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Virtual Business Office

PILOT PROJECT "VIRTUAL BUSINESS OFFICE (VBO) "

November 2002 – February 2004

INTRODUCTION

Promoción Económica de Moncada, S. A. (PEMSA) has participated in this pilot project financed by the European Commission which was intended to give Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (hereinafter referred to as SMEs) in Moncada the possibility to get in touch with other SMEs in Europe.

The reason behind the project was the idea that the major problem faced by SMEs when it comes to exporting their products and establishing trade relations consists in the difficulty to find suitable partners in third countries. In order to palliate this matter, the European Commission decided to finance this pilot project, aimed at overcoming the communication difficulties faced by enterprises through the collaboration of public entities collaborating with the SMEs.

In this respect, it is commonly accepted that commercial missions are highly time and money consuming to enterprises which can only afford those provided with limited resources, being in the majority of cases too costly for any SME, which all things considered is an important obstacle to trading relations between the European SMEs.

This project is expected to overcome this problem through a prior arrangement of trading contacts by placing at the disposal of SMEs information technologies by means of entities which are closest to SMEs (PEMSA, in our case), so that the search and first trading contact in not that costly for enterprises.

OBJECTIVE

Help SMEs to find suitable partners by means of the "Virtual Business Office" by organizing meetings (videoconferences) with other enterprises, previously selected by the other project partners according to the requested profile. By using Internet (more precisely free software such as "Net Meeting" or "CuSeeMe") and a simple web cam, enterprises are spared the time and money costs of travelling, factors which hinder the exportation activity of SMEs. We are witnessing the creation of a network of great utility to SMEs, more so considering the traditionally exporting character of Valencian SMEs.

This service has been provided completely free of charge by PEMSA staff, including the translation of the meeting.

PROJECT PARTNERS

  1. Euro Info Centre (hereinafter referred to as EIC) from Warsaw, Poland.

  2. EIC from Glasgow, Scotland.

  3. EIC from Durham, England.

  4. PEMSA-City Council of Moncada (Valencia, Spain).

  5. EIC from Trier, Germany.

  6. EIC from Mälar Region, Vásterás, Sweden.

  7. EIC from Narva, Estonia.

MATERIALS

The idea of this pilot project was to make the most of human and technical resources available. Thus, each partner has used its own hardware resources (including web cam) and various types of free software for videoconferences available in the network have been tested, the videoconferences being held in the offices of the project partners. A User Guide was produced and distributed among the project partners in order to coordinate some simple rules intended to ensure the technical coordination of the project.


Saturday, 14th June 2003 a transnational meeting was held at the City Council of Moncada to coordinate the Management of the Project. From left to right: Christina Söderstrom (EIC from Mälar Region, Sweden), Diego Romá (ADL PEMSA), Colin Bell (EIC from Mälar Region, Sweden), Judi Mcdonagh (EIC from Glasgow, Scotland) and Andrzej Szewczyk (EIC from Warsaw, Poland).

MONITORING, RESULTS AND DIFFUSION OF THE PROJECT

For the purpose of facilitating the coordination of the project between the participants, three transnational meetings (see photographs) were held in Warsaw (Poland) in November 2002, Moncada (Valencia) in June 2003 and in Trier (Germany) in December 2003.

Within the scope of the project, five videoconferences have been organized with enterprises of Moncada and others from the other countries participating in the project (Sweden, Estonia and Scotland), more being scheduled although outside the scope of the project (Poland).

As for the local diffusion of the project, on the 24th of February 2003, a mailing of the City Council of Moncada was addressed to the main industrial and service enterprises of the municipality. On the other hand, there has been a constant information and coordination with the Business Association of Moncada (AEMON) in order to encourage the participation of associated enterprises.

As regards the media, a press release was published on the 12th of December 2002 in the main regional newspapers, containing information on the project.
On the other hand, this Project has made the object of a ten minute report within the programme "Europa al día" of the PUNT DOS channel of the public Valencian Television, broadcasted on Sunday, the 4th of April 2004.

DURATION OF THE PROJECT.

1st November 2002 until 29th February 2004.

However, the majority of the Partners have expressed their intention to continue with organizing videoconferences outside the project on request of the SMEs of their environment.

Upon completion of the project, each participating entity has prepared a report summing up its participation as well as the reception of the project and results obtained from the videoconferences organized for the SMEs of its environment.