Hampshire hosts first EIS project extension workshop late April

The Interreg Europe Everywhere International SMEs one year extension project delivered its first of three workshops at the end of April on how digital has assisted internationalising SMEs and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) during the pandemic. After seven online meetings, the workshop provided the opportunity for the seven regional partners to finally meet again in person and share information and case studies of SMEs from their region adopting digital procedures to overcome the impact of Covid-19. Hosted on day one by Hampshire County Council in Winchester, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Ross McNally provided a keynote speech on how Hampshire businesses had faced up to the twin challenge of the pandemic and the exporting changes to trading with the EU brought about by Brexit.

An analysis of the EIS survey conducted over the winter 2021/22 and which yielded 147 responses from SMEs and BSOs across Europe provided material for a group discussion leading to a six page paper detailing our survey findings and which can be accessed on the EIS project homepage.

A study visit to the internationally successful Bombay Sapphire distillery was the highlight of the afternoon programme. Rounding off day one, Hampshire County Councillor Andrew Joy formally welcomed the delegation from six EU countries at the official dinner and stressed the importance of continued international contacts as we all recover from the pandemic and the UK adjusts to life on the outside of the EU.

On day two, Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership and WSX Enterprise organised a visit to the Surrey Research Park and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. Presentations on resilience and recovering from the pandemic were provided by Professors Gibson and Rogoyski from the University of Surrey.

A second EIS workshop will be held in Alentejo, Portugal on 24-25 May focusing on disruption to international supply chains caused by Covid-19 and the project concludes with a final workshop in Aarhus, Central Denmark region at the end of June looking at the resilience of the business support eco-system. EIS partners have been especially grateful to Interreg Europe for this additional opportunity to work together on SME competitiveness as regions finalise their Structural Funds Operational Programmes targeting growth out of the pandemic.