UPGRADESME – Internationalisation as the driver of competitiveness: International project meeting in Stuttgart

The UpGradeSME interregional project meeting welcomed over 20 project partners and representatives of national Ministries and regional Leaders in Stuttgart to exchange information on the improvement of existing internationalization tools and programs. UpGradeSME - Improving policy instruments supporting innovative SME performance – target is to improve the existing national and regional programs in order to enable the direct beneficiaries – SMEs – to start and improve their export activities and to become competitive on the global market.

(3rd April 2017) – The project partners and stakeholders of the Interreg Europe project UpGradeSME are from the administrative centres, business agencies, Ministries and Municipalities of the regions of West-Transdanubia (HU), Central Hungary (HU), South Muntenia (RO), Baden-Württemberg (DE), Friesland (NL), Norte (PT) and Pais Vasco (ESP). They represent actions and programmes from the area of SME internationalization and know-how transfer which will boost the local economy and the competitiveness by strengthening the export ability of small and medium sized companies.

During the international event the involved partners took part in an intensive work shop to go on with the analysis of local policy instruments. By reviewing the very differing policy tools the partners tried to find solutions to open questions in cooperation with actors coming from different policy cultures and economic character.

Policy METHODOLOGY, IMPACT, COMMUNICATION and INTEGRATION are the 4 leading topics along which UpGradeSME participants analyse the policy instruments and search good examples dealing with SME internationalization.

Parallel to this work shop the Managing Authorities were invited to take part in the Open Innovation Congress organized by the host Steinbeis Europa Zentrum. The event made possible for the Authorities to exchange views about SME development. Over 300 actors took part on the event.

On the 2nd day of the interregional event the international delegation visited in frame of a study tour two examples to give a better understanding to the German SME supporting program. First, the group met Edgar Grundstein and Professor van der List from TZM GmbH in Göppingen. TZM is one of the 1000 Steinbeis units and provides first-class engineering services to companies in the automotive, medical and automation industries. Applying the Steinbeis Model of Technology Transfer, TZM started to use the laboratories of the University of Applied Sciences in Esslingen in 1991 to support SMEs in sales and marketing activities. The concentration of know-how and lively exchange with research facilities ensure the decisive technological advancement and make TZM one of the most successful company of the Steinbeis Foundation.

Back in the premises of the Steinbeis Foundation in Stuttgart, SEZ invited Dr. Marlene Gottwald from the Ferdinand-Steinbeis-Institut (FSTI) for digitization and networking. Dr. Gottwald presented the institute which is also part of the international Steinbeis network. In the context of Industry 4.0, the FSTI addresses the changes in the industrial ecosystem and value added resulting from the increasing merging of physical objects and embedded IT systems in conjunction with comprehensive Internet-based networking.   

The next project meeting takes place in October in Romania where the analysis of the policy instruments will go on and interesting site visits will widen the horizon of the participants.

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