The Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Manufacturing Accelerator Programme (MAP™) arranged their second Dutch Government sponsored trade mission to The Netherlands in November last year. MAP™ aims to reinforce the profitability and competitive power of South African manufacturers in a sustainable way; to ensure they are export-ready and to facilitate the creation of lasting international partnerships.
The purpose of the visit was for South African manufacturers to glean some insight into how globally competitive manufacturers function and thrive on the world stage in an effort to seed similar strategies and processes in our own businesses here in South Africa as well as look for potential export markets and products that can be useful to South Africa and manufactured here under licence or partnership. Of course ensuring manufacturing is kept local can only be beneficial to the economy of our country as a whole.
On the last Match Making Mission, the majority of companies attending were members of The South African Capital Equipment Export Council and the Tooling Association of South Africa. This time, suppliers to Eskom, Transnet and Denel were nominated by the state owned companies in a bid to help them improve their processes as part of supplier development programmes.
Activities included informative sessions about the EU Market, Industry 4.0 and a glimpse into the future of Smart Industry; three full days of pre-arranged one-on-one matchmaking meetings; state-of-the art factory tours and a visit to Kennispark Twente, where start up support, definition of innovation goals, project management and financial support is offered to a variety of companies in a forward-thinking community (www.kennispark.nl).
The long-term benefits of these Match Making Missions is immeasurable in terms of relationship development with European companies. Knowledge transfer will be ongoing and some of the manufacturers who went to Holland have already received firm orders.