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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure ES-2012-1/2619 – measures in Spain



Country Spain , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 01 January 2012
Context COVID-19, Digital Transformation, Restructuring Support Instruments
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Supporting businesses to stay afloat
– Measures related to foreign trade
Author Jessica Durán (IKEI) and Eurofound
Measure added 23 June 2022 (updated 03 November 2022)

Background information

The ICEX Next Internationalisation Programme helps SMEs to internationalise, in order to increase their turnover abroad, reduce business risk and increase global competitiveness. Its objective is to help SMEs to develop or test their internationalisation strategy, analysing the best destinations for their product or service and supporting them with a Strategic International Business Plan Offline and Online.

Content of measure

The programme started in 2012. This integral practical programme supports the companies along the different phases of their international projects, both during the beginning and consolidation in foreign markets. It is a two-year programme (24 months). It offers two main elements: assessment (60 hours of personalised assessment to companies, 30 mandatory and 30 optional, by a panel of expert consultants in the area of internationalisation, who will provide assessment both on the design of the internationalisation plan and on destination countries to consolidate their position) and coverage of around 50% of the expenses related to the assessment services, market research, external promotion and hiring of staff for the internationalisation department in the company (up to a maximum of €15,000 per company as of 2020).

SMEs that developed their own internationally competitive product/service that has been marketed in the domestic market are eligible to take part in the initiative.

The specific requisites are:

  • To offer their own products or services that can be marketed internationally and that have their own brands. In the case of a service company, it has to be able to provide its service abroad.
  • SMEs cannot be subsidiaries of a foreign company.
  • To have a minimum billing (which will be defined in each call), this amount is usually reduced for newly created start-ups.
  • To have an export level below a certain percentage of the company's turnover (to be established in each call).
  • To have qualified workforce.
  • To have financing capacity to implement the project.
  • To require advice to develop and promote the strategy and the business plan.
  • And not having participated previously in an ICEX programme.

In spring 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies incurred cancellations of numerous events planned to support their internationalisation with the support of ICEX. In many cases, expenses had already been paid. ICEX, based on the Royal Decree-Law 11/2020, 31 March (Real Decreto-ley 11/2020, de 31 de marzo) will grant companies additional aid based on non-recoverable expenses incurred. During the pandemic, ICEX is offering information on digital tools which can enable a company to internationalise.

Use of measure

During the period 2012-2018 the programme supported 2,552 enterprises, the breakdown by sector is: 16% of companies in agri-food, 13% in consumer goods, 37% in industrial products and technology, 34% in services. During 2018, 375 new companies were supported by the programme. The programme has supported 1,860 companies during the period 2012-2016. The only results available for this period (years 2012 and 2013) shows that companies participating in ICEX NEXT increased their export volume of 50% on average.

Strengths: It supports SMEs to develop their internationalisation. It provides advice and financial support ( Lahtinen and Rannikko, 2018 Palomo, 2017 ).

Weaknesses: Coverage/eligibility criteria are quite restrictive ( Lahtinen and Rannikko, 2018 ).

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Applies to all businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement as case not in social partner domain No involvement as case not in social partner domain
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


No involvement

Views and reactions



  • 07 January 2013: Eurofound (2012), Born global: The potential of job creation in new international businesses, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. (
  • 01 April 2016: Royal Decree-Law No. 11/2020 of 31 March (Real Decreto-ley 11/2020, de 31 de marzo) (
  • 01 June 2016: Nimbeo (2016), 'Nimbeo aterriza en Silicon Valley', web page (
  • 29 October 2019: Ministerial Order of 17 October 2019 (Orden Ministerial de 17 de octubre de 2019) (
  • 28 October 2022: ICEX Next (undated), web page (
  • 28 October 2022: ICEX Next services (
  • 28 October 2022: ICEX (2018), Memoria Anual, web page (


Eurofound (2022), ICEX NEXT, measure ES-2012-1/2619 (measures in Spain), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.