«MobiliseSME allows us to foster partnerships and jointly explore new possibilities for professional expansion»

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Branko Sekulić is an architect and co-owner of the Serbian company SEKULIĆ-ATTAR ARCHITECTS, which has participated in MobiliseSME as a Sending Company.

Daniel Lorenzo is an architect and co-founder of the Spanish firm LoCa Studio, which has participated as Host Company in our programme.

Branko and Daniel have been working side by side for 6 months in Barcelona (Spain), a collaboration that has been possible thanks to MobiliseSME.

Read on to see what this half-year experience has been like:

– Hello, Branko! Could you tell us a bit about your company and your professional path? Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME?

We are a family-owned company that is in a generational and professional transition from audiovisual communications to architectural and interior design services.

Our headquarters are in Belgrade, but as we were educated and professionally trained in Barcelona, our focus is to establish professional relationships internationally.

We found out about the MobiliseSME programme through our colleagues from Spain. We saw it immediately as a great opportunity to foster our collaboration and to jointly explore new possibilities for professional expansion.

– How about you, Daniel? Please, tell us about your company and how you found out about the MobiliseSME programme.

We are an architecture and urbanism firm with expertise in urban regeneration. We are based in Barcelona, but we operate in the mainland and the Canary Islands. Actually, we have also participated in projects in Georgia and Great Britain.

We were contacted directly by the MobiliseSME Local Contact Point in Spain, Fundación Equipo Humano. The programme was explained to us, and we quickly understood its potential.

After the first contact, we proposed other companies in Europe we were already in contact with, to take advantage of MobiliseSME with the aim of fostering our collaboration.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company, Branko? Would you repeat the MobiliseSME experience?

The collaboration with LoCa Studio has encouraged us to focus and profound in the European Commission programmes and to develop projects of mutual interest.

The most important contribution from the Host Company has been their highly professional attitude, knowledge and willingness to give a maximum professional support to the project we are developing.

LoCa Studio opened us a door to interesting new professional contacts, which helped us to sharpen our thoughts and develop new business ideas that we are working on together.

The main benefit obtained after this collaboration is the closer look to the professional workflow and difficulties that our colleagues are facing in the sector in Spain.

This motivated us to re-examine our approach, understand the congestion points, and to think of new ways to overcome these hurdles for fostering our future collaboration.

Thus, we would definitely recommend participating in MobiliseSME, as we would repeat this same business experience.

MobiliseSME

– Daniel, could you briefly describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with Branko? How did the process go?

We had previous contact with the Sending Company, since we had linkages from Spain and Barcelona.

We both were interested in expanding ourselves across Europe, but distance makes it difficult to start new projects.

The Sending Company has expertise and knowledge on Serbia, a target country for our company’s international expansion. Likewise, the goals and objectives of both SMEs are in line.

– Branko, with which knowledge, techniques or information have you contributed to the Host Company? Which functions and responsibilities did you have during this collaborative period?

I have contributed to the Host Company working on the research information about the viable joint projects development in Serbia, Spain and Europe.

The research consisted in getting familiarised with European Commission general programme strategy and goals, and the closer understanding of the frameworks, funding opportunities, calls and application process.

After each step of analysing and synthesising the information, we both commented on the most interesting lines to continue with in-depth research and project proposal ideas.

This helped LoCa Studio, because, besides its strong interest in the programme framework, due to its ongoing work volume and projects, it could not find enough focus to approach the subject.

Through the participation in these activities, I was professionally much respected, obtained new experiences, and quickly understood mutual points of interest with the Host Company.

The final result is that I now have a holistic understanding and I am very motivated and optimistic about continuing this collaboration, developing new projects and achieving common goals with LoCa Studio.

– Daniel, how did the collaboration with the Sending Company contribute to your SME?

We have drafted a European Project proposal for the Horizon Europe Framework Programme that is firstly set in the Canary Islands but we expect to replicate in other places in Spain and Europe. This is our goal.

Likewise, we have collaborated in specific projects by enhancing the quality and precision of the resulting work. Thus, we want to strengthen our collaboration from now on.

Branko, the architect we hosted, has compatible capacities with our firm, which will drive new collaborations in projects in both Spain and Serbia.

– Do you plan to continue the collaboration after the experience with the MobiliseSME programme?

Daniel: During our collaboration period, we had an opportunity to get to know each other’s professional value system and we absolutely share our professional points of view.

We are certainly interested in continuing our collaboration. We found that the Sending Company and, specifically, Branko has complementing professional qualities with our professional activities.

We jointly started developing a project that is much of our mutual interest, within the sector. We are focused on projects with a social responsibility code of practice, and our common goal now is to obtain funding through Horizon Europe.

Branko: Definitely. Our goal is to finish developing our project proposal and, hopefully, to get enough funding for starting with its realisation.

We are focusing on a project with a social responsibility code of practice within our sector.

Besides, we recognized technical complementation and we will tend to help each other in the ongoing projects as well.

Arquitectura yugoslava

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the EU after your participation in MobiliseSME? Which role had the Local Contact Points in sharing this information?

Very much so. We never had a similar experience before.

The MobiliseSME experience helped us fundamentally to broaden our professional views, to understand the scope of the EU collaboration objectives, and to get encouraged in approaching projects in a more holistic and collaborative way.

The Local Contact Points -Fundación Equipo Humano and Business Incubator Novi Sad– did a great explanation of the objectives of MobiliseSME and clearing of any potential doubts we had. 

Likewise, the knowledge and advice they shared with us about the potential local administrative and legal hurdles helped us a lot to go smoothly through all the process.

MobiliseSME supports innovation and research in Europe’s textile SMEs

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This time we share with you an interview with Hervé Francois and Fátima Oliveira, two representatives of SMEs participating in the MobiliseSME programme.

Hervé is the manager of the French company Mitwill Textiles Europe, which has participated as a Sending Company in MobiliseSME.

Fátima, on the other hand, is the CEO of the Portuguese company VSG – Confeção e Comércio de Têxteis Lda, in this case the Host Company of this business collaboration.

Both have been collaborating for 3 months in Portugal, thanks to our programme. Below, you will find the interview we conducted with them after their participation.

– Please, Hervé, tell us a bit about your company and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME?

Mitwill Textiles is an SME that trades yarns and textiles, produces printed fabrics in its onsite microfactory and provides digital services for textile print designs and sourcing.

The company believes in networking and collaborative manufacturing shifting towards a fully digital workflow for sustainability.

Being part of two EU projects, “ELIIT” (COSME) and “HEREWEAR” (Horizon 2020) we have the chance to engage in the fields of digital collaboration, and local, bio-based and circular production systems for textiles.

As a motivated startup, we found out about the MobiliseSME programme through an indication in a newsletter from Bpifrance, since we were looking for supporting possibilities to realise our plans.

You know, it is not easy for textile SMEs in Europe to sustain without technical and process related innovations, which can be very cost intensive.

That is why we decided to get in touch with the programme’s Local Contact Points and found guidance and support.

