After successfully conducting research in India, Argentina, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Chile and China, the destination of Sefa Research Project 2021 will be Spain and Portugal.
The Sefa Research Project consists of 16 highly motivated student consultants trained by prestigious and established consultancy companies. These students are able to provide fine-tuned advice that meets the needs of our business partners.
This is the 16th year that the Sefa Research Project exists and partnering businesses have shown great enthusiasm with the work received. Moreover, the academic and voluntary nature of the participating students, their enthusiastic and hard-working mindset, the professional training that the student consultants will receive and the cost transparency that the project has, make this project unique.
All student consultants are either in the last stage of their bachelor’s degree or are doing a research master’s degree. They have been immersed in an academic environment and have been looking at business and international trade in a scientific manner. Furthermore, the students have had classes about the most recent research on markets and about how businesses operate within them. The students will gain many insights into explorable business opportunities for Dutch companies.The project and its research are able to bring new scientific impulses to your company which could result in smart and creative ways for your business to be successful in Portugal and Spain.
All sixteen student consultants have voluntarily decided to participate in the Sefa Research Project, as many of them aim to make a career out of this line of work. The Sefa Research Project gives them the opportunity to put all their gained knowledge to practice. Unlike other consultancy firms, the Sefa Research Project is a non-profit organization and therefore the students are not being paid for their participation in the project. The student consultants will go above and beyond to ensure the success of your business in Portugal and Spain
To become part of the Sefa Research Project, the student consultants have gone through a rigorous selection procedure. Only highly motivated bachelor or master students who have demonstrated to be hardworking, smart, enthusiastic, and talented by obtaining high marks and participating in extracurricular activities have been selected. This ensures that our team consists only of the best economics and business students.
Besides the knowledge gathered within the domain of their studies, the student consultants also receive guidance from representatives of our Board of Advisors. Additionally, the participating students received professional training from our partners such as Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte and McKinsey. This combination of an academic core with a professional outer-layer makes the Sefa Research Project unique.
The Sefa Research Project is constructed on a non-profit basis, so the project will be completely transparent about the cost structure. Since both the student consultants themselves and Sefa contribute to the project financially, the price for companies is below cost price.
About Portugal and Spain
Located on the West Coast of Europe, Portugal and Spain are two countries that are worth taking advantage of due to their unique geo-strategic location, as they are famous for being the natural gateways between the EU and other major world markets in North America and South America. Spain and Portugal both have promising sectors for foreign direct investment, for instance, automotive, ICT and renewable energy. Whilst Portugal’s economy is booming and enjoys its highest economic growth in nearly two decades, Spain is known for its purchasing power parity and great infrastructure and logistical services.
Both countries have an array of economic opportunities for investors interested in expanding their business and attract global brands across the world. Overall, both have well-connected positions and therefore remain open and competitive markets.
The automobile sector is among Spain’s primary economic drivers. With an annual vehicle production of more than 2.8 million units, the country is Europe’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, and eight-largest in the world. Spain is home to 13 automobile manufacturing establishments, with PSA and SEAT being the country’s two largest automobile producers. Many global automobile-manufacturing giants have operations in Spain, and these include Daimler AG, Ford, General Motors, Renault, and Nissan.
The Spanish Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector is one of the most important in Europe, housing more than 34,000 ICT businesses and comprising 4.3% of the GDP. Spain has proven to be a leader in the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe, and the ICT sector is strongly backed by the Spanish government. Its skilled labor force, along with its competitive prices and its privileged access to Latin American markets, make Spain a desirable location for investment in ICT.
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry in Spain has become one of the most dynamic and competitive globally. The biotechnology industry specifically, has grown hand-in-hand with the pharmaceutical industry. It has now, after two decades, achieved a stage of consolidation as an emerging industry. Innovation in healthcare technology in Spain offers great potential for development, mainly due to the large size of the market. Spain is one of Europe’s principal markets, with over 1,000 companies, 500 of them manufacturers. Over 27,800 people work in the industry.
The chemical industry in spain has one of the highest profit margins with over 30% of sales. The industry has grown to the size of 65.7 billion euros, which is 13.4% of manufacturing gross product. There are 3300 companies operating in the industry with exports reaching 57.5% of production. The government of Spain has declared the industry a key sector for the country’s economy and is making significant investment into research and development, which enables a strong consistent growth rate for the industry.
In 2020 Spain generated 43.6% of its power from renewables and is one of the leaders in setting a new standard for sustainability. In 2018 Spain announced that it will reduce its dependance on fossil fuels and will draw 75% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and 100% by 2050. This ambitious plan is progressing effectively and has led to large investments into the renewable energy sector allowing for great growth.
