Convergence – the increasing blurring of real and financial sector roles in the financing of SMEs

Date: September, 17, 2019 | From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. - CEST

Increasingly, the largest and/or fastest growing SME financiers globally did not start out as banks. Whether from tech companies, logistics firms, commodities traders or even Fast-Moving Consumer Goods distributors, competition from the real sector is gaining traction in the SME segment.

The real sector firms come into SME financing armed with substantial data resources and analytical skills. How is the traditional financial sector going to deal with this? Is it all threat, or is there also an opportunity from these new entrants?


Relator: Mr. Matthew Gamser

CEO, SME Finance Forum, USA

Matthew Gamser is CEO of the SME Finance Forum. He has over 35 years’ experience in private enterprise and financial sector development. He has worked for IFC for 10 years in various positions, including heading the advisory services for the financial sector in East Asia-Pacific (from Hong Kong). Prior to IFC he worked for 25 years in the private sector in management consulting and technology/small scale industry development. He holds A.B. and A.M. degrees from Harvard University, and M.Sc. and D.Phil degrees from Sussex University (UK), where his work focused on the management of technological change.

How do big data impact the transport domain?

Date: September, 10, 2019 | From 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. - CEST

Big Data are bringing significant transformations to the mobility and logistics market by increasing operational efficiency, delivering improved customer experience and fostering new business models.

This has been demonstrated by the TransformingTrasport, an EU-funded project that represented a strong consortium of 48 leading transport, logistics and information technology stakeholders in Europe.

During the session lessons learnt from the implementation of 13 transport pilot cases coming from 7 domains will be shared: Smart High-ways, Sustainable Vehicle Fleets, Proactive Rail Infrastructures, Ports as Intelligent Logistics Hubs, Efficient Air Transport, Multi-modal Urban Mobility, Dynamic Supply Chains.

The webinar will deepen the topic and explore the challenges and recommendations emerged during the discussion with the key players of the pilots.


Relator: Mrs. Despina Anastasopoulos

Research & Innovation Manager, INTRASOFT International, Greece

Despina Anastasopoulos’ professional experience is on implementing and managing innovative ICT projects. Her employment record involves R&D consulting in academic and public organizations, within the context of European funded projects. Mrs. Anastasopoulos joined INTRASOFT International as a Research and Innovation Manager with areas of expertise and focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, ICT tools to enhance innovation and competitiveness of SMEs. She has also been part of the Innovation Competition of INTRASOFT team. Her experience as a researcher on innovative policies for sustainable development such as smart specialization, pre-commercial procurement, clusters and open innovation contributes in the successful management and implementation of EU projects. Mrs. Anastasopoulos holds a Communication Informatics and Management Bachelor’s degree from the Technological Institute of Epirus, Greece. She also holds an MBA degree from Athens University of Economics and Business.

Vietnam, a world of opportunities

Date: June, 11, 2019 | From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - CEST

Vietnam is considered as the golden gate for Asia Pacific market and the country’s economic outlook for 2020 is envisaged to grow up to 6.5 per cent. One of the most important investment destinations is Binh Duong, a region located in the south-east of the country, that contributes with 22 billion US dollars to the national export value and attracts partnerships and Foreign Direct Investment.

The webinar will explore the opportunities an emerging country like Vietnam can offer and will analyse the case of the Binh Duong as an example of successful Smart City that developed a smart socio-economic development model that provides real-life test environments (Living Labs) to businesses and universities to launch new technologies, applications and products, contributing to the development of modern places to live and work in.

Register at academy@insme.org


Relator: Ms. Maily Anna Maria Nguyen

Member, The Italian Association for Quality Culture – AICQ Industry 4.0 Steering Committee, Italy

Maily Anna Maria Nguyen is an expert of internationalisation of SMEs, in the past couple of years she also gained relevant experience in SMART CITY and SMART COMMUNITY topic. Currently she is representative of Becamex IDC Corp. (Investment and Industrial Development Corporation) in Europe. She is also head of the Desk Emilia-Romagna/Italy in Binh Duong thanks to an agreement between the Union of Chambers of Commerce of Emilia-Romagna Region, the Chamber of Commerce of Italy-Vietnam and Becamex IDC Corp. Ms. Nguyen is also member of: – the board of National Association Italy-Vietnam for the friendship, cooperation and cultural and scientific exchanges; – the Steering Committee of Industry 4.0 of AICQ (Italian Association of Quality Culture) – the AEREC (European Academy for Economic and Cultural Relations), established as a Department of the National Body for the Development of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts constituted in 1981 with the aim of promoting the Italian industry in the world by means of economic and cultural exchanges with international organizations and institutions.

