Sustainable Transition for SMEs

webinar| 5 July 2024

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This video invites you to explore the opportunities and challenges of the sustainable transition for SMEs, with a keynote presentation by Isabelle Grippa, CEO of, and a panel discussion with experts and SME representatives. We look into SMEs’ experiences in moving towards sustainable operations, accessing information, finding cost-effective opportunities, meeting mandatory and voluntary standards, and securing sustainable funding sources. This video is a recording organised in Shanghai and online on 3 July 2024 by the EU SME Centre and the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

Video chapters


– Liam Jia, Team Leader, EU SME Centre

Opening remarks

– Carlo Diego D’Andrea, Vice President, European Chamber; Chair, Shanghai Chapter

EU SME Centre activities

– Presentation of the services available to European SMEs in China

How Shifting Towards Sustainable Entrepreneurship Creates Opportunities for Companies

– Isabelle Grippa, CEO,

Panel discussion

– Striking a Balance Between SMEs’ Business Growth and Sustainable Transition

Background: On the sustainable transition of SMEs in Europe and in China

According to the UN International Trade Centre, SMEs represent 95% of firms in the world and provide 70% of employment opportunities. Data from the OECD indicates that SMEs in China contribute significantly to the country’s various economic sectors. However, SMEs face significant challenges in bearing the transition cost of sustainable practices and operations. In 2018, the Chinese National Environment Ministry reported that penalties for environmental regulations violations were mostly incurred by SMEs. In China, the central government has issued plans for the development of a circular economy, encouraging companies to transform their business models and adopt more sustainable practices. The European Commission has announced a zero-pollution ambition in the European Green Deal, part of its strategy to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This initiative aims to halt and prevent environmental degradation, optimise resource utilisation, and protect biodiversity, all of which are critical to the transition towards sustainable business practices, ensuring the continued competitiveness and growth of European SMEs.

Speakers and panellists
Carlo Diego D’Andrea
Vice President, European Chamber; Founding Partner and Managing Director, D’Andrea & Partners

Founder and Managing Partner of D’Andrea & Partners Legal Counsel, and Founder of DP Group.

Carlo Diego D’Andrea graduated in Law at the University of Teramo (Italy). He then obtained a Masters’ degree in Corporate Advisor at LUISS University in Rome and a Diploma in Chinese Studies at Nanjing Normal University and is a member of the Italian Bar Association.

Mr. D’Andrea arrived in China in 2005 and is fluent in Italian (mother tongue), English, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. He mainly deals with cross-border mergers and acquisitions, assistance in ODI/FDI and intellectual property rights.

He is also acting as National Vice President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and Chairman of the Shanghai Chapter.

Liam Jia
Team Lead, EU SME Centre

Liam Jia is a versatile professional with the past 8 years advising European businesses on market access and business strategies to China. He has a solid working experience in project and operations management, financial and risk control in the EU context.

Liam is an experienced speaker and author of publications on a range of topics, including the environmental sector, SME digitalisation and F&B distribution. Great team player, generating positive influence on teammates.

Isabelle Grippa
CEO, the Brussels Agency for Entrepreneurship

Isabelle Grippa studied International Relations at ULB. She then went on to complete an additional Master’s degree at the Institute of European Studies, for which she attained a distinction. As a social dialogue specialist, she began a career in the institutions of Brussels dealing with socioeconomic issues as a parliamentary attaché, and as coordinator of the Brussels New Deal for employment and training. As an economic advisor for two Minister Presidents, she was responsible for launching and coordinating the Brussels 2025 Strategy before a brief period working at Actiris.

As a lover of Brussels, a feminist campaigner, a mum and step mum to six children, Isabelle became Executive Director of in September 2018. She became the youngest CEO of a Brussels institution. Having Isabelle Grippa at brings new wind to a new Agency… With her 360 hubsters, she’s an ardent defender of the issues she holds dear, namely entrepreneurship as a driver of positive impact, the emancipation of society and its accessibility to all, the environmental transition, resilience, and more.

