Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Reviews on entrepreneurship, SMEs and local development


Objective / Issues / Methods / Outputs / Workshops / Contact



This project examine the capacity of local economies to support new enterprise creation and the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and how it can be enhanced through local economic and employment development policies. This contribute to the creation of more entrepreneurial local economies that offer improved job creation and employment opportunities, increased economic growth and adaptability to shocks, and innovation in meeting social needs.

The key objectives are to:

  • Systematically analyse local framework conditions for new enterprise creation and SME development against international benchmarks.
  • Compare and assess policies undertaken at the local level to develop entrepreneurial people, new enterprise creation, healthy SME development and a strong social enterprise sector.
  • Contribute to policy development in the reviewed countries and localities by proposing policy options to overcome barriers and realise potentials.


Issues to be addressed

The following issues is analysed, with countries asked to recommend issues of particular interest to them:


Entrepreneurship skills: Success in enterprise creation is underpinned by a comprehensive set of skills and competencies among entrepreneurs, including strategic skills, small business management skills and entrepreneurial traits. Entrepreneurship training is a rapidly developing policy field with strong potential for learning from other areas, but it is important to focus on the real needs of entrepreneurs, which extend well beyond traditional business planning and accounting skills. Read more


SME workforce skills: Skills upgrading is also crucial for existing SMEs, where workers have more limited access to training than those in large firms, which reduces enterprise productivity, innovation and competitiveness. Skills development is even more important in social enterprises, where social goals are twinned with profit goals and where people are not always familiar with business management principles. 


Business support framework: The right business support infrastructure endowment, including the presence of incubators, hubs, and science parks, and a diversified set of business development services are important for effective public entrepreneurship support. However, business support is often unnecessarily fragmented, leading to lack of visibility and difficulties in reaching enterprises and lack of co-ordination and synergies. This can be addressed with appropriate policy structures.


Finance: Working capital and investment finance is critical to the creation, survival and growth of enterprises, whether they are in the private or social economy sectors. A wide range of financing options is available, tailored to different needs by company type, sector, stage of growth and finance portfolio.  Arbitrage is insufficient, however, and finance markets are often insufficiently developed at local level. Effective policy needs to overcome obstacles in all of these areas. 


Knowledge networks: In an economy increasingly characterised by open innovation methods, the performance of new firm start ups and SMEs is often boosted by market and technological ideas provided by other companies and organisations in their wider networks and supply chains. There is often a major networking gap, however, between knowledge sources in universities and research organisations and industry exploitation in new spin-off enterprises and SMEs.



Reviews are undertaken at local level to explore these issues comprising the following components: 


A questionnaire is completed by policy makers at national and local level to identify local entrepreneurship, SME and social entrepreneurship policy approaches, including a self-assessment tool to compare these policies against a set of international best practice benchmarks.


An international peer review visit is undertaken to validate and deepen the self-assessment, to contrast local experiences with other countries and to develop policy options. 


A policy development roundtable is held with stakeholders to discuss the report prepare an action plan for further policy development.

In addition to comprehensive reviews, more focused reviews is undertaken on the specific issues of social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship skills. 




Download the OECD/LEED paper on "Benchmarking Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Selected OECD and BRICS Countries" and the background paper based on the Trilogue:"A Habitat for Entrepreneurship: Creating a Culture of Innovation"


Download the report "Guild-HE on the role of small and specialist higher education institutions (HEIs)"

The project is based on Voluntary Contributions of each participant country and the support of the European Commission.




Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development in ABU DHABI: Boosting the entrepreneurial Ecosystem 


Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development in the Marche Region, Italy


Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development in Andalusia, Spain


Workshops and seminars

  Workshop: Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Growth-Oriented Entrepreneurship Workshop (The Hague, the Netherlands)
  Workshop: Management and leadership skills in high-growth firms (Warsaw, Poland)

Workshop: High-Employment-Growth Firms: Local Policies and Local Determinants (Copenhagen, Denmark)


For further information about the project please contact the OECD Secretariat.