Amplifying INTERREG projects with the Enterprise Europe Network

The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises. It has over 600 partner organisations that are well-known regional or national actors of the business and innovation ecosystems (e.g. chambers of industry and commerce, regional development agencies, innovation agencies, research organisations, universities, regional or national promotional banks).

The EEN partners organise themselves bottom-up in consortia covering at least one NUTS-2 region and they are selected in a competitive call for proposals. The majority of these services is co-funded through the COSME programme that will form part of the Single Market Programme under the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) as of 2021. At the same time, some innovation services of the EEN such as the innovation management capacity building and the Key Account Management services for SME-Instrument/ European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot beneficiaries are co-funded through Horizon 2020.

Some 13 per cent of the EEN host organisations are Managing Authorities of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programmes while some 25 per cent are active as Intermediate Bodies and 40 per cent of them are represented in different Monitoring Committees. 

Connecting Interreg business support with market participants - some interesting examples

The examples below are from the Interreg cross-border and transnational domains and illustrate how EEN facilitates RIS3 entrepreneurial discovery processes beyond national borders on the one hand and how it connects Interreg business support with market participants on the other hand. You can find more insights on the potentials of these synergies in an EWRC session on EEN and Interreg programmes synergies and our publication on Entrepreneurial development niches for Interreg and NEXT programmes.

The Interreg Alpine Space project S3-4AlpClusters introduced a transnational entrepreneurial discovery process in the Alpine region. Four project partners (Business Upper Austria, Innovation and Technology Transfer Salzburg, Bavarian Research Alliance, Veneto Innovazione) and two observers (Area Science Park and Finlombarda) host EEN teams. The project took advantage of business links established within the EEN activities of Veneto Innovazione and Business Upper Austria in an action development workshop dedicated to ‘Smart Food Ecosystem’.

The Interreg France-Switzerland project Innovarc3 was coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Bourgogne Franche-Comté and united 250 enterprises and research organisations in the FrenchSwiss Jura mountain area with the goal to increase cross-border business cooperation on strategic innovation projects. The Chamber’s EEN team provided a series of consultation services on access to finance, innovation management and internationalisation to entrepreneurs during the project’s annual events, seeking to increase business activity in cross-border innovation projects.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Győr-Moson-Sopron County is the lead partner of the Interreg Austria-Hungary project Smart-up aiming to increase the cross-border business and innovation collaboration among start-ups4 in the border regions. Start-ups benefit from services provided by the EEN team hosted by the Chamber, in particular in relation to B2B matchmaking and access to funding.

The projects AMiCE5 and KETGATE6 are both co-financed under the Interreg Central Europe priority on innovation and knowledge development. AMiCE sought to support SMEs in mastering know-how and investment barriers related to additive manufacturing. Five of the eleven project partners host specialized EEN teams, i.e. the Chemnitz University of Technology, the Czech Regional Development Agency of Usti Region, the Wroclaw University of Technology, the Business Innovation Center Bratislava and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Genova. EEN services provided to SMEs include support in business internationalisation, cooperation and technology transfer. KETGATE connects business support organisations from eight Central European countries, five of which are EEN members. The project supports SMEs by facilitating cross-border access to high-level technologies for advanced materials, photonics and micro and nano-electronics in the areas of transport, health and food. EEN business matching services have been provided via participating EEN members.

The Interreg North-West Europe project Boost4Health7 designs financial and non-financial support services for SME internationalisation. The consortium signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the EEN in an effort to intensify the project’s collaboration with SMEs operating in life sciences and medical technologies.

Veneto Innovazione was the lead partner of the Interreg Alpine Space project C-TEMAlp8. Veneto Innovazione is member of the Italian EEN consortium Friend Europe that covers the regions Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino Alto Adige. The business transfer project involved three other EEN teams: Unioncamere Veneto; the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Craft and Agriculture of Bolzano and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Munich and Upper-Bavaria. The project matching between buyers and sellers at the transnational level has been facilitated with EEN tools.

More information