The Enterprise Europe Network helps a dentist secure EU funds to upgrade her Cracow-based practice.
Dr Małgorzata Włodarczyk was looking for ways to improve her private dental practice in Cracow, Poland, but did not know where to turn. As for all its business clients, the Enterprise Europe Network in Cracow was available to help Włodarczyk with advice on SME financing and investment, which they offer to regional enterprises, as well as advice on EU research projects and programmes, EU market regulations and procedures, and much more.
From the range of support provided, Włodarczyk was able to secure EU funding and received a grant of about €11000, covering 40% of the cost of the new equipment.
"Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network I could get through the complicated procedures and finally obtain significant financial support for my business," says Włodarczyk.
She had never considered EU funding until she attended a seminar organised by her local Network branch, the Cracow Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Network experts met with Włodarczyk and helped her apply for a grant through the European Regional Development Fund, set up to help stimulate economic development in the EU's less developed regions.
According to Agnieszka Czubak, who is the current Enterprise Europe Network Manager at the Cracow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, "one of the biggest challenges for SMEs today is that they are competing in a global economy, which requires them to be really innovative and offer high quality solutions." She adds that to address this, the Network in Cracow "stimulates international cooperation and technology transfer and helps SMEs to tap into programmes such as Horizon 2020 in order to make them more competitive at both international and national level; this kind of service is not available through any other business support institution in the region."
In the case of Włodarczyk, the Enterprise Europe Network helped a micro-entrepreneur - a small village dentist - to use EU Structural Funds to raise her standard to European level. Iwona Rokita-Kwietniak, former director of Cracow's Enterprise Europe Network, said at the time of launch that the case showed the Network's value in searching for and using EU financing measures for enterprise development. Such funding also can motivate micro-entrepreneurs by making them feel a key part of their regional economy. Most importantly, Rokita-Kwietniak said, "The medical equipment bought by our client not only increased her competitiveness on the market, but also improved the quality of treatment."
Czubak highlights several benefits that the Cracow Chamber of Commerce gains through its association with the Network. Among those are the opportunities to establish new professional contacts, cooperation with a transnational network of experts and institutions and the international exchange of know-how and experiences.