[IEDC] (http://www.iedc.si/) Bled School of Management and [CEEMAN] (http://www.ceeman.org/) (International Association for Management Development in Dynamic Societies) with the assistance of [European Bank for Reconstruction and Development] (https://www.ebrd.com/home) published the results of their study of “hidden champions” in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe - placing Mono in a distinguished list of global and European market leaders.

The term “hidden champions” was coined by respected German economic theorist Hermann Simon in 1996, while exploring the reasons for Germany’s great competitiveness in the world market. Simon used this term to describe compelling small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany and examined their role in and implications for his country’s economic development and innovation.

Unknown world market leaders

To earn the title of “hidden champion”, the company must meet several strict criteria according to Simon.

Hidden champions:

  • are highly successful innovative SMEs (command top 2 share of their respective niche markets globally/market leaders on their continent),
  • revenues do not exceed US$ 1 billion,
  • have low visibility in the wider public domain,
  • tend to be very competitive in their respective markets,
  • have posted consistent growth trajectories over the prior decade and boast above-average innovation rates,
  • have been in operation for at least five years.

Mono is, among other things, the second global leader in managing the drug registration process in the pharmaceutical industry with our software and suite of Mono eCTD Office (electronic Common Technical Document) tools. We have been at the top of the list of Croatian software exporters for years. Our partner network includes companies and sales representatives in the US, Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Poland, Jordan, Australia…

Research in 22 countries

The survey by IEDC an CEEMAN included 145 companies and was conducted in 22 countries during 2018 and 2019: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and Croatia.

The “hidden champions” covered by the survey have been identified in eight industries: manufacturing; information and communications; professional, scientific and technical activities; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; transportation and storage; construction; wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; arts, entertainment and recreation. Along with Mono, Genos and [Dok-Ing] (https://www.dok-ing.hr/), have also been listed as “hidden champions” in Croatia, while Alius Group-Pharmalogger, has been named as a “potential hidden champion”.

Screenshot Screenshot from the study

This survey is a continuation of the research conducted in 2017 and initially launched in 2011 (modeled on Simon’s first research for Germany). The aim was to investigate the growth and current evolution of the status of “hidden champions” identified in the 2011 study and to identify and analyze the characteristics of new “hidden champions” in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The research was conducted by research teams made up of eminent scientists and university professors in each country.

Entrepreneurial mindset, inovations, agility

The study found that all “hidden champions” have the following common characteristics:

  • global act, local impact (although most companies are not located in the nation’s capital and are mostly export-oriented, they play a key role in the development of their local environment - they employ local labor, give scholarship on young talents, carry out significant social actions),
  • export orientation (holding the number 1 or 2 position in a regional or global market),
  • customer-centricity (the importance of establishing and maintaining close and long-term customer relationships),
  • well-rounded services and complex customer solutions,
  • quality and continuous innovation (product innovation, research and development of the processes and business models),
  • agility, efficiency, speed (flexibility, lean management, scrum methodologies and other agile approaches),
  • entrepreneurial mindset (from start-ups and family businesses to market leaders),
  • employees as partners (all companies said their people were their greatest asset, they hire professionals in the field).

The full publication “Updated survey of “hidden champions” in central, eastern and south-eastern Europe” is available on the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development website.

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