– How about you, Fátima? Please, tell us about your company and how you found out about the MobiliseSME programme.

VSG is an SME operating as a confectionist specialised in the production of knitted garments.

We develop products, create patterns, make tech packs, fabric markers, cut fabrics and make garments in the end.

Our offer also includes organising services and products that are part of the garment, such as fabrics, prints, dyes, trims, embroideries etc.

However, they are not provided by us, but with external suppliers to the convenience of our clients.

MobiliseSME was a chance to work on a project more structured since we often struggle following up on project plans due to lacking capacity. Hervé gave me a call, told me about the benefits of the programme and I agreed to participate with him.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company, Hervé? Would you repeat the MobiliseSME experience?

The collaboration with VSG allowed us to define, test and implement scenarios we have envisioned and worked on since we started our business.

Of course, and importantly, we learned there are limits for now, but we can and will improve those, as a matter of time.

We gained valuable experience, apart from the first orders we delivered. We even know it is necessary to continue the collaboration with VSG, because digitization in the textile industry is highly dynamic, so we must keep up, otherwise it will be difficult to survive.

Overall, connecting Mitwill’s digital drive with the craftsmanship of VSG including their infrastructure for local production, allowed us to achieve our goal of new clients and orders.

Without a doubt, we would repeat the collaboration and participate in the MobiliseSME programme, because it helped us to actually execute actions in time.

– Fátima, please, briefly describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with Hervé. How did the process go?

VSG and Mitwill know each other from the past, when Mitwill was looking for confection capacity in Portugal.

We always had an open communication about opportunities, so we support each other if one is looking for something or has a plan.

About Mitwill and Hervé, I like the professional experience and sales-network they have, but also the long-term strategic determination and decision-making.

We lack a little to keep up with advanced communication and process technologies, so we like the idea of bringing those more to our craftsmanship.

I think we had a successful collaboration, although I wish investments could return faster sometimes.

It is not easy to develop and do research as an SME in the textile industry, but we do what we can and welcome supporting programmes such as MobiliseSME.

– Hervé, with which knowledge, techniques or information have you contributed to the Host Company? Which functions and responsibilities did you have during this collaborative period?

I could give VSG a framework of developing and improving processes and services, which are not related to daily production at first sight.

Again, producing a garment needs a long and sometimes complex supply chain, so being part of this chain as a garment maker keeps you very busy every day, if you want to manage the production currently.

As an SME with limited access to human resources, VSG struggled with preparing for the future, but keeping-up with the daily dynamics.

I defined a plan, followed up and made the right matches between people, so we could work with new tools, better communication and more value.

MobiliseSME

– How do you think this collaboration contributed to your companies and personal development? Would you recommend participating in MobiliseSME?

Hervé: I am able to openly discuss all project-related topics with Fátima and her company, VSG, which is a positive effect and benefit.

I gained new insights about the atomized, clustered and networked infrastructure of textile producers not only from Europe, but also outside of Europe.

In addition, one of the main results from our collaboration with VSG was to successfully make use of our 3D garment platform together to develop products. We could store, manage and present them more efficiently and interactively.

This actually helped us to react quickly to requests of customers to visualise their wishes to make decisions. Time and prices are often key with them.

Fatima and I met together, we called each other, we went together, we brought things forward. I am happy with the results, especially managing the collaboration during COVID.

I have learned a lot about the difference between a small serial production of garments and a larger scale production of garments – these products are highly complex and short-living sometimes.

Fátima: Both Mitwill and MobiliseSME helped VSG to have a clearly defined activity plan for a common objective, which is to contribute to the innovative and valuable European textile production and products.

We know how to manage our direct supply chain, but we missed management of our long-term vision, which came with Mitwill.

Access to textile events, fairs, customers were a split contribution between the partners, so we multiaxial shared and complemented each other a lot.

I think the results we have achieved would not be possible to obtain without one or the other. We would not be prepared well for the future and Mitwill needs an infrastructure of local makers for scaled garment orders.

The ability to control the production and have transparency in the supply chain are very valuable to the process and to our clients.

– Do you plan to continue the collaboration after the experience with the MobiliseSME programme?

Hervé: Mitwill and VSG have to continue working together since the structure of technology and networks has grown together since we began. It would not be sustainable for any of us to stop.

The continuation of the collaboration will be a hybrid of daily business and project basis, because the world is facing quite extreme changes in politics, climate/health and natural resources.

We will do all we can with our resources. I would like to also consult VSG on adding new services to their product portfolio.

Fátima: Indeed, we plan to collaborate with Mitwill in the future.

We believe the advancements in digital collaboration and technological understanding we could obtain and implement need to be extended and more established, parallelly to the daily business of producing garments and fulfilling orders.

Currently, the behaviour of buyers and consumers leads to amplified volatilities in markets and order situations due political and environmental instabilities.

We cannot rush into a bigger investment day by day, so our collaboration will continue balancing development and production.

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the EU after your participation in MobilisSME? Which role had the Local Contact Points in sharing this information?

We were glad to find initiatives focusing on cross-national collaborations within the EU, which are necessary in my opinion.

The exchange of distinct history, experience, know-how and specialties from the EU are USP’s of the European economy and globally well reputed.

Merging the best from all nations through collaboration are key to innovation and competitiveness in global contexts.

When it comes to temporary projects abroad, we can benefit extremely from participating in programmes like MobiliseSME.

The competent and clear assistance to organise activities by our Local Contact Points, Fundación Equipo Humano and CCI Nouvelle Aquitaine, are making it possible for us to develop faster.

For the next activity plan, we do not see any reason to hesitate contacting our local contact point for further guidance.

Innovative startup born from participating in MobiliseSME

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Earlier this year, we gave you a preview in one of our posts about the professional collaboration through MobiliseSME between the Belgian organisation EUAbout (Sending Company) and the Italian cooperative Melograno Vita (Host Company).

Paolo Sospiro (director of EUAbout) and Mauro Picardo (representative of Melograno Vita) tell us about their 6-month experience after their passage through the MobiliseSME programme with this short interview:

– Hello, Paolo. Please, tell us a bit about your company and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME?

EUAbout is an Umbrella Organisation set up in 2016 by experts specialised on economics, public procurement, political issues and European projects realisation.

As a EU project management and consulting company, EUAbout offers support in terms of monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures applied, policy recommendation, analysis of EU, national and regional policies and measures, and support for new grants, among others.

We have a decade of experience in dealing with projects related to: waste management, water management, smart cities, PropTech, transports, climate change, green buildings, sustainable agriculture.

I decided to participate in this programme with the aim of expanding my company’s network of customers, focusing on entering into the Italian agri-industry system and improving knowledge on specific pomegranate organic and circular economic production systems.

– How about you, Mauro? Please, tell us about your company and how you found out about the MobiliseSME programme.

Melograno Vita is a cooperative based in Pesaro (Italy) which represents more than 40 agricultural firms specialised on the production of pomegranate fruit.

