Dr. Khaled Snouber: From Hessen to the European market

Today Europe is part of everyday business life although many aspects of this sector do not knowingly appear in public. A large number of companies in Hessen anticipated this fact in a corresponding internationally oriented strategy a long time ago and is benefiting from the advantages. It is innovative companies in particular which are active in overseas markets. They use their cross-border activities to increase their innovative strength and preserve their competitiveness and jobs.

So it is not surprising that some three quarters of Hessen’s internationally active medium-sized companies want to continue to expand their activities abroad. At least 60 per cent of Hessen’s medium-sized companies are not
active internationally. For those which decide to enter the international market, the step into the European single market is an ideal first step. The geographical proximity, relatively similar cultures and a harmonised legal framework make this large market attractive.

At the same time the European Com­mission offers assistance to medium-sized companies in using the opportunities offered by the single market. As well as subsidy programmes for research and development and for innovative projects, a large number of measures have been devised which optimise companies’ know-how and help them to find suitable partners for commercial and technological cooperation.

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The European Commission makes the Enterprise Europe Network Hessen (EEN Hessen) available to medium-sized companies for all these concerns. The network comprises some 600 centres in 44 countries, which work hand-in-hand with companies. The Enterprise Europe Net­work is based at HA Hessen Agentur GmbH. This gives Hessen’s state business promotion corporation an instrument which opens up prospects for small and medium-sized companies in Europe. Similarly, the EEN Hessen is available to both internationally established companies and those taking their first tentative steps into foreign markets.

The Enterprise Europe Network Hessen offers companies tailor-made assistance to their business in Europe and is the contact for all matters concerning Europe. It helps companies to market their new ideas and technologies and finds business partners for them. It also provides information on EU programmes and advice on how to submit applications on their EU projects.

Information and advice on Europe. The EEN Hessen provides information on legal requirements, public tenders and all European subsidy programmes through its direct contacts with the European Commission. It provides com­panies with information on current developments, advises and helps them with their concerns at theme-based events, country-specific workshops – for instance on Poland and Turkey – and at regular “consultation days” in Northern, Central and Southern Hessen.

Companies are able to influence policy-making at the European Commission. Acting as the companies’ “spokesperson”, the EEN Hessen passes their problems to do with the European single market on to the European Commission so that it knows where the problem is.

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Arranging cooperative programmes and technology transfer. The EEN Hessen offers international cooperation forums at major trade fairs such as CeBIT or Automechanika. The forums bring together potential partners from relevant sectors so that they can take part in negotiations at specific trade fair conferences. The EEN disseminates information on its clients’ new technologies, products and services throughout the whole of Europe via exclusive databases and searches for solutions for them. It finds partners such as suppliers, manu­facturers or licensees and opens up
distribution channels to Europe. For
example, it puts environmental experts from Wiesbaden in contact with cooperation partners in Croatia, Portugal and Poland so that they can work the markets there together.

EU research programmes. The EEN Hessen analyses project outlines, recommends suitable promotion programmes and provides advice on the project idea. It searches for partners for its clients and helps to put project consortia together. It helps companies prepare applications, checks and corrects the draft applications and helps with useful tips on such matters as the project budget. It pursues the evaluation of its clients’ applications, endeavours to obtain information in good time from the European Commission and provides assistance in contract negotiation if the application is approved.

SnouberThe author is the head of Enterprise Europe Network Hessen, which is loca­ted at HA Hessen Agentur GmbH in Wiesbaden. He studied economics and gained his doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1983. Dr. Khaled Snouber has worked for Hessen’s state business promotion corporation since 1989.