Going International: Understanding the EEN

In late 2018 I caught up with Gabriella Cox who was, until late 2018 the Enterprise Europe Network Sector Lead for Creative & Digital. Since then, she has moved on to join the Defence and Security Accelerator.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be useful to share the insights that I gained from an hour spent with the very experienced and knowledgeable Gabriella.

What is the EEN?

For the uninitiated, the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is the Worlds’ largest business support network, it brings together 600 partner organisations in more than 60 countries. EEN offer a local route to free, tailored support and advice to help your business innovate and grow internationally, faster. They have four sector leaders in the region each with a responsibility to provide advisory services, innovation mentoring and to broker partnerships. These individuals focus on Bio-Medical/Health & Life sciences, Creative & Digital, Advanced Manufacturing & Maritime and Environment and Agriculture.

EEN connects innovators with manufacturers, distributors, co-developers and suppliers overseas. Their experts advise those looking to commercialise new ideas and succeed in new markets.

In the international network there are 3000 local experts spread over 600 locations and working full time hosted within a variety of organisations ranging from Universities and research institutes, Regional Development Agencies, Chambers of Commerce etc.

This means that through their local sector leads, companies can access expertise and support through the Network across the globe. Local SMEs from our region already do business in dozens of countries by utilizing the support from the EEB and benefit from privileged access to information on the ground.

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How can you benefit from the EEN?

If you are actively looking to cooperate and work internationally, the easiest way to benefit from this support is to make yourself known to the local EEN sector lead relevant to your company. Once you have shared your partnering needs and they have been identified and evaluated, the actual partnering process begins. You can check the online portal to see whether there are already opportunities that match your interested. If not, you can add a profile to the website as a cooperation request or offer with details of what you hope to achieve. This published profile will then be shared internationally and sector leads and network partners around the world will endeavour to find a positive response. Once a potential collaborator from around the world has been found who matches the requirements of a specific profile, they will make an expression of interest in order to explore the collaboration further.

How have others benefitted before you?

Some examples of the kind of matches and support that has been delivered through the portal are as follows:

West Coast Nutrition based in the South West, manufacturers complete whole food meal solutions for sports professionals, elite athletes and the general health and fitness industry. The company was keen to increase international sales of the product range and sought distributors with established channels in various international markets. They contacted the EENSW team for support with identifying opportunities and promoting their products to new markets. Advisers prepared a commercial profile and published it on the network database.

A company from Mallorca specialising in importing and distributing Ready Made Dishes from around the globe were keen to expand their range of high protein meals aimed at sport enthusiasts. They saw the profile and made an expression of interest via their local EEN team. Following introductions by both EEN teams, the companies entered discussions and as a result an agreement was reached and orders made.

The South West team continue to provide ongoing bespoke support to the company which includes but is not limited to regular searches of the database and alerting them to innovation opportunities.

Get in contact with the South West England EEN team here: eensw@businesswest.co.uk

*This blog is written by Briony Phillips, Scale up Enabler for the West of England as part of her work to help inform and support fast growth companies in the region. If you’d like to know more about her work, please explore the website she’s put together: www.Scaleupgenerator.co.uk *