The main aim of the cooperative is to buy the pomegranate fruits from its members and produce an organic pomegranate fruit based on a circular economy business model. This means that the production process foresees that part of the pomegranate fruit is sold as fresh fruit to large-scale retail trade.

The majority of the fruits are used to produce the juice while the residual is used to produce bio packaging and cosmetic products.

I am the person in charge of running the cooperative and to set up partnerships with suppliers and clients.

Since 2019, Melograno Vita is supported by EUAbout on business development and finding access to public funds in terms of grant and/or loan. EUAbout suggested participating in this pilot programme in order to get direct support to the development of the cooperative.

We both analysed the programme and we thought that it might be really useful to enhance the cooperation between us, as well as to improve the work already done and go beyond it.
For these reasons, we decided to be part of MobiliseSME.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company, Paolo? Would you repeat the MobiliseSME experience?

At the end of the path, EUAbout achieved almost all the goals initially set:

· Improving the business model and business plan;
· Align business model and business plan to organic and circular economy in line with the EU Green Deal strategy;
· Screening EU call for proposal;
· Applying for EU calls;
· Open up EU single market to the company thus developing a commercialization strategy and plan.

It was definitely a learning experience that allowed both of our companies to grow.

During the project, we decided that Melograno Vita needs a startup to run the R&D activities required for the innovative aspects of the production and transformation of the pomegranate.

Therefore, we analysed the context, the pros and cons, and finally set up an innovative startup and registered it. This will give the new company many opportunities under the national law which supports the world of innovative startups.

The startup has submitted two new projects at both national and regional level, winning the latter and strengthening the partnership with Marche Polytechnic University and Siprem International, in order to continue research activities on products to be offered to its customers.

MobiliseSME

– Mauro, please, briefly describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with Paolo. How did the process go?

As mentioned before, EUAbout and us already cooperate on the development of EU, regional and/or regional projects.

Particularly, we worked in the preparation of the former SME Instrument programme. However, the partnership was strictly to work on a specific project proposal instead of a broad cooperation in order to improve the mission, the vision, the business model and the strategy of the cooperative.

Therefore, MobiliseSME allows us to exploit in the best possible way our partnership.

– How do you think this collaboration contributed to your companies and personal development? Would you recommend participating in MobiliseSME?

Thanks to the time spent on the preparation of the project and of the activities, we were able to exploit such a short time in the best way possible.

This means that EUAbout spent the first period to analyse the state of the art of Melograno Vita and its members, while developing a new business plan. It also made a continued screening of the EU, national and regional calls and we submitted together different proposals.

Finally, we decided to set up an innovative start up to run the R&D activities for the cooperative. 

We are glad of the results achieved and we would recommend participating in MobiliseSME to as many SMEs as possible. We will also be glad to repeat this kind of experience.

– Do you plan to continue the collaboration after the experience with the MobiliseSME programme?

We will collaborate more than we used to do before, because the cooperation led us to another dimension of business and perspectives, as well as to profitable results, allowing Melograno Vita to win a project and EUAbout to enter new markets.

At the moment, we are still improving the business plan and its implementation for the new startup (Melograno Biotech) and we are planning to review the new strategy and plan in accordance with the results achieved.

Therefore, EUAbout, Melograno Vita and Melograno Biotech will work together in the near future.

Particularly, EUAbout will support Melograno Vita, Melograno Biotech and the members of the cooperative on European affairs, on the development of the farm to fork strategy and its implementation, on new business lines, market research and, finally, on how to improve the relationship between the members and the cooperative.

In short, finding new sources of funding in order to improve the production and processing chain.

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the EU after your participation in MobilisSME? Which role had the Local Contact Points in sharing this information?

This programme has allowed us to deepen our knowledge about cross-border mobility of workers and training offers promoted by the EU; to get in touch with different working realities and learn about new market sectors; and to establish a fruitful exchange of information between us.

The Local Contact Points have a fundamental role, as they represent the main channels of information for this type of opportunity. Thus, we are grateful to Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg and Forum AIC for their support during our participation in MobiliseSME.

We also consider it would be interesting to intensify the opportunities for meetings between the information centres and companies potentially interested in participating in this type of programmes, through the organisation of more events (even in virtual mode).

«MobiliseSME is a great opportunity to expand partnerships in Europe»

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In one of our previous posts, we already told you about Beáta Vlnková and Rudi Verhoest, the owners of two companies in the wine business sector, who started collaborating through the MobiliseSME programme at the end of March 2021.

Beáta travelled from Slovakia to Belgium to partner up with Rudi for 6 months.

After their participation in MobiliseSME, we have interviewed them to find out how they have been doing:

– Please, Beáta, tell us a bit about your company and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME?

My name is Beáta Vlnková and I am the owner and self-employed in my company Wine Wave s.r.o., focused on the wine sector.

I organise wine courses, lectures, wine tastings and wine trips around the world. At the same time, I am the President of the Association of Sommeliers of the Slovak republic. For more than 20 years, we educated more than 500 sommeliers in Slovakia.

We also organised a lot of courses at the hotel school around my country. In addition, for three years I was working for the Slovak Tourism Agency to promote Slovak wines around Europe. 

When Covid-19 came to Europe and our country went into lockdown, that meant no more wine courses, no more wine trips, no more wine tastings. Very soon I started to organise online wine courses. But with wine it is always better to be in direct contact with people.

As the Covid did not disappear as we wanted, there was a time to start to think about new activities. I was thinking about selling Slovak wines to Belgium, so I decided this is the right moment to look around and try to find some new business activities. 

Suddenly I got an email from Taliansko – Slovenská obchodná komora with information about the Mobilise SME programme.

My aim was to expand my commercial activities in Belgium (to sell Slovak and Austrian wines), to find new potential customers, strengthen existing relations with Belgium and expand my network through the exchange of professional contacts with Rudi Verhoest Comm.v.

– And how about you, Rudi? Please, tell us about your company and how you found out about the MobiliseSME programme.

I have been working for more than 30 years in the banking sector. However, last year I had decided to leave the banking sector and to start something new. Because I am a culinary and wine lover, I was thinking about the wine business.

Two years ago I met Beáta in Antwerp during the sommelier competition for Best Sommelier of the World. Already then, she was thinking about importing Slovak wines to Belgium and she was looking for a business partner.

She informed me about the Mobilise SME programme, and we decided to participate together.

MobiliseSME

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company, Beáta? Would you repeat the MobiliseSME experience?

The collaboration with Rudi contributed to my company a lot. He has lots of experience in the banking sector – in a position where networking was extremely important. Within the world of wine there is a very big competition and it is more and more difficult to find new clients and also to keep the old ones. So, it is really necessary “to network” all the time.

As a result of our collaboration through MobiliseSME, we obtained a huge amount of new contacts and we composed the basic group of future clients for buying Slovak wines. We also found out it is always good to focus the tasting on a certain subject.

Our next project will be to combine a “Masterclass of Slovak wines” combined with a lecture “How to taste wine”. We also did market research in the region of Champagne and a wine trip will form the basis of another new project.

