Arūnas Burinskas: ‘EU investment in business competitiveness: innovation, digitalisation and sustainable development’

On 26 August, Klaipėda hosted the first conference ‘Small Business Month. Changes for Your Growth’ as part of the ‘Gazelė’ event organised by the daily newspaper Verslo žinios. After a year’s break, the live format of the event returned. It announces and rewards the country’s fastest-growing companies in 2018–2020. This year, 4,940 companies are contending for the ‘Gazelė 2021’ title.

Arūnas Burinskas, Deputy Director of the Investment Management Service of the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA), presented the country’s business support guidelines, shared his insights and outlined some guidelines for the future.

Any business faces certain risks in these difficult times, so it makes sense and is relevant to take advantage of the non-refundable business subsidies provided by the Business Support Agency. This can definitely increase the economic and financial performance of a business project and reduce the risks taken. The LBSA is interested in bringing more EU investment to the regions, which has so far been concentrated in the big cities. At present, the number of projects administered by the LBSA and financed from the European Regional Development (Cohesion) Fund in Klaipėda County has reached 216. Businesses are developing more than half of them. In the Klaipėda region, EUR 55 million was allocated to business projects, EUR 53 million was earmarked for energy and renewable energy development projects, EUR 36 million for research and experimental development, and EUR 2.3 million for tourism.

‘Interestingly, quite a lot is invested in digital projects in Klaipėda. In this pandemic period, when digitisation processes are gaining momentum and competition in this area is intensifying, I think this is a very good sign. Innovation and investment in this area will continue to be encouraged and supported,’ said Burinskas. ‘If we take a closer look at the monetary value of the projects in the region, we can see that Klaipėda, with the planned EUR 147 million, is already a little behind here and is in fifth place’.

According to Burinskas, the LBSA pays great attention to risk management: ‘We assess all payment requests very carefully. The fact that 64.2% of the payments were actually made in the fields of digitisation, 13.5% in research and experimental development, 4.7% in eco-innovation and 17.5% in other areas means that the projects are indeed being implemented properly.’

‘As for the future prospects, and taking into account the plans and documentation that are being prepared, I can say that the field of digitalisation will be the first to receive the approval of business support measures, and that business can also focus on this. According to the indicators published by the European Commission, we see that Lithuania has jumped very strongly on the innovation index. It is now 92% of the European Union average. We are practically catching up with the EU average. However, if we compare ourselves with the Scandinavian countries, we can see that we have not yet reduced the previous gap. EU business support investments are important and significant. It is very important that intangible assets and know-how of our companies grow at least as much as in Estonia,’ said Burinskas.

He pointed out that it is still possible to submit applications under the ‘Creative Vouchers Covid-19’ measure next week, and until the end of 20 September, small and medium-sized enterprises can submit applications for the implementation of e-commerce models under the ‘E-Commerce Model Covid-19’ measure.

The winning companies from Klaipėda, Tauragė and Telšiai districts were awarded at a conference held in the port city. All companies on the ‘Gazelė 2021’ list were ranked according to their revenue growth in 2018–2020. To be on the list, a company’s revenue in 2018–2020 had to grow at least as much as in 2020, and the company had to be profitable in 2020. A total of 4,940 companies met this basic criterion. Understandably, the performance of many companies has been severely affected by the pandemic year 2020, which is why there are about half a dozen fewer companies this year than there were last year when pre-pandemic revenue growth was calculated. This year, 41% of the companies on the ‘Gazelė’ list are located in Vilnius, 22% in Kaunas and 11% in Klaipėda counties. Vilnius City Municipality accounts for 35% or 1,737 companies, and the smallest number of companies – three – are located in Birštonas Municipality.

The ‘Gazelle 2021’ event will take place in Panevėžys on 16 September, in Šiauliai on 30 September, in Kaunas on 14 October and in Vilnius on 28 October. Conference participants will be able to attend the webinars remotely.

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