Policies in support of high-growth innovative enterprises Part 2: Policy measures to improve the conditions for the growth of innovative enterprises
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Background and methodology There is a lack of knowledge about how policies can support thriving of high-growth innovative enterprises (HGIEs). This report analyses policies for HGIEs in eight countries: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Poland, Switzerland, USA, South Korea and Japan. Primary data was collected in March 2013 in a survey of 580 HGIEs in these countries. High growth was defined as at least one third increase in employment in three consecutive years in the past five years. Primary and secondary data was used for an analysis of national policies. Cross-country synthesis The HGIEs assessed most framework conditions for doing business as neutral or rather harmful – there is considerable room for policy improvements. Company taxation and labour market regulation were judged most critically. The majority of HGIEs saw some need or even strong need for governmental policy to improve business conditions. This applies particularly to innovation-related issues like skills development, enterprise R&D, and IP protection. A need for policy adjustments seem to be less pressing in Germany, the UK, Switzerland and the US and higher in France, Poland and Korea. 41% of HGIEs said they used specific state support measures. The share was found to be considerably higher in the EU countries (49%) than in the non-EU countries (27%). Almost all HGIEs assessed the support as helpful. Apparently, HGIEs welcome any type of support as long as it improves their balance sheet. 10% of the HGIEs reported to have been located in a science or research park; of these 74% found it helpful. 6% said they were located in an incubator or accelerator; thereof 62% found it helpful. No harmful experiences were reported for either location. Country results Germany‘s most notable measure for HGIEs is a high-tech startup fund. German HGIEs tended to assess framework conditions as neutral and they do not see much need for state policy. 55% made use of state support measures. A key characteristic of Germany’s enterprise landscape may be steadily growing “hidden champions” and a strong “Mittelstand” rather than HGIEs. France has been operating several policies for HGIEs and is currently redefining its support measures for HGIEs. The share of HGIEs using state support measures was the highest of all countries (62%). The country’s high share of HGIEs does however apparently not translate into high GDP growth. The United Kingdom has policies for HGIEs, focussing on access to finance and improving (management) skills. The share of HGIEs having used state support is well below average (33%). The UK is a sample country with a comprehensive approach for fostering HGIEs, notably with the recently introduced GrowthAccelerator programme. Poland is currently developing measures to support HGIEs. Polish HGIEs were particularly critical about business framework conditions in their country (regulation for starting, running and growing a firm in particular), except regulations about access to capital. There are no HGIE-specific policies in Switzerland but Swiss HGIEs were most positive about framework conditions in their country. The share of HGIEs having used state support was the lowest. Switzerland offers insightful cases of successful highgrowth coaching networks. US: The share of HGIEs that used state support was low (31%). US HGIEs tended to assess business framework conditions as more harmful than HGIEs in other countries. An unfavourable business cycle was found to be a more important barrier than elsewhere. The countries’ best-known HGIEs are not rooted in support programmes. HGIEs in Korea judged framework conditions more positive than in other countries but blamed policy focus on large firms. Use of state measures was below average. In recent years Korea has started shifting its policies away from fostering SMEs in general – which were found to reward staying small – towards HGIE support. Japan does not have specific policies for HGIEs. An SBIR programme introduced in 1999 was found to be rather ineffective. Conclusions Governments seeking to support HGIEs should consider HGIE characteristics such as older age, possible spin-off origin as well as national and sectoral specificities. Policies should be fine-tuned to improve framework conditions (in particular company taxation 8 and labour law), target key barriers for growth (especially regulations for starting and growing a company, difficult access to finance, a lack of skilled employees), and foster key growth factors (e.g. fostering the ability and readiness to actively target growth) as well as internationalisation of HGIEs (because most of them currently focus on national markets). A focus on highgrowth coaching and expanding related networks across Europe may be worthwhile considering. Tentatively, the following policy measures from the countries surveyed might be considered as good practice for fostering HGIEs: The High-Tech Start-up Fund in Germany, the GrowthAccelerator programme in the UK, and CTI Start-up coaching in Switzerland. However, a lack of policy evaluation is a key issue. There is as yet only little scientific evidence about the effectiveness and efficiency of specific HGIE support measures on which recommendations to adopt apparently successful measures from one country to another could be based. However, the number and scope of policy measures for HGIEs as well as the time of the policies’ establishment are increasing, and awareness for policy evaluation is apparently also enhancing. Thus the scientific base for assessing HGIE policies may become more solid soon.