Get involved

1. Introduction

During its 3 years duration (2021 – 2024), F2F Health Matters project has foreseen financial support for SMEs that were willing further develop their skills in international markets, especially on the third countries targeted by the project consortium: Canada, Japan, and United Arab Emirates.

Since November 2022 to February 2024, the consortium successfully managed the organisation of 3 International Trade Missions to above countries. In total, 30 companies took part in the EU delegation , and benefit from the Travel Aid (2000€). In addition, 15 companies are receiving Commercial Lead Support (3000€) for an individual accompaniment in those markets. From now, the call for candidate is closed.

Alongside, F2F Health Matters project has organised online activities during these years with the same aim: to improve the internationalisation capacities of SMEs. The online activities also targeted Vietnam and South Korea.

On our social media more information and activities related to the five countries (Canada, Japan, Emirates, Vietnam, and South Korea) is available. Also, you can find inspiring market studies, business intelligence documents, and success stories of the SMEs supported by F2F Health Matters Project on the section “Markets” of the main menu of this website.

2. Internationalisation supports for SMEs

Type of Support and Available Funding

SMEs could benefit from three types of dedicated internationalisation support from F2F Health Matters Project: Commercial Lead Support, Travel Aid, and Elite Programme. The Commercial Lead and the Travel Aid constitute Financial Aids. The Elite Programme consisted of tailor-made training and coaching and the access to a dedicated SMEs Community.

To assure both fairness in the selection and relevance of the beneficiary SMEs, open calls were launched, widely disseminated (in the project website and social networks, the ECCP, and in the case of the Travel Aids, also in the Funding and Tenders Portal section of Cascade Funding); and applicants were assessed based on pre-defined transparent criteria.

Financial Aids

Commercial Lead Support

This support consisted of the financing of personalised consultancy services of commercial prospection on the target countries. Each project partner had 9 000 euros under budget line B. Direct costs of subcontracting to pay for such services.

This budget allowed each partner to finance such service for one SME per call on average, totalling three Champion SMEs supported: 1 SME per call* 3 000 euros Commercial Lead dossier * 3 calls = 9 000 euros per partner * 5 partners = 45 000 euros = 15 Champion SMEs supported by F2F Health Matters Project.

The project partners have negotiated preferential rates with external service providers for a service pack adapted to the SME and the chosen target country. The list of external service providers, their respective service packs and rates are available in F2F Health Matters List of Consultants. The list was provided as an indication, not a limitation, and SMEs may suggest other suppliers.

Travel Aid

This support consisted of a contribution to Champion SMEs for travel and subsistence costs resulting of the participation in the collective internationalisation missions to the targeted countries (Canada, Japan, and United Arab Emirates).

Each project partner had 12 000 euros under budget line C. Direct costs of financial support / C.1 Financial support. This budget allowed each partner to reimburse travel and subsistence costs (based on actual costs) up to 2 000 euros per SME, for two SMEs per collective internalisation mission, on average, totalling 6 SMEs supported: 2 SMEs per mission on average * 2 000 euros travel aid * 3 calls = 12 000 euros per partner * 5 partners = 60 000 euros = 30 Champion SMEs supported by F2F Health Matters Project.

Elite SMEs Training and Coaching Programme

This support consisted of customised training programme on technical - and innovation-, and market-oriented topics to help SMEs going international in the F2F Health Matters target countries.

It included access to an online community including a trans-national on-line/off-line working group that will be established following each open call to skill up on the topics prioritised by SMEs when submitting their applications. Five sessions per selected target country were organised, each by one Cluster.

The project manager of F2F Health Matters of each cluster, with experience in internationalisation of agri-food companies, took up the role of coach and met the Elite SMEs from its territories at least three times.

  • An initial meeting to define the objectives of SMEs participation using the coaching canvas tool
  • A mid-term meeting to verify progress and discuss relevant corrective actions
  • A final meeting at the end of the programme to know SMEs’ satisfaction with the programme and discuss possible follow up action

Training and coaching were provided by the project partners, complemented with external thematic and/or coaching experts. The consortium had 4 000 euros under budget line B. Direct costs of subcontracting.

3. Application and selection process

Application process

SMEs could only apply to the Financial Aids and to the Elite Programme. Each SME was entitled to receive either the Travel Aid or the Commercial Lead Support, the same SME could not receive both Financial Aids.

The beneficiaries of the Commercial Lead Support and of the Travel Aid constituted the smaller group of Champion SMEs (up to 45 SMEs – expected 15 per open call on average), and they were although entitled to participate in the Elite Programme in addition to the Financial Aid received. The SMEs beneficiaries of the Elite Programme constituted the enlarged group of Elite SMEs.

The application, selection (and payment in the case of Travel Aids) was conducted according to the steps described below.

Assessment of SMEs Export Readiness

The export readiness of shortlisted applicants was assessed using the F2F Health Matters SME Export Readiness Assessment Tool, that can be found on the left of this section (Get Involved).

Selection of SMEs

The selection of Champion SMEs was based on several criteria:

1. The applicant complies the Eligibility criteria and Verification check listed above, such as:

  • The applicant’s profile should fit into the three target groups: 1) bio-solutions 2) bio-based techno-functional ingredients & solutions 3) healthy food products
  • Being or becoming Member of one of the partners
  • Being an SME according to the EU definition

2. Evaluation (see table below)

  • Being assessed by the F2F Health matters team through an online meeting. The threshold is 16 points with a maximum of 55 points. (See the ‘SME Export Readiness Assessment’ form on the left of the webpage)
  • The eligible SME profile had to be interesting for the target market. The F2F Health Matters Team consulted the external expert, who gave their remark
  • The selection of beneficiary SMEs was based on the total score of the applicant
  • The eligible SME for Travel Aid profile should fit into a critical mass of eligible applicants. (In order to facilitate the organisation of B&Bs, having several similar profiles is important)

Ranking per Cluster:

  Export readiness Assessment Value     External Expert Value (Consultant)     Cluster Expertise   Total
  Score Weight (55%)   Score Weight (35%)   Score Weight (10%) 100%
Not ready 0-15 Discarded Non-interest 0 Discarded SME has debts 0 Discarded Discarded
Yes, but with some weakness 16 – 31   Common product/service 1   Has potential 5    
Yes, good enough 31 – 55   Interesting product/service 2   High potential 10    

Criteria in the bold line in the table were eliminatory. Meaning with one non-satisfied indicator, the SME was discarded automatically.

During the application phase, SMEs had to give their preference on the two types of Financial Aids: Travel Aid and Commercial Leads Support. If 2 companies had identical score and similar product, first come first served.

4. Calls

Three open calls were launched since 2021.

Call number Call opens Call closes
Call 1 (Canada) 15/02/2022 14/04/2022
Call 2 (Japan) 01/09/2022 31/10/2022
Call 3 (United Arab Emirates) 31/03/2023 31/05/2023