Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (CenSE) - Odisee
Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship (CenSE) - Odisee

Boundless entrepreneurship

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CenSE researchers: Wim Keygnaert, Wouter Broekaert
Duration: February 2018 – October 2018
Financing: Euregio Scheldemond

'Boundless entrepreneurship' assesses the conditions and barriers of doing business across borders. Despite the proximity of Flanders and the Netherlands, cross-border entrepreneurship often remains a challenge, partly due to market, cultural and legal differences. Nevertheless, SMEs that succeed in being internationally active play an important role in constantly renewing and stimulating the economy. Small and medium-sized companies in the Scheldemond region therefore experience doing business across the border as an opportunity but also as a challenge.

In this study, we therefore investigate the support needs of small and medium-sized companies with regard to boundless entrepreneurship in the Euregio Scheldemond. Throughout the research we therefore map the core activities of doing business across the border. We do this by means of an overview of international literature, supplemented with the results from 28 interviews with entrepreneurs from Zeeland and Flanders and from a workshop with entrepreneurs and various representatives of policy bodies from both sides of the border.

Realized output
The research shows that entrepreneurs mainly rely on their own, existing employees, supplemented by an independent foreign agent or representative and, in specific cases, with external legal or tax specialists. The first foreign contacts are usually made by the entrepreneur himself and his employees, based on their own experience and existing contacts.

The perception of our interviewed entrepreneurs with regards to the existing support offer for cross-border business raises a number of clear bottlenecks. First of all, we note that most entrepreneurs have no clear picture of where they can go for specific information about the possibilities for cross-border business. Partly because of this, many Flemish entrepreneurs look over Zeeland when it comes to the Dutch market. Moreover, the available information is often fragmented and spread across various supporting bodies. All this means that entrepreneurs often have to invest a lot of time and effort to find suitable information.
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