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38th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Europe Quo Vadis? - Regional Questions at the Turn of the Century", 28 August - 1 September 1998, Vienna, Austria
In my paper on "The financial system and its significance for the development and growth of innovative SMEs in the regional context" (presented at the ersa97 conference) I investigated the process of financing innovative SMEs during their different phases of development and the impact financial institutions have on their growth over and above the pure provision of capital. I argued that a financial system has to consist of different types of actors able to deal with the different financial needs of innovative SMEs during their development phases and has to be characterised by well established networks between these actors to fulfil its capital providing function and that this function is inseparably connected with its supervising and resource creating powers which in turn have a major influence on the development and growth of innovative SMEs in the regional context. Based on the results of this previous work, additional theoretical and empirical studies, available secondary data and a survey of Austrian equity capital suppliers conducted by the author, the current paper analyses the specific Austrian situation: The capabilities of the financial system to support SMEs' growth and the potential effects recently implemented measures and initiatives to improve SMEs' access to financial resources could actually have. I will argue that the main obstacles to provide growth capital to innovative SMEs are caused by the Austrian financial system being strongly credit-based, the procedures used by Austrian banks to provide credits and above all the insufficient availability of equity-based financial instruments. Recently established initiatives and support programmes to activate equity capital markets are useful but they do not fully exhaust potentials available and they do not cover regional dimensions of the financing process, which are so essential in supporting SMEs growth. Therefore the paper will propose several new instruments, designed to close existing gaps and to cope with the drawbacks of the current situation, e.g.: Existing guarantee schemes should be supplemented by elements offering incentives for private Venture Capital Funds to provide more early stage financing. And Existing regional equity capital funds supplying public money should provide incentives for private funds to co-invest in young high-tech firms, thereby supporting the development of financial networks, which improve risk-sharing procedures and accelerate flows of information and know-how between financial actors.
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