Project Details

Title: Development of interregional financial assistance to SMEs and of non-grant instruments
Priority: 1: Innovation and the knowledge economy
Theme: Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Jan 2012 - 31st Dec 2014
Website: http://www.difass.eu


Total budget: €3,077,054.52
ERDF contribution: €2,465,906.15

Lead partner

Pannon Business Network Association
Zanati u. 32-36.
9700, Szombathely

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Róbert Németh
      Phone: +36 94 505 003
      Fax: +36 94 505 004

Project summary

DIFASS aims to unlock potential for innovation, internationalisation and sustainable growth of SMEs in Europe by improving access to finance.

Innovative SMEs are often faced with problems when obtaining loans from commercial banks and intermediaries as valuing risks in technology innovation or foreign markets is problematical and as SMEs often cannot provide sufficient collateral. Resulting from the global financial crisis, requirements to obtain a loan have even been further increased (BASEL-III). It becomes more challenging to achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy with respect to innovation and the knowledge based economy, when access to finance is one of the main problems of innovative SMEs.

Thus, it becomes a field for stronger engagement of the public sector. However, public financial resources are limited and need to be used as effective as possible. The development of interregional financial assistance to SMEs and of non-grant instruments is therefore an important task.

Regions participating in the DIFASS project have teamed up to exchange experiences on good practice established in their regions, to develop or improve policies in that field and to support the transnational transfer of selected good practices towards more regions.

The partnership consists of regional authorities and development agencies from 20 European regions cooperating in policy development and implementation and operation of revolving financial support instruments and related services. They will be supported by scientific institutes carrying out analysis on background mechanisms of good practice examples and framework conditions for successful transfer into other regions.

All participating regions will develop a Policy Implementation Plan based on exchange of experience on good practice to improve own policies tackling access to finance for SMEs, innovation, internationalisation and sustainable growth.

DIFASS will support the transnational transfer of two selected good practice examples and the pilot implementation in eight up-taking regions.

transfer of knowledge and assistance to pilot implementation will be provided for

- an internet based Micro Finance Management tool from Hungary to regions in Estonia, Spain, Italy and the Slovak Republic and

- a programme to support internationalisation of SMEs business from Andalusia to regions in Denmark, Italy, Romania and Sweden.

Project achievements

The main activity of the project – the exchange of experience in the field of innovative business support measures – has been organised in quarterly thematic workshops where Good Practice examples were introduced by the partners and discussed in small groups after the presentation of details. At all 8 workshops usually around 50 partners from almost all 26 partner institutions were present and dedicated the day to 5 Good Practice examples – instruments and measures in a certain thematic field that have been identified as good practice.

During the world café style round table discussions around each instrument featured, the strengths of the good practice and barriers to transfer were drawn out. The thoughts and ideas of the partners were collected on a flip chart and grouped according to sub-topic. At the end of the day everyone was asked to rank the ideas. This process constituted a valuable input for the policy recommendation papers, an important output of the project.

Finally delegates were also asked to vote on which Good Practice they were most interested in and/or found most suitable for transfer. These were then analysed in-depth by the scientific partners and presented at the respectively following workshop.

The 8 thematic workshops organised, and the Good Practices voted as best suitable for transfer were:

“Microloans” in Tallinn on 6/9/2012, with the internet based Micro Finance Management tool from Hungary

“Support Instruments for Internationalisation of SMEs” in Seville on 21/11/2012, with the PIPE Programme from Spain

“Guidance to finance and loan guarantee schemes” in Kraków on 21/3/2013, with BMV Express from Germany

“Mixed grant / non grant instruments” in Sardinia on 19-20/6/2013, with Prototron from Sweden

“Intellectual Property and Human Capital” in Hampshire on 19/9/2013 with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership from the UK

“Spin offs / Start-up / Early stage” in Llanera on 28/11/2013 with Accelerace from Estonia

“Creative Industries & Crowdfunding” in Bratislava on 25/3/2014 with CrowdAboutNow from the Netherlands

“JEREMIE / Mezzanine / Equity / Venture Capital” in Borlänge on 3/6/2014, with `Generating Local Seed Investment Companies` from Sweden

Altogether 43 Good Practice examples have been presented during the project and are summarised in a Good Practice Guide and single Good Practice Fact Sheets that are, like all other outputs, available for download on the project website. There also the quarterly newsletters and press releases can be found.


