Business Beyond Borders (BBB) kicked off its first matchmaking event for SMEs and clusters at the GENERA international fair in Madrid recently. The event, which took place on the 28th of February and 1st of March, focused on companies operating in the energy and environment sectors.
More than just your regular B2B meeting initiative, BBB seeks to provide its participants with opportunities to hear from success stories of business internationalisation, funding programmes that can help them develop and market their technologies and the importance of internationalisation for their specific sector.
The morning of the first day hosted a variety of presentations from high-level speakers and experts. Welcoming the SMEs and clusters present the event, Arnaldo Abruzzini, CEO of Eurochambres, expressed his hopes that the BBB initiative will contribute to the increase of economic growth, both within and outside the EU. “As the programme develops, it will help European SMEs overcome some of the barriers to internationalising their businesses, and initiate their entry into new markets from Australia and South Africa to India, Chile, Iran, and beyond”.
The afternoon of the first day and the whole second day focused solely on matchmaking sessions between the participating SMEs and companies. With 300 participants from 20 countries representing 200 SMEs, almost 1000 one-to-one meetings took place during the course of the first event. The enterprises present at Genera took full advantage of the networking and business development opportunities provided by the BBB initiative. For Joana Chaves, who represented S317 Consulting, a Portuguese engineering company working on sustainability and carbon, the two matchmaking days were “a really good initiative: it has been really productive, we can cooperate with companies with same scope of work and also find new business, new ideas and new technologies.”
While some companies are interested in expanding their business to any parts of the world, others came to the fair with a specific geographical area in mind. Julien Constant, of AguaSol Life, joined the BBB matchmaking sessions with the intention of presenting his company’s portable solar-powered water purification system to Latin American markets. “Our technology is very adept at filtering contaminated water with, for instance, mercury, which is a big problem in South America due to illegal mining.” Echoing the words of Spanish Secretary of State for Energy, Daniel Navia, during BBB’s opening conference, their expansion efforts have led AguaSolLife to invest in digitalisation. “We have digitalised our services for this product – with apps such as Whatsapp and IMO – to get closer to our users, wherever they are”, explained Mr. Constant.
Juan Carlos Vico, owner of Vico Export Solar Energy, had its own stand at Genera, but that did not prevent him from taking part in the BBB event and meeting prospective international partners for his solar panel business. “Organising meeting sessions during trade shows is a great idea because it allows companies to discuss the subjects covered by fair. It’s also good for companies lacking their own booth at the venue, as they usually don’t get as many opportunities to connect with other enterprises. It’s really interesting and I would like to see this initiative in more and more fairs”.
Leticia Chen, Chairman of the Chamber for Cooperation Spain-China, found the event extremely useful for “connecting people from different enterprises and different countries. Someone might be looking for suppliers, others might be looking for new technologies… it’s very interesting”. Encouraging SMEs and clusters to participate in future events, Ms. Cheng would also like to see this initiative grow: “We must continue to celebrate these kind of business meeting points”.
The next BBB matchmaking event will take place on 16-18 May in Cape Town, South Africa, during the African Utility Week trade fair for water, power and waste management solutions. See you there!