Building innovation capabilities

Date: May, 16, 2019 | From 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. - CEST

Progressing and innovating from ‘business today’ to ‘business tomorrow’ is a challenging task, and that change is not getting any easier! While executives believe that innovation is key to achieving their objectives, research suggests that only 6% are satisfied with their innovation performance.

What often happens without a robust innovation process is that things can get out of hand. On the opposite side of the spectrum, someone (often a manager or CEO) may have one idea that they think is great and force the organization forward. When it comes to innovation, organizations seek a better way, and to follow that logical, proven approach to generate real value over the long run.
This webinar will describe how we think about innovation management and how to begin the journey to world class innovation capability and culture.

Register at academy@insme.org


Relator: Mr. Gerry Purcell

Managing Director, Innovation360, Canada

Gerry has over 25 years of experience as a strategy consultant and principal in leading global consultancies including BCG, A.T. Kearney and in several boutique firms. An intuitive thinker and an experienced advisor, Gerry has a confident, collaborative and personable working style. A classically trained consultant, he has worked as an analyst, program manager and partner in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East, along with prior senior roles at two national financial institutions in Canada. His experience and understanding of the underpinnings of how innovation and strategy execution works, and the social, physical and structural dynamics of organizations, enables his clients to harness their entrepreneurial spirit, break new ground, communicate broadly, uncover new ideas, and seek that thought unattainable. He has had delivery oversight for product development and execution as an executive, and draws upon this experience to help clients to develop and execute their own business strategies. Gerry derives insight into the root cause of complex business problems, works with clients to develop a road map to address them and to harvest tangible results and sustainable outcomes.

Clusters and SMEs: a way to face globalisation?

Date: April, 17, 2019 | From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - CEST

The development of cooperation among companies and with university or research is probably the best way for SMEs to compete in an open economy.
Today in Europe, 39% of jobs and 55% of the total amount of wages are located in companies working in a cluster environment. This is why the EU and the member states encourage clustering and innovation through various policies. It has also be proven that SMEs working in a cluster initiative innovate faster than others and cluster organisations are forerunners in SMEs’ digitalisation.
After a short presentation of the French cluster landscape we will give some examples of best practices of SMEs development through clusters.


Relator: Mr. Alain Tubiana

Chairman, gnomon sas & Head of Master in Cluster Management, Strasbourg University, France

Alain Tubiana is an international expert and consultant on cluster management, working on collective intelligence topics for more than 20 years. He has worked 9 years as cluster manager in the Information Technology (IT) sector. In the past six years he conducted about 35 missions for cluster organisations as well as governments in France, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritius, Tunisia, Algeria, Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar and French Overseas Territories, (New Caledonia, La Réunion and Mayotte). He works both on public policy design and cluster initiative support. He trained more than 90 cluster managers on site and through distance learning. He contributed to activate twelve cluster initiatives in various sectors like textile, automotive, IT, mechanics, creative industry, energy efficiency and agro-food. He developed several projects to facilitate the technology transfer from laboratories to companies and has a strong experience in business support for SMEs. He is member of the board of directors of France Clusters since 2010 and head of the French-German Master of Cluster Management at University of Strasbourg. He is benchmarking expert for ESCA, expert for the European Observatory on Clusters and Industrial Change (EOCIC) and lecturer at Kedge Business School - Marseille. Alain is also the founder of gnomon a consultancy company dedicated to cluster management and collaborative innovation.

The Intellectual Property in the Innovation System

Date: March, 20, 2019 | From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - CET

An innovation system is an integrated and interconnected network of institutions and actors which, together, produce, diffuse and apply knowledge for economic and societal good. The two main pillars of this system are the research base of a country and its enterprise sector.
The government is also an important actor as a facilitator and an innovator in its own right. The intellectual property system plays an important role in this framework.  

This webinar will look at the role played by intellectual property system in facilitating an innovative economy and the services provided by WIPO in supporting its member states make more effective use of the intellectual property.


Relator: Mr. Giovanni Napolitano & Ms. Tamara Nanayakkara

Deputy-Director & Counsellor | Transition and Developed Countries Department | WIPO

Mr. Giovanni Napolitano graduated in economics in 1985 and received his Master’s Degree in Science and Technology Policy from the Science Policy Research Unit (University of Sussex, UK) in 1987. After 7 years spent at the Italian National Research Council working on science policy matters, he joined the Italian Competition Authority in 1994. He worked there in different capacities, first handling investigations in the communications, transport and pharmaceutical sectors and then holding managerial positions as director of the Authority’s Secretariat and of the International Affairs Department. In November 2010, he joined the Intellectual Property and Competition Policy Division of the WIPO (United Nations) where he works on policy issues concerning the IP/Competition interface. Between 2015 and 2017, he was Acting Director of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Support Division (SESD). Since June 2018, he is Deputy-Director of the Transition and Developed Countries Department (TDC).

Ms. Tamara Nanayakkara is Counsellor at the SMEs and Entrepreneurship Support Division, Department for Transition and Developed Countries of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva, Switzerland. Since she joined WIPO in January 1994 she worked in the Cooperation for Development Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Economic Analysis, Forecast and Research Division and the Least Developed Countries Division. Before joining WIPO she worked as an Attorney at Law and as an Assistant Lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. She holds a Bachelor's and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and a Master's Degree in International Management from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

Artificial Intelligence, Robots and SMEs: Possibilities, Problems and Prospects

Date: February, 13, 2019 | From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - CET

When we refer to Artificial Intelligence (AI) we are using short hand to define technologies including natural language processing, image recognition, machine learning (ML), data analytics, cognitive computing, and more. Many observers argue that this AI space has the potential to change everything from industrial processes to social media networks in use today, and for all our futures to be defined by access to these systems.Likewise when we think of Robots we are considering quickly deployable, task-agnostic, smaller, mobile machines that accompany humans at work or at play. Both AI and Robots reflect a radically transformative world of production and service provision through industrial automation. The technological shift that is occurring affects large, medium and small firms, but in different ways. As the world of business relies increasingly on small runs, fast logistics, and flexible operations, how will SMEs be affected? How can the SME population take advantage of these shifts given their resource constraints? This webinar will explore how these new, dynamic technologies can enhance the SME effect positively by being ‘smarter’, ‘healthier’ and ‘richer’ firms equipped with productive AI and Robots. It will also investigate how SME owner-managers can prepare for the disruption of jobs that SMEs specialize in, data management, supply chains, dependence on larger firm contracts, and reduce the threat of being part of a business digital divide of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in accessing and using these technologies.


Relator: Prof. Jay Mitra

Professor of Business Enterprise and Innovation, Essex Business School, University of Essex & Adviser to the Board, Forum for Sustainable New Venture, United Kingdom

Jay Mitra is Professor of Business Enterprise and Innovation and Director of the Venture Academy at Essex Business School, University of Essex. He has acted as a Scientific Adviser to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) as the Head of the Scientific Committee on Entrepreneurship for the OECD’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and the LEED (Local Economic and Employment Development) Programme at its Trento Centre and in Paris. He is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Luneburg, Germany, a has been a Visiting Professor at University Externado, Colombia, the Institute of Management Technology, India, the School of Management, Fudan University, and the School of Public Policy at Jilin University, both in China, and at Bologna University, Italy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK. Jay Mitra also leads the International Entrepreneurship Forum (IEF) a unique network and forum for researchers, policy makers and business practitioners working on entrepreneurship, innovation and regional development issues (http://ieforums.org). He is the editor of the new Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies’ published by Sage.

Me Too, I can become a Woman Angel Investor!

Date: January, 22, 2019 | From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - CET

Who said angels had no sex? Business angels are essentially male with only 5-15% women investors in angel networks across Europe. Angels may be getting younger over the past years as more entrepreneurs start investing while still in business or retire early but want to play a role as equity holder, board member, mentor and coach for budding SMEs. But women angels remain scarce. And yet their contribution to the real economy could simply double the flows of finance that can support start-ups and scale-ups in Europe. At a time when European feel their ecosystem lags not only the US but also increasingly Asia, when 45% of European nuggets seem to find IPO exits better, simpler and faster the other side of the Atlantic, it is urgent to stimulate female investment and to engage with more women. How to start, how to grow, how to mitigate risks: we will discuss how women can take the step, drawing from unique research on motivation and obstacles to women angel investing across European countries. We will benchmark with the US and share tips for SMEs how to pitch to angel investors, men and women specifically.


