Business Cooperation: promoting business and accompanying SMEs in their internationalisation processes
Cooperation is part of the foundation’s DNA and from there the Business Cooperation area is born, whose main objective, as described on Eurochile`s website, is to “support the development of business links between Chilean and European SMEs in their internationalisation processes, favouring a bilateral relationship based on mutual understanding and providing collaboration networks between the country and the European Union”.
By Carolina Pérez, in charge of Communications.
The Eurochile Business Foundation was born with the objective of creating, promoting and consolidating economic, commercial, technological and Know How links between Chilean SMEs and institutions and nations from the European Union, both public and private, being a facilitator of the internationalisation process of SMEs and strengthening of the support institutions. That is to say: to be a bridge to unite ties between Chilean companies and entities with European counterparts. That is why the work of Eurochile, since its foundation on March 12, 1993, has played a relevant role for the development and internationalisation of Chilean SMEs.
In the book of the 15 years of the foundation, published in 2008, it is mentioned that Eurochile is an innovative project for several reasons. First, because when it was founded, mutual trust and interest was promoted with financing in equal and equitable parts between Europe and Chile; and second, however it was created by two public entities – the State of Chile and the European Union-the foundation is a private, non-profit institution. It should be noted at this point that, for Eurochile to maintain this status, a law was created in the Chilean Parliament to preserve its autonomy. This may be one of the most important points, because it has allowed this project to last for 28 years, without depending on any of the parties.
A third relevant point is that Eurochile is the only entity in Chile, and the first in Latin America, to have the Enterprise Europe Network. A virtual platform that in addition to being the backbone of Eurochile, is present in more than 60 countries worldwide, with more than 600 affiliated entities, chambers of commerce, technology centers, universities, foundations, public and private entities, among many more. This network allows all the professionals in the foundation to connect and link our entrepreneurs with counterparts in Europe.
And there is one more reason that made Eurochile an innovative project, which is to support companies in their internationalisation process. And here the emphasis is not on the process of selling products, but rather on the process of exchanging know-how, technology transfer, and cooperation for future projects, generation of networks and transfer of expertise. In conclusion, it is an innovative, pioneering and unique entity in its way of working in Chile.
In this context, we know that the Foundation, during its long history -and to fulfill its role as a business bridge between Chile and Europe-, has developed and generated endless platforms and contact networks, both at national and international level, which has allowed access to several European programs and signing cooperation and understanding agreements with different partners and entities. All this work carried out by Eurochile has been for the benefit of Chilean SMEs, with the aim of generating links with counterparts, identifying business opportunities and promote dialogue between parties. In other words, this can be translated into Cooperation.
Cooperation is part of the foundation’s DNA, and from there the Business Cooperation area is born, whose main objective, as described on the Eurochile website, is to “support the development of business links between Chilean and European SMEs in their internationalisation processes, favouring a bilateral relationship based on mutual understanding and providing collaboration networks between the country and the European Union”.
The Business Cooperation area, as described above, then has the main task of promoting business opportunities, supporting companies through different service offers that allow them to improve their competitiveness and productivity in a sustainable way; support SMEs who seek to enter the European market; organisation of workshops- mentoring- brokerage events- webinars; organisation of company missions; participation in national and European fairs and bringing European experts to Chile, among other actions.
With the pandemic, many of the activities carried out by the area were unfortunately no longer feasible, such as company missions and participation in national and international fairs due to global health protocols.
The 2020 prospect, due to Covid-19, forced us to take a turn in the way we work. Being part of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) allowed us to be co-organizers of 17 virtual brokerage events. There, we realised that the online activity was very beneficial and motivating because we had more than 250 Chilean companies participating in these initiatives. What was the reason we had so many Chilean SMEs participating in these activities? One of the reasons was that the entrepreneurs did not have to pay money for travel or accommodation. In addition, the entrepreneur could from his home- kitchen, office, living room or dining room- generate contact with a European counterpart to improve the productivity and / or competitiveness of his company, meet the future partner for an upcoming joint project, for knowledge transfer or simply to expand its contact network.
The virtual brokerage events were not the only activities carried out in 2020, we also executed a pilot mentoring program -whose participation was a success- with 19 participating companies and a signed cooperation agreement between a Chilean university and a Spanish one for the transfer of knowledge and student internship. This pilot program emerged from a webinar that we carried out on July 14 (“In times of pandemic, the importance of networking”) and whose objective was to show how important it is to work with networks and platforms, promoting associativity between companies, entrepreneurs and entities and both public and private in Chile and Europe. These 19 companies are still being followed up, because the work for us does not end when the entrepreneurs make contact, but rather it is maintained over time and we accompany the SMEs in all following processes.
Another very successful service was the uploading profiles to the EEN platform. Broadly speaking, this process works as follows: the entrepreneur interested in starting his internationalisation process or expanding his market must complete a profile –offer or demand- indicating a description of his company, what type of partner he is looking for and where in Europe. Then, this profile goes through a validation process in the European Commission in order to meet certain requirements already established. This process is slow, but once the profile is validated, it is placed on a virtual platform accessible to all network partners. In this case, we can give as an example an entrepreneur from the wine sector that received expressions of interest for his Chilean product and within weeks began conversations with a European counterpart.
The aforementioned are some of the services that we can offer to companies. We can also help you to find business opportunities in Europe, training your company team through workshops, find a European expert for a webinar, prepare an agenda and identify European entities for internships, among others.
The work is a lot, but very rewarding. It allows us to be in contact with companies, help them and accompany them in the different internationalisation processes. It also allows us to manage contacts and generate ties with entities -both national and international- in order to find work synergies and future collaborations. This 2021 we continue working, identifying opportunities and disseminating activities remotely. We are already co-organizers of 7 virtual brokerage events and we have the participation of more than 130 Chilean companies.
With regard to the above mentioned, we invite all those who are in the energy, environment, health, agri-food, circular economy, technology and science sectors to join these virtual activities and identify opportunities for their companies. Or we also invite you to contact us, Nina Morales, Manuela Caruz or Carolina Pérez, to arrange an online meeting and see how we can help you and learn more about our services.