One of the companies that has benefitted greatly from an internationalisation programme targeting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is the world-class screen protection company PanzerGlass. In 2016, the Danish based SME wanted to internationalise but had no experience in the area. PanzerGlass participated in the Export and Internationalisation Programme, which is one of the Best Practices identified in the Everywhere International SMEs (EIS) project from the region of Central Denmark.

The Export and Internationalisation Programme – aiming for SME competitiveness on a global scale

Like the EIS project, Central Denmark believes that the regions offering the best conditions for business growth will be the winners in tomorrow’s competitive global market, and the Export and Internalisation Programme is part of an initiative to make Central Danish SMEs globally competitive. It gives SMEs the opportunity to participate in a number of export and internationalisation activities, such as potential screening and export consultancy.

The faster, the better

Today, PanzerGlass holds local offices in Hong Kong, Dubai, Brazil, China, the US, South Africa, Turkey, Germany and Australia. According to Kristian Kolding, PanzerGlass Executive Assistant to the CEO, the company would be nowhere near as international today without the help of the Export and Internationalisation Programme:

“The help we received from the programme was vital for us. It saved tremendous amounts of time, which is money in an internationalisation process. The faster you can do it, the better.”

Programme crucial to success

The Export and Internationalisation Programme establishes contact between an SME and consultants relevant for the company. In the case of PanzerGlass, the most relevant consultants were experts from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They helped with the legal matters of setting up a company in another country, with screening the costumers of the new market and with finding distributors.

“Internationalising can be a tough job, and just opening up a bank account in a foreign country is so bureaucratic it can make you crazy. The course of starting up in a new market was much more effective with the help from the programme. It helped us optimise the process, so we were able to set up in several new countries in 2016-2017 instead of having to focus on one at the time," explains Kristian Kolding.

PanzerGlass began its internationalisation process by setting up an associated company in Dubai, and then continued to expand from there with help from consultants specialised in each specific country. According to Kristian Kolding, this helps save invaluable time:

“Maturing the market takes time. It can take up to a year to make a sale. Considering this, the fact that the programme saved us between 6 and 12 months in the process was crucial to our success abroad.”

Consultancy was priceless

The Export and Internationalisation Programme grants SMEs a certain amount of consultant hours for which the company only has to pay half the fee. Especially setting up an office in Brazil proved challenging.

“The bureaucracy was beyond comprehension, so a consultant who understood the system was a must. The market is very different, especially when it comes to screen protection. There is a lot of generic, non-brand screen protection available there, we had to take into consideration a completely different market culture. The advice was priceless in this regard,” says Kristian Kolding.

“The programme is extremely beneficial”

Time is always of the essence when it comes to internationalisation, and the time-saving efforts of the Export and Internationalisation programme gives SMEs a boost where it is most needed. It requires a lot from a company to dedicate the sufficient amount of resources to successfully expand abroad, but letting this hinder or slow down the process can have serious consequences for a small firm:

In the picture: Kristian Kolding, Executive Assianst to the CEO, PanzerGlass

“If we hadn’t done it, someone else would have, and then they would have become leading in the field instead of us. It is important to be the first, so a programme that makes this easier is extremely beneficial,” says Kristian Kolding.