation) Problems identified: limited amount of spin-offs, because time and money for Shell. Actions to undertake: subsidies of government to help large companies and /or intermediaries to actively search for spin-off process.G. Unternaehrer (F) Initiative : École des Mines dAlès. Objectives: to counter the decrease in traditional employment by the creation of activities and wealth. The project was launched in 1984, but constitutes a real cultural revolution. Its main features is to allow graduates and post graduate to work in laboratories to prepare a product or a service or a business creation (with a monthly grant) Results : At present 15 business creators use the labs (which is a far cry from the original objectives of more than fifty) Main difficulties: lack of experiences than can be referred to, cultural (values required different from the research world, contrary to social success symbols), financial as HEIs have financial constraints (time spent supporting entrepreneurs is money). Mains issues: how to identify individuals attracted by business creation and change the culture, how to identify projects (when, very often graduates are not experienced enough to grasp all necessary aspects, how to fund the young entrepreneur) - page 30 -
  31. 31. P. Van Der Sijde (NL) Initiative 1: University of Twente Temporary Entrepreneurial Positions (TOP). Based on a business plan for a company in its incubation phase the university supports starting entrepreneurs (graduate, staff members, etc.) with (access to) technology, network, office facilities, mentors and an interest free loan of Dfl. 30,000. A starting entrepreneur is supported for a period of 1 year. Results: The TOP-project started in 1984. Since that time about 220 persons used TOP to start their own company; about 170 companies were created and about 75% of those companies still exist. The 5 year survival rate is about 90%. These are results of a recent independent evaluation study. Initiative 2: UNISPIN, University Spin-off Programme. Its objective is to make universities and other higher educational institutions as well as (public and private) research institutes aware of the possibilities of spin-offs and support them with practical help. It involves participants from 6 Member States Results: The project is underway. 4 workshops have been held and 62 regions (about 110 participants) participated from all over the European Union. A best-practice guide is in preparation. Actions to undertake: EU-wide Awareness creation in Higher Educational Institutes on spin-offs (what are spin-offs, spin-offs and HEI, how to translate spin-off intentions into spin-off policies, ...) EU-wide programme (how to build a spin-off programme) Summerschool for students / aspiring entrepreneurs (what is it to be an entrepreneur?, what does it mean for me personally?, business plan, etc.)J. Van Tilburg (NL) See group 3 (Growth) - page 31 -
  32. 32. GROUPE 2: START UPJ. Berry (UK) Exemplary practice : Business Angels Investments. Business Angels are private investors who invest in SMEs. Business Angels invest in the early stage of business development, filling the so called “equity gap”. The investment pool of Business Angel finance for Europe, based on extrapolation of population, is between 10 and 20 bn. ECUs Problems encountered : Cultural constraints, concern of entrepreneurs over the potential loss of control, disincentives from the taxation regimes, financial services legislation Actions to undertake: Subsidies for business angels networks, fiscal incentives, with the support of benchmarking from other member states, provide benchmarking on fiscal measures, consider effects of European Financial Services legislation on Business Angel investment.T. Bruhat (F) Initiative: Technopole Rennes Atalante. To facilitate the creation of firms by researchers and Ph. D. students. The action is carried out by the technology park of Rennes in collaboration with universities, research centres, industrialists and local authorities. This initiative was started in 1984 and is managed by the staff of the technology park. Results: 1100 jobs created, 118 companies created, of which 32 originated from technology transfers. Success rate of 84%. Problems encountered: Lack of management/marketing/commercialisation skills, financing of start-ups Actions to undertake: The Commission could, within a stand alone Community programme support the implementation of incubators pilot programmes propose a training programme for managers develop a programme of exchange between business schools, large companies and research centres with an incubatorBulgarelli M. The initiative: Mutual funds operated by Italian cooperatives Background: Cooperatives must assign 3% of their yearly profits to mutual funds. The aim of these funds is to promote new cooperative enterprises and develop existing ones, in particular in disadvantaged areas with internally-generated resources. COOPFOND-The Legacoop Mutual Fund established in 1994, is authorised to subscribe up to 50% of the capital of new cooperatives (up to 30% in the case of new companies controlled by cooperatives). It recovers its investment at the end of five years. It can provide loans at low rates to start-up firms, and it may grant for up to 50% of the planned investment for development projects. Results: In 5 years of operation, Coopfond has built up an endowment of 159.5 billion lire (distribution 72.5%, manufacturing 30.4%, services 15.4%). Coopfond helps the promoters of start-ups or development projects to acquire a better understanding of their business.G. Copin (F) See Group 3 (Growth)G. Crespy (F) See Group 1 (Initiation)Y. Delacour (F) Actions to undertake: Support for intermediary networks and for local seed capital funds. - page 32 -
