Brussels, 7th February 2008
Enterprise Europe Network builds on the strengths of the previous Euro Info Centre and the Innovation Relay Centre networks. These previously separately organised networks forced would-be clients to go to different addresses and follow separate administrative procedures. With the new network business receives ‘Business Support on Your Doorstep’, as the slogan suggests. The ‘No wrong door’ principle will apply for the whole network and for each network partner. All SMEs will receive information and a personalised service tailored to their needs, from every organisation in the new network. By grouping the services under a single roof, it is possible to reduce bureaucracy and enable all the major players in the business support community to offer their expertise alongside one another.
The Enterprise Europe Network offers entrepreneurs a one stop shop where they can seek advice and benefit from a wide range of easily accessible business support services:
1. Grasping opportunities in the single market
Small businesses, especially in their early stages, often do not have the resources to closely monitor the many different kinds of assistance EU programmes can provide. Nor are they always able to fully assess the innovative and market potential of their products or explore new business opportunities, particularly outside the areas they know well. The Enterprise Europe Network bridges this gap. The network aims to overcome this knowledge gap and ensure companies, either individually or in consortia, are aware of the possibilities available.
2. Innovation and new products
Technological breakthroughs are crucial to local economic development across Europe. Therefore, the network attaches special attention to encouraging the knowledge community. Innovative processes do not only enable companies to develop new goods and services and reduce costs by improving production techniques, they can also contribute towards energy efficiency – a priority which has risen rapidly up the EU’s agenda. The network services:
3. Cross-border cooperation and going international
Fewer than one in ten SMEs do business outside their own country, despite the abolition of national barriers and the opportunities firms with comparative advantages can find in niche markets. By using established contact points, the network can provide specialised advice for companies wishing to expand their operations abroad – not just within the EU, but also further afield.
Organising business cooperation among SMEs
An estimated one million European SMEs could be involved in cross-border trade and investment, if only they could call on the appropriate support services. The network will organise one-to-one match making meetings for technology transfer and business partnership to help identify trustworthy partners. All requests are treated in confidence. Basic details of would-be link-ups are stored in a business cooperation database. These are widely circulated and easily accessible.
Sharing the results of research
Sharing the results of research can trigger new ideas and new opportunities, stimulating firms to develop beyond their initial horizons. The network can help develop these exchanges and nurture potential partnerships. It can help clients in their search for business partners, especially in countries other than their own, arrange individual on-site visits to assess a company’s needs and provide advice on a broad range of business issues.
4. Accessing EU projects and funding
The Enterprise Europe Network aims to overcome the knowledge gap regarding different sources of EU financing and ensure companies are aware of the possibilities available.
5. Providing feedback
The Commission will use the network to receive regular feedback from companies to ensure that the policies and initiatives it prepares suit their requirements and will not lead to unnecessary bureaucracy that could harm their competitiveness and innovation potential.
Annually, it is expected to:
More information on the new network
List of local Enterprise Europe partners in EU and beyond