Regional co-financing of yearly promotional projects submitted by Internationalisation Consortia for penetrating foreign target markets by member SMEs
Internationalisation Consortia are a means to overcome the problems SME's are facing when going international, especially their tiny dimension, weak investment capacity and lack of specialized staff: a number of reasons therefore explains why Consortia are successful in overcoming barriers faced by single SMEs: shared governance, i.e. SMEs decide together multiannual common projects and annual priorities and they share information, costs, capabilities, opportunities and results; skilled and experienced staff is employed by the Consortia in strategic and operative international marketing; by relying on an autonomous balance and resources, supplementary investment capacity is available. In brief, the consortium has the advantage of reducing both the risks and the time for a SME to enter in a foreign market, by sharing know-how, information, experiences, investment and costs. Consortia ensure that SMEs participate to foreign experiences, i.e.: b2b, outgoing and incoming missions, exhibitions, international events. Each Consortium specialises in a particular sector across several markets: Europe, Eastern area, North and South America, Japan, China, India, South Africa. Beneficiaries are actually Consortia's members, in most cases micro companies. Stakeholders are entrepreneurial organisations which originally promoted the setup of consortia as a way to provide their member companies with specialised services.
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
Consortia are a good way to share international experiences, the costs of the internationalization process, and to grow together on foreign markets, while maintaining the identity of every single company. Often they represent the best way in which small and medium sized companies can afford the costs and risks of entering a foreign market. Consortia have increased SMEs export rate, diversified their destination markets.
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
The experience of export/internationalisation Consortia has a high level of replicability, both for its organizational model and for the internationalisation method tailored on the needs of SME’s. Promotional programs developed by Consortia follow market trends and, in this meaning, they produce continuous innovation.