Joint report: Making it easier to start a business
In the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, ambitious work is underway to simplify starting a business using digital services in the public sector. In a joint report, the National Audit Offices now find that much work remains before the objectives can be achieved and that there are common Nordic challenges for digital services for entrepreneurs.
The National Audit Offices of the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have carried out parallel reviews of digital support for entrepreneurs. The restaurant industry was chosen as a case study, since it is a heavily regulated growth industry, requiring extensive government and municipal contacts at the start up stage.
Despite the wide availability of digital information as well as e-guides in Finland, Norway and Sweden, it can still be a challenge for entrepreneurs to obtain an overall picture of what is required for starting a business.
E-services for registering a business are available in Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Most, but far from all, entrepreneurs use e-services rather than paper applications when e-services are available.
The areas that are most in need of further development vary between countries - from the need to introduce e-services for business registration to more sophisticated interactive solutions or pre-filled forms with personal information.
The availability of e-services and the quality of digital information can vary significantly in municipalities and regions, which means that entrepreneurs’ experiences of application processes also vary considerably.
More user-friendly e-services can decrease the number of incorrect applications, resulting in shorter case processing times and earlier start of business.
While all government agencies and municipalities that were included in the national audits have digital case handling systems within the process of starting a business, there are frequent examples where manual steps are necessary and where the workflow is less efficient.
While digital case handling systems have increased efficiency, there is still a potential in introducing (additional) e-services, automated processes and by developing solutions that allow for information sharing between public agencies.
Legacy systems have been identified as a challenge in several of the participating countries.
Several of the initiatives and projects for simplifying the process of starting a business are the result of co-operation and collaboration between government agencies and/or municipalities.
When reviewing the initiatives, the national audits have identified several challenges related to shared ownership, funding and the development and implementation of joint digital solutions.
Furthermore, the national audits have also identified areas where collaboration and joint initiatives are lacking. A recurring theme in the national audits is the lack of flow of information between governmental agencies, as well as between governmental agencies and municipalities.
National reports are published in the following countries: