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Can I take part in ISE?

SMEs in the ISE partner regions (Kent, Hauts-de-France, East Flanders, West Flanders, and the South West of the Netherlands) have the opportunity to take part in activities and events organised as part of the project. Whilst many of these activities are open to all SMEs, as we progress with the project objectives, the activities will become more focused and places will be limited for some events.

All businesses interested in joining the ISE project need to meet two basic requirements: 

1. They are an SME according to the European Commission Definition:

  • They have fewer than 250 employees
  • The annual turnover is less than €50m, or a balance sheet of less than €43m million

The European Commission website has an SME self-assessment questionnaire which can check SME compliance

2. They are located in the ISE project area:

The company needs to be based within one of the ISE partner regions (HQ or a branch): Kent, Hauts-de-France, the SW of the Netherlands (Zeeland & West-Nord-Brabant), East Flanders and West Flanders.

Additional Criteria for Selective Events

Some of the ISE activities will be more focused and there will be limited places available for SMEs to take part. Therefore, these activities will require a selection process and participating SMEs will need to meet certain criteria.

These activities specifically refer to:

  • Company Diagnostics (1-2-1 assessments)
  • ‘Innovation Pathway’ Events
  • ‘Major Innovation’ Events
  • ISE Cluster Membership

Selection Criteria:

Company Size (no. of employees)

Most companies selected for the above mentioned activities will need to have between 5-50 employees. However, on a case to case basis, it will be at ISE partners’ discretion to also allow start-ups, smaller companies or larger SMEs to also participate.

Decision Makers

The individuals representing SMEs should have decision-making roles within the company or an ability to ensure that ISE recommendations can be taken forward.


Participating SMEs will need to have adequate resources in terms of their capacity to make investments and to make changes (e.g. the ability to travel abroad and also to invest in new product development).

Innovation Appetite & Capacity

The participating SMEs will need to demonstrate an appetite for innovation as well as the capacity to deliver this. This criterion also refers to an SME’s openness to innovation, i.e. willingness to make changes as suggested by the partners through 1-2-1 assessments etc.


Participating SMEs will need to demonstrate an interest and openness to internationalising.


Participating SMEs should have an approximate turnover of around €100,000 to €10 million. However, it will be at ISE partners’ discretion to allow for exceptions.

State Aid

Participating SMEs must not have received State Aid above the “de minimis” ceiling and must not be in receivership or under liquidation at the time of taking part in ISE activities. Under the De Minimis exemption an SME can receive up to €200,000 (Approx. £173,000) of State Aid in a rolling three year period (the current financial year and the two previous financial years).