In Europe, I have heard that small businesses do not have nearly the SMB resources we have in the United States, but the EU and US based companies are ramping up efforts to help small businesses. It appears that like in the US, small and medium businesses/enterprises are the back bone of commerce in the EU.
Microsoft released a press release, which reads – Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard announced a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Consortium through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU will emphasise the consortium’s long-term commitment to supporting the European Commission’s goal to make Europe a more competitive and dynamic place to do business. The MOU also will highlight the investment of resources dedicated over the next three years to help stimulate small and medium-sized enterprises’ productivity and growth through Microsoft’s EU Grants Advisor (EUGA) initiative, which is expanding across all 25 EU Member States.
Stimulating Growth and Opportunity for Businesses
Throughout the EU, almost 20 million small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ 140 million people, are viewed as the economic engine, creating jobs and taxable income as well as stimulating innovation. This investment will significantly raise awareness of EU funding opportunities for the 55 per cent of SMEs currently unaware that they qualify for assistance, while also helping them gain easier access to the funds and increasing their ability to benefit from the funds available.
“The new growth and employment initiative, the new Lisbon Agenda, can only work if it is a partnership project. We particularly need to rely on the involvement of the private sector, especially to develop the enormous innovation potential of the SMEs,” said Gunter Verheugen, vice president of the European Commission, in charge of Enterprise and Industry.
“The EU Grants Advisor Consortium is a clear and logical step to kick-start SME growth across the region,” said Jacques Santer, president of the SME Union, and former European Commission president. “The SME Union has always recognised that structural funds are the catalyst to growth in this sector.”
The consortium members will provide resources to deliver SME tools and services focused on EU structural funding opportunities. The EUGA programme includes a dedicated SME website and independent specialised consulting services offering information about available technology, employment and business start-up grants. In addition, the programme will offer SMEs help with the application process should they wish to apply for the grants for which they are eligible. The EUGA programme was originally piloted in Spain; its success there led to initiatives being introduced in Hungary and Poland, and, most recently, adoption in the Czech Republic and France earlier this year.
“The training and predefined templates provided by Microsoft facilitated the identification of the most appropriate grant and reduced the necessary administration of our clients connected to the EU funds applications,” said Robert Bobrovniczki, sales manager at VT-SOFT Ltd, a Microsoft(R) Certified Partner in Hungary. “That was a great help for our clients (mainly Hungarian SMEs) to implement customised IT solutions.”
“The majority of businesses in Europe are small and medium-sized enterprises and, with a contribution of 57 per cent to the GDP, they are a key driving force behind the creation of new and better jobs, as well as stimulating competitiveness and innovation,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, CEO of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). “Access to finance is one of the most common obstacles to SME growth. With Intel and Hewlett-Packard, we are able to help SMEs tackle this challenge through practical support.”
“Europe is, and has always been, the centre of innovation, creativity and design; whether it is furniture, fashion or cars, everyone looks at Europe. These are all industries driven and supplied by SMEs. Our goal is to foster and unleash this creativity and allow SMEs to prosper in this new connected world,” said Gordon Graylish, director of marketing, Intel Corp. Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Innovation, collaboration and partnerships are the building blocks for competitive success. HP as a leading provider of ICT solutions contributes significantly to competitiveness and sustainable growth of SME business in Europe. The access to EU funds for in SME will enable further productivity increases, lifelong learning and the finance necessary to support the economic growth of the unique European social and political model,” said Ingo Juraske, vice president of Public Sector at HP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
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