Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Beatrice Bertarini

  • Credits 6

  • SSD IUS/05

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Industry, innovation and infrastructure Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The course introduces students to the main regulations and financial instruments available for SMEs in the European Union, under the general consideration that SMEs are the backbone of the EU´s economy. The course illustrates how any of the traditional problems facing enterprises – i.e. regulatory burdens, lack of financing, supporting competitiveness and innovation, difficulties in exploiting technology – become more acute for SME. In order to pursue smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, the European Union has issued various soft law acts and financial instruments for SMEs, which try to ease their regulatory burden, and improve their access to funding, both in primary and secondary markets. At the end of the course students understand the characteristics, significance and role of SMEs in the EU’s economy, know the regulatory framework the European Union implements for SMEs and how legislation is enforced in Member States.

Course contents

Introduction: European Union and legal acts, the industrial policy of the European Union and the role of micro – small – medium enterprises (SMEs).

SMEs in international context.

Large enterprises and SMEs, what differences? How public institutions support smart, inclusive and sustainable growth of SMEs in Europe; an high-quality Union legislation for SMEs.

The need of SMEs to: burden reduction/simplification; promotion of entrepreneurship; improving access to markets and internationalization; facilitating access to finance; supporting competitiveness and innovation; provision of key support networks. The role of European Commission Communications.

A case study: support to SMEs growth in Italy; alternative financing instruments for SME (i.e. crowdfunding).

Last lectures will be dedicated to the student presentations.



  • D. Sexton – H. Landstrom, The Blackwell Handbook of Entrepreneurship, Blackwell Publisher, Chapters 5, 7, 8, 9.

Recent report:

  • OECD Studies on SMEs and Entrepreneurship and OECD Small and medium enterprise outlook
  • EU Annual Report on European SMEs
  • EU: Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in European Regions and Cities Final – Report 2018

    Historical overview:

  • D.J Storey, B.S Tether, Public policy measures to support new technology-based firms in the European Union, Research Policy, 1998
  • David Floyd, John McManus, (2005) "The role of SMEs in improving the competitive position

    of the European Union", European Business Review, Vol. 17 Issue: 2, pp.144-150

    Future prospective:

  • Rizos, Vasileios and Behrens, Arno and Kafyeke, Terri and Hirschnitz-Garbers, Martin and Ioannou, Anastasia, The Circular Economy: Barriers and Opportunities for SMEs (September 17, 2015). CEPS Working Documents . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2664489
  • J. M. Muller – O. Bulga – K. I. Voigt, Fortune favors the prepared: How SMEs approach business model innovations in Industry 4.0, in Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 2018

All the materials will be available on the website: https://iol.unibo.it.

Further material can be suggest during lessons.

Teaching methods

The course will be taught using a wide variety of formats, including lectures, seminars, classroom discussions, and students presentations.

Assessment methods

1. Papers (2 students for paper); the topic of the papers and the dead line will be agreed during the first lesson. The last lessons will be dedicated to the presentation of the papers.

2. Written exam consisting in 1 open question (Students are given 1 hour to complete the question).

The assessment of class participation aims at evaluating the ability to contribute to the debate with meaningful questions and interesting points. The paper aims at evaluating the ability to critically analyze a topic highlighting problems and solutions. The final exam is a 1-hour written exam evaluating the ability to present effectively the theoretical topics covered in the course.

The final grade will be based upon:

40% written paper – presentation

40% final exam

20% class participation

Teaching tools

Power point presentations.

Office hours

See the website of Beatrice Bertarini