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SPIN analysis of barriers and incentives for innovations for sustainable production

Did you know that more than 99 % of European companies are SMEs which contribute to a total of 54 % of the value added in the European Union and are responsible for 64 % of the total environmental impact of industry in the EU?

That is why it is very important from an economic and environmental perspective to support innovations for sustainable production in SMEs.

To better understand the reasons why SMEs apply innovations for sustainable production or why not, SPIN has conducted country studies in each of the SPIN partner countries (Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark). Aim of the country studies was to analyse the needs of SMEs in different fields:
  • financing
  • competences
  • business & market and intellectual property rights
  • barriers which hinder innovations for sustainable production
  • existing incentives for sustainable innovations

The perspective of both, SMEs supplying sustainable innovations and SMEs in demand of sustainable innovations, has been included in the study. In a synthesis report causes for disparities in different countries and specific patterns which are relevant for the whole BSR have been analysed.

The SPIN project identified several major SME needs which include
  • access to financing
  • qualified personnel
  • information on relevant legislation, on market trends as well as on existing innovations and public support schemes
  • networking with external facilitators.

The project also assessed barriers to sustainable innovations in SMEs. Among the most important barriers identified are
  • time and personnel constraints which lead to limited awareness of relevant legislation, the actual environmental impact and existing innovative solutions.
  • Suppliers of sustainable innovations often lack capital for up-scaling and demonstration of new technologies.
  • Limited knowledge of the demand side also hinders their access to the market.

To overcome these barriers several support measures for SMEs exist but most of them without special consideration of sustainable innovations. Several approaches are named by the project how to tackle these problems:
  • Close-to-SME network points (e.g. industry associations) are an important multiplier to increase SMEs' awareness and spread information on sustainable solutions and existing support programmes.
  • Legislation and norms, e.g. environmental pollution regulation – if properly enforced – are a strong incentive for SMEs to adopt sustainable innovations.
  • Green Public Procurement also has a large potential to stimulate the market for sustainable innovations, however this has not been sufficiently used so far.

During the course of the SPIN project the findings will be refined and validated through direct feedback from SMEs in a series of industry workshops.
If you would like to know more about the results of the country studies and the synthesis report, they will be made available from our project website.