Business and Investment Environment in Slovakia

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1 Business and Investment Environment in Slovakia ESTER - Wp3C Riga September 4 5, 2003

2 Understanding the business environment from the point of view of new high-tech enterprises. Support measures for SMEs Venture capital funds in Slovakia Identification of potential for risk funding Statistical survey related to innovations in Slovak SMEs. Legislative framework from the point of view of investors and enterprises 1. Commercial Code 2. The Tax System 3. Labour Code 4. Intellectual Property Rights Protection 5. Legal Regulations of Environmental Protection 6. Bankruptcy law

3 Business Environment in the Slovak Republic and Identification of Potential for Risk Funding General characteristics The business environment is improving, but continuing reforms are needed in the banking system, company registration, bankruptcy laws, anti-corruption laws, competition policy, tax incentives for innovation and protection of intellectual property rights. The main problem is low manufacturing productivity coupled with poor investment in and exploitation of R&D. Although education levels are high, qualifications and training do not match business requirements. Efforts are being made to improve human resources but demand for skilled workers is not keeping pace with supply. Despite a strong tradition in ICT, telecom infrastructure is poor. However it may benefit from liberalisation. The eeurope action plan is being extended also to Slovakia. Responsibility for innovation policy is often divided between government departments and agencies. There are no government initiatives promoting collaboration between academy or universities and businesses, supporting new technology based firms and fostering business networking. Slovakia generally score lower than the EU15 on innovation-related indicators.

4 Support measures for SMEs Support Loan Programme Micro Loans scheme Seed Capital Fund Technology Transfer Scheme Implementation of quality management systems Counselling and training Spin-off programme The Agency for Support of Science and Technology

5 Venture capital funds in Slovakia There is a non-functioning capital market that should support the exit phase of venture financing. Commercial banks are not wiling to provide loans to SMEs. Bank loans are necessary for leveraging risk capital investments. There is no government policy and no incentives for venture capital investments. Only two venture funds are present The Czech and Slovak American Enterprise Fund Seed Capital Company

6 Identification of potential for risk funding The main focus is on fast-growing companies. They include predominantly companies with intensive and permanent innovation activities. The specific case is high-tech companies. Comparison between EU and accession countries

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10 Statistical survey related to innovations in Slovak SMEs. Innovation activity of SMEs (type of innovation) What part of turnover are costs for innovations Benefits from innovations Financial resources for innovations

11 any innovation imposible no improved new %

12 Did company perform any innovation during ? imposible no service product technology improved new %

13 What are benefits from innovations? other benefits higher export higher turnover lower costs %

14 Did company perform any technology innovation during ? imposible no improved new %

15 financial sources for innovation other risk capital nonbank loan bank loan own %

16 Finnacial resources for innovations other nonbank loan bank loan own financial sources %

17 innovation costs as the ratio of turnover >70% <70% <50% <30% <10% %

18 exports as the ratio of turnover >70% <70% <50% noninnovative innovative <30% <10% %

19 Quality systems in SMEs %

20 Quality systems in SMEs other business services/finances transport/communication construction hotels/restaurants wholesale/retail agriculture/food production manufacturing %

21 Provide companies opportunity for new qualification (more than 4 weeks courses)? %

22 Provide companies opportunity for new qualification (more than 4 weeks courses)? other business services/finances transport/communication construction hotels/restaurants wholesale/retail agriculture/food production manufacturing %

23 Statistical survey related to innovations in Slovak SMEs. About 54% SMEs declared that in the period innovated services for customers, and 47% companies introduced brand new technology or improved existing technology. Brand new technology was introduced mainly in medium-sized SMEs (21%) and in manufacturing companies (20%). About 43% of micro companies (up to 10 employees) did not innovate any technology More than a half of entrepreneurs (51%) declared that their company strategy includes permanent innovation activity Majority of innovating SMEs (71%) considered increased turnover as a dominant benefit. Concrete innovation was of in-house origin or developed by a partner Slovak company (51%) For financing innovation activities, 90% of SMEs used their own resources. When bank loans were used, medium-size companies dominated. The majority of companies declared that innovation costs were less than 10% of their turnover. Competitiveness of the company, expressed by its exporting ability, is positively correlated with its innovation activities.