Thus, I would definitely recommend taking part in this programme and even myself I would repeat it. 

– Rudi, please, briefly describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with Beáta. How did the process go?

As we knew each other before, the matchmaking process went very smoothly. The preparation of activities went also very well because of the great help from our Local Contact Points Taliansko – slovenská obchodná komora in Bratislava and the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg.

It was obvious for me as the Hosting Company to like the profile of Beáta’s company, because of her position in the wine sector. This was a big plus when it came to collaboration.

– Beáta, how has this collaboration helped you to develop yourself and your company? With which knowledge, techniques or information have you contributed to the Host Company? Which functions and responsibilities did you have during this collaborative period?

To change your normal environment is always good. You get an overview from your everyday life. 

Personally, I gained from this collaboration confidence in presenting Slovak wines in a foreign language (English); I acquired basic conversation level in Dutch; I obtained an enormous amount of new contacts; I did a market research on how is the taste of Belgium wine lover´s audience, which style of wine they like… as well as in the region of Côte des Bar in Champagne, preparing the proposal for a four day wine trip.

My role and responsibilities during this period were mainly to teach Rudi the different processes associated with wine marketing, tasting and education.

Furthermore, we have organised together 20 wine tasting events of Slovak wines for various groups of Belgian customers. I was in charge of the professional part of the wine tasting and introduced the Slovak wines – including history, general overview, explaining the most grown grape varieties, the technique, and how to taste wine.

Of course, I also improved my ability to do wine lessons in English as well as my networking skills.

– Rudi, how do you think this collaboration with the Sending Company contributed to your company and personal development? Would you recommend participating in MobiliseSME?

Thanks to our collaboration, I gained an overview about the Slovak wine market; learned the procedure on how to taste the wine, how to serve wine, how to match food and wine, how to organise a wine tasting…

I also learned how to promote, distribute and sell Slovak and Austrian wines to Belgian consumers.

During this period, we discovered the taste of Belgian future clients: by organising a lot of wine tastings, we found out that Belgian customers really like the white wines from Slovakia and not so much light red wines. Also, they are not so keen on natural orange wines.

We made use of my rich database, got contacts with good chefs of high ranked restaurants, and built up a powerful network in the province of Luxembourg, Belgium and in West Flanders. 

The main result has been that I improved my skills on wine tasting and now I better understand the specificities of each wine, which is going to be a fundamental part of my future portfolio.

Wine tasting

– Do you plan to continue the collaboration after the experience with the MobiliseSME programme?

Beáta: Yes, we would like to, since thanks to the MobiliseSME experience, we learned a lot.

We intend to sell Slovak wines in Belgium mainly through personal contacts. We also would like to organise wine trips to Champagne both for Slovak and Belgian clients.

Rudi: Certainly. I am already putting together with Beáta a database of the gites and B&B in Luxembourg and Belgium. We also put together a portfolio of Slovak wines, which are suitable for a Belgian market, and we are planning to export Champagne from France to Slovakia.

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the EU after your participation in MobilisSME? Which role had the Local Contact Points in sharing this information?

Yes, we improved the knowledge of mobility of workers. Once you go through the process, it is then easier to repeat the experience and use the great opportunity to expand the partnerships in Europe. 

Lastly, our Local Contact Points helped us to understand what was needed and the required timing. We think is important to have a full guide available from the beginning so to know immediately what to expect from the participation in MobiliseSME and the needed steps.

MobiliseSME has been extended until March 2023!

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Yes, that is right!

Our European programme, MobiliseSME, was expected to end in July 2022. However, given the resounding success it is having, its extension has been approved!

What does this mean? We will continue supporting European SMEs for another 7 months, so until 31 March 2023 you will be able to benefit from the MobiliseSME programme.

This is very good news not only for those of us behind the programme who are striving to make it happen, but above all for the European SMEs, freelancers, self-employed or liberal professions who will be able to continue to take advantage of this cross-border labour mobility experience.

Thus, if you wish to broaden your knowledge of the market, be on the cutting edge of innovation, improve your competitiveness, or you need fresh ideas and acquire new skills, expand your networks and further promote the development of your activity or company, do not miss this opportunity any longer!

Here is a friendly reminder: collaborations between MobiliseSME participants cover different topics, such as…

– Market research or marketing strategies;

– Development of products and services (innovation R&D);

– Internationalisation, search of new clients and trade opportunities (foreign trade);

– Training (knowledge transfer);

– Joint research activities;

– Strengthening pre-existent collaborations or projects;

– Other kinds of activities or collaborations.


You can also visit our official website where you can find helpful documents, such as the MobiliseSME Guide, the General Leaflet, Host Company Leaflet and Sending Company Leaflet; as well as links to the matchmaking platform and information on financial support, among others.

Of course, you can always contact us via email at support@mobilise-sme.eu and through our social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook), although email contact will always be prioritised.

Do not forget to look for your nearest Local Contact Point for a closer and more personalised communication.

Let’s keep mobilising!

 

MobiliseSME consortium meets for the first time in person!

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After almost two years of working on the programme and meeting exclusively virtually due to the pandemic, the MobiliseSME consortium was finally able to meet face-to-face for the first time!

The Transnational Project Meeting, which took place on 27-28 April in Valencia (Spain), was a great success and a key event for the proper continuity and management of MobiliseSME.

Apart from that, it was a pleasure to be able to meet in person after almost 2 years of trying without success.

Key aspects of the meeting

The meeting focused on:

– Improving effectiveness in coordinating and supporting SMEs and other profiles of MobiliseSME participants;

– Exchanging of profiles and information on European markets and SME status;

– Working on the extension of the programme.

Now, let’s turn to some key figures:

– At the moment, more than 800 companies have participated in the programme;

– The consortium has supported, through the Local Contact Points, more than 140 companies in their search for partners at European level;

– Behind MobiliseSME there are 12 European organisations that monitor it, exchange best practices and continuously improve the implementation of the programme.

MobiliseSME

Fundación Equipo Humano (the organising entity of this meeting), as co-coordinator and leader in exchanges and registered companies in Spain, continuously shares knowledge and best practices with the other MobiliseSME partners.

Examples of best practices include helping those locations and partners that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as being able to detect differences between countries and apply common solutions.

Next stop: Serbia!

The upcoming meeting will take place on 3 and 4 November in Novi Sad (Serbia) and will be organised by the partner Business Incubator Novi Sad.

We all know that new technologies shorten distances and allow us to carry out projects and collaborations with international partners.

However, let’s not forget that physical meetings are essential to establish and strengthen links between people and organisations, which improve the communication, agility and efficiency of the team.

This is also the essence of the MobiliseSME programme, as we enable EU SMEs to strengthen their international partnerships, expand their networks and enhance synergies, making the EU more economically and socially cohesive.

To achieve stable and lasting international alliances, we need in-person collaborations and, therefore, MobiliseSME!

 

«The whole idea of MobiliseSME is brilliant, especially as one-person companies and cultural workers are considered»

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Barbara Fellgiebel is a Swedish entrepreneur, owner of the company Magiska Författarresor, who has participated in MobiliseSME as a Sending Company.