  33. 33. Objective : To promote initiation and start-up of high tech projects using intermediary expertise networks. These networks have the ability to transform in association with local seed capital funds, inventions into marketable innovations. This objective could be met by opening up the I-TEC scheme to expertise networks.Michel Duhamel (F) Specific Issues: 1) To create or develop a business, know-how is capital. For a growing number of firms, the main capital asset is not material any more, but composed of the know-how and the dynamism of a number of resource-persons. The question arises of finding how to equitably associate this “human capital” and the financial capital, both necessary to develop the firm. Proposal: to allow the know-how contributors to obtain a share of the capital of the firm corresponding to the effective contribution of this intangible asset to the value of the firm. This kind of equity pay (stock options, capital-royalties), together with employee related ownership plans, is playing a critical role in the growth of dynamic knowledge-intensive businesses in USA. Its generalisation could thus require adaptations of the legislation of the firms and the intellectual property. 2) Innovation consulting: In the last twenty years, numerous professionals have tried to create innovation consultancies. Taking into account the importance of the macro- economic stakes related to innovation, public authorities have also created structures aiming to support SMEs, providing them with direct financial support. There is a frequent confusion of roles between the public and private sectors, and an excess of offer of services, on a market which lacks clearness and lisibility, distorting competition. Proposed action: to facilitate the development of private services, which are a major element to build a powerful innovation support industry all over the European Union.D. Fahey (IRL) See Group 1 (Initiation)C. Fornari (I) SPI initiative: mandated by gvt, to launch and develop SMEs, help them to enter international markets, seek suitable partnerships (national or international), especially in underdeveloped areas. How SPI operates: rigorous evaluation and selection of projects, provision of partnerships (through JV), incubators during the start-up phase, and technical managerial financial advice. Resources: network of 14 centres Business Innovation Centres (BICs), (Centri Integrati per lo Sviluppo dell‟Imprenditorialita(CISIs); and (Societa di Sviluppo Territoriale (SVIs)re industrialisation fund, international link of SPI Network (EU, OECD), SPI statutory fund (800 thousand million liras (as capital, easy-term loans, minority stake in the firms equity). Main features: Assistance and services for entrepreneurs (business plan, advice, management training, strategic and operative marketing assistance), enterprise incubator, financial tools (VC fund, bank loan guarantee) Results: 390 new ventures, 9,000 jobs created, 95% success rateD. Hampson (UK) See Group 1 (Initiation)W. Herriot (UK) Initiative (AEN scheme) : identification and support of potential business in team building, business planning and presentation to investors. AEN : a local public funded pilot scheme. - page 33 -
  34. 34. Main partners of the initiative : U. of Cambridge, Nat West Bank, A one stop shop and St John‟s Innovation Centre. Main results: 17 potential businesses identified, 2 business angel forum days organised, attended by 130 business angels, and 15 companies. Problems: The scheme is not financially self sufficient. Time needed to develop a business is very long. Short term cultural attitude of financial actors Actions to undertake: National and European support needed for knowledge-based businesses. Encouragement in a regional context of local seed funds, make the technology transfer and business support gain critical mass. The initiative needs to be cloned or duplicated at regional scaleS.G. Johansson (S) Initiative : The Mjärdevi model, a successful concept for creating new jobs. The Mjärdevi science park grew up from 6 to 140 companies totalling 3,600 jobs. Promoters : Linköping Municipality, University and Inst. of Technology, with other external collaborations. Factors of success : Growth of the IT industry; success of big companies like Eriksson; Softlab, Innovativ Vision, ...; favourable geographical location of the University, 8 areas of world-class expertise, two-way communication between researchers and businesses. Basic principles : Interdisciplinary cooperation, interaction between companies in Mjärdevi and outside. Key concepts : Education, training and skill enhancement, in particular in the field of entrepreneurship, plus allocation of a personal mentor Business development and consultancy services in commercial ability and in management Financing systems namely a seed capital fund for economically viable projects originated from Swedish Technology parks, plus on site business angels. Cooperation and exchange of experiences: organisation of meetings, demonstrate the commercial advantage of cooperation, social activities, seminars, forums The incubator system : limited-duration rent subsidies for premises, shared facilities, (e.g. coffee rooms, lunch rooms International network creation of a sister park network, creating access to a network of Mjärdevi-type environment in other countries.M. Klofsten (S) See group 1 (Initiation)L. Kott (F) Initiative: Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique (INRIA) is the French national laboratory dedicated to computer science, signal processing, control theory, scientific computing and their applications. INRIA promotes among researchers and engineers the creation of spin-off. Since 1984, 25 companies were born, 5 are dead and there provide 600 jobs. From this experience, INRIA has drawn some guidelines : to be focused on information and communication technology (ICT) in order to give to spin- off a scientific and technological “backyard”; to be ready to follow the strategy defined by the entrepreneur; to transfer intellectual property right with charge to avoid any falsity in the cost of R&D to take equity shares if needed to back a new technology and/or a new market to sponsor an (informal) INRIA spin-off club where entrepreneurs could exchange experiments and discuss with INRIA‟‟s ^people to welcome back people who have left their ^position to create a company - page 34 -
  35. 35. Results: After 12 years, 25 companies have been created in information and communication technology. These companies make an overall turnover estimated at 600 MF and employ around 800 people. 5 are dead; following some difficulties 4 were bought by others companies; 2 were acquired by large and public American companies; 1 went public and it is quoted on Nasdaq market. Questions and Perspectives: In ICT, researchers are convinced the creation of technology companies is a good way to promote and disseminate their own research results; each researcher has a colleague in US who has created a successful company. To encourage a larger number of researchers to take a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship, it is necessary to give them some training in marketing/commercialisation/management obviously. However the goal must not be to transform a researcher into a top international manager but to explain him a company needs various skills. A difficult problem is to “marry” scientific background people with managerial background people at the very beginning of the company. A point must be quoted : the lack of entrepreneurship does exist among researchers and scientific students but also business school students who look for position in big companies rather in SMEs. Last, but not least, INRIA will use the money earned with its successful investments in a seed fund which will start at summer 1998. Action to undertake (at EU level):Supporting the issuing of seed and venture capital funds, helping the development of networks between new business development regional programmes : exchange of best practices, cross-information on technologies available, need for specific expertise and entrepreneurs, setting up of guidelines, etc.M. Mallone (I) Background and objectives: Access to funding for enterprises created by youth under 35. The new enterprises must present a business plan to IG: a company especially created for this purpose. Financial instruments are grants and soft loans. Promoted by Italian parliament, legal basis Resources: Financial resources administrated : 4200 bn liras (1986-1996), company created to assess business plans and proposals. Results : 1000 firms approved, in 10 years, 750 firms active, 9500 jobs Problems : Low percentage of hi-tech firms applying, Financial resources for start-ups (banks, venture capital, credit rationing) Actions to undertake: improve the capacity of investors to evaluate business plans provide partial contribution to the assessment cost create mixed associations (innovation support centres, research centres, investors) for the identification and the assessment of investments set up guarantee funds specialised in hi-tech promote venture capital and seed capitalD. Mazzonis: Italian initiatives and the example of Emilia Romagna‟s area: National laws allow to support start-up firms and new cooperatives specialised in production and services. Other measures, concerning territorial pacts and local agreements, aiming to favour endogenous development, are managed at local level. These initiatives entail rarely, however, the creation and development of new technology based firms. In general, the Italian productive system, based on SMEs does not facilitate technology transfer between universities, research institutes and firms. Lack of support and financial - page 35 -
  36. 36. systems for new business is explained by the lack of involvement of banks, universities, research centres. Recent laws on the mobility of researchers could encourage technology transfer. The European market should encourage change Local development policy is therefore concentrated on services to firms. In Emilia Romagna, actions promoted by ERVET aim to support new firms. The initiative of „Best Practice‟ (IDEA pilot project), is an another example of promoting and supporting of new firms of “technology advanced” in the sector of social assistance.R. Pagezy (F) Problems identified in initiation and start-up of companies : Excessive tax burden. People : lack of entrepreneurs, managers, and training Finance: no business angel, stock option, pension funds, capital of proximity Assistance to entrepreneurs : no help for making business plans, no money for starting, no link with enterprises Actions to undertake : They are numerous and must be carried out with the govt. Other actions should be undertaken at Community level in the area of intellectual property rights, the creation of a real European market and financingH. Peganz (A) Initiative: ideas x investments (Austria), established in December 1996. Its