FINANCIAL SUPPORT INNOVATION IN SMEs IN EUROPEAN UNION REGIONS’ SMART SPECIALIZATION

Section "Economics": Socio-economic Problems of Regional Development

Abstract

The intentions of the Ukrainian authorities to increase the competitiveness of regional economies based on smart specialization caused the study of the characteristics of financing projects of smart specialization of regions of the European Union. The introduction of innovations in the activities of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to increase their competitiveness is one of the key areas of financial support for smart specialization. The aim of the study is to identify the effectiveness of financial support for smart specialization projects in the EU regions in terms of funding research, development and innovation aimed at improving the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses. In the course of the study, we analyzed the databases of the European Structural and Investment Funds on the amount of funding for research, development and innovation aimed at increasing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized busi nesses, by areas of funding and EU countries. We also compared the level of use of funds and the level of achievement of the goals planned in the projects. EU countries and regions used the funds planned by the European Structural and Investment Funds to finance the implementation of innovations in SMEs only by a third due to weak interaction of SMEs with research centers, as well as due to insufficient projects to improve the efficiency of SMEs through implementation results of research, development and innovation. The main emphasis in supporting small and medium-sized businesses through the implementation of research advances has been placed in the smart specialization strategies of the Netherlands, Slovakia, Poland, the United Kingdom and Germany. However, the largest amount of funding for research, development and innovation in SMEs in 2014-2020 among EU member states was planned, in addition to Poland and Germany, for Italy and Spain. The analysis showed that by 2020 the level of implementation of only certain goals of smart specialization reached 50 % or more of the planned indicators. However, in the context of the EU countries, there was no homogeneity in achieving all the goals related to the development and functioning of small and medium-sized businesses through the implementation of research, development and innovation. The efficiency of using the financial resources of the European Structural and Investment Funds for the implementation of smart specialization strategies in the EU regions was not high. It is likely that by 2023 when the projects launched in 2014-2020 will be completed, the level of achievement by the EU regions of smart specialization goals in terms of implementing research, development and innovation in SMEs will increase. Nevertheless, in our opinion, it will not be possible to achieve their full implementation.

Keywords

smart specialization, innovations, small and medium enterprises, European structural and investment funds, region

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2021-09-09