Thanks to the programme, Barbara has been able to collaborate for 6 months in Berlin with Dr. Clara Mavellia, founder and head of the Cultural Entrepreneurship Institute Berlin, who has participated as Host Company.

After their mobility period through MobiliseSME, we have interviewed them to tell us about their participation:

– Please, Barbara, tell us a bit about your company and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME?

My company Magiska Författarresor organises trips for writers who live and write in Sweden,  in order to meet colleagues in other European countries.

So far, we have been to Berlin, Leipzig, Reykjavik, Faro and Helsinki. Not to mention the numerous constellations of smaller writers groups between the involved countries.

The outcome has been bilingual literary salons as well as the publishing of two anthologies: 

· Barndom I Sverige – Kindheit in Deutschland ISBN 978-91-519-0237-1, by Swedish and German writers.

· HEMVIST ISBN 978-3-939385-07-3, by Finnish and Swedish writers. 

We also arrange a variety of literary events in Sweden, Germany and Portugal. Since the arrival of Covid, we have started with Zoom projects and been able to incorporate participants in countries all over Europe.

On the other hand, we closely cooperate with the Swedish organisation Litteraturrundan – a society of writers that we co-founded in 2013. We also plan a project with the V.STN:ORT Festiwal 2022 in Poland.

I was and am thrilled to have encountered an EU project that includes cultural activities and acknowledges the need for financial support for cultural workers.

Lastly, I decided to participate in MobiliseSME through personal contact with a partner organisation already registered in the programme.

– And how about you, Clara? Please, tell us about your company and how you found out about the MobiliseSME programme.

The Cultural Entrepreneurship Institute Berlin has 12 years experience in hosting events and producing meaningful digital content.

Furthermore, I would say I am a kind of influencer for ethical principles and democratic values, as well as a cultural entrepreneur. I have been able to tighten relationships with eminent academics, exemplary entrepreneurs and committed women and men all over Europe.

In 2017, the Institute started the project EU Women in order to strengthen women’s rights and democracy in Europe. According to Gloria Steinem, you can’t empower women without listening to their stories. That’s why the focus of the work project was on collecting and diffusion of women’s stories (memoir).

Through shared emotions we can understand and appreciate Europe. We started to acquire women and men willing to participate and planned to expand the resonance of the project. At the same time, we wished to develop skills in the field of digital marketing to generate profit,  inter alia a digital shop where to sell the stories.

When I heard about the MobiliseSME programme from my daughter Isabella I thought this is exactly what we need.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company, Barbara? Would you repeat the MobiliseSME experience?

It furthered my networking into other fields of business. Among others, Clara introduced me to the large network Üpfi, a legendary group of female politicians and highly committed women in various fields of business and activities supporting democracy and human rights in Berlin. I became a member of Üpfi and had a fabulous increase in my personal network. 

On the other hand, I would recommend any time to participate in MobiliseSME and I would gladly repeat this business experience. As a writer, I can easily work in other countries and the experience from a different culture, language and surroundings certainly provides a lot of necessary inspiration, ideas, contacts and possibilities.

Due to Covid and, thus, various periods of lockdown and inflicted isolation, the outcome of the secondment was unexpectedly restricted, more relying on internet contacts than on planned and expected personal encounters in real life.

The war in Ukraine has given yet another completely unexpected dimension to the secondment.

– Clara, please, briefly describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with Barbara. How did the process go?

Barbara and I first met at an event hosted in 2019 by my Institute in Berlin: “EU Women” at Z-Bar, where different women read their stories related to World War II.

The moving stories reminded us how crucial the European Union is for the peaceful coexistence of people that only a few decades before were killing each other. The event was a great success and EU Women signed a monthly schedule with the Z-Bar.

Inspired by Elena Ferrante, EU Women also planned a creative writing journey to Ischia in the early summer 2020. As Barbara has a large network I asked her if she’d like to cooperate. She was very positive, so we made a plan. Shortly after sending the invitations, we had the first application and payment.

When the pandemic hit Italy and Europe, I had to cancel the events in the Z-Bar and we also had to cancel the journey to Ischia.

After a couple of months, I discovered Zoom and asked Barbara to cooperate in starting a creative writing workshop via Zoom and, actually, we had a good start. In order to propagate the stories, I started to record them during our Zoom meetings and post them on the EU Women YouTube channel.

When I heard about MobiliseSME, I realised this was a great opportunity to work closer. So I asked Barbara how about coming to Berlin. She was really enthusiastic about it also because she had already planned a literary event in September at Terzo Mondo in Berlin.

MobiliseSME

– Barbara, how has this collaboration helped you to develop yourself and your company? With which knowledge, techniques or information have you contributed to the Host Company? Which functions and responsibilities did you have during this collaborative period?

As a Sending Company, I found it extremely interesting to work and live in a different country and experience the very different daily life and working routines. Due to the Covid pandemic, many personal contacts and gatherings were not possible and had to be conducted online. Thus, the Covid threat affected me personally. I became less productive, less willing to meet new people, deal with new challenges, etc.

However, I increased my technical knowledge with regards to making videoclips, improving lightning, sound, setting, sending clips… thanks to the encouraging guidance and knowledge of Clara.

Moreover, the Institute has actively participated in a literature salon in Berlin as well as been published in the most recent anthology (Jetzt Erst Recht ISBN 987-3-939385-17-2), issued by my company. My Host Company will even participate in a forthcoming anthology called Wind Of Change.

Week by week I improved with many ups and downs my technical skills in hosting Zoom conferences and workshops. I even started a monthly occurring literary platform all over Europe under the name of Alfa Zoom.

With the arrival of Omicron and the increasing fear and unwillingness of personal encounters, more and more participants started to find and appreciate the benefit of the many new and unusual digital formats.

In addition, in spite of various restrictions, I managed to go to Munich in order to acquire more women who wanted to tell us their stories.

Finally, I participated in the Frankfurt Book fair, which due to COVID restrictions was a very unusual experience. In this event, I managed to recruit new participants to our project and was delighted to learn that the 2022 guest country will be Spain!

– Clara, how do you think this collaboration with the Sending Company contributed to your Institute and personal development? Would you recommend participating in MobiliseSME?

Barbara (Magiska Författarresor) hosted an event at Terzo Mondo in Berlin and invited me to participate. She also planned a publication of Berlin’s event stories and included one of my Institute’s.

Immediately before the event, we planned a collaboration: together, we researched how to promote the production and diffusion of women’s stories in order to enhance the importance of democracy and women’s rights.

To this end, we decided among others to dedicate the workshop in May to the theme “Europe” so everyone wrote a story related to Europe. This special session was hosted in partnership with the Berlin Senate and announced as part of the Berlin European Week. 

Due to Barbara’s broad network, we were always able to have between 5 and 10 persons participating in the Zoom meeting every month.

For sure, I would recommend MobiliseSME and I would like to repeat the business experience anytime. In fact, Barbara and I plan to continue our collaboration.

