Twelve business support organisations working with young SMEs around Europe are meeting in Malta as part of the Young SMEs Project, a pan-European initiative targeted at SMEs in their business consolidation period between the third and fifth year of operations.
As Malta’s representative in the project, Malta Enterprise is hosting the three-day thematic seminar, which is focusing on issues related to Management within young SMEs and how such issues may have an impact on the long-term business sustainability and survival unless properly addressed.
The thematic seminar in Malta follows other similar events held in Ireland, the UK and Scotland and which respectively focused on Marketing, Cooperation among Young SMEs and Public Sector Support.
Each of the seminars allows the project partners – which besides Malta Enterprise also include organisations in Spain, Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia - to share their experiences as well as identify good practices and challenges that need to be overcome.
Whilst welcoming the delegates to Malta, Malta Enterprise CEO Dr Sue Vella spoke of the resilience that Maltese SMEs have shown during these challenging times, as confirmed by the report recently published by the European Commission during SME Week.
She added that the Young SMEs Project will certainly contribute to the Corporation’s ongoing work to revise its Strategic Framework for Start-ups. Dr Vella also made reference to various other schemes and services offered to start-ups by Malta Enterprise, such as business advice, access to guaranteed loans, tax credits on investment and the one-stop service by Business First.
During the seminar, five other project partners also presented their work related to Management through a number of case studies.
The Young SMEs Project is being supported through the European Commission’s INTERREG IVC programme and has been allocated a total budget of €2 million, of which €1.6 million are derived from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Its rationale is based on research which shows that the survival rate for start-up SMEs stands at 90% in their first year of operations and 80% in the second year, but then starts to drop when they enter their business consolidation phase and indeed decreases to 49% by the fifth year of operations.
Recognizing the decisive role SMEs play in the competitiveness of the European economy, the Young SMEs Project thus seeks to build up on the assistance which is already available for start-up companies and contribute to long-term business consolidation, ultimately leading to an increase in the survival rate of these enterprises through an integrated support programme.
Launched in Valencia, Spain earlier this year, initiatives within the framework of the project include a series of thematic seminars and three innovative seminars. By the end of the series in mid-2013, the project partners will be able to draw up a first draft of the Recommendation Guide on an Integrated Support Service for Young SMEs, which is then envisaged to be finalised by 2014.
It is anticipated that, through its participation and experience in the project, Malta Enterprise will be able to provide more support to existing businesses in their first years of operations when they need to overcome the initial hurdles of starting and consolidating a business, in turn leading to increased levels of business success and the consequent generation of job opportunities.