The learning project I am working on consists of a market study for the HE’s company that is located in Warsaw, Poland. My HE is a businesswoman by the name of Katarzyna, who is the owner of the business and, for whom I am conducting the project. The goal of the market study is to analyse the EU funding consultancy sector to see if there is a need in the market for the HE’s EU funding consulting services outside of Poland. Specifically, Katarzyna would like to know if there is a need for EU funding consulting services in Scandinavian and French-speaking countries.

EU funding consulting companies exist because it is extremely difficult and time-consuming to write proposals to obtain funding from the European Commission, from private investors, and from banks. Expertise on EU funding mechanisms is attained over time through practical experience. Because there are a lot of technical details and nuances that need to be discovered through years of practice and by attending topic-specific workshops, companies with project ideas that are in need of funding prefer to hire consulting services to execute this work. EU funding consulting companies connect innovators and idea generators with the appropriate type of investment, whether it be a grant, a bank, or a private investor, as well as write the proposal and help with preparation of business plans and presentations for investor meetings.

It is an interesting sector to work in because you have the opportunity to discover new projects and innovative ideas that are 2 to 5 years ahead of the market. Typically, EU projects last from 2 to 3 years and are distributed for commercial purposes only after the end of the project. These projects are often R&D projects where an idea or technology is tested as a pilot to see if it is a scientifically viable idea, and if there is potential to create an effective business model to commercialize the idea.

From a business owner’s perspective, this creates a lot of opportunities because they are constantly ahead of the current market, and can foresee future market trends. My project throughout the exchange consists of Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark), and French-speaking countries in Europe (France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg) from the context an EU funding consulting company looking to enter the market.

The first milestone, which I achieved during the month of November, was a Company Overview and the collection of Market Research Data.

The Company Overview consists of a Business Model Canvas, and a PEESTL analysis as it relates to the EU funding consulting sector in Poland. It is important to create an overview of the company’s current situation because it will provide the starting point necessary during the Recommendations portion of the project. It is important to have the starting point and the ideal finish point, so that steps to be taken to go from the starting point to the finish point are clear and well justified. You need to know where Point A and Point B is before you can decide how to get from Point A to Point B.

Market Research Data consists of a full environment analysis of political, legal, and social trends per country of interest (i.e. France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark). In this analysis, I looked for environmental factors that could be a benefit or a barrier to expanding the Polish EU funding consulting company in that particular country. Katarzyna and I considered including a mystery shopper component to this Milestone however, in the end, we decided to rethink this idea during Milestone 2 since it is more relevant to that section.

Milestone 2 will concentrate on completing an in-depth Competitor Analysis for each country and perhaps will include mystery shopping. I am quite excited about this section because I think that Katarzyna’s guidance will allow me to approach the Competitor Analysis in a slightly different way from how I was taught in business school in Canada and France. I am looking forward to learning from her expertise.

I believe this project will benefit both, Katarzyna, and myself, as I am trying to learn about working with teams spread across Europe and about Poland’s business practices. I hope that this experience will lead to future opportunities where I can either partner with Katarzyna’s company or where I learn enough that I will be able to open my own consulting company in France, or elsewhere in Western Europe and perhaps provide services to Polish companies due to my expanding network and awareness of business practices in Poland.

Other than the project, I am observing how a Polish company functions and how the working style is different from that of my experience in Canada and France. I am sure that this experience will be useful for me in the future if I ever work with people with a purely Polish background. I have noticed that each culture has a different work style. So far, I have been fortunate enough to experience work styles in Canada and in France, and now I can experience it in Poland.