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blog article30 April 2020

Challenging times call for fast and effective measures

supportive hands
business support
high-tech industries
supply chains disruptions

The new decade began differently than anyone could have ever expected. The abrupt and sweeping changes that we now face because of the COVID-19 crisis were impossible to foresee. Different needs, new rules, shifting priorities; we were all asked to adapt quickly to an unprecedented situation. SMEs around the world are struggling to stay afloat and to adjust to the current challenge. This is where the Enterprise Europe Network stands strong, helping companies overcome these difficult times.

Adjust. Get back on ones feet. Repeat.

We all know that we are living in a fast-moving age that requires rapid adaptation and agile structures. Everything changes so quickly that it is sometimes difficult to keep track. However, what are you supposed to do when something turns your daily life and work upside down? How are you supposed to cope with it?

In March 2020, our Enterprise Europe Network team at ZENIT GmbH had to postpone or cancel all international matchmaking activities, missions and events, adjusting quickly to a new reality when our clients needed us the most.

The old maxim ‘extreme times call for extreme measures’ immediately springs to mind. Our team opted for putting all extremes aside, and instead digging deep into our reserves of resilience to take fast and effective measures. This is the approach we chose to address the new priorities and dramatic changes in our clients’ needs.

Standing strong by our clients

Our Enterprise Europe Network team is supporting companies in several ways. For example, we help them overcome business obstacles and access funding for rapid implementation of home office solutions or to create a secure web shop and web presence. We are fixing broken supply chains, as in the case of AirMed PLUS GmbH, who we helped in finding new suppliers.

At ZENIT, we are operating a governmental hotline to help companies access packages from the national aid programme, and offer them advice on how to manage the COVID-19 crisis. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we stand by our companies.

We also support the government with their requests and help evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on research, development and innovation activities, as well as the subsequent adaptation of national funding schemes.

Exploring new frontiers

In these challenging times, adapting to new, unprecedented needs is essential. This is what some of our clients have been relentlessly working on.

The company Green Textile Solutions, for example, has expanded and adjusted their product portfolio from manufacturing sustainable work wear to supporting their medical clients with sterile masks.

One of our clients, COREVAS, has adapted one of its products, EmergencyEye®, to cope with the pandemic. This new type of video chat service for emergency workers and doctors enables an accurate initial diagnosis from a distance. Thanks to the support of the telecommunications group Vodafone, The EmergencyEye® system was expanded and is available for free in the current situation. Furthermore, the product works even when the monthly data volume of the caller is almost expired and it provides real-time translation from ten languages.

Another one of our clients, SAMPL Fleischwaren Produktion und Vertriebs GmbH, is helping to tackle overstock challenges of food producers who normally sell to restaurants or cafés that are now closed.

Finally, we are helping Nuromedia GmbH and DigitalHealth Technology GmbH in offering their Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality and eHealth expertise to tackle COVID-19 challenges.

Building bridges in times of confinement

Even when we could not be more further apart, we must find new ways of bringing people together. This is why, we are actively involved in the Care & Industry together against CORONA and BioWin Cooperation Platform COVID-19 virtual platforms.

The Enterprise Europe Network-led platform Care & Industry together against CORONA offers concrete support to help facing the coronavirus crisis. It connects actors in healthcare, industry, support organisations, government, academia and companies who can provide medical equipment and treatment solutions. Interested organisations can register to the platform to discuss initiatives and express their needs.

The BioWin Cooperation Platform COVID-19, developed in partnership with the Enterprise Europe Network Partners in Wallonia, gathers multiple and diverse healthcare actors. It encourages exchanges among participants and enables them to find partners for their proposals. 

Business support on your – virtual – doorstep

I believe that in the current crisis time is crucial and it is quite a challenge to focus on companies that can provide COVID-19 related solutions and, at the same time, help other companies that are in trouble to stay afloat as they all need our support.

How are we doing all this? Through online meetings, digital consultation days, virtual matchmaking events, webinars, conferences. Even online workshops have become a daily routine. We have had to adjust our digital strategy and roll it out faster than planned to remain close to our clients in these times of need.

Do you need further support?

Several actions have been taken to fight against the current COVID-19 outbreak and its negative effects. To help you find all the support you need, the Enterprise Europe Network has compiled a list of useful links. You will find information on access to finance and liquidity measures; platforms bringing together different actors to share needs and solutions; European support initiatives for the healthcare industry and much more.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

About the author(s)

Agnieszka Kaminska-Swiat holds a master's degree in Business Administration and a M.A. in Applied Linguistics. During her studies in Poland she was in charge of international support programmes for youth exchange projects for a central office of the German-Polish Youth Office. On a part-time basis, she taught English in a language school. Afterwards she completed various internships, among others at the Polish Ministry for Regional Development, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Berlin and an international auditing company. Since 2012, she has been working for the Innovation Agency of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, ZENIT GmbH, in Mülheim a. d. Ruhr. As an internationalisation consultant, she heads the NRW.Europa team for international partnering within the framework of the globally active Enterprise Europe Network.

The article was co-authored by Matthia Simone Sorrentino, Communication Adviser at the European Commission for the Enterprise Europe Network.