Everywhere International SMEs (EIS)


Interreg Europe helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy by creating an environment and opportunities for sharing solutions.  They aim to ensure that government investment, innovation and implementation efforts all lead to integrated and sustainable impact for people and place. 

Supported by funds awarded by Interreg Europe this project will focus on Priority Axis 3 of the ERDF Operational Programme for England; Enhancing the competitiveness of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, which states that one of the factors that limit the ability of an SME to grow is: “the external environment including procurement, access to finance and exporting”. 


Formed out of the well-researched European and regional need to encourage more SMEs to ‘internationalise’ (the process of increasing involvement of enterprises in international markets) their goods, services and knowledge, the Everywhere International SMEs (EIS) project is seen as a central pillar of the post-crisis recovery to cement sustainable growth in the EU.

What is Internationalisation?

The term ‘internationalisation refers to all activities that put SMEs into a meaningful business relationship with a foreign partner: exports, imports, foreign direct investment (FDI — relocation or outsourcing), international subcontracting and international technical cooperation  — in other words:

business activities responding to the opportunities and challenges that globalisation brings.

It can take place at cross-border level, at a transnational level inside the EU or at an international level beyond the EU. (Supporting the Internationalisation of SMEs (EU Guidebook Series 7 2014)

Why are we doing it?

The overall aim of the project is to improve the governance structures in place to support internationalisation of SMEs in each partner region and ultimately encourage more SMEs to internationalise their goods and/or services.

Scope of the International Marketplace: Internationalisation:  Benefits to the Economy

Free movement of EUThe EU’s Single Market of 500 million consumers and the growing opportunities offered by the global economy provide Europe’s SMEs with a huge potential market; if they push their business goals internationally. An estimated 90% of global growth originates outside the EU. Developing and emerging markets are also expected to account for 60% of world GDP by 2030.

Together this represents a huge potential for EU-based SMEs. 

Internationalisation: Benefits for SMEs

Aside from substantial global economic benefits, evidence indicates that SMEs are much more likely to survive in the globally competitive business climate if they internationalise. International SMEs are also more innovative than their stay-at-home cousins and more resistant to local and national crises.

‘In Hampshire, we need a more joined up approach among all the SME business support providers to address the fragmented landscape faced by SMEs interested in internationalising their products and services. The current picture can be frustrating for the SME in finding the right support for how to internationalise. At the same time some support services which could help SMEs internationalise are not being sufficiently utilised as they are not widely known and not part of a holistic business support offering’.

Who's involved? What will the project do?

The main objectives of the project are to:

  • Work with the partners to share and exchange current practice and good practice; comparing and contrasting how other partners have tackled relevant challenges and improving regional support mechanisms to help SMEs internationalise. (What’s happening now)
  • To develop a common tool that will enable stakeholders to closely examine current policies, strategy and the specialist SME support in place
  • Using the information identified as a result, to develop and drive a robust stakeholder action plan
  • Ultimately improve governance structures to support internationalisation of SMEs in their regions

Bringing together 9 partners from 7 regions, the project partners will develop an EIS tool; an innovative 6 step methodology to examine, test and review their own SME internationalisation policies, strategies and operational support; enabling partner regions to develop robust Action Plans for their stakeholder groups

All partner regions will implement this common EIS tool in the 2nd phase of the project as part of each Action Plan and apply the EIS tool within their Operational Programmes; an innovative approach for improving operational programmes and governance structures for improved policy implementation among the EIS partners.


What will happen as a result?

Using the information from the work, the outcomes will be used to inform policy, strategy and support for SMEs, with the bottom line ultimately encouraging and engaging more SMEs in internationalisation.

A key improvement will be to fully map the current business support landscape for SME internationalisation activities, namely who provides what type of support and what advice is available to SMEs. As a result of this, any overlaps, duplication or gaps will be identified and the findings will conclude with recommendations on how to simplify the landscape and improve the customer journey for SMEs who want to internationalise and export’ 

Policy and strategy stakeholders will have access to a tested 6 step tool enabling them to continuously monitor and review ongoing strategy and support against the changing economic situation.

All the knowledge developed throughout the EIS project will be made available locally, regionally and nationally and shared with all EU regions by the Interreg Europe programme through the relevant policy platform(s).

Some useful links...

See how a voucher scheme can benefit SME internationalisation:

23rd May 2018 (Interreg EIS Partners Meeting)

UKEF launches enhanced overseas investment insurance product to protect UK businesses investing abroad:

19th September 2017  (UKEF is UK Export Finance)

Exporting in Style: UK fashion exports top £10.7 billion:  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/exporting-in-style-uk-fashion-exports-top-107-billion

17th September 2017


Regional Partners:

Hampshire County Council

Other Partners:



Find Out More...

Interreg Europe

The Everywhere International SMEs Project (EIS) 

WSX Enterprise (contact form below):

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