Enterprise Europe Network as An Institution Supporting Smes' Internationalization - The Case Study
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are currently a very important part of the whole business sector in Europe. In Poland, enterprises from the SME sector account for 99.8% of non-financial enterprises. However, not only because of the size of the SME sector, it is considered crucial for the development of the economy. Its importance in responding quickly to changes in the environment, entrepreneurship and job creation is emphasised. However, due to their specificity and small size, SMEs do not have the resources that large companies own. In order to develop, make changes, and gain competitive advantage, small businesses need external support. It is not only about financial and material resources but also advisory services, access to training, consulting or business contacts at brokerage events. Recently, contacts in the international arena have become increasingly important, as globalization and the development of new ITC technologies are becoming increasingly common among small businesses seeking clients and associates abroad. This type of support is provided by Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the world's largest enterprise support network. EEN works to support enterprises from the SME sector in the framework of international cooperation. This article discusses entrepreneurs’ needs for internationalization support in the field of research, business and technology cooperation from the perspective of a member of the EEN network. The aim of the conducted research was to identify the needs of enterprises from the SME sector in eastern Poland in the field of international cooperation. Empirical studies were conducted using a case study method based on interview technique, observation, and documentation analysis. The analysis of the results of the conducted research allowed to formulate conclusions about the needs of enterprises for external support in the field of internationalization, identification of barriers and opportunities.
Index Terms— SME, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), internationalization, support for international cooperation