During his work for the Province of Drenthe in the past six years , Jan Jacob Hilberdink MSc, the current director of BIC Drenthe, has found that the internationalisation by the industry and SMEs in this province is at a lower level than several other Dutch provinces. The participation in EU programs is even less. Despite the fact that the Province of Drenthe and Fryslân developed an extensive internationalisation program, the entrepreneurs in Drenthe show much reluctance to become involved in projects and operations abroad.
However, concerning the ruling policies on development and growth, the need to give the SMEs within Province of Drenthe an international boast is well recognised and considered to be urgent!
The focus of the new initiatives is mainly aimed at increasing the export with Germany. Studies indicate that entrepreneurs based in Drenthe are not familiar with European programs, incentives and subsidies and if they are aware, they are not inclined to make intensive use of these supportive measures (Innovation Monitor (2018) State University Groningen-SNN).
By the majority of SMEs innovation is still considered something technical, i.e. product innovation. BIC Drenthe expects to realise a real change of mind by making clear that e.g. exploring foreign markets, integrating the supply chain, becoming sustainable, seeking for cross-sectoral connections, are also ways to innovate. The tools and experience of EBN might prove to be very helpful.
With the establishment of Business Innovation Centre Drenthe we created the indispensable platform, which organisations are longing for so badly.
A foundation where all stakeholders can perform their activities, varying from incubation, acceleration, innovation, research, entrepreneurship promotion and last but not least the participation in European initiatives and projects. The educational institutes herein play an predominant role.