The main SME instruments, in particular two programmes - COSME and the SME Instrument - were the main subject of the exchange of views between the category members and Mr Julien Guerrier, the Director of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).
Financing specific actions to support clusters, finding partners for internationalisation, supporting training programmes or exchanges between businesses (such as Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs) – these were a few of the topics Mr Guerrier talked about to describe the scope of the programmes EASME manages. In terms of family businesses, Mr Guerrier said the agency was helping DG GROW do studies to map out the family businesses in Europe. They were also working on a specific action concerning the transfer of businesses, as many family businesses might not have successors when the owners retire.
The SME Instrument is considered a world-class programme, to showcase European excellence abroad, added Mr Guerrier. He explained that the SME Instrument gave innovative SMEs a helping hand, from their idea to putting their products/services on the market, in terms of pitching, coaching, mentoring, developing business plans and scaling up).
He added that the two main challenges for the SMEs of tomorrow were digitalisation and internationalisation. EASME is offering innovation vouchers (with which companies can use the services of an innovation centre close to them), and supporting the internationalisation of European SMEs at international fairs, for example.