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Building on a mapping analysis of existing/emerging good practices in internationalization and cross border venturing in Europe, a group of ICT clusters, incubators and accelerators will collaborate in the development and pilot testing of the new Accelerate Cross- border Engagement (ACE) operational programme.
The overall aim is to deliver targeted cross border services to highly innovative entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs in the ICT sector in order to accelerate their growth. The ACE programme is supported by cross border finance experts and European innovation support networks EBN and ENOLL. To test the ACE concept, a pilot programme will be implemented involving highly innovative companies from each partner region. The emphasis will be on achieving tangible outcomes for companies in terms of investment and new clients. To achieve these outcomes, ACE will put in place operational schemes to connect companies with international networks of investors and to establish a network of potential clients (in both the public and private sector). Central to the ACE programme will be the establishment of a collaborative platform supporting open innovation between participating companies and the ACE support network.
ACE does not propose a ‘one stop shop’ approach to internationalisation. Companies will be assigned an experienced mentor in their own country who will analyse their internationalisation strengths and weaknesses and in response put together a customised programme of support measures drawing on the facilities, services and local expertise and knowledge of partners in other countries. Support measures may include for example; Living Lab validation in another country, hands on technical/ market assistance, preparing companies for pitches for cross border investment. Virtual international support teams for each company will be formed and a competitive element will be introduced with an award for the most successful companies at the end of the programme.