Support the development of VSE/SMEs in the region

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Project to “Support the territorial development of VSE/SMEs”

The project to “Support the territorial development of VSE/SMEs” recently benefited, on the recommendation of the Scientific Council, from the 2012-13 Research Quality bonus program of the University of Pau and the Adour region (UPPA).

The project sets out to look at the sustainable territorial growth of VSE/SMEs related to the support received from Business Support Providers (BSP) as part of the legal framework of support from public entities for economic activity. The term ‘BSP’ refers to local authority organizations or structures dedicated to supporting economic activity and companies on its territory.

The research covers two territories faced with issues relating to the revitalization and consolidation of the VSE/SME fabric. The first is Lacq in France and the second the Collines de l’Outaouais region (on the outskirts of Ottawa) in Quebec.

Two local authority organizations are involved in the project: the Eurolacq-Entreprises en France business incubator, in partnership with the Lacq Community of Communes, and the Centre Local de Développement des Collines de l’Outaouais in Quebec, in partnership with the Outaouais County Local Municipality.

The current research team of the UPPA’s Local Authorities and Territories Research Federation includes:

  • Jean Gourdou, Aurélie Launay, Philippe Terneyre and Antoine Bourrel, from the UPPA’s Pau Droit Public laboratory.
  • Martin Cloutier, from the University of Quebec’s School of Sciences and Management in Montreal.
  • Sandrine Cueille and Gilles Recasens, from the UPPA’s CREG (Management Research Center).
  • Julian Colly, a Public Sector Business Law Masters student.

The aim of this research, based on a comparative study between France and Canada, is to identify the structural factors for the sustainable territorial growth of VSE/SMEs, in terms of the support provided by BSPs. This is part of the legal inter-municipal support framework for economic activity. Such a comparison provides companies and support structures backed by inter-municipalities with crossed information on best practices in terms of VSE/SMEs economic growth.

From an academic point of view, one of the advantages of this research is the way in which entrepreneurs and BSPs can build consensus on the measures to implement to promote the sustainable territorial growth of VSE/SMEs. The study of this consensus will be carried out through concept mapping. From a managerial view point, the research aims to identify best management practices in terms of the structure of sustainable growth for companies and support measures for the BSPs. It can contribute to the reflection on the efficiency of support mechanisms implemented by the BSPs, in line with the aim of creating a business environment which promotes local companies and as part of local public structures’ public policy support for economic activity.

The research to be carried out under this project comprises two interacting elements, one managerial and the other legal. The main questions raised in the managerial element are as follows: i) what measures must VSE/SMEs implement to ensure sustainable growth?; ii) what measures must the BSPs implement to support VSE/SMEs in their development projects?; iii) is it possible to study how the BSPs’ support offering meets the demand from VSE/SMEs for support?; iv) how can the various players – companies and those supporting them – build a consensus based on measures to be implemented to promote the sustainable territorial growth of VSE/SMEs? In terms of the legal element, the following four points need reflection: i) what is the legal framework for the distribution of responsibilities which condition the support provided by public bodies?; ii) which legal system governs state support for economic activity?; iii) how can public support policies for the development of VSE/SMEs be assessed and adapted to improve the efficiency of the support mechanisms?; iv) what areas of convergence and divergence are there between the mechanisms and VSE/SME development aid public policies and support between Quebec and France?

Initial research has been carried out in Lacq, in partnership with the Eurolacq-Entreprises business incubator. A group of 15 VSE/SMEs and 15 supporters (head of the business incubator, leaders of a support mechanism called “Pérennis”, local elected officials, financiers, consultants, insurers, etc.) took part in this research. The second stage of the project was then carried out in the Collines de l’Outaouais region, in Quebec, with the participation of some 30 VSE/SMEs.

A third phase remains to be carried out. This will consist, in the Collines de l’Outaouais region, of completing the collection and analysis of data from a group of supporters. The research team will therefore have two sets of mixed feedback from entrepreneurs and their supporters for each territory studied, which will provide significant scope for international comparisons. Moreover, a study of the legal framework of support provided by inter-municipalities will supplement the empirical work and will open up discussions on how to adapt public support policies for the growth of VSE/SMEs to improve their dedicated aid and support mechanisms.

In February 2013, Julian Colly will start an internship at the Pau Droit Public laboratory to study the legal framework of support in France and Quebec. The current research team is looking to add a Quebec lawyer to their team who is interested in the project and who could provide interesting input to Julian Colly in his work studying the legal support framework in Quebec.