24 Legislative framework from the point of view of investors and enterprises 1. Commercial Code 2. The Tax System 3. Labour Code 4. Intellectual Property Rights Protection 5. Legal Regulations of Environmental Protection 6. Bankruptcy law

25 1. Commercial Code 1.1 Types of Business Companies 1.2 Process of Establishing a Company 1.3 Registration of a Company 1.4 Foreigners Residence Permit and Work Permit

26 2. The Tax System There are two categories of taxes in the Slovak Republic: 2.1 Direct Taxes Income Tax Road Tax Real Estate Tax Inheritance Tax, Gift Tax, Real Estate-Transfer Tax 2.2 Indirect Taxes Value added tax (VAT) Excise Duties

27 3. Labour Code All employers in the Slovak Republic are obligated to make a written employment contract with their employees. Employment contracts usually include information such as gross monthly salary, and length of probation period (maximum 3 months). An employment contract can be signed for a fixed or unspecified period. The employer and employee can terminate employment by submitting of written notice. An employee is allowed to quit employment without giving a reason if two months notice is given. An employer can immediately terminate employment if: The employee was convicted of a crime In the case of repeated minor offences in the area of discipline The maximum working schedule is 40 hours per week. The employee must receive a minimum of four weeks holiday each year.

28 4. Intellectual Property Rights Protection Industrial Property Office of the Slovak Republic receives and registers, in a chronological order, the applications performs examination for the applications takes decisions on granting patents on inventions and on registering issues patent documents and priority right certificates issues certificates concerning registrations and priority rights Protected objects Inventions Utility models Designs Trade Marks Designation of a product s place of origin Topographies

29 5. Legal Regulations of Environmental Protection The environment in general (law of the environment, law of the state administration for environment, etc.) The protection of nature and the landscape The protection of water quality The protection of the environment and air quality Regional planning and building order Waste management Geological survey and research Risk management and genetically modified organisms

30 6. Bankruptcy law In the stage of problems it is mainly needed to realize business improvement, which is oriented on rescue of a company, based on results of a company analysis or developing of a consolidation programme. If improvement is not successful, company has to be prepared to finish its activities. Closing down a company is in terms of Commercial Code a legal matter, that is legally connected with company dissolution. Dissolution means finishing legal personality of a legal entity. Company closes down in the day of its erasure from Commercial Register. Bankruptcy or composition intention is to arrange property situation of debtor, who is in a state of bankruptcy. According to the law, there are two forms of bankruptcy: bankruptcy debtor has more creditors and does not meet his payable obligations until 30 days after their maturity bankruptcy debtor has more creditors and is in delay; debtor is in delay, when his obligations are higher than his property. After 60 days of continuous delay debtor has a commitment to propose the bankruptcy according to 66 of Bankruptcy law. Starting condition for bankrupt or compensation proceedings is debtor s bankruptcy. Proceeding can start on bankruptcy court. Basic principle of Bankruptcy law is, that no creditor in bankruptcy trial has privileged status and prospective advantages.

31 Conclusions The legislative framework is fully harmonised with the EU legislation, however legal uncertainty and problematic enforcement of law, intransparent and frequently changing legislation that intensifies the standard disadvantage of SMEs represent the large administrative burden. Non-functional capital market that rather negatively impacts upon the development of businesses as capital financing represents one of its traditional tools. In the face of non-functioning capital market, and because of the already mentioned limited access of SMEs to resources, SMEs remain to exclusively rely with respect to the financing of their development on their own accumulated resources. Innovation financing schemes are still scarce. Venture capital funds tend to favour large initiatives or development phase investment, rather than the seed capital needed by start-ups. Guarantee funds, though not exclusively for innovation or R&D investments, exist.

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