While the EIS Project is still in the Peer Review phase, several Best Practices have already been identified and reviewed by the partners. In this article, we bring you examples of this from the region of Central Denmark as well as an explanation from EIS partner Michael Tunney from the region of Donegal in Ireland on why Best Practices are crucial for Europe.

Screening of growth potential - EIS Best Practice #1

Not all companies have the same potential for growth. Their ability and willingness to create new jobs and increase turnover and export can vary, and screening this potential ensures the best match between the SME and the services offered. Therefore, the “Screening of growth potential-programme” rates the companies and categories them as either A, B or C, corresponding to their potential in the following criteria:

  • Growth ambition 
  • Scalability 
  • Organisational capacity
  • International market potential
  • Funding Use of new technology
  • Potential as role model 

In 2016, 1,246 Central Danish SMEs were screened and the results were impressive: one year after participation, they had gained 32 million € in additional turnover in exports and 83 million € in additional turnover all in all. 

Programme for SMEs with high international potential - EIS Best Practice #2

To ensure that the maximum potential is met with the maximum level of ambitious service, the Central Denmark Region has a very intense programme designed for SMEs with the highest level of international growth potential, where the rate of success is very high. The programme runs for 8-12 months and includes preparations, collective  workshops and individual hours with consultants.

The collective workshops with other high potential SMEs are a great basis for networking and inspiration. The SMEs receive guidance in developing an export strategy and selecting markets and on how to implement their strategy. Like EIS, this programme is still in its early phase, but the expectations for outputs are high, both regarding export, turnover and jobs.

Export mentor programme - EIS Best Practice #3

Many SMEs have little or no experience with export and therefore not enough competences in the area. The region of Central Denmark meets this demand by providing SMEs with an export mentor, who can help the company internationalise in a more structured manner. Not all SMEs think about the necessity of internal skills in order to have success with export activities, so having an export mentor can make all the difference.

The mentor counsels the directors, department managers and export managers of the companies, and the advice is fundamental to the success in export and other international activities. The service is easy to set up, although building a corps of competent mentors can take time.

Why is internationalisation crucial for Europe? – an interview with Michael Tunney, Donegal Local Enterprise Office in Ireland

What does a region gain from identifying its Best Practices and being presented with those from other regions during the EIS meetings? Quite a bit, if you ask Michael Tunney from the Donegal Local Enterprise Office in Ireland:

“The EIS project is a significant opportunity to review our current actions in support of our client businesses. And more importantly, to learn how other regions throughout Europe work with and assist similar local businesses in their area to internationalise.”

In the picture: Michael Tunney, Local Enterprise Office, Donegal

Solving the key issue: Lack of co-operation

A common issue across the regions is the difficulty in getting the many enterprise support agencies to work collaboratively for the benefit of their client businesses. According to Michael Tunney, the lack of an identified agency with responsibility for ensuring integration and collaboration seems to be the key challenge. From the point of regional policy, this is a key issue that needs to be highlighted and addressed.

Same tools, many uses

Many of the approaches to assist SMEs in internationalising are similar and sharing the tools used in these processes help each region improve their own approach where possible. By participating in EIS, Michael Tunney hopes to significantly enhance the capability among all the project partners, so they can help each other increase the number of SMEs exporting and internationalising, and add to their local economies:

 “We are very excited about the possibility of developing a programme through this enhanced shared learning that we could then offer to a cohort of suitable, local businesses in Donegal, and possibly linking these with similar businesses in the partner regions before the end of the program."

So, as we stated in the beginning of this article, even though EIS is still in the Peer Review phase, the partners have already identified and reviewed several Best Practices. Much has been learned already, and the project partners are looking forward to accomplishing even more in the second phase of the project.