Checks for internationalization are for companies to prepare for internationalization and increase the proportion of companies that export their services/goods.
It might be a large step for SMEs to enter the international market. Checks for internationalization were developed by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth together with the regions in Sweden, to give SMEs the opportunity to bring in external expertise to prepare for internationalization. This may, for example, involve surveys or consulting services that are needed to launch a product on a new market in another country.
Each region applies for funding from the Swedish Agency for Regional Growth to work with business checks. At the start the project belonged to Värmland County Administrative Board, but since January 1st 2019 it is owned by Region Värmland but the organizations keep a close collaboration. The checks aim at companies that intended to grow, has 2-49 employees and a turnover of at least 3 million SEK. The companies apply for a check from 50 000-250 000 SEK (app. 5000-25000 EUR) and the grant cannot cover more than 50 % of the total cost of the internationalization project within the company. The project should be a maximum of 12 months.
One of the main goals of the checks is to increase the proportion of companies in our region that export their services / goods to other parts of the world. The check can for example be used for the following:
- Write a strategy for internationalization
- Market research
- Seek suppliers abroad
- Investigate issues of insurance, contracts and legislation
The project consists of 4 persons from two organizations. The project leader needs about 10-15% of full time during a year, the 3 other less than 10%.
Evidence of success
The official results of the practice are coming in 1-2 year after the end of the project, but different consultancy companies have made studies. During 2017 six companies were granted business checks for internationalization, of which five completed. More and more SMEs are now experiencing increased sales due to these efforts.
One difficulty that was experienced during the practice was to get companies to send in their applications for the checks in time. We therefore had to impose strict time limits.
Another difficulty was that companies with less than 3 employees, which are in an expansive phase, could not be includ
Potential for learning or transfer
The Checks for internationalization are an administrative easy tool to use and to get SMEs to do big business. It increases European trade and enables deeper cooperation at European level for the smallest players.
Regions in other countries can use this tool within internationalization or other areas. Our region has for example also checks for digitalization and the aim for those checks is to get SMEs to the next digital level, where they can use the technology to do better and smarter business. Similar checks could for example be used in cultural and environmental areas too.
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