The Final Conference took place at the premises of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria. The event was the last activity planned after three years of project implementation, where the project worked together to grow a well-connected network of institutions and organizations that could offer potential sellers or buyers confidentially and customized services provided directly or through a pool of trusted local business transfer experts.
Peter Driessen, CEO of the CCI Munich opened the event and gave an overview about the current situation of Business Transfer in Bavaria and in Europe and underlined the importance of the topic especially for traditional businesses in the Alpine Space Area. He also pointed out that even tough in recent years the quantity, quality, practical relevance and transparency of information, advice and the promotion of generational change have been continuously improved. However, only about half of the businesses feel well enough prepared for the succession process. The project “Continuity of Traditional Enterprises in Mountain Alpine Space Areas” dedicated itself precisely to this difficult and complex topic. Thanks to the new connections, it is possible to exchange ideas with experts from other countries and thus better pursue the long-term goal of mastering business succession.
Kristin Schreiber, Director of the COSME Programme and SME Policy, of the European Commission in Brussels, and Clotilde Mahé, Project Officer of the Joint Secretariat for the Alpine Space Programme were also present for the event.
Ivan Boesso, Director, European Policy Department; Veneto Innovazione, Lead partner of the project, presented briefly with a video the development and different outcomes achieved during the project:
- involvement of the local experts in the project activities
- Set up of a business transfer matching platform
- test and tracking from tools for the SMEs through a multilevel path towards business transfer
- 400 participants in level 1 information activities
- 100 companies guided and supported in level 2 orientation services
- 50 companied coached with customized advisory services (legal, credit, finance, market, and exchange)
- 20 companies proceeded to explore a possible Alpine Space matching
- It remains an issue a legal framework for business transfers with a transnational approach.
Prof.Dr. Frank Bau, from the HTW Chur presented the results of an academic analysis on Business Transfer and the importance of innovation management capacities for companies to be prepared in advance for a successful business transfer. This analysis is very relevant for the field since there is little to none literature on the topic. A copy of this analysis will be attached to this document.
Afterwards the experts were able to share their experience, lessons learned and best practices during the project in a panel discussion.
In general the experts agreed that:
- The topic of business transfer should be planned properly with time in advance
- If possible consider the business transfer as part of the business plan when starting a business
- The legal and tax framework conditions become even more complicated, these should be examined carefully by the pertinent experts
- Through the transnational business transfer approach new possibilities become accessible for the companies, but at the same time new aspects have to be taken into account such as cultural differences, language barriers, etc.
- The project provided them with contacts to other colleagues in other regions, which led in some cases to success stories.
The second panel discussion was opened with impulse statements from Ms Kristin Schreiber, Director COSME Programme and SME Policy,DG GROW, European Commission who talked about the European perspective of business transfer; Ltd. MR Georg Schmidt, Head of Unit, Policy on SME, Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Energy and Technology who talked about the Situation in Bavaria, and further statements on the current situation in each region from Dr. Franz Schöpf, Innovation Department Director, Autonomous Province of Bolzano-Bozen; and Krunoslav Karlovčec, Ministery of Economic Development and Technology (MGRT),Republic of Slovenia.
Following aspects were discussed:
- The topic is becoming increasingly relevant overall in Europe
- Recommendations on further channels to use when looking for financing for BT (COSME Loan Guarantee – funding for entrepreneur; use of regional funding such as KfW – ERP Start-up Loan, etc)
- Examples such as “follow me” were very helpful for the project, Know-How Transfer is one of the more valuable aspects for the sustainability of the project
- The use of horizontal services through EEN, i.e. training services
- Further recommendations of similar projects i.e. STOB regions – Succession and Transfer of Business in Regions
Business transfer experts, practitioners, interested companies and decision makers were also able to take part and contribute to this discussion, not only during the panel discussions, but also on one-to-one conversations during the coffee break and the networking evening. A total of 80 participants attended the event.