Birmingham City Council are just two years into a 5-year PURE COSMOS Interreg Europe funded programme and have been responsible for leading on the Exchange of Experiences that have to date identified 45 good practices and supported nearly 50 study visits. This has provided the groundwork for developing Regional Action Plans intended to help cut red tape and increase the competitiveness of start-ups and SMEs.
PURE COSMOS (Public authorities Role Enhancing Competitiveness of SMEs) Interreg Europe project began in April 2016. Since then partners from Italy, Hungary, Germany, UK, Greece, Czech Republic and Spain have been actively working within their regional stakeholders to understand the barriers and challenges to SME growth and to find new ways to improve the effectiveness of public-sector support and reduce the administrative burden through identified policies.
Birmingham’s stakeholder group, made up of representatives from the local, regional and managing authorities, financial institutions, universities that include the Chamber of Commerce, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Growth Hub, Birmingham City University, Innovation Birmingham, SMEs and policy makers, have been supporting the successful implementation of the project. A Peer Review hosted by Birmingham City Council in the first year gave the opportunity for experts to meet with stakeholders to understand the barriers and offer potential solutions and recommendations – all with the aim to make the business climate for SMEs more transparent and reliable.
Across the project, almost 50 study visits have been organised enabling each region to explore good policies and practices from across Europe and bring them to the attention of their policy-owners and decision-makers. These study visits have enabled Birmingham to look at further enhancements to the regional Growth Hub offer and SME support structures to help businesses to scale as well as potential for streamlining and simplification of processes and transactions across local authority boundaries as part of the wider West Midlands Combined Authority.
The Good Practice Register, managed by the project is continually being added to and currently has 45 innovative solutions covering eight important policy themes: one stop shop model, government to business, digital by default, more effective and transparent public services, increasing the digital skills of SMEs and e-commerce services. Good practices for study have been collected not only inside the partnership, but beyond with contributions from Welsh, Irish, Estonian and Danish organisations.
Work has now started on developing the Regional Action Plans and Birmingham will be hosting an Import Workshop in June, along with the Growth Hub, key stakeholders and Good Practice experts to look at how the region can take forward the learning and implement solutions to support SME growth and productivity.