Relator: Mrs. Marie-Elisabeth Rusling

CEO & Board Member, Business Angels Europe (BAE)

Marie-Elisabeth Rusling is the CEO and a Board Member of Business Angels Europe (BAE), representing the most active angel networks in Europe and over 43 000 business angels towards the EU and in the early stage investment market. Every year, BAE member networks invest over €2.5 bn in the European economy, funding and accompanying top innovators and start-ups. Based in Brussels for over 20 years, Marie-Elisabeth has coordinated numerous European programmes to support SMEs – from access to finance to internationalisation, from innovation to environment - at EUROCHAMBRES and CCI FRANCE. Leading multinational teams and managing complex expert networks across the EU and beyond she has built solid management expertise and partnerships while acting as a sherpa for numerous European SMEs eager to engage with EU programmes and decision makers. She also coaches start-ups on EU opportunities and pitching to investors, sits on European jury panels dedicated to innovation (SME Instrument II, Youth essay competition). An associate at Low Europe, an EU affair consultancy and a SME founder and director, she also enjoys supporting students in their career choices as an advisor and coach. Marie-Elisabeth holds Masters Degrees in International Management from ESCP- EUROPE Business School (Diplôme des Grandes Ecoles / DiplomKauffrau), and in Literature and Languages from La Sorbonne University. She has lived and worked in Austria, Germany, France and in the UK.

The New Entrepreneurial Revolution

Date: December, 17, 2013 | From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. - CET

Supporting entrepreneurship and innovation has become one of the key tools in the development strategy that a few countries are using lately. There is a new competitive focus on talent rather than anything else. Some countries/organizations realized that the way to grow is not based on investments behind infrastructure but rather on talent, there is a new wave of talented people willing to change countries based on how these countries are attracting them. This new immigration behavior is dramatically changing the way on the world interacts. The countries that make themselves highly attractive for this new type of nomads will have the advantage and probably lead the next disruptive innovations. In the last 3 years Chile has been taking a leap on this matter, launching successful programs such as StartUp Chile, attracting international centers of excellence and many internal policy changes that aim to make the country more attractive for both local and foreign entrepreneurs and innovators. In this webinar you will see the evolution on these public policies with a deep insight to Start-Up Chile, how it started, how the learning process was and the impact generated so far.


Relator: Ms. Angeles Navarro

Global Networks Director, Start-up Chile, Chile

Angeles Navarro is the Global Networks Director at Start-Up Chile; a program created by the Chilean Government that seeks to attract early-phase, high-potential entrepreneurs to bootstrap their startups using Chile as a platform to go global. Her objective at this position is to help Start-Up Chile participants to be better connected, generating global networks within the alumni and creating alliances with companies abroad.

How to Drive Innovation with regard to Sustainability

Date: November, 21, 2013 | From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. - CET

Innovation is the key to unlocking economic, environmental and social sustainability for firms of all sizes. Research by the Network for Business Sustainability (nbs.net) on Innovating for Sustainability describes how innovation can show up across all of a company’s operations, including design, packaging and promoting products, hiring and training employees, and even evolving the business model. Innovation can be free and simple or expensive and complex. Webinar participants will learn (1) the three stages of innovation for SMEs, based on rigorous, international research, and (2) proven practices for innovating at each stage – including strategies such as back casting. We will also demonstrate how to find and access free resources for SMEs like How to Drive Innovation: A 4-Part Guide for Small Business Leaders through NBS.net.


Relator: Ms. Pamela Laughland

Managing Director, Network for Business Sustainability, Canada

Pamela Laughland is Managing Director for the Network for Business Sustainability. NBS is a Canadian non-profit, which connects researchers and managers through knowledge to change business practice. NBS has also begun expanding internationally, with its first global affiliate, NBS: South Africa, launched in 2013. Since its inception in 2006, NBS has grown into a thriving network of more than 3,800 researchers and managers and has attracted more than $4 million in public and private funding. The Network produces free, authoritative resources in collaboration with world-class researchers on priority topics including innovating for sustainability, embedding sustainability into organizational culture, and building sustainable supply chains. Pamela oversees the operational direction of NBS and its activities. Since taking this role she has championed several significant initiatives including the Global Sustainability Centres Community, a program that convenes more than 50 sustainability research centres from business schools around the world to collaborate for greater individual and collective impact. Participating schools range from Harvard and MIT to Auckland and Stellenbosch. Prior to joining NBS, Pamela held research positions at the Richard Ivey School of Business, Statistics Canada, and the University of Guelph. Her work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Ivey Business Journal and the International Journal of Biotechnology. She holds an MSc in Resource Economics from the University of Guelph.