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SMEs and the new role of academic research in four Nordic countries

  • Published 06/03/2004
  • Last updated 20/05/2011
A summary review of the main findings of the study shows that while the existing and proposed policy reforms have been extensive, there remain a number of important gaps. There are important differences in what kinds of recommendations can work in the respective countries and the country studies provide ample detail on the particular situation in this respect.

Frontpage report

In this part of the report, we focus on a more general level and on challenges that may perhaps best be met through cooperation at the Nordic level. First and foremost, there is the continuing challenge at the general level to facilitate the continued development of the relevant human, financial and institutional resources. 

Among the more outstanding gaps is the need to improve public support for the growth and development of the private venture capital market. There is also the need to further develop and diversify existing SME policies in order to cater to the radical heterogenity of the sector. This includes the problem of updating the competence profile of SMEs in traditional sectors.

Policy recommendations

Develop the academic merit system so as to provide incentives for commercialisation
Universities need to develop the academic merit system in order to create incentives for individual academics to engage in commercialisation activities. Cooperation at the Nordic level may help to reduce the level of uncertainty for individual institutions and reduce the risk of staff migrating to other institutions.

Develop support structures for the growing projectification of academic work.
Universities have to devote resources to create effective support structures for the increasing projectification of academic work.

Increase the mobility of human capital between the university and business sectors
Governments, labor unions and private firms need to cooperate to develop schemes for promoting the mobility of human capital between sectors. This type of initiative would not only support the diffusion of knowledge to SMEs but to all sectors of the business community

Promote enterprise culture on a national level
Most countries have developed mechanisms and policies for promoting the development of an enterprise culture among PROs and universities. There is a need to extend this to the society as a whole. The introduction of public education programmes that give entrepreneurship a positive image and provide information about how to start a company may be an initial step

State support to assist in the development of a competent venture capital market
All country reports show a relatively underdeveloped private venture capital market and a scarcity of investment for early stage development. Some state intervention is necessary here to help to develop the private market

More attention needs to be paid to the other sources of knowledge that SMEs utilise apart from the PRO sector
National and regional organisations should work with SME lobby organisations to develop and improve other sources of knowledge utilised by SMEs. Trade fairs, small-big firm networks, trade magazines, etc. are all significant sources of knowledge to SMEs

PROs should develop diversified types of knowledge delivery systems for SMEs
The fact that social proximity is a significant factor in determining SME-PRO interaction suggests that knowledge transfer to SMEs should be differentiated. Extension services modelled after the agricultural university approach may be one potential solution for SMEs with no history of PRO interaction

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