Most Small and Medium Enterprises (i.e., SMEs) hardly dare to extend their business abroad alone. In Italy only 7% of SMEs operators are active in the international business.
They often do not have a dedicated export department, resources to analyze in depth the market, they do not speak the language and they are not fully independent in evaluating potential partners.
However, a good chance for Italian small companies to overcome the economical crisis started in 2008 and to ensure their future growth and development could be to concentrate their efforts and resources on expanding their business abroad. To achieve good results in their export activities SMEs have to penetrate foreign markets rapidly, at low cost and by maintaining control on core technologies and products. At the same time they are forced to adapt product features to requirements and preferences of the local customers. Thereby it is possible to identify several obstacles which companies have to face before affirming their position abroad. Entrepreneurs have to find and evaluate potential partners, overcome differences in business cultures which may include language limitations and a lack of knowledge about foreign accounting rules in terms of tax lows, banking legislation and so on.
Traditional services to support SMEs in their market expansion and internationalization decisions still continue to exist but their value and ability to satisfy companies’ needs is turning to be weaker. To give to SMEs new opportunities and create a global market, innovative services are needed.
To this aim, in the last years a great number of agencies, banks and government bodies enlarge the scope of its support activities and variety of provided services.
UniCredit is currently active in supporting SMEs to trade abroad by means of an Internet—based environment that allow small companies to access a variety of services to facilitate their business extension abroad, also leveraging on the wide customer relationship franchise of UniCredit.
The aim of the project is to propose new ideas to effectively and efficiently support SME companies in easily extending their business abroad to:
– Provide a wide range of innovative services, covering at 360 degrees all the needs of import/export of small companies (e.g., services for import-export transition, integration with banking services, insurance assistance).
– Define innovative interaction models to support companies to engage with a foreign counterpart (e.g., new techniques for matching and evaluating companies).
– Analyze customizations for specific application domains (e.g., food and vine, fashion and clothing, interior design, automation and mechanical).
Principal academic tutors
Tania Cerquitelli, Politecnico di Torino – Dept. of Control and Computer Engineering
Paolo Neirotti, Politecnico di Torino – Dept. of Management and Production Engineering
Chiara Francalanci, Politecnico di Milano – Dept. of Electronics and Information
Letizia D’Abbondanza, Unicredit Spa
Team A Members
Stefano Chianese, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Chiara Ferrero Merlino, Industrial Production and Technological Innovation Engineering, Politecnico di Torino [team controller]
Giuseppe Scapeccia, Electrical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Michele Spagnuolo, Computer Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Irina Zolotukhina, Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Team B Members
Enrico Buggea, Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano [team controller]
Roberto Castiglione, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino
Lorenzo Grosso, Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino [communication coordinator]
Giacomo Rontini, Electrical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
Arianna Scolari, Management Engineering, Politecnico di Milano