European Grants Advisor (EUGA) supports SME's business development in Bulgaria
Bulgarian firm Fresh Up Label wanted to implement an electronic system to help manage an increasingly complex production process. Funding secured with the help of EUGA met 65% of the technology investment costs.
Situation: Fresh Up Label had to deal with an increasingly challenging production environment and wanted to invest in technology that would help it meet customer demands
Solution: Through EUGA, Microsoft helped Fresh Up Label to win 50,000 Euros to help pay for the project, representing approximately two-thirds of the total cost
- Helped Fresh Up implement the new system more rapidly
- Enabled Fresh Up to meet customer demands more effectively
- Supported Fresh Up’s continued international expansion
EUGA: The European Grants Advisor (EUGA) program helps Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), start-ups and local and regional governments to make the most of the funds available across the EU. Grants covered by EUGA include ICT infrastructure, training, R&D and recruitment. Since the program was introduced in 2005, over 113,000 European companies have benefitted from EUGA’s help. Microsoft has now integrated EUGA with its highly successful BizSpark program, designed to support the ICT entrepreneurial community.
Although not a familiar name outside Bulgaria, many people have had contact with Fresh Up, because the company provides labels for some of the world’s leading consumer brands including laundry, personal hygiene and food products.
Established in 1999, Fresh Up Label specializes in production of high-quality, pressure-sensitive adhesive labels for all kinds of applications. The company has built its success on a foundation of using the best materials, high-tech printing technology and an expert team of in-house professionals. Not surprisingly, the company has become one of the fastest growing providers of labels not just within Bulgaria, but worldwide.
However, a couple of years ago the company was experiencing some challenges in meeting increasingly diverse customer needs and demand for rapid product turnaround. For instance, requirements for labels differ considerably across the company’s customers and there are multiple variations involved: imagine the difference between the label for a shampoo dispenser compared to wine bottle. In addition, ensuring the smooth-running of the entire production process involves considerable administration and documentation.
As the company continued to expand its international customer base, it could see that these demands would only increase and therefore decided to invest in an electronic system to manage the whole production process more effectively. Fresh Up began negotiations with FTS Bulgaria, a local systems integrator and Microsoft Certified Partner, which suggested a system based on the MS Dynamics AX ERP Solution. “MS Dynamics AX is a leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform and we felt confident in recommending it to Fresh Up Labels, combined with our experience and track record in rapid implementation,” says Stefan Yanchovichin, Project Manager, FTS Bulgaria.
At the same time, Fresh Up began conversations with Dean Ivanov, the local technical consultant for EUGA, which is a programme managed by Microsoft that helps organizations with access to funding across the EU. Dean Ivanov suggested Fresh Up might be eligible for external funding to support implementation of the new system. The company could have researched and applied for funding itself, but realized the benefits of working through EUGA.
CEO of Fresh Up Labels Borislav Banchev explains, “EUGA’s expert team were in the best position to advise us which grant we would be most successful in securing. EUGA also managed the application process end-to-end. Working with EUGA removed much of the workload and complexity that would otherwise have been involved.”
EUGA recommended that with its help, Fresh Up apply to the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy and Energy for a Modernisation of Manufacturing SMEs grant. “Criteria for the grant specified that the company must be well established, be a future employer for the region and have growth potential. FreshUp met the profile, having been in business for 10 years and a staff of around 100, with opportunities to recruit more in the future,” says Dean Ivanov.
The grant application process involved two months’ preparation, with EUGA, Fresh Up and FTS Bulgaria working closely together to maximize the chances of success. Everyone’s hard work was rewarded when the Ministry awarded Fresh Up 50,000 Euros, which equated to approximately 65% of the total project cost. As a result, Fresh Up has been able to grow operations, boost production levels and secure its position as a successful Bulgarian company and one Europe’s leading providers of labels.