Information on procurement should be offered as public good
The causality that internationalization leads to more productivity or innovation cannot be proven. It is rather the other way around that SMEs need to reach a certain level of productivity to be able to act internationally. However, there is notably a positive impact of “economic diplomacy”: having well prepared missions and trade fairs enables companies to take steps towards a successful internationalisation. It is also important to provide reliable, accessible and transparent information on procurement and internationalization as a public good. Professor Henri de Groot emphasizes that it is not efficient to spend loads of money on dragging SMEs out on international markets but important to find ways to differentiate. Otherwise, SMEs that are not ready to expand are apt to fail soon.
Regional clusters do not account for companies’ success
Another study proved that regional clusters are not the reason for innovation or success of a company. Again it is the other way around: only already successful companies move to a cluster. But this does not necessarily increase their success. Individual factors are more important than the surrounding environment. These remarks stirred up a lot of questions from the PAG members concerning the focus on clusters. Andris Liepens, Ministry of Economics of Latvia, is concerned about the cluster development and whether not a more general business support should be offered. De Groot emphasises that a focus on certain branches and sectors is indeed good within a project. It is only the spatial clustering that did not proof to have any effect on the success of the companies.
PAG members to work on targeted policy recommendations based on project outcomes
Eva Kjer Hansen, Member of the Danish Parliament, proposes to focus on best practices and learn from each other. Yves Debaere, Province West Flanders Belgium, reports of difficulties that West Flanders faces with encouraging companies to go abroad or participate in matchmaking and brokerage events. Esa Kokonen, Baltic Institute of Finland, points out that the national government should be targeted as the next programming period is up for discussion. SMEs need to get a better access to funding programs and the program regions need to be defined more openly. The Lead partners will initiate a round for comments and remarks on the draft policy recommendations to elaborate the above mentioned issues.The next PAG meeting wil be organised on the occasion of the European Maritime Day (EMD) on 21st-22nd May 2012 in Gothenburg.