Project UpgradeSME presents strategiesEmpowering SMEs in internationalization
The UpGradeSME project has analyzed funding instruments of eight EU regions
Export activities have a major impact on regional and European economic growth. Numerous studies show that the degree of internationalization of SMEs has a positive impact on innovative strength and employment. So far, however, too few SMEs participate in export activities: only one third of European SMEs export to other countries.
With the Interreg project UpGradeSME, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum has contributed to the promotion of the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. The project includes the analysis and optimization of different internationalization instruments from various regions in Europe. Eight project partners from eight European regions participated: Baden-Württemberg (Germany), Province of Friesland (Netherlands), Norte Region (Portugal), Fomento San Sebastián (Spain), and regions from Hungary and Romania.
As project partner for Baden-Württemberg, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum supported the cross-border exchange of experience and structured the transfer of knowledge over a period of five years. One focus of the project was the inclusion of political and economic key players.
The interregional exchange between the project partners resulted in the development of eight regional action plans with proposals for improving and implementing the respective policy instruments. The Commissioner for Europe of the Minister of Economic Affairs, Labour and Tourism Baden-Württemberg Dr. Petra Püchner, and project managers from Steinbeis Europa Zentrum played a key role in the action plan for Baden-Württemberg.
The action plan for Baden-Württemberg includes a new thematic focus with, among other things, consulting services on European innovation funding tailored specifically to SMEs. One instrument introduced in 2020 in this context is 'innocheck-bw'. These online innovation consulting services have been particularly successful in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and open up new strategic opportunities for SMEs to tap into their innovation potential, also on the international stage.
The project was extended for another year in October 2021. In 2022, the project partners will conduct a study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on SMEs in the respective partner regions. The previous exchange of experience and knowledge will be continued by the EU-funded study and existing regional analyses will be enriched by a new dimension.