Steered by the European Commission, the Enterprise Europe Network is helping SMEs realise innovations, create new business partnerships and access finance. With a network of more than 600 partners active across 54 countries, Europe’s SMEs can explore their global potential without leaving home.
Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network, a Portuguese enterprise partnered with a surgeon 2 000 km away to launch a medical device in the Czech Republic. A trio of visionary companies teamed up to jump-start the new ‘green’ building boom, and a Polish fish farmer struck a supply deal with a German grocery store chain.
As a one-stop shop for small businesses, the Network provides a gateway to new markets and information on EU funding and financial support. By fostering new technical and business partnerships, it is turning today’s dreamers into tomorrow’s success stories.
Created in 2008, the Network is constantly growing and evolving to meet small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) needs. It will become even more important in the coming years as a key component of the Competitiveness and SME programme (COSME). COSME, after all, is designed to increase SMEs’ access to European and international markets and provide support services. Having the Network in place will ensure that SMEs have the financial and networking tools they need.
The Network already helps more than two million SMEs tap into business opportunities each year. Danish entrepreneur Poul Jessen, for example, turned to the Network when searching for a final partner to add to a consortium looking to measure contaminants in air systems. Soon he was connected with the ideal company in Germany to add to his bid, and he subsequently raised €55 million in European research funding.
The Network’s capacity is growing thanks to support from around 600 partner organisations active in more than 50 countries – including all 28 EU Member States, candidate countries, EEA countries and major economic areas such as China and the United States. Partner organisations include chambers of commerce, innovation agencies and technology centres at universities, which specialise in business support, generally with strong links with SMEs.
Nearly 250 000 companies receive specialised advisory services from the Network each year, especially in the areas of community financing and funding; intellectual property rights (IPR); and business or technology reviews. Every year, the Network advertises roughly 15 000 proposals for partnerships, and secures 2 500 formal partnership agreements for SMEs.
Easy access to international markets
The Network is designed not only for European SMEs hoping to exploit opportunities in the Single Market, but also in third countries. Through the Network’s Business Cooperation and Technology Transfer Database, which contains thousands of company profiles, SMEs can find competent and trustworthy partners around the globe.
In addition to offering opportunities to internationalise and connect with global business partners, the Network encourages SMEs to participate in EU research programmes and helps them apply for funding, particularly from Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
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