– Barbara, do you plan to continue the collaboration after the experience with the MobiliseSME programme?

In spite of initial difficulties due to our strong personalities, we found a successful way of collaboration that we both find profitable and satisfying, so that we have agreed on continuing by reversing the situation: Clara (The Cultural Entrepreneurship Institute Berlin) will come to Sweden and participate as a Sending Company, so that she will be able to study and participate in the various literary events that my company has lined up.

Thereby, we can work together on improving the market of women’s stories as real cultural entrepreneurs.

After the completion of our participation in MobiliseSME, On March 20, I organised a German literary salon where Clara met some of the participants from our Zoom course in real life, as well as encountered a German-speaking Swedish audience that was very interested in our project and in the programme.

As there is still much to do, we are glad to continue our collaboration. Especially helpful is the exchange of ideas about what is working in this particular field.

Writing is in fact a very lonely business, particularly when it comes to the marketing part. Here we need some more brainstorming. 

We also plan to realise our creative writing journey to Ischia, which hopefully will lead to new contacts and possibly to further MobiliseSME projects with new counterparts.

Mobilise

– What about you, Clara?

I endorse the words of my partner Barbara.

As mentioned, we wish to start a kind of digital shop where we sell the stories, in order to generate profit and become skilled cultural entrepreneurs.

Also, it would be great to add female content to the male-dominated cyberspace. In fact, this is a very innovative project, in our case the socio-technical “market” of women’s stories; ethics and democracy; freedom and human dignity; equality and rule of law; human rights and women’s rights; in brief, the core values of Europe.

Let me add that the Russian-Ukrainian war reminds us not to take democratic values ​​for granted, but to appreciate and support them tirelessly. Exactly what the programme MobiliseSME is doing.

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the EU after your participation in MobilisSME? Which role had the Local Contact Points in sharing this information?

I (Barbara) was quite aware of Erasmus and other existing European mobility and exchange programmes, but had not heard of MobiliseSME.

I am a very independent worker, used to making a lot of solitary decisions. I quickly got the impression that it was alright to work like that.

The role of our Local Contact Points, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber – WKO and Fundación Equipo Humano, is to function as a help centre that assists you in case of emergency. It felt good and secure to have this assistance. But I didn’t really need to make use of it as the host country, Germany, was not unfamiliar to me. I think the situation is completely different for a seconded person who has never been in the host country.

As there is no Local Contact Point in Scandinavia, I would be interested to possibly become one. I think the whole idea of MobiliseSME is brilliant, especially as even one-person companies and cultural workers are considered.

Thus, I hope this programme will continue, grow and excel.

 

«MobiliseSME is advisable for any lawyer in the EU, since it brings a European approach to law career»

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Mattia Tedeschi is an Italian freelance lawyer who has participated in MobiliseSME as a Sending Company, which has allowed him to collaborate for 6 months with Ricardo Moreno Iraola, owner of the Spanish law firm Iraola Advocatorum.

We interviewed both of them to see how their participation in the MobiliseSME programme has gone:

– Please, Mattia, tell us a bit about your company and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME?

As a freelance lawyer, I provide legal services (in Italian and English) to natural and legal persons in Italy. My areas of specialisation are immigration law and civil law. Our headquarter is in La Spezia, and we have contacts with local companies and people.  

I wanted to participate in MobiliseSME as a Sending Company because I thought this could be a great and useful experience for me, since I am planning to establish a branch in another EU country. I also wanted to find a partner company or freelancer in Europe, to have an experience in his/her company, to improve my business, and to establish relations in other countries.  

I discovered the programme when I searched on the Internet about opportunities for making exchanges in other EU countries. Then I found the website of the MobiliseSME programme.

– And how about you, Ricardo? Please, tell us about your company and how you found out about the MobiliseSME programme.

I am a freelance lawyer in Madrid, carrying out legal services to individuals and legal entities in Spain. My specialisations are bankruptcy and civil law, but soon I will be enrolling in the Madrid criminal office shift.

In addition, I have just opened a law firm called Iraola Advocatorum.

I participated in the programme as a Host Company because I learned about it and it seemed to me a great opportunity to collaborate with someone else. Since I opened the law firm, I have been working alone. Thus, I am looking to meet people and to win new clients.

I thought MobiliseSME was a good opportunity to work with a colleague of mine from another country and give a more internationalist turn to my business, which otherwise would remain confined to local law.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company, Mattia? Would you repeat the MobiliseSME experience?

This collaboration contributed significantly to my law firm, because my income increased due to the increase in the business volume.

I managed to surpass my previous invoice levels thanks to the support and knowledge I gained from the MobiliseSME experience.

Thanks to my participation in the programme, I am now providing business information services to Spanish companies interested in running their business in Italy. I also provide immigration advice services to Spanish speaking clients from Spain and Latin America.

Thus, I strongly recommend MobiliseSME to any lawyer and businessman in the EU. Is a great opportunity to meet new collaborators and to widen your business knowledge.

I would repeat this experience without any doubt and I would love to participate again, in order to develop more ideas and services, and to make my business even stronger.

– Ricardo, please, briefly describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with Mattia. How did the process go?

I did not know about the Sending Company before. I contacted Mattia because we had a common goal: to satisfy our customers and learn from this opportunity.

Mattia’s profile seemed interesting because he wanted to learn bankruptcy law and extend his services to companies working between Italy and Spain.

We had different strengths, such as knowledge of civil law and the will to give a more international touch to our business. I think that we had things in common and that is why we decided to work together.

I would definitely repeat the MobiliseSME experience, since it was an important formative stage. I don’t know what it would be like to work in the long run, but for these months the experience has been very positive.

– Mattia, with which knowledge, techniques or information have you contributed to the Host Company? Which functions and responsibilities did you have during this collaborative period?

I have mainly provided knowledge to Ricardo about the most popular legal services that he could offer in Italy. I also informed him about the process to buy houses in Italy, so he can provide advice in Italian real estate law.

My main functions were to give support in marketing, in the elaboration of documents, in negotiation and customer search/support.

Therewith, I improved my legal skills oriented to multiple jurisdictions, especially to the Spanish legal system and, of course, my business skills and Spanish command.

As I said before, this collaboration surely contributed significantly to my law firm.

MobiliseSME

– Ricardo, how do you think this collaboration with the Sending Company contributed to your law firm and personal development? Would you recommend participating in MobiliseSME?

The collaboration with Mattia has contributed to my company in the sense that there has been an increase in the volume of business and income.

I basically offered my experience in criminal law and Mattia his experience in civil law. We have developed an overall vision on commercial law, in order to have more customers and offer more services; we also advertised our businesses, worked together and learned from each other, although initially there were language barriers. However, we overcame them and this allowed us to get to know each other better.

Mattia and I contacted several Italian and Spanish trans-border companies, which work and invest in both countries, as well as local authorities. He introduced me to some natural persons who wanted to invest in Spain and, thus, I was able to make new clients.

