Deep In Thought

Published: 24 Jul 2018

Helping Peripheral Creative Enterprises Access Trade Fairs

One of the aims of ‘a creative momentum project’ was to increase internationalisation among creative SMEs and micro-enterprises based in peripheral and remote locations to compensate for lack of critical mass and small local markets.  While online and virtual routes to market are very important, a physical presence at a Trade event in the target market is the most effective route to export markets for many creative sub-sectors.  However the cost of exhibiting at such Trade events can be too high for many creative enterprises, especially if they are located in remote and sparsely populated areas.

Therefore the project implemented the ‘Model for Accessing International Trade Events (Fairs/Shows/Festivals)’ to help creative enterprises to access new export markets through exhibiting their work at an international overseas Trade Fair.  We tested this Model by selecting and supporting 22 pilot creative enterprises from three regions to exhibit at a Trade Fair during 2016, 2017 and early 2018. The final report ‘Accessing Trade Fairs: Model for Peripheral Creative Enterprises to Access International Trade Events’ has just been published.

Based on the experience of project partner organisations in developing and testing this Model, some the lessons were:

Lessons for Administration of the Model

  1. The requirement from the project funders that project partner organisations needed to pay service providers (e.g. Trade Fair organisers, hotel, etc) directly in advance, rather than refund the pilot enterprises the costs upon production of receipts, created considerable administrative challenges.
  2. If implementing this Model again (under a different funding source), payment should be based on refunding the pilot enterprises for 50% of their costs (to maximum €2,500) based on production of receipts. This would greatly reduce the administrative burden.
  3. Selection of the pilot enterprises needs to begin very early and bookings/arrangements made as soon as possible to get value for money for accommodation, transport and also a good Stand placement at the Show.
  4. The application form should be more specific and force applicants to illustrate more detail on the research they have done on the suitability of the Fair for their business.
  5. The funding was complex (50% of eligible costs to a maximum of €2,500) and caused some confusion. It would be better to have simpler funding.
  6. It is important to follow-up on the longer term benefit of participation in the Trade event with the enterprises e.g. a year later, but it can be difficult to get this information.

Lessons for Facilitating Creative Enterprises to Access Trade Events

  1. This Model was particularly useful for quite early stage companies. Some reported that their selection to be supported by an EU co-funded project gave them confidence and enhanced profile. They found this was a positive marketing message for clients in advance of, and during, the Show.
  2. Some enterprises suggested a collective insurance deal/preferential rates for members of MyCreativeEdge.eu as a useful support.
  3. Advance research really pays off. Enterprises that put in a lot of research and advance planning for the Trade Show reaped the benefits.
  4. Future iterations of the Model could incorporate some mentoring for the enterprises on making the most of the Trade Show, including a capacity building element together with the financial support.
  5. It is important to maintain ongoing contact between the partner organisation and the enterprises to learn of the longer term impact/results of their participation. Build up a positive mutual relationship.

The full report and a summary of ‘Accessing Trade Fairs: Model for Peripheral Creative Enterprises to Access International Trade Events’ can be downloaded from the Knowledge Centre, or download directly

Summary: Accessing Trade Fairs: Model for Peripheral Creative Enterprises to Access International Trade Events’ (PDF, 0.4MB)

Accessing Trade Fairs: Model for Peripheral Creative Enterprises to Access International Trade Events (PDF, 1.8MB)


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