Export Knowhow

"A membership with S-GE is worthwhile for every export-oriented company"

Don't spend time on time-consuming research, but concentrate fully on your core business: How start-ups in the cleantech sector can benefit from S-GE.

Windrad, Montage Rotorblatt

With Agile Wind Power AG, Patrick Richter has developed the first quiet, vertical-axis large wind turbine: The 105 metre high Vertical Sky A32 generates an output of 750 kW and, with a sound power level of 85 dB, it is three times less noisy than conventional propeller turbines. In addition, the shadow cast is significantly smaller - and the turbine is much less dangerous for birds. Agile Wind Power AG is currently operating a prototype test turbine in Germany and is about to enter the market in numerous other countries. This is to be carried out with the help of S-GE, among others. We wanted to know from Patrick Richter how the organisation has supported his company so far - and what he expects from S-GE in the future.

How did you hear about S-GE?
Patrick Richter: I honestly don't know anymore (laughs). In 2017 we had our first contact in the USA - I think we had heard of S-GE through our industry association.

And what could the organisation do for you back then?
Even the first contacts were very interesting: we saw a market niche in the USA and with the support of an S-GE consultant we were able to start networking quickly. The consultant immediately understood what we wanted and gave us access to his network.

So, the first contacts with S-GE were already to your satisfaction? 
Absolutely.

Personally, I was impressed by the enthusiastic commitment of the people. We contacted the organisation again and again later. Over the years, S-GE became a sparring partner for us to a certain extent.

How did it go for you in the USA?
Our experience with S-GE in North America has been positive all round: the organisation has brought us into promising events and congresses - also in the cleantech industry. We rapidly received confirmation that there is a market for our product in the USA. S-GE helped us to find out where exactly the niche could be interesting for us.

Has S-GE been active in other markets for you?
The office in Germany contacted us in 2017 and asked us if we would like to participate in a mailing campaign. But it was too early for us: we were completely absorbed with the development and did not yet have a presentable product.

Today you are running a test project in Germany and have also moved your production to a neighbouring country. Again with support from S-GE?
For our concrete test project with the prototype we did not need any help from S-GE. Germany is close to us - literally and figuratively. Besides, the country is the birthplace of the wind industry, so to speak. We had no difficulty whatsoever in finding good contacts and reliable suppliers there.

Then you could say: the more "exotic" the market, the more important the services of S-GE?
Exactly. In the UK, for example, we are at the very beginning only; S-GE is a very important partner in clarifying the possibilities there. The Asian markets are also interesting for us: S-GE has already helped us in China. In India, too, the organisation supports us - although this market is difficult due to various hurdles. In the Gulf region we are active with a partner. S-GE has also given us good support in this exciting market.

But you want to build the first productive plants nearby ...
Right. Before we get to the difficult markets, we want to concentrate on the simpler things: We are currently seeing such "low-hanging fruits" in Germany or in the USA. If possible, the first optimised plant should be located in Switzerland or Germany. This will enable us to gain further experience directly on site. This will probably be followed by the USA, where people in the state of Massachusetts are already really hot for the first plant from our company. In addition, a project in South East Asia is about to be signed.

What do you expect from a future cooperation with S-GE?
We can also achieve a lot with the organisation when it comes to the actual market entry: We want to develop our communication more strategically in future and launch targeted campaigns. In defining the appropriate target audience and formulating the concrete messages, S-GE will again be a clear added value for us. We want to communicate clearly and unambiguously in Germany, in the USA and later also in more exotic markets. With the Swiss cross behind us - the seal of quality of our country.

To whom would you recommend working with S-GE?
Cooperation with the organisation is worthwhile for every export-oriented company - especially for start-ups. For us, the services of S-GE are very valuable: we don't waste time with time-consuming research and can concentrate fully on our core business. Membership has long since paid off!

And when should a new company contact S-GE?
Ideally, of course, as early as possible: I recommend that a young entrepreneur should show S-GE his business, present his products or services - and then ask for tailor-made support. Because the organisation is structured not only by region but also by industry, the relevant know-how can be accessed at any level. Initial contacts are usually made through the divisional manager, followed by local support in the desired export region.

Your conclusion?
Networking is the most important thing for a young company or for managing new markets. We have had very good experience with S-GE in establishing new contacts abroad. I can only recommend cooperation with the organisation - membership is really not that expensive!

Do you have questions about your project?

Give him a call, send him an e-mail or set up an appointment with him: David Avery, Head of Cleantech.

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