I would certainly recommend this experience, because it is important to give a more European approach to our profession, which otherwise would remain closed and limited to the country of origin.

– Mattia, do you plan to continue the collaboration after the experience with the MobiliseSME programme?

Sure, in fact I plan to further collaborate with Ricardo. We will act each other as an agent of our businesses in Italy and Spain, getting a commission every time we send a new client to each other’s law firm.

We will also continue giving support to each other when we have any doubt about the Italian or Spanish system.

We will both collaborate together when it comes to delegating work that must be done in our countries, while giving each other the chance to use our offices in Italy and Spain to meet with clients and to use them as a local contact point for our clients.

– What about you, Ricardo?

Of course, we will collaborate again in the future.

We have estimated new earnings from the exchange of clients, those interested in investing in Spain and Italy.

As Mattia said, for each new client, we would get a commission; and, for some clients, we will both work and earn half the fee each.

After our participation in MobiliseSME, we have gained new customers, as well as we have invested in advertising in local authorities and in our respective cities of origin.

So, I hope that the collaboration will continue over time, since it can be a way of making us grow in the international sphere.

Mattia also wanted to extend his services to another country, and this experience provided the tools to do so.

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the EU after your participation in MobilisSME? Which role had the Local Contact Points in sharing this information?

I (Mattia) have improved my knowledge of workers mobility, because I have learned first hand how the European Union is supporting labour exchanges between countries in a successful way.

The MobiliseSME programme means a great opportunity to integrate the EU by allowing people to work in other EU countries and giving support to do it.

On the other hand, our Local Contact Points (Forum AIC and Fundación Equipo Humano) did a great job by guiding us in the whole process. They were very supportive all the time and always answered our questions, helping with a procedure that was new to us.

Their role is to support participants and to provide complete information about the programme. Also, to guarantee that MobiliseSME works in the agreed way.

 

How to achieve great results through MobiliseSME – Interviewing Sandra Grabowska and D33

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Sandra Grabowska is a Polish freelancer specialising in marketing strategy, digital media, consumer behaviour, brand awareness, and omni-channel marketing campaigns, who decided to join MobiliseSME as a Sending Company.

Anacleto and Lisa Balasso are the owners of D33 sas di Anacleto Balasso & C. Lisa Balasso (D33), an Italian company based in Venice (Italy), which offers services as a communication agency. D33 has participated in MobiliseSME as Host Company.

Sandra and D33 have been collaborating through the MobiliseSME programme for 6 months. Do you want to know how it went? Then don’t miss the interview we have conducted with them, in which they tell us all about it in detail:

– Hello, Sandra. Please, tell us a bit about your company and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME?

I decided to gain my professional experience right after I started my studies in Journalism and Social Communication. My first internships were in fashion magazines such as Glamour and Elle, as well as in the atelier of designers like Plich and Rina Cossack.

From the beginning, my career has been linked to the fashion industry, as well as working in a freelance position, which allowed me to work with many clients and brands.

In MobiliseSME I saw an opportunity to gain additional experience in a sector I was also interested in but did not have much experience. In addition, the Italian market – a country and a culture that are close to my heart.

During one of my trips to Venice, I met Lisa Balasso, the co-owner of D33 and founder of Venice Design Week (VDW). I was very keen to improve my services and work with VDW, as I had previously worked mainly in the fashion industry, so VDW was a challenge for me, but also a way to improve my qualifications. 

During our conversation, Lisa mentioned the MobiliseSME programme, which would enable us to exchange experiences together. I didn’t hesitate for a second and sent in my application.

– And how about you, Anacleto and Lisa? Please, tell us about D33 and how you found out about the MobiliseSME programme.

Our company promotes online other businesses. We create, develop and guard some brands across print and digital, locally, nationally and internationally. We work for and project art and design exhibitions.

We have experience in organisation of exhibitions from the fundraising to the contents and choice of products, designers, partners and media partners. We developed the project VDW and we are running it to create a week of events, exhibitions, talks and meetings in Venice. 

In addition, we like to connect people and brands, so we decided to participate in MobiliseSME because we believe in the connections and networking to generate business. Also because we love to learn and compare what we and others do. Thus, we have the chance to grow up in meetings and work together.

MobiliseSME

On the other hand, we discovered MobiliseSME through a newsletter and, at first, we thought of using it to go abroad to experience another design week in Europe; however, we did not have the time to do it. So, when Sandra asked to cooperate with us, we thought that this programme was in the spirit of our new experience together.

MobiliseSME gave Sandra the possibility to work in the same room instead of working through video calls, and everything became possible when people work side by side and, of course, problems are easier to solve.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company, Sandra? Would you repeat the MobiliseSME experience?

Working with D33 has definitely had a positive impact on my professional life. Thanks to these months of working together and exchanging experiences, I have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people and establishing many business relationships, which will certainly not end with the programme, on the contrary.

Moreover, I have gained valuable experience in the art and design industry – from organising exhibitions or large events, such as Venice Design Week, to researching and contacting designers.

From the communication and marketing point of view, it was also a challenge for me because I had to reach different target groups and different media (related to art and design) with my message and promotion. I can certainly say that I have gained valuable experience on the foreign market and I improved my Italian.

In retrospect, I would certainly encourage others to take part in MobiliseSME, as it gives you the opportunity to gather valuable experience in practice rather than theory, to exchange experiences.

Personally, I would not hesitate to apply again and repeat the participation in this European programme. 

– Anacleto and Lisa, briefly describe the matchmaking process and the preparation of activities with the Sending Company. How did the process go?

I (Lisa) met Sandra in Venice by networking with a friend, and later Sandra looked for me and we started to think of developing a project together. So we looked for support and we thought the MobiliseSME programme could be a good chance to get to know each other better while working on a joint project.

The profile of Sandra was different from other profiles that I had in the team, so it could be interesting to have another point of view. She comes from the fashion and journalism worlds, and later we realised this could be helpful to build other projects.

We started to develop some hypothesis of cooperation; then, we opted to develop the Design Market, a project that was on standby for years because we did not have the right team to work on it.

We realised that Sandra has leading characteristics and she was perfect in the role. So she started with the MobliseSME experience creating connections with designers from Poland.

Also, the relationship with the team behind MobiliseSME was so easy, everybody was really cooperative.

Design Market

– Sandra, how do you think this collaboration with the Host Company contributed to your personal development?

Certainly, working with D33, mainly at Venice Design Week, has helped me to enrich my professional qualifications.

Thanks to this experience, I have acquired additional knowledge and skills in the fields of art and design, organisation of exhibitions, and large artistic events, getting to know the Italian market related to art and design, the Italian artists and designers, as well as improving my knowledge of the Italian language and establishing valuable contacts, which will certainly pay off in the future.

Moreover, because of MobiliseSME I can also offer more services to future clients and reach out to a new type of clientele – those in the field of art and design. Also, I am already in talks with one potential client who would like to use my services, so I think this is the best confirmation.

Therefore, I can confidently say that working with D33 has definitely improved my current professional position and the services I offer.

