Trade in the European single market represents over 20 percent of the EU’s GDP. However only a quarter of the bloc’s 20 million SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) export to other EU countries. In this edition of Business Planet, we are in Gutersloh in Germany to see how one biochemical company found the right partner to boost its exports.
Founded in 1985, Bio-Circle focuses on environmentally-friendly and innovative products for industrial cleaning processes.
With a staff of 180, the company relies on a well-established network. Exports are a vital part of its business.
“Our eco-friendly chemical products are distributed worldwide in 50 countries. In these 50 countries, we have several partners who support our customers,” explains Jens Becker, Bio-Circle’s Export Manager.
At the end of 2010, Bio-Circle’s long-time partner in Denmark passed away unexpectedly and the company needed a new distributor immediately to ensure a continuity of supplies.
The managers got in touch with Zenit, their local partner with the Enterprise Europe Network, and received a contact name the following day. Within a month Bio-Circle resumed its Denmark operations.
“After starting in 2011 with our new partner Sauberhouse in Denmark, we have been able to triple our export volume in Denmark which is an amazing success for us,” adds Becker.
Vilnius was the venue for the annual conference of the Enterprise Europe Network, which is made up of 600 organisations from more than 50 countries within the EU and beyond.
The EEN helps SMEs make the most of business opportunities in the EU. Launched by the European Commission in 2008, it is the largest network in Europe providing expertise and services for businesses.
Joanna Drake, SME special envoy at the European Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry, highlights the potential:
“They have done about 9,000 partnership agreements over five years. Also, we estimate that each company has had an average increase in turnover of 112,000 euros.”
The EEN aims to improve the services offered to European firms so that companies can access concrete and effective solutions within the Network.
Joanna Drake says the EEN is easy to access: “Get in touch with your local business association, who would know where to refer you for the Enterprise Europe Network. And they can guide you on EU funding, on finding a partner, on advice on EU legislation, on innovation and technology transfer agreements.”
So what are the keys to success? It’s the question we ask business people in each edition of Business Planet. Here’s Bio-Circle’s answer, from Export Manager Jens Becker: “Key factors of our success are: the constant development of innovations in the field of surface technology, using international networks to find the right distribution partners, and with these distribution partners bringing innovations to international markets.”