As part of the work of the Local Group of Stakeholders of COMPETE IN "Competitive territories through internationalisation: SMEs competitiveness in globalised regions" project, we were asked to participate in a study visit to Reggio Emilia and Bologna on 18 – 22 September 2017, by the partner of the project – the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region.
The COMPETE IN project co-funded by the INTERREG EUROPE programme is aimed at strengthening regional policies supporting internationalisation of small and medium enterprises through creating connections spanning the whole territory: not only companies, but also public authorities, universities, research and innovation centres, professional associations, cultural entities and other entities interested in the process of internationalization.
Meetings with representatives of the Emilia-Romagna Region, the South African Consulate, universities from Modena and Reggio Emilia, the ERVET team, an agency for economic development of Emilia-Romagna, the E35 Foundation responsible for international projects in Reggio Emilia, Italian entrepreneurs, a visit in the Reggio Emilia Technopol, which is a new business support centre, were only some of the items on the agenda.
The economic potential for SMEs in the whole of Europe which want to operate in third markets is considerable. Currently they only have a 13% share. This is why it was so important that we visited Italy and learned about the most recent trends and challenges concerning internationalisation, recognised instruments supporting internationalisation and gained contacts which will bear fruit in the future.