Promoting entrepreneurship and the creation and growth of companies is a cornerstone in European regions. However, in addition to the many services and resources that are made available to citizens and businesses, we want to highlight some initiatives that we understand are particularly susceptible to export to other European regions due to their uniqueness or innovation.
One of the first regional commitments we want to emphasise is the Entrepreneurial Culture Plan. Since 2004 we offer an entrepreneurial route into formal education with some programmes involving students from primary school to university. We also work with teachers, families and the entire educational community in an exercise to raise awareness of the whole society towards entrepreneurship. In this framework, own teaching materials are also made to promote entrepreneurial skills in the classroom, and the faculty participating in the programmes who are interested in this skill are offered support, mentoring, connections and knowledge.
This school year, about 4000 students from throughout the region participate in the Junior, Teen and Expertemprende programmes.
The Regional Government of Extremadura has been working for years to simplify formalities for businesses, such as its LINCE law (Law to Promote the Creation and Consolidation of Enterprises) or through the Commission of Experts which established 17 Directorates General involved in the process of starting up businesses. These actions serve to reinforce the 3rd SBA principle, like the creation of the Entrepreneurial Municipalities Network, a pioneering nationwide initiative that launched the Extremadura Entrepreneurial Municipality Symbol, a regional certification managed through AENOR, national leader in the certification of management systems, products and services, and responsible for the development and dissemination of UNE standards. This Seal aims to help Local Authorities to know what the key elements are to facilitate the creation of businesses in the area, and get a diagnosis on the points to be improved.
In relation to the 4th SBA principle, it is relevant to note the recent creation of the Regional observatory for Administrative Simplification. Its purpose is the ongoing study and analysis of the procedures and formalities applicable to the creation and consolidation of companies within the Autonomous Community of Extremadura, and to develop proposals for administrative simplification and elimination of bureaucratic obstacles.
In facilitating the participation of SMEs in public procurement (5th SBA principle), the Regional Government of Extremadura, in addition to having a public procurement portal in which all tenders are gathered, is promoting the development from the different regional councils of databases for different service providers to ensure proper dissemination of public procurement. In addition, it has recently been approved at the regional level to incorporate social and environmental criteria, for the promotion of SMEs and sustainable public procurement in contracting by the Regional Government of Extremadura and by the entities included in its public sector. The inclusion of these clauses has as primary objective to facilitate access of small and medium enterprises in the region to the regional public tenders, which represent almost 98 percent of the sector in the region. It is aimed to bid in batches within the legislation on public procurement, simplifying the documentation and not base the award solely on economic criteria and improving the information to be provided by the Regional Government to the companies on the bidding process. Another of the major goals would be to improve the quality of employment ensuring respect for collective agreements and labour rights, in addition to promoting occupational health and safety.
Social innovation and new funding models
One of the most developed areas in Europe in recent years, which is an international reference, is social innovation. For years, Extremadura has been promoting a Social Entrepreneurship programme to encourage the creation and consolidation of innovative social enterprises to help generate an ecosystem that promotes sustainable, inclusive and integrating growth in our region. Its objectives include training for entrepreneurs and businesses, and the launch of new business models in new business sectors to create new sources of employment, particularly among vulnerable groups.
This Social Entrepreneurship programme is currently articulated through three initiatives:
- A Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator aimed at promoting sustainable enterprises in Extremadura seeking to offer products and services with social impact, and at facilitating the implementation of business models for social enterprises to generate new sources of employment.
- A Social Entrepreneurship Consolidation Programme consisting of a training, mentoring and support process by experienced professionals, to implement action plans aimed at improving business competitiveness and management skills of the people leading social enterprises.
- A Social Innovation Entrepreneurship Network of Extremadura consisting of public and private entities working collaboratively by generating knowledge and action for promoting a comprehensive strategy to support social entrepreneurship and innovation in the region. To encourage the creation and consolidation of social enterprises, promotion and training sessions for key agents for Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Networks of Extremadura will be developed.