Regional co-financing of yearly promotional projects submitted by Internationalisation Consortia for penetrating foreign target markets by member SMEs
Emilia-Romagna has been providing co-financing to the activities of export consortia since the Regional Programme for Productive Activities (RPPA) 2003 - 2005, through dedicated call for proposals. Applicants are required to submit specific projects for export promotion on selected markets. Since 2013, this call was framed into measure 4.2 of RPPA 2013 - 2015 and adjusted to take into account modifications introduced to the national law on export consortia, which have become internationalisation consortia. Each Consortium operates using a multiannual program broken down into annual specific projects: this allows making annual adjustments to unforeseen events on the target market. Usually the annual project covers different actions in order to meet needs of the companies involved. It isn’t necessary that SMEs adhering to a consortium participate to all activities, nor that the all companies participate to the same action. The Consortium ensures companies participation in b2b, outgoing and incoming missions, exhibitions, international events. This usually brings wide foreign relationships that are useful for companies or for the consortium or both. It can happen, for example, that the Consortium is called for a conference to explain what is it does and what and who it represents; but also it can happen that a single company has market opportunities that it is worth developing with other companies, especially if it is about a new market.
About 2 million euro/year were used to co-finance 18 promotional projects in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Amount of co-financing: 40% of eligible costs, from 30,000 up to 150,000 euro per promotional project/consortium.
Evidence of success
The Consortia have lasted over time: the oldest is more than 30 years old. They changed members and governance, programs, players, but they proved to be valuable tools for SMEs over the years.
From 2014 to 2016: 52 projects submitted by as many consortia and approved. Total amount of eligible expenses: 22,951,340. Regional contribution: 5,857,671 (25.5%)
Challenges: balance between cooperation (sharing information, collective promotional actions/investments) & competition (SMEs offering similar products are not eager to share projects with potential competitors); balance between collective VS individual support; decrease of public financial support
Potential for learning or transfer
"Union is strenght".
The experience of export/internationalisation Consortia has a high level of replicability, both for its organizational model and for the internationalisation method tailored on SME’s needs. Promotional programs developed by Consortia follow market trends producing continuous innovation. The model of Consortium is simple both to explain and to study, and it is usually considered extremely fascinating for people and institutions that are interested in. Consortia is a mean to develop international relationship with institutions, associations, and other networks of companies and could easily be transformed in b2b international relationships. Costs for the internationalization process and growth on foreign markets are shared among SMEs while maintaining own identities.