Since last spring, Enterprise Estonia has provided approximately 260 million kroons in support for 265 projects in the export sector in order to increase the competitiveness of Estonian companies in international markets.
According to Enterprise Estonia export division director Allar Korjas, the economic crisis has made companies more active in seeking out international markets. "Estonian export volumes have doubled over the last five years and over 5,000 Estonian firms have posted considerable export revenue - one in eight companies," said Korjas. "This is a very good level, and it will certainly not be easy to maintain it. It can clearly be seen that companies are focusing more on product development, increasing productivity and active marketing in new markets. The export projects submitted to Enterprise Estonia for co-financing have been very thoroughly planned out. Most companies are availing themselves of the opportunity to discuss their export plan with an Enterprise Estonia consultant before applying for a project grant.
Enterprise Estonia has provided support for 177 export marketing projects and has provided support on 72 occasions for participation in or visits to foreign trade fairs. On 16 occasions, cooperation projects have received support from the joint marketing support programme.
Enterprise Estonia has provided the most support - in 40 instances -- for projects related to export of timber products, wood houses and furniture. This is followed by export plans for machinery, electrical devices and metal products, where projects from 38 companies have been funded. In the field of information technology and electronics, export plans from 33 companies have received assistance. Most of these were related to importing software solutions to foreign markets. The rest of the export projects that received funding fell into a wide variety of sectors. On ten occasions - more than ever before - companies in the foodstuffs sector submitted projects.
Korjas said that it was noteworthy that the applicants have included an increasing share of companies that are successful in marine-related sectors. "Saare Paat AS is successfully implementing a project that received 1.2 million kroons of support from the export marketing programme for marketing SAARE 41 yachts in foreign countries," he said. "Evo Design OÜ received 2.1 million kroons from the export marketing programme to increase its export volumes in European and US markets. This company is involved in manufacturing furniture specially made for passenger ships.
The greatest number of export support recipients is from Tallinn and Harju County (193), Tartu County (38), Ida-Viru County (9) and Pärnu County and Saaremaa (7 each). The destination countries for the export activity listed in the projects are most often Finland (101 projects), Sweden (89 projects), Latvia and Norway (62 projects each), Germany (61 projects), Russia (54 projects) and Lithuania (50 projects). They are followed by Great Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.
With the support of the European Regional Development Fund, Enterprise Estonia offers exporters five options for export assistance.
A grant can be requested from the export marketing programme for implementing a marketing plan spanning up to a 2-year period. The largest eligible costs are generally tied to participation in major international trade fairs or visits to foreign markets. In addition, Enterprise Estonia also lends support for production of product catalogues, marketing materials and samples, trademark registration and more. The maximum assistance is 2.5 million kroons and the limit is up to 50% of costs; the rest has to come from self-financing.
In the framework of trade fair and joint marketing support, companies can seek assistance for participating in a trade fair or launching joint marketing events. Enterprise Estonia funds up to 50% of the project cost, and the maximum amount is one million kroons.
The development employee involvement programme offers assistance for recruitment of an internationally experienced technician, designer or marketing director from outside Estonia. Support for up to 50% of the employee's salary can be requested for up to three years.
Work-related training aimed at increasing companies' competitiveness is supported through the knowledge and experience development programme. Enterprise Estonia funds up to 50% of the training.