What do the RMS Queen Mary 2 and Notre Dame University in Indiana have in common? Both use Sky-Skan's innovative projection technology. Sky-Skan Europe, based in Seeshaupt, Bavaria, supplies multimedia systems to planetariums, museums and theatres throughout Europe. When inconsistent standards within the EU created obstacles for the company, the Enterprise Europe Network was on hand.
Sky-Skan's focus is on the installation of fully integrated projection and multimedia systems, and the development of hardware and software for projection and room control – especially for planetariums and other domed theatres. "Our portfolio also includes customer training, installation support and regular maintenance", explains Ursula Schwarzer from Sky-Skan Europe. "We support our customers with all queries about the system." Flexibility plays an important role in the theatres where Sky-Skan's products are installed. These systems are therefore designed so that they can be optimally adapted to increasing or changing requirements.
When bureaucracy slows business down
As flexible as Sky-Skan's products and services are, international trade can be just as inflexible – especially whenever laws and regulations change in individual countries. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular face immense bureaucratic challenges in such situations, which, due to the companies' size and structure, can often only be tackled with external support. This was exactly the case for Sky-Skan Europe, when the company was unable to invoice after a modernisation project for a planetarium in the Catalan city of Àger. The reason being that the payment request required a digital signature under a Spanish law that entered into force in 2015. Sky-Skan Europe could provide this signature – issued by German authorities – but it was not valid in Spain.
The only alternative was that the managing director of Sky-Skan Europe would need to have a digital signature issued in person on-site and apply for a Spanish VAT ID number. "This amount of effort was too great for a one-off invoice", explains Schwarzer. In February 2015, this bureaucratic hurdle finally led the company to turn to the Munich Chamber of Industry and Commerce, a local partner of the Enterprise Europe Network, the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises. But how could the network help? "With the consistent collaboration and involvement of relevant stakeholders", says Friedhelm Forge from the Enterprise Europe Network in Bavaria. The Enterprise Europe Network made direct contact with the Confederación de Empresarios de Galicia, their Spanish partner. With their help, Sky-Skan Europe found out that the invoice could be issued using different software with a German VAT ID. Meanwhile, the German Chamber of Commerce for Spain was also involved, providing active support for the company.
However, the attempt involving the new software was unsuccessful. Schwarzer recalls: "The programme was unable to identify foreign VAT IDs."
Internationally well positioned with the Enterprise Europe Network
To prevent financial damage caused by the outstanding invoice, the Munich Chamber of Industry and Commerce continued to work on behalf of the company and addressed, among others, the German Chamber of Commerce for Spain, the German Consulate General in Barcelona and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. "The latter had recently concluded a cooperation agreement with Catalonia and took this as a special opportunity to intervene", explains Forge.
"Ultimately, the competent authorities in Barcelona had the insight to accept a paper invoice", meaning that in this specific case, the bureaucratic difficulties were eliminated. However, the general challenge remained. "It is extremely difficult for an SME to understand the rules in all EU countries – especially regarding tendering and service provision", says Schwarzer. As a network that combines European collaboration and experience with local proximity and competence, the Enterprise Europe Network is therefore a valuable partner for SMEs.
As a local EEN partner, the Munich Chamber of Industry and Commerce supported Sky-Skan Europe throughout the entire process, and will continue to do so in the future. Despite all the hurdles, the company does not question the international distribution of its multimedia systems. Friedhelm Forge from the Enterprise Europe Network can only agree with this: "The company's specialised and highly specific product portfolio inevitably demands an international focus, which we have been advising on intensively."
Ursula Schwarzer could even gain membership to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Committee on External Economic Relations through the company's cooperation with the Enterprise Europe Network. She concludes: "Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network, we feel very well positioned as a company."
Contact the responsible Enterprise Europe Network:
IHK für München und Oberbayern
Bereich International, Industrie, Innovation
Referat Europa, Enterprise Europe Network
Partner im Enterprise Europe Network der Europäischen Kommission
Max-Joseph-Straße 2, 80333 München
Phone +49 (0)89 5116-1676
Internet: www.ihk-muenchen.de und www.een-bayern.de
Contact the company:
Backgrouninformation about the campaign #EUOpen4Business: www.EUOpen4Business.eu