Doing business in the Baltics


The Europe 2020 Strategy for growth (EU-20 strategy) includes internationalisation and access to markets of SMEs, key enabling technologies as well as clusters and regional specialisation. There are good opportunities for the Baltic States.

Some opportunities for SMEs are in COSME, a new € 2.3 billion European program for SMEs which aims to address the main challenges they are currently facing, e.g. access to financing, access to foreign markets, improvement of the business environment and support to entrepreneurs.

Therefore, the idea is to assist the Baltic States’ enterprises, regulate the current credit crunch by enabling SMEs to receive financial support in millions of euros in secured loans over the next seven years.

Business-to-business networking

Central to the practical implementation of the initiative is so-called “b-t-b principle”, i.e. business to business networking in order to promote business partnerships between successful Baltic companies and other EU companies. Important as well is that other non-European countries in sectors identified as key contributors to achieving growth in the region would participate.

Such perspective sectors could include:

  • Aeronautics and Space;
  • Mechanical industry: mechatronics, materials and surfaces of the future;
  • Biotechnology, health care, especially (Bio)-Pharms and Life Sciences;
  • Transport and logistics; and
  • Creative Industries

Favourable business environment

Although the Baltic States suffered during the recent crisis, present growth features (best growth rates in the Baltic among the EU member states), as well as forecast for the future leaves room for optimism.

Whereas many large industrial plants had difficulties due to the crisis, the SME sector has weathered it much better than in most other EU countries with an increase in employment. Important policy measures have been taken over the past years in the areas of entrepreneurship, access to finance, internationalisation, environment and innovation. For example, SME performance review for the region illustrates that the principles of the Small Business Act have produced encouraging results.

Creative economy as the driver of economic change

For many years, the Baltic States have been initiating the development of high-potential, specialised sectors of economic activity. This regional specialisation created a favourite business environment for SMEs in these sectors with a huge potential to reach out to global markets. Today many companies provide specialised products and services in sectors such as biotechnology & health, environmental technologies, mechanical engineering, aeronautics & space technologies, agro-industry as well as the logistics cluster.

Baltic region clearly choses to develop and modernize its economic tissue by placing creativity and innovation at the centre of their strategy. Strategies of supporting the creative economy are the drivers of economic change.

Recovery of local SMEs

Against this background, the leaders in the Baltics underline funding opportunities, which will come out of the new Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. For example, a new “SME Instrument” (with the help of the Enterprise Europe Network) will support innovative SMEs, during an entire innovation cycle: from the conception of the innovative idea, to the final creation of the new product or service.

Companies will then have the responsibility to commercialize their innovations using existing mechanisms of access to finance.

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