Roberto Donà
Professor of Practice in Management, IBSS

Roberto Donà is an academic and a business practitioner with a long experience in China. He is a Professor of Practice in Management at IBSS, the business school of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, where he served in different academic leadership roles, among those the latest was Associate Dean for Corporate Affairs.
Previously, he was a faculty member of SDA Bocconi School of Management and Bocconi University since 1990, Visiting Scholar (1996) and Visiting Professor (1998) at Stern School of Business (New York University) and Visiting Professor, Fudan University School of Management (2008-2010), Honorary Professor at the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the University of Chinese Academy of Science and Visiting Professor at Fudan University. Roberto has strong international exposure having worked in Russia, Bulgaria, Argentina, the USA and China. Since the beginning of his career, he has worked in advisory roles for both domestic and international companies, serving in several board positions.
Roberto is a representative of IBSS in the Shanghai Chapter of the European Chamber since 2014 and he is a member of the Investment WG. He was elected Board Member of the Shanghai Chapter in 2021.

Mailei Li
Sustainability Director in Occupational Health & Safety Assistances Inc., Shanghai

Mailei Li has worked with both the social and private sector in China and U.S. for more than 14 years. She has gained appreciation and respect for the challenge of supporting and developing sustainable programmes and organisations that have a long-term impact on our communities and society. She holds a Master’s degree of Nonprofit Management and “Sustainable Capitalism and ESG” certificate from University of California, Berkeley – School of Law. Support in Strategic advising, stakeholders communication, build the resilience for the SMEs and NGOs in the changing world.

Kay Thiede
CEO, New Musketeers Interior (Shanghai) Co. Ltd

With a master’s degree in carpentry, Kay Thiede has been tackling international shop fitting challenges since 1983. Whether it’s stores for high‐end fashion brands, broadcasting studios, exhibitions, showrooms, VIP lounges for airlines, factory and office buildings, fire prevention systems, or simply product design, Kay has brought 40 years of experience, leaving his mark in design, shop fitting, project management, budgeting, time control, and onsite management across all continents.

Jimmy Liang
Managing Director China, Shanghai Waste Treatment Technologies

After gaining a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Jimmy Liang joined Waste Treatment Technologies Netherlands B.V. (WTT) in 2017 and was appointed as Managing Director in China in 2019. He has established a professional local team, supplier network and mature partnership network from 0 to 1, fully responsible (P&L) for managing and developing waste treatment business in China and successfully won several bids of solid waste treatment projects using Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) technologies. With the Jieyang project facility standing as a beacon of innovation in sustainable waste management practices, WTT China has been awarded the Circular Economy Pioneer 2023 award at the European Chamber Sustainable Business Awards (SBA).

Ioana Kraft
Associate Director, X-PM Transition Partners

Ioana Kraft has been based in Shanghai since 2003 where she worked for the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (European Chamber) from 2004 to 2022. From 2009 to 2022 she served as General Manager of the Chamber’s Shanghai Chapter and was responsible for implementation and development of European Chamber objectives, visibility, and advocacy activities on a regional level in Shanghai and neighbouring regions.

Ioana is currently an Associate Director with X-PM Transition Partners, a leading European Executive Interim and Transition Management firm with teams in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong. X-PM is part of the WIL group, a network of 13 firms operating in 35 countries that deliver interim and transition solutions to clients around the world and offers a unique international “multi-sourcing” model that leverages the assets of each member firm and ensures the best assignments globally.

A German-qualified lawyer, Ioana practiced with a German law firm in Shanghai from 2003 and 2004. She also holds a PhD degree in law from Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, where she worked from 1999 to 2003 as a Senior Research Assistant focussing on the areas of Civil Law, Insurance Law, Comparative Law, International Private Law and Labour Law.

Sign up and benefit from our entire range of free services

If you sign up today you’ll be able to

  • Access to tailored advice through our Ask-the-Expert tool
  • A library of over 200 publications
  • Practical business tools
  • A network of trade promotion and business support partners
  • A comprehensive database of service providers with contact information