Fostering high growth of Europe's innovative SMEs

High-growth enterprises have attracted considerable attention from policy makers in recent years - "for good reasons", says study author Stefan Lilischkis from empirica, "because research has widely substantiated the importance of high-growth new companies for job creation." Policy should aim to prepare a fertile breeding ground for SMEs to grow (for instance through measures supporting the above mentioned objectives), rather than trying to "pick winners" and foster them. The European Commission can take specific roles in supporting high-growth SMEs. The Commission's main role could be to drive the further expansion and improvement of the Single Market, e.g. for venture capital, rather than launching specific measures for high-growth SMEs. Policies for general SMEs and for high-growth SMEs should coexist.

The policy brief is based on a literature analysis, case studies, expert interviews and data from enterprise surveys. Case studies from Korea and Singapore show how these countries have recently implemented policies for high-growth SMEs. Israel plans to introduce such policies. In Canada, combined SME support through R&D programmes and venture capital increased the number of high-growth companies considerably. However, there is a lack of evaluation studies that could substantiate certain measures to support high-growth SMEs as being particularly effective or ineffective.
The policy brief has been prepared in the context of INNO-Grips - "Global Review of Innovation Policy Studies", a component of the "PRO INNO Europe" innovation web portal ( of the European Commission. The services of INNO Grips are provided by empirica, based on a contract with the European Commission's DG Enterprise and Industry, in cooperation with international research partners. The contract is running until the end of 2012.

The full policy brief can be downloaded from the INNO-Grips website:

Study author and contact person: Dr. Stefan Lilischkis