The automobile sector is among Spain’s primary economic drivers. With an annual vehicle production of more than 2.8 million units, the country is Europe’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, and eight-largest in the world. Spain is home to 13 automobile The auto sector, including car and component production, is a core sector of the Portugese economy. The automotive industry in Portugal hosts 5 car manufacturers, namely, Volkswagen AutoEuropa, PSA, Mitsubishi, ISUZU and Salvador Caetano and about 200 automotive supplier companies.
Agriculture, Fishing and Food
Portuguese agriculture and agro-industry industries have emerged as Portugal’s fastest-growing export sector and a significant area in job creation representing 3% of our national GDP. More than half (50.8%) of continental Portugal is dedicated to agriculture – grain, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, grapes; sheep, cattle, goats, swine, poultry, dairy products; fish.
Portugal is rich in mineral resources and many of the country’s industries have benefited from this. Most of the country’s large mineral-related companies were controlled or owned by the government, but recently they have been part of a privatization process allowing for new opportunities in the industry. The main minerals mined in the country are copper, gold, kaolin, lead, lithium, pyrites, and tin.
Portugal recently launched the development of renewable energies, specifically solar energy and wave power. Before recent renewables initiatives, the country was largely operating on fossil fuels. The initiatives have led to large investments into the renewable energy sector and a growing demand for it, creating great opportunities in a growing sector.
From financial services, to software, hardware and telecommunications, Portuguese companies have achieved a high level of excellence and international recognition with state-of-the-art products and services. Portugal’s multifuncional 24/7 ATM machines make life easier for those accessing financial or public services. It is also the homeland of Via Verde, an innovative electronic system that allows to pay highway tolls and car parks or even pay gas at petrol stations without having to leave your car. Via Verde processes 500 thousand transactions per day.
Since 2007 Sefa has conducted Research Projects in a variety of countries. Below are a number of brief case studies done in previous years. However, due to the confidentiality of multiple projects, not all previous editions are included.
Postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19.
Royal Boon Edam is a company that manufactures revolving doors, high security doors and speed gates. It is the world market leader in the revolving doors industry and a renowned manufacturer of high security gates. In 2004 Queen Beatrix granted them the title of ‘Royal’ for their 130th anniversary.
Boon Edam is already active in the Indian market, but their business in the Indian market is not increasing as much as they would like. They would like to know if and where the opportunities are.
In the summer of 2019, three student consultants did research in India, with the goal to identify various opportunities where Royal Boon Edam can sell their products. The students also looked at possible problems the company was facing in the Indian Market. They spoke with employees of the companies, market experts, existing buyers and construction companies.
Secrid is one of the biggest companies that are selling pocket-sized products. The very first Secrid was sold in 2009 in the Netherlands and now they are selling the products in more than 6000 stores all over the world. The products are produced in the Netherlands and make sure the quality is hig.
Secrid keeps on looking for new markets for their products. Because of the positive developments in Mexico, their interest was to move to this country.
In the summer of 2018, 4 students consultants have done the research in Mexico, with the goal to identify new selling locations, to identify the needs and wishes of the Mexican consumer and to look for some possible difficulties in the the Mexican law. To get to the results the student consultants have been visiting and ranking 70 possible selling locatons. Besides this, more than 100 consumers were interviewed for consumer research.
The rapport gives a clear overview of the potential selling locations for Secrid and helps to find new customers in Mexico. The consumer research will give Secrid insight in the needs and wises of the Mexican consumer.
Running one of the largest and busiest logistics centres in the world for many years has given the Port of Rotterdam Authority a wealth of expertise and experience in developing and managing large ports and industrial areas. The Port of Rotterdam International department (PoRint) uses this knowledge and experience and the world-renowned ‘Port of Rotterdam’ brand to help ports worldwide achieve their maximum potential.
Port of Rotterdam Authority is constantly working on expanding their international network. Because of positive developments on a political and economic level in Argentina, they were interested in the dynamics around the Port of Buenos Aires.
The 4 student consultants have done a very broad research, in which the following issues have been analyzed; the business model of the port, the stakeholders and their interest, the financial position, the status of logistics and the expectations around politics and economics. For this they have gathered data and have held numerous interviews with, among others, the authorities of the port, port experts, ministries and journalists.
The report has given a clear overview about the situation around the port of Buenos Aires and helps in the conversation about a possible collaboration.
