Terapo, based in Banská Bystrica in central Slovakia, is a niche electrical engineering company that installs electrical equipment and assembles printed circuit boards (PCBs) for television sets, radios, appliances, computers and hospital equipment.
Thousands of kilometres away in the south east of the Netherlands, H&F Electronics BV also designs PCBs and produces components for assembling these boards. Founded in 1979, H&F develops high-performance semi-finished and end-products in hardware, software and electronics.
Neither company has much time or resources to investigate new markets or potential partnerships. But brought together by the Enterprise Europe Network, these two innovative firms are now working hand in hand.
With around 600 member organisations in more than 50 countries, the Enterprise Europe Network helps SMEs tap new markets, source or license new technologies and secure research funding. Its 3 000 experts are well-versed in business matters, and help companies find new collaborators and technologies around the world.
Initially, Slovakia's National Agency for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (Nadsme), the Slovakian Enterprise Europe Network branch, submitted a profile of Terapo to the Network's business cooperation and partnering opportunity databases to help Terapo find a potential partner. Then, in April 2008, Terapo participated in a business fair organised by the Network, based at Nadsme.
"This kind of event, combined with all the other valuable Network services, helps entrepreneurs in all sectors expand their horizons," says Network consultant Oľga Némethová. "Because we had been working with Terapo for some time, the managers know they can rely on us for any query they might have in growing their business. You might say they think of the Network as part of their staff."
The business fair prompted Terapo to avail of other support services provided by the Enterprise Europe Network in Slovakia. The company participated in Nadsme's brokerage event for electrical engineering as well as trainings on business internationalisation, setting up overseas, increasing competitiveness through online marketing, and developing contracts for expansion into EU markets.
Also at the early stages of the Terapo-H&F Electronics partnership, staff of Nadsme and Network's partner in The Netherlands visited both companies to identify their exact needs and plans. The Network partners also assisted with translation services during brokerage events and trade missions.
Two months after the networking fair, Terapo and H&F Electronics signed a partnership accord, with the Dutch company shipping PCB parts to Terapo.
"Thanks to this agreement, our PCB business is booming," says Terapo CEO Libor Kevicky, who co-founded Terapo as a small computer repair shop in 1991. "Both partners are stronger by working together."