Did you already hear of ‘Silicon Europe Worldwide’? It started in January 2016 as a two-year project supported by the European Commission. Goal: the internationalization beyond Europe. The project has been concluded end of last year. Time for a retrospect.
Build a relation framework
‘Silicon Europe’ is a network of regional nanotechnology clusters in Europe. It helps companies to do business in other member states. While doing so, a bigger ambition developed and Silicon Europe Worldwide was born. Prior to the project, Silicon Europe carried out a study to find out what regions would be most attractive to the network. The ranking was topped by Taiwan and North-East USA. The decision to start working on these two was easily made. A next region of interest would be selected during the project.
A first step was to build a relationship on intermediary level with these two top regions. Such a basis could be used to develop international activities and services in favour of our members. At the same time, opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe were explored.
Some of the partners in Silicon Europe already had a good relationship with Taiwan for several years. This, combined with a fact-finding mission to Taiwan several months before the project began, gave us a head start. It allowed us to get to know relevant parties such as TAITRA, the ECCT and representatives of the ministry of economy. As a result, the first outbound mission involving individual companies already took place in June 2016. At the occasion of the EU-Taiwan Industrial Dialogue, the European Innovation week was organised. During the 4-day program, companies and clusters got the opportunity to visit the Computex trade fair in Taipei, to participate in matchmaking events and to broaden their horizon at a conference. In return, come October 2016, we welcomed a Taiwanese company delegation headed by the industry association MIRDC to the Semicon Europe fair in Grenoble. A guided tour visiting all the Silicon Europe booths and a dedicated matchmaking event were organised. Afterwards, the delegation visited two individual Silicon Europe clusters in France: Minalogic and SCS. At the occasion of this inbound mission two memorandums of understanding (MoU’s) were signed: one between MIRDC and Minalogic and one between TAITRA and Silicon Europe Worldwide.
A relationship on intermediary level with Taiwan and North-East USA is a good basis for international activities and services in favour of our members.
In June 2017, the industrial dialogue with Taiwan took place in Brussels. Alongside this political event two consecutive events took place, the EU-Taiwan Event on ‘Industry of the Future’ followed by the Business Connection Forum Brussels. They were organised in collaboration with the EC and EEN (Enterprise Europe Network). During this 3-day program, companies got the opportunity to participate in matchmaking events and to take part in several seminars.
In September 2017, Silicon Europe Worldwide was co-organiser of a joint booth at Semicon Taiwan. An excellent opportunity for several of our SME’s to exhibit.
The last event during the project took place in November 2017. We welcomed a Taiwanese company delegation at Semicon Europe in Munich. Similar to the year before they continued their journey by visiting two Silicon Europe clusters: DSP Valley and High Tech NL.
Next is North East USA
In contrast to Taiwan, we started in the USA with an almost blank page. In November 2016, a fact-finding mission to the North East region of the USA was organised. This allowed us to start building a relationship with relevant people and organisations in the high-tech corridor from Albany over Syracuse to Rochester. Next, we organised a company mission to Albany. Unlike with Taiwan, this was a Silicon Europe event only. No other European parties were involved in the organisation. In October 2017, the Business Connection Forum Albany took place. During this 3-day forum, companies, clusters and other organisations got the opportunity to meet, listen to interesting presentations and participate in matchmaking events.
During the Silicon Europe Worldwide project, three memorandums of understanding were signed and more then 120 SME’s were involved.
During the forum, Silicon Europe and NY loves Nanotech signed a MoU. Both parties aim to further strengthen their cooperation in support of American and European joint business and technological endeavours. They will particularly focus on the field of innovative electronics and software technologies. A first incoming mission is currently being discussed for 2018.
South East Asia as third
The Silicon Europe clusters as well as a selection of SME’s have been consulted to determine the third region. We noticed a strong interest for developing relations with several countries in South East Asia. The following 4 countries ended on top: China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. For the moment we keep all four on the list. After all, the global political and economic situation as well as the interests of SME’s can easily change over time. A more focused choice will be made when resources to continue the internationalization activities towards those regions become available.
So, within two years, we built a relation framework with two selected regions, Taiwan and the North-East region of the USA. This is supported by three MoU’s. In total, more than 120 SME’s were involved. Several of them established first contacts that in the long run can lead to a partnership or a business.
This project clearly laid down the foundation for the Silicon Europe Alliance to develop internationalization activities outside of Europe. Our main challenge will now be to find the necessary resources to fully utilize what has been established, so we can further develop this relationship for the benefit of our members. For DSP Valley, the project made us understand how we can help our members with internationalization of their business. To support them, internationalization is a strategic intent of DSP Valley, and we are already reusing those lessons learned in another application field, that of Smart Cities.