Another important activity of the project was the transfer of Good Practice from one region to another.

2 Transfer Seminars were organised in order to facilitate the transfers that were planned to be done and pilot implemented by 7 regions. During the adaptation and preparation phase 4 of the partners involved had to change their plans and decided to transfer other good practices they learned about during DIFASS, and that were considered as more

suitable in the current situation of their region. E.g. our Estonian partner chose to transfer the Italian model of "Cross-border Living Labs" to Tallinn.

The planned transfers of the Spanish PIPE programme to Sweden and Sardinia, and the Hungarian Microfinance Management to Spain and Sardinia have been finalised until the end of the project.

Some partners also initiated additional transfers of good practice that they found out about at the workshops. A Spanish partner has for example created an own microfinance facility in his region, made of elements from similar instruments in Lithuania, Hungary, Romania and Estonia. And our Dutch partner has successfully set up and piloted a platform based on the Swedish model of the "Regional Seed Financing Forum", that was also chosen for transfer by the municipality of Bratislava.

20 Policy Implementation Plans were elaborated, suggesting selected DIFASS good practices for transfer in the 20 participating regions after the end of the project.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
Pannon Business Network Association, Szombathely HUNGARY Nyugat-Dunantul +36 94 505 003
Vaeksthus Central Denmark, Aarhus N DENMARK Midtjylland + 45 70 22 00 76
Business Development Friesland Foundation, Leeuwarden NETHERLANDS Friesland (NL) +31 58 8458045
Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol Foundation, Tallinn ESTONIA Eesti +372 4800 233
Regional Authority of Western Makedonia Hellas, Kozani GREECE Dytiki Makedonia +30 24610 53985
Regional Development Agency of Western Macedonia - ANKO S.A., Kozani GREECE Dytiki Makedonia 302461024022
Technological Educational Institute of West Macedonia TEI, Kozani GREECE Dytiki Makedonia +30 24610 40161
Official Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping of Seville, Sevilla SPAIN Andalucía +34 955 11 09 22
Business Innovation Centre Asturias, Llanera SPAIN Principado de Asturias +34 985 98 00 98
ana@ceei.es; cfanjul@ceei.es
IDEPA Regional Development Agency of Asturias, Llanera SPAIN Principado de Asturias +34 985 980020
European Business and Innovation Centre of Burgos, Burgos SPAIN Castilla y León +34 947 244332
Zala County Foundation for Enterprise Promotion ZMVA, Zalaegerszeg HUNGARY Nyugat-Dunantul +36 92 316 033
Territorial Pact of Oristano PTO, Oristano ITALY Sardegna +39 07 83 775 061
Autonomous Region of Sardinia, Department for Planning, Budgeting, Credit and Territory, Cagliari ITALY Sardegna 390706064696
g.cadeddu@regione.sardegna.it; anchessa@regione.sardegna.it
WSX Enterprise, Fareham UNITED KINGDOM Hampshire and Isle of Wight +44 1329 223262
Region Aosta Valley RAV, Aosta ITALY Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste +39 0165274741
Municipal Council of Beja, Beja PORTUGAL Alentejo 351284311800
Investment and Business Guarantees, Ltd. - INVEGA, Vilnius LITHUANIA Lietuva +370 5 210 7510
Center of Technology Western Pomerania, Greifswald GERMANY Mecklenburg-Vorpommern +49 3834 550 0
blank@technologiezentrum.de; schwock@technologiezentrum.de
The Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest ROMANIA Bucuresti - Ilfov +40 7 46 122 702
laurentiu.fratila@cig.ase.ro; robert.sova@cig.ase.ro
Mineral & Energy Economy Research Institute of Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków POLAND Malopolskie +48 12-632-33-00 ex. 105
Rzeszów Regional Development Agency RARR S.A., Rzeszów POLAND Podkarpackie +48 17 8676 216
The Regional Development Agency Centru -RDA Centru, Alba Iulia ROMANIA Centru +40 258 818 616
Teknikdalen Foundation, Borlänge SWEDEN Norra Mellansverige +46 243 246 400
Spirit, Slovenian Public Agency for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Development, Investment and Tourism (former TIA), Ljubljana SLOVENIA Zahodna Slovenija +386 1 589 8580
Municipality of the Capital of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava, Bratislava SLOVAKIA Bratislavsky kraj +421 2 544 17 411


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