SMEs represent 99% of businesses in Europe thus they are the backbone of the European Union’s economy. Adopting a “circular economy” business model will not only decrease resource consumption but will bring competitive advantage and open new markets to companies.
Nevertheless, SMEs often encounter different types of barriers and challenges for which they need practical, legal, and of course, financial support. The financial aspect is one of the major barriers when adopting sustainable practices by SMEs. On the other hand, SMEs might have difficulties to understand the processes of accessing funds, EU or government grants due to lack of time and staff.
The lack of government support and effective legislation is also recognised as an obstacle. Sometimes these barriers might be found in the European legislation itself, or even in the translation or transposition into the national legislation. This situation creates uncertainty for SMEs and poses difficulties to comply with the necessary requirements.
Lack of information about the benefits of the circular economy plays a significant role. This is due to the wrong perception that green standards are costly. Administrative burdens also put SMEs in difficulty.
However, there are also enablers which will help to implement SMEs circular economy business models. Raising public/consumer awareness about the product or the circular process will help to engage citizens and boosting SMEs business success. The use of different platforms to acquire funds is another enabling factor. For instance, the use of crowdfunding campaigns would help to raise visibility and awareness about the product, and at the same time, obtain funds.
The AER has a long-lasting tradition in supporting innovation and SMEs. In this regard, the AER would like to invite the regions to participate in the 2016 edition of the Regional Innovation Award. This edition of the RIA focuses on circular economy and aims at honouring regions on their efforts to innovation.
If you would like to discover more about the RIA 2016 and the application process visit: