As the concept of employee and place of work begins to change and become more fluid, there has been a global rise of ‘coworking spaces’, which serve as transient spaces where individuals and companies can work alongside a variety of professionals. Whilst these spaces provide flexible physical locations without traditional constraints, do they actually work? Do they really promote cross-sectorial cooperation and innovation? Are they conducive to entrepreneurship?
Different studies and interviews of those that use coworking spaces and founders of these spaces have revealed key messages that point to what makes these innovative spaces different to traditional office environments. With reported higher levels of satisfaction and productivity, ongoing research has highlighted the following reasons for their attractiveness:
- People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful.
- They have more job control.
- They feel part of a community.
In an environment where collaboration and assistance are the norm, work takes on new meaning, stands out and can even be a valuable asset to another space user. The spirit of collaboration can exist in traditional office spaces, yet can also be accompanied by office politics and internal competition. By working with ‘strangers’ from a range of professions, this can help strengthen each individual work identity, add value to each unique contribution and ultimately eliminate the sometimes counterproductive aspect of internal competition.
When it comes to job control there is no denying that the world of work is changing and the once accepted 9-5 schedule with rigid policies, pushy bosses and no room to manoeuvre is being replaced by the need for autonomy and ultimately flexibility for workers. Coworking spaces allow for necessary but minimal routine and structure without traditional constraints. These spaces are normally available at all hours, meaning that working days can vary depending on when long hours and days are needed, to when a few hours are sufficient. This allows for healthy balance between professional responsibilities, family obligations and other social needs, through the flexible schedule a coworking space promotes.
Finally, the sense of community these spaces create is another strong factor in their attractiveness. Autonomy and flexibility are aspects that can be achieved from a home office, yet this can be isolating and result in decreased productivity. In contrast, the coworking spaces offer both interactive and individual work stations, giving users different working style options as well as the chance to socialise and expand their personal and professional networks.
With the ever changing workforce and working styles, . Taking into account the figures, the studies, the interviews and the ongoing research, there are definitely some benefits to coworking spaces, but can these benefits be translated into entrepreneurial success? Entrepreneurs often think outside of the box, so perhaps working spaces that fall outside of the ‘traditional box’ of structured and rigid office spaces are what these pioneering and innovative minds need to build their networks, launch their ideas and ultimately bring innovation into our daily lives.
For more information:
Interested in coworking spaces and what it is like to run one? Read through the Promoting Enterprise interview with ‘The Library Group’ CEO and founder Anne-Sofie van den Born Rehfeld on Instagram! Find out about her entrepreneurial journey and what led her to set up and run her network of coworking spaces in Brussels.
As the SME Assembly 2017 approaches, along with the beginning of the Estonian presidency, Promoting Enterprise has decided to briefly explore how this Member State rose to be the digital pioneer of Europe.
After gaining independence in 1994, the Republic of Estonia was a small state with a small population and few resources. It was at this moment that the country’s leaders decided to build on the global launch of the internet and integrate it into the construction of the post-Soviet Estonian infrastructure. Preparations for the modern e-Estonia began with the passing of the Information Policy in 1994, followed by the Personal Data Protection Act and the launching of the Tiger Leap project in 1996.
The Tiger Leap project marked the beginning of the prioritisation of the creation of Information Technology structure, by allowing educational institutes to access computers and the internet. This ensured the training of tech-savvy Estonians from a young age, which continues to allow the healthy growth of the national IT industry and development of innovative e-services such as the ID Card project and the X-Road. The project continues to run today and fosters the development of entrepreneurs and their innovations.
Fast forward to the present day and Estonia continues to pioneer digital solutions and is the training ground for other countries wanting to implement online voting and e-Health systems, to name a few. Not only a European but a global pioneer, Estonia is the seat of the NATO Cyber Defence Centre after demonstrating the ability to defend itself against a cyber-attack on national level in 2007.
E-Estonia is by no means finished and new systems and innovations are constantly being developed and added. What will Estonia develop next? We will have to wait and see…
For more information about E-Estonia: https://e-estonia.com/
The Digital Assembly 2017 will take place on 15 and 16 June in Valletta, Malta. It is an event co-organised by the European Commission and the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The Digital Assembly 2017, is an opportunity for stakeholders to debate, take stock and look ahead at how Europe and how its partners around the world are preparing for this digital transformation. It will also be an opportunity to have dialogue on the benefits of the Digital Union for citizens with a special focus on younger generations.
The Assembly will kick off on 15 June with a networking lunch, followed by a high-level opening ceremony and international panel discussions.
On Friday 16 June, four thematic working sessions will focus on the key priorities:
The Digital Assembly 2017 will end with a panel of young people discussing expectations and ideas for the digital economy and society, before a closing ceremony.
Read the programme here.
For more information: https://ec.europa.eu
The national competitions for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017 have been taking place across Europe and some of the national winners have already been announced! Here on Promoting Enterprise we have announced and presented the Dutch national winners and today national coordinator Juliane Kummer tells us about the German campaign and the two German national winners who will go on to compete at European level.
How many applications did you receive in total for EEPA 2017? Is this number higher than in 2016?
We received 31 applications, but two of them were not eligible for the competition yet, so overall we had 29 projects. This number is higher than in 2016 when we received 30 applications of which 27 were eligible and competed at the national level.
What categories were the projects competing in?
We received applications in each category for 2017. 19 of them were competing in “Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit”, 5 in “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills” and 3 in “Improving the Business Environment”. One project applied for the category “Supporting the Internationalisation of Business” and another for “Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship”.
How did you reach out to potential EEPA applicants? What was your strategy for encouraging applications?
Our strategy had various elements. Firstly we spread the news about EEPA widely to make it popular, which was also complemented by individually contacting interesting projects and trying to encourage them via personal appeals to participate. To spread the news and cultivate public relations, we contacted more than 1.000 multipliers and informed them about the German campaign. We used our social media channels and communicated via the official German EEPA-Website, we issued a press release for our launch and we contacted PR Managers at relevant institutions and asked them to spread our news concerning the competition via their website and/or other communication instruments such as newsletters. For the second part of our strategy, we researched EEPA-suitable projects and programmes and contacted them directly to invite them to participate in the competition.
In addition, we developed a simplified application form for the German competition before the 2017 campaign started which we also provided on our website as an online-application-form.
How were your winners selected? Can you tell us about your jury and your selection process?
The German winners were selected by a jury of national experts. We sent all the application documents to the jury members before meeting to select the German winners. At first, the jury discussed all the entries and then voted for the top 10. These top 10 were then discussed again and a second vote was held to select the two German winners.
Who are the national winners?
One of our winners is “BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @ Hansenberg”, competing in the category “Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit”. The BIRTH-Concept at the Hansenberg boarding school connects the topics of “MINT“ (“STEM”) and economic issues with enthusiasm for technology, delight in experimentation and responsible team work. Pupils from 14-18 years old receive entrepreneurship education in combination with knowledge about natural sciences and economics, business games, interdisciplinary competitions and cooperation between businesses and universities. It is an integrated project that aims to increase young people’s motivation, cooperative skills and their innovative and technological mind-set, helping them to become responsible adults.
The other German winner is the “Import Promotion Desk”, competing in category “Supporting the Internationalisation of Business”. The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) serves an important hinge function between European importers and SMEs in selected developing and emerging countries. The aim is sustainable and structured import promotion of certain products from partner countries – in compliance with high quality, social and ecological standards. For this purpose, the IPD matches European importers and exporters from emerging markets as trade partners.
Follow updates on the German competition via the official German EEPA-Website and here on Promoting Enterprise!
Educators are tasked with the necessary burden of preparing today’s students to shape tomorrow’s world as our next generation of thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs — the tireless creators who are at the forefront of innovation and driving the world’s economy. Recently, we’ve seen the traditional learning models begin to evolve with the meaningful incorporation of technology, as we try to equip students with the digital literacy required of today’s employees. But, with technology constantly changing, can we actually predict what skills and knowledge today’s students will need to lead the future workforce?
This uncertainty about the future is precisely what defines the type of workers we’ll need: flexible and collaborative problem solvers. Where the traditional learning model leans heavily on memorisation and discipline to create uniform, self-reliant students, the educational system must shift the focus from what students learn to how well students can apply knowledge to break barriers, chart their own paths and ignite their own career passions and interests. As we redefine the education environment through technology and innovative learning styles, we can prepare students to meet changing workplace expectations by teaching them how to learn, think and lead.
In these new education models key styles of education have been identified:
- Mobility enhanced personalised education: Learning how to learn
- The Maker Movement: Learning how to think: a hands-on approach
- Student-led learning: Learning how to lead
Incorporating technology in the classroom is already having an enormous impact on students, but if the lesson doesn’t go beyond the classroom, what value does it truly have for students’ real lives? Educators need to focus not only on how far we can advance learning with tech, but also how to build a culture of challenging outdated models and embracing new solutions; this is critical for our future workforce.
For today’s students to succeed in the workforce, they must learn to be contributors and innovators, rather than masters of a specific skillset. As technology evens out the playing field for global companies, innovation and differentiation will become even more instrumental in the success of a business. Today’s students will carry the burden of taking risks and thinking outside their roles to keep companies competitive and afloat. Future workplaces will not need “expert accountants” or “expert coders,” but rather expert problem solvers, thinkers, collaborators and “intrapreneurs.”
The burden doesn’t only fall on educators; technology companies also need to continue to provide communities with special STEM programs, focused on areas like data science and engineering. They can also help by supporting organisations like Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to closing the gender gap in computer science and technology, and Major League Hacking, a student hacking league that supports weekend-long invention competitions. Organisations like these inspire students and foster a drive to learn the skills needed to build a better world.
So whether you’re an educator or member of the tech community, it is up to us to help students think differently by teaching and supporting them with the world of tomorrow in mind, rather than defaulting to the ways we were taught as children. It’s vital we work together to set a precedent for innovation now so the next generation of entrepreneurs and employees can create a positive global impact when we pass the torch.
Read the full article: www.entrepreneur.com
Bottom-up innovation could be the competitive way forward for European advancement on the international stage across industrial sectors, and help to harmonise the current digitisation discrepancies across European industrial sectors. Digital innovation is necessary in order to keep up with the fast pace of digital technological change, but this fast pace can leave decision makers with difficult decisions regarding when to invest, to what level and in which technologies.
Currently around 60% of large industries and more than 90% of SMEs feel like they are lagging behind in digital innovation, which is why the European Commission (EC) has been actively developing Digital innovation hubs to ensure that every company, regardless of size and technological capabilities, can grasp digital opportunities.
There are already several initiatives and platforms from the EC that aim to shape the pan-European network of DIHs, with a focus on helping SMEs master their digital transformations:
- Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS);
- Smart Anything Everywhere (SAE);
- Open Data Incubator Europe (ODINE);
- European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC);
- European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development (ECHORD++);
- Access Center for Photonics Innovation Solutions and Technology Support (ACTPHAST);
- Supercomputing Exercise for SMEs (SESAME NET);
- The call for tender EU13 DIHs;
- A thematic smart specialisation platform for industrial modernisation; and
With EU funding and the initiatives above, there has been not only an increase in competitiveness of existing industries, notably for SME and mid-caps, but also additional business creation in new digitised products and services. The EC aims to continue supporting these actions by channeling 500 million EUR over the next five years from Horizon 2020 budget.
For more information: https://ec.europa.eu
With the recent launch of the European SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2017, Promoting Enterprise interviewed youth empowerment specialist and guest contributor Daisy da Veiga to ask about her opinion on what skills she believes youth need to develop for the future. She also shared with us her latest work with Youth not in employment, education or training (NEET), including a vlog from her latest trip to an exchange program in Lisbon about NEET youth work across Europe.
There are a variety of skills that youth must develop, however I think that soft skills come first and foremost. Firstly, you need to be able to love yourself and have self-confidence, from there you can build on other useful skills. Through self-confidence you will develop another critical skill for success, persistence, it is important to not give up, even when it gets difficult. Working on yourself is important, but it is also necessary to develop your social skills. The ability to connect with people will not only allow for the forging of relationships, but also the opportunity to learn and exchange with others, which is how we grow.
Soft skills should also be complemented with ‘hard skills’ such as creativity and audacity. I believe that youth are very creative, but they don’t always know how to express that creativity. This links to another important skill which may sometimes be overlooked: the ability to ask for help. Learn from and exchange with others, and don’t be afraid to be audacious. Dare to do, speak and change, dare to leave your comfort zone! Whilst it is important to ask for help, I also want youth to remember their ability to listen to their inner voice and go with their gut feeling. We can be easily affected and distracted by all the things that go on around us and the people in our network, but sometimes you need to distance yourself from that and think and act with a clear mind.
Based on your experiences with youth, both within and outside of education systems, do you think that the current education systems need to change? Should their focus be realigned to help develop the skills you have mentioned?
I recently attended a conference on how to re-organise education in Rotterdam where the participants were talking about the intention of education and the systems we have built to deliver it. Personally, I believe that education should prioritise ‘soft skills’ more than it does at present, and then complement that with the current ‘hard skills’ it teaches i.e. maths, science, foreign languages etc.
The intention of education is to help youth find their way in society, and develop them firstly as individuals and secondly as professionals. However, it seems that we have forgotten the intention and are now stuck in a system. The system which was created to help realise the intention, has now become the intention, in short we have forgotten what the system was for.
On the subject of youth, what other work have you been involved in recently with European youth?
One of the European ventures I am currently involved in, is the international exchange of the project Boulevard of Dreams, by the foundation Manage Your Talent. The foundation is based in Rotterdam and I am one of the youth empowerment trainers. This European project has participants from across five countries including, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sweden, Romania and Portugal. The aim of the project is to exchange ideas, methods and information about working with and for NEET youth, and to offer them the best tailored training possible.
Boulevard of Dreams has three phases in its youth empowerment initiative. The first is to empower the participating youth and give them the ability to find out who they are, identify their talents, discover their dreams and ultimately give them some direction. Once the participants have a clear idea of what they want, they can choose to progress to the second phase where they are paired with a peer educator or ‘buddy’ who is a professional in the field they aspire to join and between the ages of 25-35. Depending on the buddy and the dream in question, this stage involves different activities, but the minimum is that the buddy offers information and guidance from their experience. In the final stage, the participants are offered the opportunity to present their ideas in front of a jury and win financial support for their idea or for education if that is what they wish to pursue.
As part of this project I recently attended a conference in Lisbon on how to work with NEET youth, which included the sharing of experiences from fellow trainers across Europe. As I enjoy vlogging I have included my journey in Lisbon for you right here so that you can experience my journey with me. I hope you enjoy it!
Welcome to the May edition of the European SME Week newsletter!
EEPA 2017 continues to showcase the best of the best, and national winners are being announced all over Europe. In this edition of the newsletter we bring you the latest updates from national competitions, advice from previous winners and a glimpse of what previous winners are up to now!
Last year we wanted to know what the EU should do to encourage youth entrepreneurship, this year the Youth Essay Competition is back…with a different topic! Read on to find out more and check the News Portal for full details.
There are innovators all across Europe, but this year the SME Assembly is playing host to a gathering of some of the best and creative minds Europe has to offer. In today’s newsletter we give you a sneak preview of an exciting part of the programme…
Finally, we want to hear from YOU! We are particularly looking for entrepreneurs that want to share their stories as well as anybody involved in the European start-up scene. For more information please contact email@example.com
Are you between the ages of 16-25? Want to make your voice heard?
This is your chance!
The Youth Essay competition, organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, is launching again and is looking for creative and well thought out answers to this question:
Do you have an opinion on how European policy can help shape the future; or on what government, academic institutions and businesses can do to ensure that young people can acquire the skills they need for tomorrow’s world of work? Would you like to share it with policymakers and entrepreneurs on a European stage? All you need to do to have a chance of winning an all expenses paid trip to the 2017 SME Assembly in Tallinn, is submit an essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 8 September 2017.
- The competition is open to all 16 to 25 years old from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
- Essays should not exceed 2 500 words in length
- All essays must be in English
- Only one entry per applicant
- The deadline for submissions is 8 September 2017
- The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale in Tallinn where they will present their essays
- The final winner will be chosen via a public vote
- An all expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly in Tallinn, Estonia for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
- Presentation training before delivering essay live on stage at the SME Assembly 2017
- Promotion of essays across SME Week social media channels
Follow us for competition updates: #SMEWeekYouth
The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) was launched, along with the Copernicus Masters, the leading innovation platform for commercial Earth observation applications, at a joint international kick-off event hosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU in Brussels, on 5 April 2017.
From now until June 30, ESNC will be searching for the most forward‐thinking applications based on satellite navigation. The winners, which will be announced at a ceremony as part of European Space Week in Tallinn, Estonia, in November, will share in this year’s prize pool of more than EUR 1 million and will benefit from the ESNC’s unparalleled support network, including the ESA Business Incubation Centres and the brand new E-GNSS Accelerator, co-funded by the European Commission.
Speaking at the kick-off ceremony, Andreas Veispak, Head of the European Commission’s Space Data for Societal Challenges and Growth Unit, noted that the EU had invested a lot of money in satellites, and now stakeholders, including Member States, were looking for a return on this investment. “This can only be yielded through satellite applications that are of use to end users in the public and private sectors,” he said.
Return on investment
This is where the ESNC plays a key role. Since 2004, the Competition has been fast-tracking the most ground-breaking ideas for Galileo-related applications across Europe and beyond and transforming them into market-ready products and new ventures. Each year, the Competition helps promote over 400 business ideas and has already awarded prizes to more than 300 winners over the years, which represent just a fraction of the more than 3,700 innovative concepts submitted by over 11,000 participants.
This year is no different. With an impressive prize pool of over EUR 1 million, the Competition will give entrepreneurs and start-ups with services, products or business ideas that use satellite navigation in everyday life access to more than 160 space-related stakeholders and allow them to benefit from support from over 40 incubators and the expertise of more than 250 experts.
GSA special prize
Within the ESNC, there is the GSA Special Prize for the most promising application idea for European GNSS. The European GNSS Agency (GSA) works with the European Commission on a range of activities aimed at helping European entrepreneurs and businesses – especially high-tech small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), business incubators, and related networks – take commercial advantage of European GNSS (EGNSS). This year the focus of the GSA prize is on connecting Europe.
Watch this: Europe for space, space for Europe
Now that EGNOS is performing very well, Reinhard Blasi, Market Development Officer at the European GNSS Agency (GSA), noted at the ceremony, the focus is shifting from not only embracing EGNOS on a European level, but Galileo on a global level. “Since December 2016 we have been progressing from deployment to user service provision, which means that users can benefit from Galileo right now,” he said. “In light of the 60th anniversary of the EU, and a milestone year when Galileo starts to provide services with the Declaration of Initial Services, we have been thinking about how we can use satellite navigation to showcase how European GNSS helps connect European citizens.”
The ESNC is now additionally equipped with the brand new E-GNSS Accelerator. This programme is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and start-ups to accelerate their business case on a broad scale and bring their products and services to market. The E-GNSS Accelerator will run for three years and will directly support the winners of the ESNC 2017, 2018 and 2019. As a result, the participants will receive even more prizes, services and three further business incubations worth an additional EUR 500,000.
For more information on the ESNC, including all relevant information on prizes, partners, and terms of participation, visit the Competition’s official website: www.esnc.eu. Information on the Copernicus Masters can be found here: www.copernicus-masters.com.
Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link the article back to the GSA website (http://www.gsa.europa.eu).