Speaking yesterday at the Brussels Economic Forum, Vice President of the EU Commission Olli Rehn called for increased lending to innovative and productive SMEs
Mr Rehn addressed a large audience of industry figures, civil servants, academia and the media, suggesting that while the rebalancing of the European economy is underway, progress would be slow.
A crucial way to stimulate sustainable growth would be to provide more funding for those SMEs with innovative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, such as energy and the environment.
The Commission has long recognised the importance of assisting SMEs and has worked with SMEs to identify and resolve the top ten most burdensome pieces of EU legislation.
In December 2011, for example, the Commission proposed a revision of the public procurement regime which will have direct impact of the access of SMEs to public procurement.
Mr Rehn’s announcement is welcome news following a recent UK survey suggesting that small businesses which come up with new ideas are more likely to have problems securing lending than less innovative rivals.
One of the innovations widely expected to contribute to EU’s economic recovery is nanotechnology.
‘Green nanotechnologies’ are products and processes that are safe, energy efficient, reduce waste and emissions, and which are based on renewable materials or have a low net impact on the environment.
Green nanotechnology is also about manufacturing processes that are economically and environmentally sustainable – one of the reasons the OECD has given it such attention.
However, nanotechnology is just one of the areas in which SMEs are demonstrating their vital importance to economic growth and job creation. ICT is another – as demonstrated by the success of technology startups around London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’.