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. 

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

The 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).

Boosting SME internationalisation:  

Everywhere International SMEs (EIS) project – Final Conference 10th September 

The partners involved in the Everywhere International SMEs (EIS) project held their final online conference this month using the opportunity to share insights from local and regional business support organisations and offer ideas on how best to support SMEs in going international.

As a result of the four-year project, concrete examples of measures taken by EIS regions and their local business support organisations were presented by each of the 7 partner representatives.

The conference started with a presentation by Interreg Europe’s Joint Secretariat who introduced the project and its objectives to the audience. The event provided an opportunity to share valuable experiences of working on SME internationalisation from policy and practitioner perspectives. 


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

European regional cooperation promotes SME internationalisation in Hampshire

WSX Enterprise and partners from six other regions across Europe gathered in Aarhus, Denmark, on the 27th/28th June to identify ways that business support services can support medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to internationalise.

EIS Interreg EuropeThis event forms part of the Interreg Europe funded project Everywhere International SMEs (EIS), which will run until the end of 2020 and followed the project launch held in Hampshire earlier this year. WSX Enterprise and Hampshire County Council are engaging key stakeholders such as Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Business Alliance to raise awareness of and encourage participation in the project.

 In the opening session, Project Manager John Fitzgibbon explained:

“All seven regions have a shared ambition to support SMEs to internationalise and recognise the significant benefits this can bring – more sustainable businesses, job creation and greater economic growth. 

Each region has its own specific challenges to driving forward greater internationalisation.  Some are further ahead in overcoming these– with comprehensive mechanisms established to support SMEs – whereas others are just starting to put the right building blocks in place. Common to all, however, is the desire to learn from one another – and apply that learning to see a step change in SME internationalisation.” 

By the end of the project, each partner will have developed and implemented an action plan that will help to deliver effective business support for SMEs seeking to internationalise.

An evidence-based ‘EIS tool’ will be also developed, bringing together examples of best practice from business support services across participating regions on overcoming challenges to internationalisation. In this way, the project will not only scrutinise and optimise partner regions’ existing business support services but will provide a universal tool that can be used to benefit other European regions. 

For further information please contact:

Peter Grant                                        or                                           Sarah Eline Hansen

peter.grant@wsxenterprise.co.uk                                           seh@centraldenmark.eu

Chief Executive WSX Enterprise                                              Communication manager, EIS

Regional Partners:
Hampshire County Council

Other Partners:

EIS Partners

Partners – UK, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Poland & Croatia

Outcomes & Achievements To Date

How do you as an employee in a business support organisation – be it public or private – advise businesses in their internationalisation efforts?

Which reflections do you do?

And in what order?

The EIS partners have developed a tool aimed at assisting business support organisations. The tool can be helpful in structuring the conversation with businesses, and at developing support services at the different phases of the SMEs internationalisation process. While the model itself is simple, the input builds upon many years of practical experience in supporting businesses, creating and running support programmes for SMEs.

Most stakeholders agree that internationalisation of SMEs mainly have positive effects and therefore brings benefits for society, the continuation and development of international trade still require addressing barriers. An important aspect of overcoming these are the strong emphasis on increasing the transparency of the support services that are available for SMEs.

GlobalEIS ToolThe tool builds around a constant loop of feedback as the development process for the single company is iterative. This combination of feedback during the process and the knowledge of the support services available to the SME, result in the optimal amount of guidance and development of the SME that seeks to grow and develop their business internationally.

A truly pan-European tool

The EIS partnership spans very widely in geography and in governance structures, still, the tool is applicable in all the varieties of business support structures represented in EIS.

The tool is of a practical kind and can therefore be applied in different business support setups. It means that the GlobalEIS tool can be used as a model to build support structures, or it can be used to add services and features to existing business support setups. The application of the tool, however, requires adjustment and translation to local conditions.

Watch our clip below on how the inner circle of the GobalEIS tool works and also view this publication which explains the thoughts behind the GlobalEIS tool:


Where is support offered?

The conclusion of the project will see improved governance structure to support internationalisation of SMEs in each partner region (UK, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Croatia).