Project Details

Title: Mainstreaming INnovative Instruments for SME development in Europe
Priority: 1: Innovation and the knowledge economy
Theme: Innovation, research and technology development

Type of intervention

Type of intervention: 1: Regional Initiative Project
Mini-programme: No
Duration: 1st Sep 2008 - 30th Nov 2011


Total budget: €1,991,639.00
ERDF contribution: €1,554,920.24

Lead partner

Province of Flevoland
P.O. Box 55
8200 AB, Lelystad

  • Click for contact details
    • Contact Person: Bob Pels & Joan Algra
      Phone: 0031 (0)320 265 308
      Fax: 0031 (0)320 265 260

Project summary

Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) make an important contribution to regional economic performance by creating jobs, supporting innovation and delivering economic growth. MINI EUROPE aims to exchange and develop regional policies in SME development, focussing on the main theme of providing a transparant infrastructure for innovation to SMEs. MINI EUROPE partners will improve existing instruments and import new instruments that will strengthen regional infrastructures to support SMEs in innovation. A specific issue MINI EUROPE will deal with in this context is enhancing cooperation and knowledge exchange between SMEs and knowledge institutes. MINI EUROPE partners believe that providing a good innovation infrastructure to new entrepreneurs will boost economic activities. To accelerate economic growth MINI EUROPE will share and develop regional policy instruments to get more people involved in entrepreneurship.

In this context MINI EUROPE will address in particular the issue of increasing involvement of underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship

The MINI EUROPE partnership combines the experience of 8 regions from all parts of Europe: Flevoland (NL, lead), Tameside (UK), Észak-Alföld (HU), Maramures (RO), ALMI Mid Sweden, Valencia/IMPIVA (ES), Patras Science Park and Veneto region (IT). Veneto region is represented by two partners. MINI EUROPE is initiated by regional politicians sharing the vision that strengthening regional SME development requires an integrated approach built on the interrelated factors described above. By bringing together and capitalising their methods and experiences, all partners can strongly improve their performance in this field. MINI EUROPE will document existing good practice in SME development in the partner regions and from relevant Interreg projects in a Catalogue of experience. The partners will then engage in bilateral experience transfers,

matching a partner ‘exporting’ a specific good practise with a partner ‘importing’ it. After thorough preparation a delegation of the exporting region will visit the importing region to train and assist local staff directly in implementing the good practise. As each partner has successful tools to offer, as well as development needs related to the project themes, all of them will both export and import two tools. The main themes are further deepened in a series of thematic conferences for regional experts. Two main conferences will address the core issues of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation for SMEs. In preparation for these, thematic video workshops on related sub themes will be organised. At the end of the project each region will develop an action plan to implement the lessons of this project, including policy recommendations and actions to be implemented in regional competitiveness and convergence programmes and other EU schemes.

Project achievements

SME's capacity for innovation contributes strongly to their competitiveness. Regions can facilitate the innovation process and promote entrepreneurship by providing a strong innovation infrastructure for SME's. This is what Mini Europe is about; 9 partners from 8 regions joined forces to improve their regional infrastructure by exchanging good practices and bringing together their experts during conferences and creative workshops. The partners have identified 28 good practices from their regions. Furthermore, 11 good practices relevant to Mini Europe, were collected from other Interreg projects. These practices can be found on the interactive project's website The project partners have discussed with regional stakeholders to determine which good practices from other regions would be valuable for their own region and vice versa. This has resulted in a match between importing and exporting regions.

In the next phase, the partners have imported and exported the good practices of their choice. Information was exchanged by means of video conferencing and field visits; 15 video conferences and 22 field visits were organised. Some examples of successful good practice transfers: North West England (UK) has imported the "Summer Design Office" from Mid Sweden. This is a proven concept where design students with different skills work in a company during the summer to create new ideas for product and business development. Észak-Alföld (HU) has imported elements of the "Cluster Support Environments Model" from North West England, which considers the physical infrastructure requirements of a business cluster. A handbook on internationalisation of clusters has been compiled and made available in Hungarian. Valencia (ES) and Észak-Alföld started importing the "Financial Engineering Programme" from Veneto (IT), which combines a guarantee system for innovative investments, a revolving fund

and a venture capital and private equity fund. Flevoland and NW England have imported the "Summer Entrepreneur" concept from Sweden. In Flevoland 35 young people have successfully started their own company in the summer of 2010, and 45 in 2011 as an alternative to a common summer job. Other regions in the Netherlands are interested in the good practice as well, a newly created association will disseminate the programme. NW England also started a pilot on "Summer Entrepreneur" in 2011 with 19 participants. In Maramures, an association called TransMechaWorld has been created as a result of the exchanges on cluster development. This association aims to develop a mechanical cluster and is the first initiative in Maramures to establish a cluster. In Western Greece a Women's Business Association was founded as a result of the exchange with NW England. In total, 14 good practices were successfully transferred and some more are still in the process of being transferred.

Another result of the project was the improvement of 4 regional policies in Maramures, Western Greece, Flevoland and NW England. In a report on mainstreaming all regions have outlined their plans to make the project results sustainable.

Mini Europe offered a great opportunity for the participating regions to improve their innovation infrastructure and their tools to promote entrepreneurship. But to make a larger public profit of the results of Mini Europe we have (successfully) dedicated many efforts to communication activities; apart from launching the website, 6 Mini Europe newsletters have been distributed to more than 13.000 contact persons, we published 4 thematic folders (1000 printed copies each), 2 brochures (2600 copies) and Mini Europe was news in press and media over 90 times. About 600 people participated in the 8 events we organised (in Lelystad, Sundsvall, Veneto, Baia Mare, Manchester, Valencia and 2x in Debrecen) and we have presented Mini Europe on 46 other events.


Institution, Town Country Region Contact details
Province of Flevoland, Lelystad NETHERLANDS Flevoland 0031 (0)320 265 308;
Észak-Alföld Regional Development Agency Non-profit Limited Company, Debrecen HUNGARY Eszak-Alfold 00-36-52-524-760
Almi Företagspartner Mitt AB, Härnosänd SWEDEN Mellersta Norrland 46 611 55 78 16
Institute for Small & Medium Sized Industrial Firms of the Valencian Government, Valencia SPAIN Comunidad Valenciana 34963986230
GEORAMA, PATRAS GREECE Dytiki Ellada 0030 26910 60427
Veneto Region, Venezia ITALY Veneto 39 041 2795815
Veneto Innovation, Venezia Marghera ITALY Veneto 390415093023
PATRAS SCIENCE PARK S.A., Rion, Patras GREECE Dytiki Ellada 302610911553


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