goal is to create an organised private venture capital market in Austria by linking together entrepreneurs and business angels. Target population: entrepreneurs with specific competitive advantage(s) and investors with capital and business know-how (Venture capital funds, companies, private investors,...). Promoter : Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs. Actors Involved: investment managers of the Austrian Innovation Agency, investors, entrepreneurs or companies. Results : 50 companies are searching for venture capital of appr. ATS 700 M. There are 42 investors. i² completed 80 introductions and had already 4 mediations. Difficulties encountered: the companies don‟t want to reduce their shares. Many entrepreneurs want to built up a company and own it for a lifetime. see group 1 for another contributionH. Pironin (F) Spin-offs): The spin-off is defined as an enterprise created by experienced employees, who left their former job to set-up their own company, on a voluntary basis or after restructuration/reconversion plan (job cut, strategic change,) of their former company. Action to undertake: Support measures for the creation /take-over of spin offs Difficulties encountered: In France there is no specific regulation for spin-offs Recommendations: Recognition and development of spin-offs in France as an efficient way of creating enterprises and jobs. A general mobilisation of public authorities in favour of spin-offs, which should include inter-alia : development of relationship between actors concerned the setting-up of a clearly defined support policy improvement of the fiscal environment on spin-off. incentives for employees to create spin-offs - page 36 -
  37. 37. H. Rijckenberg (NL) See group 1 (Initiation)M.I. Spangenberg (NL) Transfer of Shell know-how through small business unit (SBU) and/or the New Enterprise Foundation (NION), to the start-up Resources: Shell expertise and facilities, general guidance to industrial start-ups (business plan), venture fund for young enterprises (SMPO *), loan fund for minorities, retired managers. Target population: Start-up companies industrial or related services and those of youngsters and of minorities. Promoters: Shell, other large companies, local and national government Actors involved: Large companies, banks, Dutch Innovation Centres, consultancy firms Difficulties encountered: The time needed for the take off is long, management support needed, high risk of the business. Weaknesses in finance and marketing, under capitalisation of start-ups. Actions to undertake: Government guarantee for seed capital - Government scheme to place marketers in technical companies Implementation modalities: Adaptation of government policy, enhance transfer of know- how from large firms to small companies. Expected impact: Higher survival rate, take up of new technological developments, commercial links between large company and the start-up (a launching customer)J. Van Tilburg (NL) See group 3 (Growth) - page 37 -
  38. 38. GROUPE 3: GROWTHP. Anselmo (I) The example of a firm in difficulties: Advanced Electronic Controls Srl, technology based firm with innovative product and not completely developed (academic spin-off); concern for Italian market, but the product is not accepted by potential customers; AEC must pass through a “door to door” approach with potential customers in order to present and demonstrate its product. Difficulties encountered: in general, problem of liquidity, risk of bankruptcy for this type of firm; in particular, lack of understanding by the customers, assessment of the innovation is hard for the customers, financial partners. Actions to undertake: business angel, new venture funds. consulting support for marketing, strategy, methodology; internationalisation.A. Auberton Hervé (F) His experience from the start-up and the growth of a European high-tech company pb of experienced personnel as growth needs the recruitment of experienced managers. For this, it is necessary to create financial incentives: stock options are best. financing industrial projects: the amount of investment is very important when the start-up targets large markets: An IPO (initial public offering) on a stock market is the best way to finance the growth phase. EASDAQ or national markets (“Nouveau Marché”) are necessary in Europe. R&D issues: substantial investment for SME. Necessity to allocate a special budget to such industries and to simplify procedures for application for R&D funding; necessity to promote partnership between start-up companies and R&D institutes (researchers exchange). the problem of Intellectual Property in collaboration with public institutes: distinction between the payment of royalties and the ownership of the Intellectual Property.G. Copin (F) The financing problems of the growth: management of the size change, the unsuitable bank system, the fear from suppliers, lack of innovation consulting. Actions to undertake: small business act, “entrepreneurship” training, specific networks.M. Grandi Initiative 1 : BIC La Fucina provides support and advice to local SMEs in order to find new technologies needed, with the involvement of a private structure specialized in researching new technologies. The initiative is free of charge. Difficulties encountered: SMEs have difficulties to find support in public research structures. National research institutes are too large and not specialised in finding technological solutions for small entities. Initiative 2: “BIC Network program”, supported by BIC La Fucina and his teleworking center Proxima. - page 38 -