The Export Development Program (EPD) brings student to SME's to help create new business abroad.
EPD is a collaboration between Saxion University of Applied Sciences and the province of Overijssel to support SME's in their international business and bring the best talent of Saxion to the SME's in Overijssel.
In the program, a talented student will graduate over the course of five months on an international business issue at a company in Overijssel. Subsequently, this graduate will carry out his or her recommendations proposed in the research for 6 months as a trainee with the company. This trainee phase can wholly or partly take place abroad, for example at a branch or agent or in cooperation with a partner.
During the graduation project, the student will be supervised by a graduation supervisor from Saxion and will be mentored by an experienced export manager from an external company.
In this way, the company is given a high potential in the field of international business for one year. Experience shows that this professional is offered an employment contract after the traineeship. In this way, highly educated students for internationally operating SME's in Overijssel are retained.

Resources needed

In order to start such a program, a collaboration with a local university is needed. They will have to execute the program and recruit the students. The role of government is to provide funding and spread the word about the program among SME's. Costs where 1000 euros per student.

Evidence of success

In Overijssel we started with goal to get 10 matches between students and SME's in 2019. We succesfully matched 11 students in 2019. Other indicators of succes are: the high stay rate of the trainees at the SME's during their traineeship and more SME's interested than there are students to offer. Eighty per cent of companies evaluates the program as 'very usefull and necessary to take the next steps in international business'.

Difficulties encountered

It was a challenge to find students that meet the expectations and requirements of the SME's. The role of the university is to make a good selection in the applicants for the traineeship to ensure high quaility delivered to the SME's during the traineeship.

Potential for learning or transfer

The potential for transfer is high, this program can be copied anywhere with internationally active SME's and a large enough University with International Business in its curriculum. The real potential is that SME's who participate get a different and fresh look on their international business potential. Also the university, through the trainees, obtains a much more accurate picture of where students will work afther their studies and can adjust the curriculum to better suit the needs of regional SME's. We believe this is a practice that is basically transferable to any region because the factors to succeed are not specific to Overijssel but can be found in most regions in Europe.

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Main institution
Saxion University of Applied Sciences
Overijssel, Netherlands (Nederland)
Start Date
October 2017
End Date


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