Birmingham undertook a Peer Review and hosted experts and partners from Genoa, Florence, Hajdu-Bihar, Saxony Anhalt, Anatoliki, Usti Region specifically around the barriers and challenges that SMEs face when working with public sector organisations and in enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs.
A Peer Review is when an expert in the subject area/field to be reviewed helps others that are responsible for similar areas to identify good practice, identifies ideas or solutions to problems and issues that are perceived or being experience.
SMEs and Decision Makers that influence local, national and regional government from across the region came together to identify and discuss specific challenges that were facing the region based on information and evidence from surveys that they were aware of.
What was interesting was that many of the other partner countries faced similar challenges. With the recent announcement of Brexit high on the agenda as well it allowed great debate. Countries were still prepared to work with each other regardless of this.
SMEs, came up with a number of ideas and solutions to issues and challenges that they faced themselves and what was especially exciting was that all the SMEs were more than up for the job of helping the City become more innovative as long as there were mechanisms in place for them to do so.
One SME specifically mentioned that it was sad that Birmingham has one of the most innovative technology sectors in the region yet it fails to use the innovation itself and businesses are having to go elsewhere to do business.
Following this review a report is going to be produced and presented to the GBSLEP and Birmingham City Council in order to identify an action plan for addressing SMEs barriers and challenges and to help identify future funding calls for the region.