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Enterprise Europe Network
News article24 November 2023

The Enterprise Europe Network Annual Conference 2023 concludes successfully: Thank you for joining us!

Under the theme 'The Network at 15: Showing the way forward for SMEs', the Enterprise Europe Network Annual Conference brought together over 800 participants from 50 countries.

Enterprise Europe Network Annual Conference 2023

The Enterprise Europe Network held its Annual Conference from 15 to 17 November at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre in Spain. The event gathered small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Network partners, EU officials, and private sector representatives. It took place during the European SME Week and run consecutively with the 2023 SME Assembly, the main event for SMEs in Europe.

In a hybrid format, the Annual Conference featured high-level panels, interactive workshops, networking opportunities, and social events. Sessions were organised around four main strands aligned with critical EU policy priorities:

  • Industrial transition, with a focus on sustainability, digitalisation, and resilience
  • The Single Market and global markets
  • Innovation and start-ups
  • Business support services quality and impact

Enterprise Europe Network and other stories - Support to SMEs

Celebrating 15 years of impact

A central theme of this conference was celebrating the Enterprise Europe Network’s 15th anniversary. Over the years, the Network has delivered expert support to SMEs, helping them innovate, grow, and thrive on an international scale. The conference provided an opportunity to reflect on the Network’s journey and look ahead to an even more impactful future.

Discussions focused on how the Enterprise Europe Network can evolve to better support SME clients – from enhancing sustainability and digitalisation to boosting resilience.

Key cross-cutting themes included:

  • Enhancing business support services: Using the Network’s in-depth expertise in innovation, resilience, sustainability, and digitalisation to equip SMEs with long-term strategies to meet new challenges
  • Internationalisation support: Helping SMEs maximise the opportunities in both the Single Market and across the globe
  • Supporting SMEs in their transition to clean energy, in line with key European Commission initiatives like the European Green Deal, the Green Deal Industrial Plan, and the Net-Zero Industry Act
  • Skill development for SMEs: Assisting SMEs in acquiring the skills they need to thrive in a changing business landscape
  • Fostering comprehensive synergies: Boosting cooperation with Network partners, EU programmes like the European Innovation Council and the European Cluster Collaboration Platform, pan-European initiatives, industry representatives, research bodies, and academia for a seamless client journey
  • Ensuring effective communication to showcase the value and impact of the Network, nurture customer relationships, and attract new clients

Jean-David Malo, Director of the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA) said: 'In 2023, the Network reached impressive satisfaction rates for the quality and customisation of its services. Clients confirm that the Network meets their business needs and is available to help them when and where they need it. This is why Enterprise Europe Network is such an important pillar for SMEs and innovation support in the EU.'  'We thank you for your commitment and high quality of your work', he added.

Muriel de Grande, Head of Sector at EISMEA emphasized: 'With our help, SMEs can tap into the same resilience that powers our Network. Together, we turn challenges into opportunities, whether it’s navigating climate change, adapting to globalisation, embracing digitalisation, or dealing with supply chain breakdowns.'

The Enterprise Europe Network Awards: Celebrating success and resilience

The Enterprise Europe Network Awards celebrate successful entrepreneurs who have leveraged the Network’s services to grow and innovate.

Winners were announced during the closing ceremony on 17 November:

With the Network’s support, Nortech Solutions partnered with Stabilplastik to create fully recycled, eco-friendly pallets with zero-waste.

Making classical music education enjoyable for children, this Italian SME secured 1.7 million Euros in funding and found the right partners for international expansion thanks to the Network.

An innovative hydrogen tech company, Bataryasan tapped into the Network’s expertise to access funding and enter markets in Germany, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

The Enterprise Europe Network also awarded a Special Recognition for Resilience to the Supply Chain Resilience Platform. Developed by the Lithuanian Innovation Centre and Network partners, the initiative connects 1,000 companies in 45 countries to mitigate global supply chain disruptions. Explore the inspiring stories of the winners and check out our blog article to find out more about the Supply Chain Resilience Platform.

    Looking ahead

    As we wrap up this conference, we’re already looking forward to the next edition in Budapest, Hungary. The positive energy, insightful discussions, and valuable connections we’ve gained during the event have inspired and reenergized us as we continue to support SMEs with international ambitions. 

    Thank you to all our participants, partners, and supporters for making the Enterprise Europe Network Annual Conference 2023 a huge success. Until next year!

    Have you missed this year’s Annual Conference? Don’t worry! We've compiled the top moments for you: