The UNECE region, including the participating countries of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA), have recently faced a number of challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn, the impact of military conflict in Ukraine, and the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. This has negatively impacted progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and made the search for effective policy solutions a priority.
Innovation, or the systematic experimentation with new ideas more broadly across all sectors in an economy is crucial to tackling these challenges and making our economies more resilient, sustainable, circular and green. Such experimentation should be undertaken not only in the context of high-tech frontier technologies, but also in more traditional sectors, services, processes, marketing and organisational models. Private companies are the principal agents for innovation and the business sector will therefore have a major role to play in this process. Innovative high growth enterprises (IHGEs) only constitute a small fraction of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), but often lead business sector experimentation. They can be pioneers that try out new ideas and create new economic sectors with significant social and environmental benefits, including demonstration effects for other entrepreneurs.
Distinct from other SMEs, IHGEs require different, more specialized and tailor-made support measures to reach their full potential. Governments in the SPECA sub-region have a considerable array of policy tools to promote the scaling up of innovative enterprises, whilst complementing existing innovative entrepreneurship support measures.
This handbook outlines the most pertinent and impactful policy tools available to SPECA countries to exploit these opportunities. It also portrays international experiences in supporting IHGEs, which SPECA countries can learn from. The policy learnings thereon can help accelerate driving the transition to a circular economy, and support delivery of the objectives of the SPECA Innovation Strategy for Sustainable Development.