As an example of a successful organization that responds to the challenges of various innovative economic players, ARC Fund presented “Innovation Norway”, which operates 35 offices around the world. Each of them has a specific mission and goals depending on the level of economic and social development of the respective country and the needs of the business in it.
“The main objective of this approach is to promote bilateral relations and reduce social and economic disparities between countries,” emphasised Wenceslava Janczowska, manager of the Innovation Norway office.
Prof. Georgieva analysed the Bulgarian experience under the Innovation Norway Programme, which provides funding for innovative projects of small and medium-sized enterprises. She identified the Agency’s fully online process management and clear and transparent procedures for monitoring and evaluation of project proposals and control as good practices. The expert added that the funding schemes offered, the amount of funds provided and the conditions for their use are based on thorough analysis that ensures sustainability. Monitoring and evaluation procedures are an integral part of the internal management cycle of the managing authority concerned, and this supports the development of the specialisation of experts.
According to Yanchovska, at each stage of the project cycle it is important to interact with the beneficiaries in order to clear potential obstacles to the implementation of the projects. “Our experts strive, of course, within the rules, to be flexible enough to accommodate both the particularities of the business environment and the specificities of the enterprises whose projects we support,” she added.
In Tartu, Estonia, prof. Georgieva and her colleagues agreed that financial instruments to support SMEs are specific, and it is more appropriate to develop different methodologies to study the challenges faced by companies. These are to be discussed at the next project partners’ meeting in October in Germany.
The aim of the project “Efficient Support Services Portfolios for SMEs” (ESSPO) is to analyse the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of SME support instruments in eight European countries. ESSPO started in January 2016 and will end in December 2020.
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