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European Innovation project finalises on-line strategic planning tools for SMEs

Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) now have at their disposal an on-line toolset, developed by the ESPLANADE project consortium, from which they can benefit from when preparing for the uncertainties of the future.

The tools offer the possibilities for SMEs to prepare their strategy through using the Scenario planning tool, as well as validate existing strategies through different possible scenarios in the future. Scenarios can be used for a number of different purposes. The tool can also be used during team building seminars, communicating a "vision" or building consensus among groups, exploring the impact of a particular issue (i.e. Industry regulation), strategy development or testing and supporting specific decision-making. Adopting a scenario planning approach can give you insight into the future and what it may mean for your business. Future insight can mean competitive advantage if you can respond quicker to dynamic changes in your industry and markets. The scenario-planning tool allows you to develop a portfolio of scenarios and explore uncertainty in your business environment. Scenarios can be used for a number of purposes including strategy development/ testing, supporting specific decision making, and more generally facilitating discussions about the future of your business., ,The ESPLANADE project was funded under the European Commission's 5th Framework Programme to develop a set of internet-based tools to support SMEs with strategy development. The toolset comprises:,· a scenario planning tool - to help SMEs develop scenarios to explore key issues in their business sectors or test new strategies for robustness;,· a business planning tool - to develop coherent business plans; ,· a data search tool which uses intelligent agents to automatically search the internet on a regular basis to deliver smaller volumes of the most relevant information according to a constantly refined search profile. The ESPLANADE project is initially focused on 6 industry sectors including:,· Biotechnology (applied to food production and medicine),· Pharmaceuticals (specifically orphan drugs),· Renewable energies and environmental development,· Waste water treatment,· Industrial automation and robotics ,· Textiles The tools are made available through 6 specific industry Sector Portals, on the ESPLANADE Internet portal. In addition to using the tools, users can also access a range of other sector information from the Sector Portals including:,· Sector discussion forums to network or discuss Sector issues with industry colleagues,· A list of sector news and events and related websites and organisations,· Assistance and guidance from ESPLANADE Partners in 5 countries You are invited to go to the ESPLANADE portal, access the tools through a very simple registration process and apply them to create your own strategies and business plans and giving us some feedback. To participate, go to http://www.esplanade-portal.net and click on the 'Register' button.ESPLANADE is a project which aims to develop a set of systems to help European Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) build up and select appropriate business strategies for the fast-changing world in which we live.,The Esplanade project is partially funded by the European Community within the 5th Framework Programme "Promotion of Innovation and encouragement of SME participation".

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