Empowerment of SMEs for participation at international B2B events through EEN activities.
In past 2 years EEN Slovenian Consortium partner Maribor Development Agency organised 3 international B2B events in Slovenia and co-organised 43 events in different EU countries with participation of 231 Slovene SMEs. Almost all events have been combined with international fairs.
Organisation of B2B events with international participation of SMEs is usually challenging, as the most of them do not have the HR capacity to participate at international events. In order to empower SMEs for international business fairs, the following services have been provided:
- training SMEs for participation at B2B events ,
- coaching SME,
- use of external experts to find additional contacts for participating foreign SMEs,
- virtual meetings/Skype conferences,
- representing SMEs on foreign B2B events.
Activities are based on the networking model with regional stakeholders (Regional Chamber of commerce and industry, Regional Chamber of craft, technology park) where a cooperation agreement between stakeholders has been signed, regular meetings are organised (on quarterly basis) and planning of internationalisation activities is done for 6 monthly periods. For successful implementation of activities standardised procedures have been defined and the MRA staff was adequately trained.
A work group of 5 employees is organising B2B events. Activities start 4 months before a B2B event with 1 person working permanently and others part time. Staff costs are € 28.000. Material costs (venue, promotion, other external costs) are app. € 9.000.
Evidence of success
With the introduction of additional services for B2B events the number of participants raised for nearly 30% (51 participants in 2014, 66 participants in 2017) and the number is continuously increasing. A positive impact is also evident through satisfactory interviews with participants and success rate of new business partnerships.
Through standardised procedures and well-trained staff, the amount of work on the project decreased by 20% and thus lowered the staff costs.
Potential for learning or transfer
This GP is part of the European Enterprise Network activities. Organisational procedures are the result of multiannual work of MRA on organisation of B2B events. The know-how and standardised procedures in organisation of events are transferable and can be transformed by training courses and mentoring services to institution - newcomers in the area of B2B events on local or international level.
In particularly complementary services for SMEs participation at B2B events, coaching of them, use of external expert, virtual meetings/Skype conferences, representing SMEs on foreign B2B events are potential topic for the tranfer to less experienced partner institutions as their offer is not always present at international B2B events.
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