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Brussels, 7th February 2008

Enterprise Europe Network, one stop shop for business and innovation support services

With more than 500 contact points and almost 4,000 experienced staff, Enterprise Europe Network is the largest network in Europe providing expertise and services for business. These are available to companies of all sizes irrespective of whether they are in manufacturing or services, although they are primarily directed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Enterprise Europe Network consists of research institutes, universities, technology centres and business and innovation development agencies and 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. A well-proven database enables different contact points to remain constantly in touch with each other and to pool partnership offers and requests.

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:

  • Help small businesses with technical issues, such as intellectual property rights, standards and EU legislation, as it can be difficult for companies to remain abreast of changes in EU related opportunities.
  • Promoting innovation: The network encourages SMEs to become more innovative as sharing the results of research can trigger new ideas/opportunities. Amongst other, collaboration with clusters bundling different innovation related activities will be improved. Ensuring access to innovative technology will help SMEs face global competition.
  • SMEs will be encouraged to participate in research programmes and apply for funding.

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.

Some statistics

  • Some 500 organisations, including chambers of commerce, regional development agencies and university technology centres,
  • Approximately 4,000 experienced professionals,
  • Operations in almost 40 European countries.

Annually, it is expected to:

  • Perform 50,000 technology audits,
  • Document 1,000 technology partnerships,
  • Organise 4,000 local events and workshops on SME-related topics.

More information on the new network

List of local Enterprise Europe partners in EU and beyond

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