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This article treats of issues arising from financial instruments to support innovation and development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The purpose of this paper is to identify as both disadvantages and advantages of the various instruments. The greatest attention is devoted to the most popular, financial instrument that is an investment grant. At the beginning of the article, the importance of investment grants will be characterized. Its share in promoting innovation will be determined. Then, a comparison was made with financial, revolving instruments. That is financial engineering and venture capital. The article points out that in some projects, especially those of the most innovative potential, an investment grant may not be the most appropriate means of intervention. On the other hand, financial engineering is not the most suited to satisfying the long-term capital needs of SMEs. Venture capital supports primarily SMEs with high growth potential. Investment grants have numerous disadvantages. It means that policy makers should always consider alternative financial instruments. Venture Capital is the most appropriate whenever following factors are of very great importance: preservation of confidentiality and trade secret, time and flexibility. The authors indicate the need for change in thinking about the Structural Funds to happen. More attention should be paid to select appropriate financial instruments to support innovation and SMEs’ development, and not to the issue of how to absorb the Structural Funds in Poland.
As from May 1, 2004 the new member states of the European Union became covered by assistance financed from the organisation's general budget. The means for this assistance are drawn from structural funds (the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance) and the Cohesion Fund. In 2004-2006 the means available from the structural funds will be allocated in the EU's new member states mainly to the development of infrastructure, improvement in the quality of human resources and in the production environment. Means from the Cohesion Fund will be used in these countries for co-financing investment projects in the sphere of environmental protection and investments serving the construction of trans-European transport routes. The experience of the poorer EU countries (Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal) shows that the use of means coming from the EU budget contributes to growth in GDP, investment outlays and employment as well as to a decrease in the rate of unemployment, a rise in the level of education of the working population, etc. The use of means from the EU budget can be expected to lead to positive changes also in the new member states and help diminish the disproportion in the level of development of the new member states and that of the old fifteen EU countries.
One of the main premises of the preparation of the latest structural policy reform was the need to strengthen the economic and social cohesion of the European Union and to increase the competitiveness of its economy. In the result of admission of new members into the EU in 2004 and 2007 the disproportions in the level of the development of the Union's regions became greater. This made it necessary to increase outlays from the structural funds and from the Cohesion Fund on the financing of structural policy. Also, three new tasks of this policy were adopted: 1 - Convergence, 2 - Regional competitiveness and employment, and 3 - European territorial co-operation. In 2007-2013 the largest amounts from the EU budget will be allocated to the first of these tasks, that is Convergence. Poland will be the main beneficiary of assistance awarded from the structural funds and the Cohesion Fund. Judging by the experience of Ireland and Spain the use of this assistance in Poland and in other EU countries in 2007-2013 should contribute to the reduction of disproportions in the level of development between the group of new member-countries and the old 15 EU member-states.
This article analyses the interaction between movement towards a knowledge-based society and rural development in Latvia, as well as the conformity of a knowledge-based economy to the national structural policy for rural development. It is ascertained that Latvia's movement towards a knowledge-based society, which is identified in major national strategic documents as a goal, has not been realised in rural development policy; therefore, in rural areas the development of a knowledge-based society is only slightly observable. The concept of a knowledge-based economy in national structural policy, which defines rural development, is not laid out in detail, and the identified relevant measures are general and fragmentary. The authors of this article forecast that there will be no changes in the development of agriculture in the near future. In 2008, before the economic crisis, development could be observed in some spheres, while other spheres were liquidated. Experts forecast that with the increasing efficiency of production, the number of people employed in agriculture will decrease. Opportunities to work in other spheres should be provided in order to preserve the number of rural inhabitants. Therefore, there is a need for effective restructuring of the rural economy. It is concluded that the restructuring policy for rural areas in Latvia is vague and that the effect of a knowledge-based society in rural areas has not been assessed. Restructuring is slow and dependent on the receptivity of rural inhabitants to new ideas and proposals. Nevertheless, examples of successful development of new spheres can be observed in rural areas.
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