As part of the implementation of the C-TEMAlp policy strategy a round table discussion was organized to discuss the topic of business transfer in the Alpine space area. The panel discussion gathered decision makers of the European Parliament and the European Commission, regional representatives in Brussels together with experts and stakeholders. At the panel discussions were participated all project partners and their national and regional project observers.

For ensuring a successful implementation of the project it is of particular interest for the project partners to know which facts and information would be relevant at the European level in order to improve the framework conditions for cross border business transfer. Furthermore it is interesting to know, if there are points of references or links to other initiatives or projects at European level.

The round table discussion was hosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union. The event met with a throughout positive response: with seventy visitors it exceeded the organization expectations.

The C-TEMAlp project aims at developing dedicated support services for ensuring business continuity in the Alpine region, offering business transfer services for enterprises, building up a transnational network of experts and to give a feedback to the regional, national and European decision makers concerning the experiences of the project partners in the field of cross border business transfer. These main objectives were shorty illustrated in the introduction to the round table discussion by Ivan Boesso, Director of the European Policy Department of Veneto Innovazione S.p.A., Lead Partner of the C-TEMAlp project.

Barbara Schretter, Head of the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union, welcomed this initiative by emphasizing the importance of ensuring business continuity for the Bavarian economy, where small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a major role.

Ltd. MR Georg Schmidt from the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology, illustrated on the basis of statistical data how business transfer has become a pivotal challenge for the Bavarian economy. Indeed, from 2009 to 2013 the cohort of younger entrepreneurs has steeply decreased and in particular looking at the data of 2013 it is clear that the number of entrepreneurs older than 65 has increased consistently and reached a peak level of 68,000 entrepreneurs aged over 65.

In order to meet this challenge, the Bavarian State already offers a structured and successful package of measures aimed at supporting the business transfer process and at raising awareness among the entrepreneurs about the practical implications of such a step. In 2018 there will be a special focus on business transfer with many activities by the involved Bavarian stakeholders.

The increased need for business transfer projects and support measures has been observed also by Mr. Neuner, expert on business transfer from the CCI for Munich and Upper Bavaria, who notes a growing gap between the demand for successors and potential successors in the Region of Bavaria.

Mr. Pulko, President of the Regional Chamber of Craft and Small Business in Maribor, states, that in Slovenia there is still no organized market place for Business transfer. Such support mechanisms are important than also in many of young prefer to start a business as founders rather than to engage in a business transfer process.

By the same token MEP Herbert Dorfmann, in his contribution, reiterated that financial support for SMEs helps ensuring a positive outcome of the business transfer process. To this respect he also referenced the Report on Family Business in Europe promoted by the Rapporteur MEP Angelika Niebler. He emphasized the importance of the SME support factor in this context. The question now is, how these financial support mechanisms can be diversified.

From a regional perspective Dr. Ebner, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Craft and Agriculture of Bolzano/Bozen and Vice President of Eurochambres urges Member States, Regions and European institutions to promote ad-hoc financial support programs aimed at increasing the attractiveness of rural areas and preventing younger generations from leaving the rural areas for the city. Without attractive rural areas there won’t be successful business transfers in the rural Alpine space area.

Ms Schreiber, Director in charge of COSME program and SME policies in the DG Growth at the European Commission sees cross border business transfer as potential field of action for the European Commission and as good complementation of national support mechanisms. Ms. Schreiber also stated that the European Commission welcomes this cross-initiative as a source of great potential for establishing connections between start-ups and enterprises’ business transfer.

In addition, MEP Markus Ferber outlined the need to think European on the issue of business transfer in order to overcome such a huge transnational challenge. Important is in his opinion a better funding of SMEs also by research programs.

In order to find possible solutions for the discussed challenges it might be interesting to compare national approaches. Therefore Laurence Soldermann services offered by Provence Promotion and Dr. Leopold Strobl, expert on business transfer from the Economic Chamber of Styria explained the success of their regional succession strategy: Individual coaching, transfer platform, events and awareness raising. Dr. Bellati, Director of the Association of the Veneto Chambers, suggested that the Business Platform developed during the project could serve as a best practice example for the work of other European networks initiatives such as the EEN.

The conference offered a great starting point for a cross-border exchange of ideas and solutions concerning the increasingly relevant issue of business transfer.

At the end of the Panel discussion the audience contributed to the conference event by taking part in a Q&A session with the panel.