PIPE was a 2-year program to create an export culture and increase the number of export SMEs
The Central government came out with a new program to support small companies. Backed up with a detailed methodology the program worked to implement a cultural change and export mind-set right across all areas and departments of the company. Delivered in three stages, critical elements of the support package include:
(1) Up to 2 years plus of comprehensive ongoing support with access to a wide range of services, high level expert support across all stages of exporting.
(2)Collaboration with agencies and professionals involved in the export process
(3) Financial support.
The 24 month program provided technical expertise and supported in three phases:
• STEP 1 Diagnosis of the company’s competitive position and its export potential assisted by specialist Tutor support
• STEP 2 Design of an Export Plan, supported by experienced consultants
• STEP 3 Implementation of the Plan, supported by consultants and a substantial package of expert support. Companies were also offered the option of a Junior Export Manager to help them implement their Export strategy. Main beneficiaries were:
• SMEs with own products and services
With an original budget of €3M, funding came from a range of sources; FEDER (Chambers of Commerce) 49%, ICEX (National Export Agency) 11% and EXENDA (the Regional Agency) 10%. SME contribution to program costs has increased from 20% to 30%.
Evidence of success
PIPE was the 1st state program specifically aimed at Spanish SMEs wanting to increase trade opportunities through export. It helped 8,000 companies export their goods and services contributing 17% of Spain’s exports. 87% of the participants are now exporting. Further results:
• 247 % export volume increase (PIPE business) vs 92 % (no PIPE)
• 20% of the sales are export
• 66% of the participants have an export department
• 75% increase staff in international depart
• 50 % increase in result
Key learning points: some companies needed more time to move to export phase of their plan; they were not ready or were not yet exporting on completion of the program. Extended support now made available as a result (i.e. the PIPE Follow-Up Program), helped companies beyond the 2 years allocated.
Potential for learning or transfer
Eligible expenses included research, promotional materials, promotional opportunities; travel, fairs and advertising, trademarks and patents in addition to expert technical support. Companies paid the total value of their package in advance, claiming grants as they progress through the program. A co-financing package set up with financial institutions enable SMEs to access the funds required.
PIPE is a comprehensive program with a detailed systems methodology which includes the program itself, recruitment, selection and training of tutors and consultants, through to IT systems and the technical knowledge and expertise needed. All these features and the program itself are considered easily transferable to other regions.