Complementary actions - Public purchasers as launching customers
In certain market areas, measures to provide business and innovation support services, training and communication are deemed a necessary complement to the other policy instruments that are part of the Lead Markets Initiative. In some instances, financial support and incentives which aim at facilitating the interaction of customers with the innovating companies and their solutions are considered advantageous. Such schemes could involve Structural Funds and State aid funding. The action plans should be implemented by the Member States and the European Commission. However, the commitment of the regional authorities, the use of structural funds and the boost in investment by the private sector, expected from such a coherent approach, will be key for the success of this initiative.
Business and innovation support services, training and communication
In some market segments, young innovative enterprises would benefit from support such as activities to facilitate knowledge-transfer, incubation and access to finance through consultancy services or training. Beside the supply of such thematically targeted services via support of the Structural Funds or the competitiveness and innovation framework program (CIP), a more coordinated use of networking projects and platforms for mutual learning and knowledge-sharing supports the implementation of the action plans. Cooperation within and between knowledge-based regional clusters across Europe could speed up the flow of ideas and knowledge.
Financial support and incentives
The emergence of very significant new business opportunities in the areas covered by the LMI is likely to foster private investment. Here, public action can be instrumental to facilitate access to finance. The action plans could drive proposals within the national and EU programmes. At EU or member state level, public R&D and Innovation funds could be used to help prove the feasibility of certain product cycles.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Investment Fund (EIF) manage substantial amounts of EU financial support such as the risk-sharing facility and the CIP High Growth & Innovative SME Facility. EIB funds, in combination with private funds and possibly structural funds could support the ′demonstration′ and up scaling of the production of innovative goods and services. In addition, JEREMIE, a joint initiative established by the Commission with the EIF and the EIB can provide improved access to finance for SMEs, such as micro credit, venture capital, loans or guarantees. New models of public-private-partnerships can be considered, in which investors and other stakeholders could participate. This could encourage private investors to support new ventures related to the LMI.
The reorientation of structural fund support for regions is of particular importance. All MS "earmarked" a certain proportion of their cohesion policy resources to the renewed growth and jobs agenda. The major shift in cohesion policy investments concerns R&D and Innovation. Around € 83 billion or 25% of the overall cohesion budget will be allocated to this type of investment. It is clear that the identification of Lead Markets constitutes a useful orientation tool for private and public investment linked to the use of these funds.