More than 15 experts gathered in Bratislava on 21-22 January to exchange ideas and knowledge on the current trends and challenges of entrepreneurship in the V4 region. The international workshop hosted by the Slovak Business Agency (SBA) was held in the framework of the ‘V4 Network on Entrepreneurship’ project supported by the Visegrad Fund.

The workshop concluded the joint work of an international partnership coordinated by HÉTFA Research Institute, that kicked off in March 2019 and included a 2-day conference in Budapest last September. The aim of the workshop was to build upon the conclusions of the conference and formulate concrete recommendations and an action plan that will support future policy-making in the Visegrad countries.

The workshop had four interactive panels in which participants from different countries and background could share experiences on how to tackle major problems in the field of SMEs. The four identified problems were lack of skilled labour force; mismatch between the education and the labour market needs; taxation, legislation, incentives and the effects of wage increase on labour market and employment.

The discussions pointed out that these areas are very much interconnected as they all affect the general quality of the business environment.  As for the possible areas for intervention, participants enlisted many actions that are necessary to improve the position of SMEs in the region, directed not only towards governments or policy-makers, but they matched actions to businesses and educational institutions as well.

On the second day specific segments of businesses, such as family businesses, young entrepreneurs and social businesses were discussed in small groups, covering their main challenges. Similarly to the first day’s program, the aim was to prepare a joint proposal including recommendations for policy-makers. Sharing experiences and good practices proved to be again an efficient way to strengthen the network for entrepreneurship, a unique regional partnership the project aimed to create through meetings and collaboration. The join proposal will be published soon on the project’s website, as well as it will be disseminated to relevant platforms and organisations.

The conclusion of the discussions emphasized the role of education in improving the competitiveness of the field, as well as it underlined the importance of making legal frameworks simpler and more transparent. Collaboration between different sectors – public, private and education – also came up repeatedly as a recommended action to better communicate market needs and to act proactively in improving the business environment. A core message was furthermore the similar challenges and solutions we might encounter in the V4 countries. As one of the participants put it at the end of the workshop, ‘we face more similar challenges than I expected’ that actually highlights why this network is useful for shaping the future of businesses.

You can also be part of the network by joining our database that collects and connects research organizations, scholars, stakeholders and universities dealing with local and regional enterprises in the Visegrad countries. For more information please visit the V4 Network for Entrepreneurship website or follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for updates.

We would like to thank our partners for this fruitful cooperation:

IDEA of Development Foundation from Warsaw (Poland), Slovak Business Agency from Bratislava (Slovakia), University of Economics from Prague (Czech Republic).

Photo credit: Ondrej Irša