Helping small and medium-sized enterprises to develop their innovative potential
and to raise their awareness on Commission policies is the aim of
the Enterprise Europe Network. This new European Commission initiative offers
entrepreneurs a one stop shop where they can seek advice and benefit from a
wide range of easily accessible business support services.
Small businesses, especially in their early stages, often do not have the resources
to closely monitor the many different kinds of assistance EU programmes can
provide. Nor are they always able to fully assess the innovative and market
potential of their products or explore new business opportunities, particularly
outside the areas they know well.
The Enterprise Europe Network bridges this gap. With more than 500 contact
points and almost 4,000 experienced staff, the network is the largest in Europe
providing expertise and services for business. These are available to companies
of all sizes irrespective of whether they are in manufacturing or services,
although they are primarily directed at SMEs, research institutes, universities,
technology centres and business and innovation development agencies.
The network can help clients in their search for business partners, especially
in countries other than their own, arrange individual on-site visits to assess
a company’s needs and provide advice on a broad range of business issues. A
well-proven database enables different contact points to remain constantly in
touch with each other and to pool partnership offers and requests.
It is not possible to provide funds to firms directly. However, the network
can explain the financing possibilities which exist under individual EU programmes.
The advantage of the Enterprise Europe Network is that all services are offered under one roof reducing bureaucracy and the confusion which arises when it is unclear to which organisation a particular issue should be addressed.
Key objectives of the network are to:
- Increase the synergies among network partners through the provision of integrated
- Maintain and continually improve the access, proximity, quality and professionalism
of the integrated services provided by the network;
Raise awareness – in particular among SMEs – regarding Community policy issues and the services offered by the network, including the improvement of environmental awareness and eco-efficiency of SMEs and the Cohesion policy
and Structural funds;
- Consult businesses and obtain their opinions on Community policy options;
- Ensure that the network offers complementarities with other relevant services
- Reduce the administrative burden for all parties.
To implement these objectives, proposals will include the following services:
- Information, feedback, business co-operation and internationalisation services
- Services for innovation and for the transfer of both technology and knowledge
- Research - Services encouraging the participation of SMEs in the Community framework programme for RTD
Read the opening address of Mr. Günter Verheugen - EC Vice-President Responsible for Enterprise and Industry policy