– And how did you contribute to the Host Company? Which responsibilities did you have during the time of collaboration?

As a Sending Company, coming to Venice and working with D33 in the organisation of Venice Design Week, since I already had some experience in working on large events (mainly fashion related, such as organising a fashion show) and tasks related to communication, promotion and marketing.

On my part, I also offered D33 my knowledge about Polish artists and the Polish design market, contacts with artists and knowledge of important events in this industry in Poland.

However, when organising the Design Market event, I focused on what I felt good at, i.e. promoting the event in social media, media and marketing.

Additionally, I was responsible from the very beginning for scouting Polish brands and guiding them from the moment of registration to participation in the event itself.

I think that after our collaboration through MobiliseSME, D33 will enrich its knowledge about the Polish market and Polish brands, especially ceramic ones. Also thanks to my networks, my Host Company has also made contact with media, such as WhiteMad or Gazzetta Italia.

Sandra Grabowska

– What about you, Anacleto and Lisa? How do you think the collaboration with Sandra contributed to D33? 

Sandra contributed to one project in particular. This experience or an exhibition of designers from Poland in Venice can be repeated in the next few years.

We also developed one event that we had not started before because we did not have the competence inside our company and because we were too busy.

The main result of our collaboration was the satisfaction of the companies from Poland that Sandra invited to the Design Market of the VDW. The atmosphere of the event was curated in every detail with professionality.

Thanks to this, we now have a format that can be used from other countries to participate in VDW.

– Do you plan to continue the collaboration after the experience with the MobiliseSME programme? If yes, how so?

Yes, after our time together and our work on the VDW, we want to continue our cooperation. What’s more, we are already continuing our collaboration and working together on the next edition of Venice Design Week. 

During VDW, I (Sandra) was fully responsible for a new project, which was the Design Market. During the Design Market, thanks to our Polish-Italian cooperation, as many as 5 Polish ceramic brands were presented.

Since the Design Market turned out to be an unquestionable success, which was confirmed by numerous publications in the media and by the opinions of satisfied designers, we decided to organise another Design Market during VDW in 2022, and even go one step further.

Also, we want to transfer the format of the event to Milan and organise a Design Market, during the most important event in the world of Design – Milano Design Week. The first talks and meetings on this topic have already taken place.

– Which role do the Local Contact Points play in sharing this information?

Undoubtedly, the Local Contact Points (The Italian-Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce) were extremely helpful and always there to help in preparing for the collab, completing documents and during the MobiliseSME experience itself.

Finally, we also think that the MobiliseSME programme should certainly be further promoted and made more widely available, since very few people around us knew about the existence of such a programme and the opportunities it offers.

 

«I recommend MobiliseSME to any company that wants to expand its market and improve its knowledge»

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Gonzalo Palenzuela is a self-employed specialist in reparation and restoration of pianos and owner of Silentium Piano, who recently participated in the MobiliseSME programme as Sending Company.

Gonzalo came to learn and exchange his experience to a Belgium based company for 3 months. He describes his participation in MobiliseSME as very enriching – thanks to it, as he says, he was able to reach many new potential partners and acquire skills related to his profession.

How did the collaboration with Queen’s Pianos, as the Host Company, go? And why would he recommend the programme to other SMEs as well? Find out the answers in the following interview:

– Tell us a bit about you and your professional path. Why did you decide to participate in MobiliseSME? 

I am a self-employed worker specialising in the reparation and restoration of grand pianos. I have worked by myself since 1993. I have been trained in several factories and in various piano schools, not only in Europe; and after more than 25 years of professional experience, I have achieved a high degree of specialisation in the field.

I work mainly in the Spanish region of Castilla y León, but also in Madrid. Castilla y León has a low population density, which decreases every day. This means that I had to look for new markets, and this is also one of the reasons why I thought about starting new relationships with important European piano dealers.

On top of that, as I work by myself, I have always desired to exchange knowledge with other professionals and with companies which work with a high number of grand pianos in the second-hand distribution sector.

– From a business point of view, how did the collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your company? Would you recommend participating in MobiliseSME? 

I have been able to meet and also collaborate with several dealers in the second-hand pianos distribution sector. Mainly, I have exchanged knowledge and information with my Host Company, but I also got in contact with other important European dealers and have been able to collaborate with them – doing restorations, installing equipment or fine-tuning pianos.

I have reached companies such as Pianos Maene, Pianos Van Innis and Pianos Carlier, all of them based in Belgium.

The experience has been really interesting, and I think that it will allow me to continue the collaboration with those enterprises, which means expanding my activity market.

I recommend participating in MobiliseSME to any company that wants to expand its market and improve its knowledge, and for sure, I would repeat this business experience.

– How did this collaboration with the Host Company contribute to your development? 

Since I am the owner of the sending company (self-employed), the collaboration has contributed not only to the development of my company but also to my development as a worker. 

I have been able to chat with colleagues working in the sector, refreshing my knowledge with new ideas and exchanging information about some of the techniques used in the restoration of pianos.

The collaboration will probably continue in the future, as I have started professional relationships very useful for the second-hand piano dealers I met, and also for me, since I have increased my market reach.

MobiliseSME

– With which knowledge, techniques or information has the seconded person contributed to the Host Company? Which knowledge and skills did the seconded person improve? 

My Host Company was a European piano dealer based in Belgium that needed at least one high-profile professional to fine-tune and restore its grand pianos. I have worked restoring 20 pianos in total, which have been restored in high quality and the market has appreciated the excellent job done.

I have been able to improve my skills in installing silent systems in grand pianos, which requires practice that I have acquired in the Host Company facilities. I have also learnt some techniques used to restore the piano furniture.

– Do you plan to collaborate with the Host Company after this project?

Since we both have finished the joint project with a high degree of satisfaction, we would like to further develop our relationship.

I will probably work for the Host Company (as well as for the others that I have met during my stay in Belgium) as a freelancer for some time during the year. 

– How the COVID restrictions affect your collaboration? How did you manage to coordinate? 

COVID restrictions have affected our collaboration, since our first idea was to collaborate longer in the first period. However, we have been able to adapt the dates to the situation and, fortunately, after the improvement of the situation in both countries and my vaccination, the restrictions were lower, and we could meet our expectations. 

The most difficult was to avoid lock-down during the first part of our participation in MobiliseSME, since vaccines were not still available. Nevertheless, I was allowed to follow a semi-lockdown, being able to go out just to work. Also, the expenses have increased since I have had to take several PCRs to prove I was free of COVID.

– Last but not least, did you improve your knowledge of mobility of workers within the European Union after your participation in MobilisSME? Which role did the information local points in sharing this information? 

Fundación Equipo Humano, my Local Contact Point, has been really kind and helpful. They have provided me all the information about the requirements needed for the mobility of the European workers involved in the project.

Also, they have helped me with all the documentation needed and, in my opinion, their role is of the most importance for the success of the MobiliseSME programme.

Everything has been easy, both for the Sending (me) and for the Host Company. The procedure has been smooth, and they have provided financial support on time and in a very efficient way.