De Heus Voeders is one of the largest independent animal nutrition producing companies in the world with over 35 factories in 9 different countries across the globe. Currently De Heus is in the top 5 largest animal feed producers in Vietnam and already has a strong regional presence: products are being exported from Vietnam to Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines and Myanmar. However, De Heus had been absent in the Indonesian animal nutrition market.
De Heus had very limited knowledge on the Indonesian animal nutrition industry and therefore requested Sefa Research Project to perform a market entry study on feed for aquaculture; an animal nutrition sub-market considered to be of high potential by De Heus.
The 4 person project team first conducted quantitative research on market size and growth of different fish species while being based in The Netherlands. Based on the outcomes, the team and De Heus decided to focus on a core group of 4 high potential species. Then the team did research on which specific locations in Indonesia were the top fish farming places, and decided to visit five of them. In Indonesia, the team conducted surveys at the different locations with important stakeholders to construct a comprehensive market analysis.
Mr. Johan van den Ban (in 2014 Business Development Manager at De Heus Vietnam, now Managing Director at De Heus Myanmar) says: “The Sefa Research Project team has strong analytical skills and the ability to outline a potential market relatively fast. The slide deck report was very professional and well- structured and has been of added value to our entry to Indonesia. Furthermore, the team showed good teamwork and communication skills”.
Faber Flags is the global market leader in the production, marketing and sales of promotional textile products, such as flags, indoor/outdoor banners, street banners, event banners and parasols. With various participations and joint ventures worldwide, Faber can be described as an internationally oriented company.
With a declining European market for outdoor promotion, Faber Flags continuously searches for opportunities outside the Netherlands to strengthen her international salesnetwork. Having an economic growth of approximately 6% over the last 5 years, and an even larger growth in the advertising sector, Vietnam could be an important new market for Faber Flags. Faber Flags asked the Sefa Research Project to find out what Vietnam offers for them.
Four members of the Sefa Research Project conducted a market research. Keeping the needs and wishes of Faber Flags in mind, they started with a month of desk research. The team began by mapping the available legislation and processing the relevant macro-economic data. In Vietnam, the team coorporated with e.g. the Dutch Consulate and several (international) business organizations in order to see whether the ideas of the team about the market fitted the actual picture. Visiting several production companies as well as multinationals, the team tried to form a complete picture of the supply and demand side of the Vietnames advertising market.
Martin Koppelaar, CEO of Faber Flags: The cooperation with Sefa went very well. The discussions during the intake, and the desk and field research were very fruitfull. Sefa did deliver and present a valuable report which will help us to take the necessary decisions regarding the entry of the Vietnames economy.
ECN is a mid-sized company involved in energy research and technology development, with a focus on renewable energies. Key activities for the company include contract research and development for external organizations, the licensing of technology and systems to industrial companies and consulting on policy issues around energy.
Developments in the area of renewable energy research (biomass energy and sugarcane) in Brazil had been of interest to ECN in the last year. ECN wanted to enter the market of sugarcane, and improve its energy potential and waste product bagasse. The assignment was to map the market for biomass research in Brazil, meet the companies and institutes behind the key projects and develop leads for our client to enter this market.
The team began by identifying three key lines of business for the client that best fit the Brazilian market. Then an analysis was made of the Brazilian market to identify companies and institutes that could be of potential interest, this was done by using a value-chain perspective. Additionally they found companies active in interesting biomass projects beyond sugarcane. The research team identified a list of high potential contacts and then departed for Brazil. In Brazil they spent three weeks in Sao Paulo state, the centre of the sugarcane industry in Brazil. The team met with sugarcane producers, industry associations, energy companies, universities, power plant operators as well as legal and regulatory experts and sought their view on the market for biomass research in Brazil.
The team was able to introduce their client’s capabilities to multiple companies and arranged follow-up working meetings between the client and four new companies and institutes in Brazil.
Derco B.V. – The Philippines (2015): “The members of the SEFA project team impressed us with their professionalism and dedication. During all phases of the project they kept us informed, and for every challenge they were able to find a solution. At the end of the project they supplied us with a high quality report of the local market, and their recommendations and findings will definitely help us to open up the Philippines market for our products. We can highly recommend SEFA’s services, and we look forward to working with a new SEFA team in the near future.”
E-Crane – Vietnam (2013):
”I was truly impressed with the final outcome of this research project. All participants clearly had a good technical and commercial understanding of our E-Crane product line and this resulted in well-documented and valuable tools that were successfully used in approaching and analyzing the Vietnamese market. The final SEFA report is not the end but rather a new and exciting starting point for E-Crane’s expansion in Asia.“
BSc. Economics and Business Economics
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