Eurotex kft, a small company based in southern Hungary, is the country's most successful textile exporter, making knitwear for Italian designer Emidio Tucci among other high-profile customers.
Nanosilver has antibacterial substances designed to keep clothes fresher for longer. Since nanosilver-reinforced clothes prevent the wearer from sweating into the material, they require less frequent washing than other alternatives.
Despite constant pressure to innovate, Eurotex often has a hard time finding new partners for its niche technology and premium products, especially in today's economic climate. For help it regularly turns to the Enterprise Europe Network, with 3,000 experts in more than 50 countries providing an integrated range of business and innovation support services to SMEs.
"Entrepreneurs are always bursting with good ideas, but sometimes need extra help turning them into a business success," says Eszter Körmöczi, regional manager with the Network branch in Szeged, based at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Csongrád County. "That is what the Network does best."
After getting Eurotex's request, Network regional manager Eszter Körmöczi told the SME about Nanovo, a Russian nanotechnology firm that was keen to market its nanosilver innovation in Hungary and was seeking a local partner for joint production.
"It was a perfect fit for Eurotex," says Körmöczi. After briefing Eurotex on the Russian firm, she put the companies in touch with each other.
Ten months after their first meeting, the companies signed an agreement in 2009, paving the way for Eurotex to export nanosilver-reinforced sweaters to Spain and Italy. Network staff also helped the companies organise press conferences into get the word out about their cooperation.
"This innovation totally matched our technological background," says Árpád Rácz, Eurotex's owner and CEO. "Thanks to the Network, we received a golden business opportunity that might otherwise have passed us by."
The Network continues to work with Eurotex, keeping a lookout for opportunities in other new markets as the SME seeks to branch out into specialised clothing for border guards and disaster management authorities, and inviting Eurotex to meet new contacts face to face at Network business matchmaking events. Network experts have also helped Eurotex prepare a profile for the Network's business matchmaking database and alert it whenever there is a promising response.