Led by a consortium bringing together the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Luxinnovation, the national Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) was officially launched in Luxembourg on March 5, 2008, taking over from previous community networks Euro Info Centers and Innovation Relay Centers.
Ten years later, the national consortium assisted more than 20,000 SMEs through specialised European services and welcomed 13,800 business leaders at community-related events.
As part of the proposed internationalisation services, no less than 12,000 international business meetings were organised to put Luxembourg companies into contact with potential partners and foster European-wide and international business and technology partnerships.
The EEN network is now the largest business support network in Europe, with some 4,000 experts operating in more than 60 countries around the world
A unique gateway
“With the creation of this network, our goal was to provide businesses, through a single gateway, with a specialised information and advisory service and economic development assistance throughout their life cycle and in support of their innovation and internationalisation projects,” explained Carlo Thelen, the General Manager of the Chamber of Commerce.
By also enabling a better link between the companies and the services of the European Commission, the EEN network enables a better identification of the obstacles hindering the proper functioning of the internal market and directly involves companies at the forefront of Community policy-making.
“In this context, we can cite ongoing SME feedback, from entrepreneurs which provides the political class with the necessary information to open a public debate with the aim of forging a framework conducive to SMEs. This relay function is one of the necessary mechanisms for a European policy in favour of entrepreneurship,” said Charles Bassing, Deputy Director General of the Chamber of Trades, closing the event.
Promote innovation management
Participating in a panel including companies that have benefited from the services of EEN, Jean-Michel Ludwig, Head of the Start-up Support & SME Performance Department at Luxinnovation, emphasised the importance of innovation for any company, including the smaller ones.
“Luxinnovation is the historical relay of the European Commission in Luxembourg to sensitise SMEs about innovation and to implement specific support actions in the search for R & D partners or in the transfer of technologies. Participation in the EEN network has also enabled Luxinnovation’s SME advisors to be able to assist in setting up innovation management systems for SMEs.”
During this round table, three companies with very different profiles, could confirm their experience with the network. The tyre giant, Goodyear benefits from the support of EEN for the development of open innovation initiatives that were also launched 10 years ago. “We were able to establish international contacts with partner companies which we would not necessarily have identified ourselves,” explained Benoit Duez, External Exploration Concept Leader at Goodyear.
“We need external partners, whether in Luxembourg or internationally, for all types of developments and we will increasingly need, in the future, related services, whether they are cross-border or within the EU. Needs evolve very quickly and require a great deal of flexibility on the part of companies. In addition, we need to follow up on this flexibility in services.”
“Without EEN, perhaps we would not exist”
Same ease to forge contacts for the young company AI4U, specialised in the development of artificial intelligence applications, created two years ago and which, for the moment, only serves customers abroad.
“Without EEN, perhaps we would not exist,” says Ivan Jacobs, its founder and CEO. “We were accompanied in this internationalisation process, in particular by helping us to participate in the last Cebit show in June.”
For its part, Bernard Coune, founder (10 years ago) and CEO of International Fire Control, a company specialising in the field of fire protection and detection, also relies on the EEN network to deploy its services internationally, after have established its market base in Luxembourg. “We received invaluable support for the issues of placing our staff abroad, for example. We are now familiar with the subject, but we still have many other needs in administrative areas to allow us to develop further.”
The Consortium’s constant search for improved action on the ground will be one of the strategic priorities for the coming years. In its federating role and its desire to serve the needs of national businesses and SMEs as closely as possible, the EEN network in Luxembourg will rely on significant coordination between all local economic and professional actors.
“The strengthening of cooperation links with economic actors in our local professional environment through coordinated and integrated actions will enable the development of a local dynamic that will be at the origin of new collaborations and associated synergies in the interest of our companies and local SMEs,” said Sabrina Sagramola, National Coordinator and Manager of the EEN at the Chamber of Commerce.
You want to join the Enterprise Europe Network? Contact Luxinnovation’s SME Performance Team.
Photos: Charles Caratini / Chambre de Commerce