Doing business in China: “Let go of the idea that things have to be done your way.” | RVO.nl

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Doing business in China: “Let go of the idea that things have to be done your way.”

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The Deventer-based company Parantion creates online platforms for talent development. In the Netherlands, the company leads the market in the sector for medical education programmes. With the help of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, they are taking their first steps abroad.

CEO Roel Smabers: “We started close to home, in Belgium and Germany. But at that time, Belgian and German universities were not very far along in terms of digitisation.” Smabers decided to continue looking and took part in a study trip to China. “It was obvious that this is an enormous market with a lot of potential. Yet the risk factor turned out to be many times greater. As an SME, we have limited resources which we desperately need to innovate. As a result, we cannot take any financial risks.”

Interest in a demonstration project

A demonstration project supported by the DHI scheme solved this problem. Long-term client Radboud University brought Smabers in contact with the University of Guangzhou in China. Smabers explains: “We put our platform Scorion into practice there. We showed a group of Chinese universities that it works for their method of teaching and guidance.” Parties are now showing serious interest in the Dutch portfolio platform software.

Tips for entrepreneurs

Working in China turned out to be a challenge. Smabers points out: “In China, nothing happens according to the kind of plan we find logical in the West. My advice is to let go of the idea that things have to be done your way. In the end, doing things in a different order can produce just as good results."

Smabers also has a few tips for business owners who are planning a DHI project: “I took care of the application myself, without a middleman. It took some time, but it was worth it. It helps you understand your project. You also have contact with the advisor from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. This helps you make adjustments when needed. You can declare the hours you spent on the final report, so you will be paid for your time.”

The application process could have gone faster: “I had already done a lot of work before I noticed there was a template for the budget. It would have been useful if I had seen that earlier. In other words, read the application documents carefully before you start.”

Would you like to know more?

DHI is the subsidy scheme for demonstration projects, feasibility studies and investment preparation projects. Would you like to apply for DHI? This is possible even during the coronavirus crisis. Please visit our DHI page.