Author: Julio Carreras Llisterri
Section: Best practice
World’s largest support network for SMEs in Europe
Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is the world’s largest support Network for SMEs. Covering more than 60 countries, including 600 organizations and 3.000 experts, EEN combines international business expertise with local knowledge to take your innovation into new markets.
Funded by the European Union, EEN helps ambitious SMEs innovate and grow internationally by offering a range of targeted services: finding partnerships, giving advice and support, organising events and offering a marketplace. It combines international business expertise with local knowledge.
Partnerships: EEN helps businesses grow through tailored support and new partnerships. They also advise on how to find partners to apply for EU-funded joint research projects. EEN manages Europe’s largest database of business opportunities. Advise and support: EEN advises on market opportunities to help small businesses expand internationally and provide innovation support services to shape ideas into commercial success. Events: EEN also organizes regular activities such as commercial and technological brokerage events and brokerage events related to EU funding. They also organize company missions, promote partnership profiles and more. Marketplace: EEN’s marketplace is publicly available. It can be useful if you search for technology- and research cooperation.
EEN runs an extnensive EU wide program of events for example in 2016 20 brokerage events have taken place to date with events at Alimentaria, Polagra, Foodmatch, Fruit Logistica, AgroB2B@NSFair to name a few. Ten commercial and technological company missions have taken palce across Europe in cooperation with Bio Horizon and other EU projects, creating a Partnership profiles catalogue with more than 1.000 profiles in 2016 alone.
EEN offers specialised industry expertise via 17 Sector Groups which provide indepth, sectorally focused expertise and support to create the enabling conditions companies’ require to compete and grow. sector group representatives are expertly informed and connected within their regions with specific expertise and remit to support the Agrifood sector. A Sector group is a group of EEN Network partners who commit to work together to meet the specific necessities of their clients operating in a particular sector.
EEN’s Agrofood Sector Group is composed by 82 members from 28 different countries, which means a strong geographic coverage. The Agrofood Sector Group has strong synergies with other Sector Groups such as Biotech, Tourism, Intelligent Energy, Environment, ICT and others.
Visit http://een.ec.europa.eu/about/sector-groups/agrofood or http://een.ec.europa.eu and contact your regional representative to see how EEN can help you. If there is no Sector Group representative in your region, contact your local Enterprise Europe Network branch. For institutional collaboration requests, you can contact the Sector Group coordinator.
Read further for an example on how EEN helped a company
Founded in 1906, Hijos de Rivera produces a million hectolitres beer a year using hops from Germany and other parts of Spain. Years ago, the brewer had imported hops flowers from the Czech Republic. "Czech hops are very aromatic, which is preferred over more bitter varieties," says brewmaster Olmedo. They sought a more practical way of getting its hands on the coveted ingredient: growing the plant at home in northwestern Spain. However, without any contacts on the ground, finding a supplier at an affordable price was impossible.
The firm turned to EEN, who is adept at helping companies finding contacts abroad. An EEN expert in Galicia who happens to be a Czech national, began by helping to formalise its request for EEN’s powerful matchmaking database. She also got directly in touch with an EEN colleague in the Czech Republic, who made a cold call to the Hops Research Institute. The response was enthusiastic.
After putting Olmedo in touch with the Institute and both sides agreed to talk, EEN experts assisted throughout the negotiations, from translations to giving advice on drafting a collaboration agreement to administrative support.
A few weeks later, the brewery and the institute clinked glasses to toast a technology transfer agreement signed with the EEN’s help. Since then the institute has sent several varieties of hops plants to Spain for testing, which is still in progress until Hijos de Rivera finds the perfect ingredient to expand its portfolio.
"Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network we should be able to revive our traditional beer recipe," says brewmaster Olmedo.