Small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the creation of growth and jobs. As a result, the provision of support to SMEs has become an increasingly important political priority over the years. The amount of aid from the Structural Funds earmarked for the support of SMEs during the two last programming periods amounted to 23 billion and 15 billion euro respectively. Business incubators aim to support the successful establishment and further development of start‑up enterprises.

The main objective of the audit was to assess whether business incubation facilities co‑financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) had successfully supported high‑potential start‑up companies. The audit team carried out an on‑the‑spot audit of a sample of incubators in four Member States. It also visited managing authorities in these Member States, and carried out a benchmarking exercise on an extended sample including incubators in two additional Member States.

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