EU project seeks to maximise the efficiency of business and innovation centres

July 18, 2003

Brussels, 17 Jul 2003

A project team funded by the European Commission is developing a new multimedia training tool to help develop the skills of business and innovation centre (BIC) and incubator personnel.

Funded under the Leonardo da Vinci programme, the innovation and incubation initiative (I-Cubed) involves eight partners from Belgium, the UK, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Lithuania. With a total budget of over 500,000 euro and a timeframe of two years, the project is the first comprehensive business enterprise training scheme directly aimed at incubator personnel, recognising their role as support providers for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

As Siobhan McQuaid from the European business and innovation centre network (EBN), a project consortium partner, told CORDIS news, improving the competencies of people working in incubators and BIC will in turn help maximise the efficiency and quality of support available to SMEs. 'It is very important to support SMEs, and in particular, high growth and high potential start up companies, as statistics show that they provide millions of jobs across Europe and are an essential source for entrepreneurial spirit and innovation.'

Indeed, business incubators offer a supportive environment for newly created firms in which to establish and develop their business. They provide modular buildings and shared facilities, as well as managerial support and backup services, thus improving the chances of successful growth.

However, while basic services and guides already exist to help SMEs, Ms McQuaid believes that these are often out-of-date. 'We are trying to look at new ways of stimulating the development of high growth companies. In effect, our project is homing in on these particular companies in order to bring about a tool that can cater for this specialised sub sector of the start up market.'

The online training tool will focus on intellectual property rights, patents and the concept of 'internationalisation', a group of coordinated actions which an enterprise can use to penetrate other markets or to benefit from resources originating from other markets. 'These are areas of particular interest for high growth companies,' explained Ms McQuaid.

Ms McQuaid said that the project consortium is already looking into ways of incorporating the training tool into a business model for European BICs so that it becomes part of the quality process. Also, the national business and incubation centre in the US have expressed an interest in the specialised focus taken by the I-Cubed initiative, she said.

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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