Enterprise Europe Network

Cruise ship ceilings offer perfect backdrops for painted skies

A three-person company based in Carinthia, Austria, has developed an ecological process for painting starry skies onto ceilings.

It is claimed that these starry skies have a calming effect on residents suffering from dementia in old people's homes. Business was healthy but CEO Walter Jakobitsch was looking for new markets in the shipbuilding and hotel sectors across the border with Italy. The huge shipyards of Fincantieri, near Trieste, offered plenty of cabins to paint but the cruise ship market is difficult to break into.

Jakobitsch approached his local Enterprise Europe Network branch, the Economic Chamber of Carinthia, Klagenfurt, to help him develop commercial links. The Enterprise Europe Network brings together close to 600 organisations in more than 50 countries. It helps companies find partners through a powerful database containing thousand of company profiles and through specialised matchmaking and brokerage events.

Network expert Elisabeth Hauer invited him to a Business-to-Business (B2B) matchmaking event in Klagenfurt in 2009 for the Alpe Adria region. "We know Top Impex well," she says. "We've worked with them for many years, helping them find new distribution partners."

There, Jakobitsch met Sabina Dandrich from Aries, the Enterprise Europe Network branch in Trieste, and she introduced him to a number of clients, including Holiday Signals srl. She says: "Holiday Signals srl are the largest subcontractor of Ficantieri shipbuilders. They work in cruise ship and hotel signage, and the two were a perfect fit."

Hauer adds, "During the whole process the Network offices were involved and supported the companies whenever it was essential. Top Impex and Holiday Signals srl representatives met several times to define possible ways of cooperation. With the support of Aries, the innovative paintings were also presented to local authorities, hotels and companies in Trieste."

Top Impex now has exclusive rights for cruisers and hotels in the North East of Italy. "Thanks to the meeting, it all went very fast - bang, bang, bang," Jakobitsch says.  "I wouldn't have met these ship builders without the Network's help."

Fast-forward several years and the companies are still enjoying a fruitful partnership. Holiday Signals is the distribution partner of Top Impex for their starry sky in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto.

Elisabeth Hauer concludes, "Both companies emphasised again that the support of the Network was essential for the cooperation. Both companies are still in contact with the Network offices in Carinthia and Trieste and benefit from the Network's numerous services including international matchmaking events; support at B2B events; help finding potential cooperation partners; information on internationalisation e.g. doing business activities in Italy, IPR, etc."