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How to Design Effective Strategies to Support SMEs Innovation and Growth During the Economic Crisis

Lessons from Ex-post Evaluation of 2007-2013 ERDF Programmes

Massimo Florio, Elena Vallino, Silvia Vignetti


This paper presents and discusses some of the results of the ex-post evaluation of the contribution of the European Regional Development Fund 2007-2013 programmes to SMEs growth and innovation. Implemented during a harsh economic crisis, the ERDF provided € 47.5 billion of SMEs support, representing 16 % of the total ERDF allocation during the 2007-2013 period. Programme strategies aimed more to cope with the contingent economic pressures and fall in employment levels than to address long-term objectives addressing structural barriers affecting target SMEs. The majority of policy instruments which were conceived, or further adjusted during the reprogramming phase, for generic SMEs support generated a diffuse stabilizing and anticyclical mechanism. Findings however show that the most effective strategies were represented by those more ambitious instruments that had a well specified logic intervention, focused objectives and selective targeting strategies.

Massimo Florio is Professor of Public Economics at the DEMM, Department of Economics, Management, and Quantitative Methods of the Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan (Italy). Contact: massimo.florio@unimi.it, www.unimi.it. Elena Vallino is Senior Researcher at CSIL, Centre for Industrial Studies, Milan (Italy). Contact: vallino@csilmilano.com, www.csilmilano.com. Silvia Vignetti is Director of Evaluation Unit at CSIL, Centre for Industrial Studies, Milan (Italy). Contact: vignetti@csilmilano.com, www.csilmilano.com. The views expressed in this article are personal and do not reflect the views of the University of Milan or the CSIL. Acknowledgments: This paper draws extensively by an evaluation project carried out by CSIL on behalf of the European Commission, Directorate General of Regional and Urban Policy (Contract: 2014CE16BAT002).

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