This is the first in our series of blog posts presenting our winner and finalists of the Youth Essay Competition, which was held as part of the SME Assembly 2016 which took place from 23-25 November 2016 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Today we get to know one of the runners up, Francesco Foglia, a journalist in European Affairs based in both Brussels and Italy. He is currently studying a Master in Business Administration and has been active on the European youth scene, through participating and winning youth competitions, and in 2015 founding a think tank on European regional policy in Italy.
What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
Every time that that young people have the opportunity to attend and participate in the debate of European policies, especially the sharing of ideas and proposals, I believe that it is necessary to participate. Young people very often ask to have their voices heard but then escape the discussion. When I decided to enter the contest I was studying business law and I noticed that there was no European youth company legislation. As such, my entry was my proposal for setting up the framework, with many features that could foster youth entrepreneurship in Europe.
What did you think about the SME Assembly 2016?
The SME Assembly was a great opportunity to learn from within the world of European SMEs, the current state of affairs and future scenarios. I also took part in the inaugural lecture, held by Professor Philippe Aghion and it was really exciting. The assembly also offered useful networking moments, as well as high-level workshops.
Looking 10 years ahead from now, in 2026, what do you think entrepreneurship will be?
The world is changing and of course so is the economy and entrepreneurship. Between now and 2026, an important demographic growth is expected, which is one of the key factors that will drive change. There will be more people, more needs to be met and probably more entrepreneurs. SMEs must, therefore, be of a proper size to meet the dimensional challenges to serve more diverse markets. The internet of things and future innovations will affect the speed at which there will be this change compared to now. I hope, however, that the most dynamic economy is shared, and that it serves to reduce inequities in our communities.
Interested in Francesco’s ideas and vision? Read his Youth Essay Competition entry here.
Come back every Tuesday of this month for another profile on our top Youth Essay Competition writers!
On the first day of the SME Assembly 2016, acclaimed French economist, Professor Philippe Aghion, gave the Inaugural Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture, during which he warned that people in countries who do not share in the wealth created by reform, and feel ignored, will respond at the ballot box. He declared that reform must be ‘inclusive’ and spoke of the power of innovation to produce social mobility.
Philippe Aghion is the Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics at Harvard University, an invited professor at the Paris School of Economics, and Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. He talked of the need for many countries to undergo fiscal and structural reform in order for them to truly prosper, but added that reform alone would not be enough – countries must still be open and innovative. Comparing the US economy with European ones, he asked the audience ‘why is Europe not growing as fast as the US; why after the crisis are we on a very low growth path in Europe; and how can you deliver growth across Europe?’, to which he responded that the US is more ‘resilient’ and growing faster than Europe for several reasons, including the fact that it has a more proactive ‘macro-policy’, is more ‘counter-cyclical’ and has a more flexible labour market.
Some European countries need structural reform, and he stated that investment in infrastructure and structural reform are complementary, and unless this reform is implemented, the disadvantaged will react accordingly. What is required is “good education and good training” in order to help them attain employment and share in wealth creation. Innovation is also key because there is a “positive relationship between innovation and social mobility”. So, he argued, we should “encourage and reward the reformers”.
Professor Philippe Aghion delivered compelling arguments as to why reform is needed and how to go about aiding European economies to grow. He left the audience with much to contemplate including the following: “If we want to revive the idea of Europe, people to love Europe, Europe has to deliver growth. If we don’t deliver growth, it is over”.
The lecture was the first of the annual Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture series and is now available to watch here (37mins).
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SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava is over but the collaboration continues. Here are a couple of first take-away recommendations from the conference:
- More creative approach to education, encouraging companies, the public sector and schools to work together and adapt traditional educational structures and teachers´ skills to the rapidly changing work environment.
- Entrepreneurship and digital education should be present in education from primary school level including both obligatory and elective subjects.
- Make public procurement more start-up and SME friendly.
- Develop a network of national scale-up advisors to help companies to grow.
- Establish a matchmaking platform between start-ups, scale-ups and corporates for networking and collaboration / funding opportunities
- Empower local and national ecosystems and build sustainable working relations among eco-players. The European ecosystem will follow consequently.
- Continue to remove existing barriers in Europe (IPR, free movement of data, access to finance etc.) so that European start-ups and SMEs think of Europe as their natural market.
- Failure forms part of every successful company, this needs to be embraced, openly discussed, and learnt from.
- Embrace the collaborative economy and alternative forms of financing, supporting businesses and public administration in the shift towards different ways of working.
- Learn from best examples on national level and scale them up in Europe
This is just one contributors list, do you have anything to add? Other points to share? The Online SME Assembly LinkedIn group is there for you to discuss, collaborate and share your input! If you missed out on the assembly or want a quick overview, be sure to read our daily posts and check out our social media.
SME Assembly Daily posts:
That’s a wrap! The SME Assembly 2016 has come to an end after 3 days of networking, events, speeches, awards, masterclasses and most importantly bringing together people who value entrepreneurship and the creation of an SME friendly Europe.
A look at where the world of entrepreneurship would be ‘Ten Years On’ was the opener for Friday, with delegates imagining what kind of world entrepreneurs, startups, scaleups and all those in between would encounter in 2026. The panelists included a range of experts from across Europe and industries, including: Michael Mellinghoff (TechFluence), Cristina Fernandez (Global Entrepreneurship Network), Ladislav Ambrovics (MINIT Slovakia) and Kenneth Ryan (KPMG Slovakia). They all shared their visions of entrepreneurship in 2026, with a common theme being a shift in entrepreneurial focus from solving an existing problem, to enhancing the customer experience. As part of the opening, Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura presented her winning entry and implored the audience to “Don’t only work for youth, but work with them. Ask them for their opinion and show you care”.
The fast paced and high energy programme from Days 1 and 2 continued on Day 3 with an array of masterclasses and policy sessions, covering topics from social enterprise to crowdfunding, from sustainable clothing to virtual reality. There was also the Scale Up Lab organised by Ideas From Europe, which challenged participants to form clusters on issues affecting scaleups. For pictures of these sessions have a look at the albums on Flickr!
Then it was finally time for the SME Assembly 2016 to draw to a close. Costas Andropoulos, from DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, along with Sabine Soeder the Founder of CoCreative Flow, presented the conclusions and highlights of the Assembly. We were then treated to a sneak preview of what to expect next year, as the Estonian SME Envoy Viljar Lubi took the stage to get us ready and excited for the 2017 SME Assembly set to take place in Tallinn!
Thank you to everyone that joined us this year in Bratislava, and to all who couldn’t be there but followed our coverage, we hope you enjoyed it all and we look forward to seeing you in Estonia in 2017!
After a packed programme on Wednesday, delegates were at Incheba Expo on Thursday morning for the official opening of the SME Assembly 2016 by Commissioner Bienkowska, Slovakia State Secretary Rastislav Chovanec and Estonia SME Envoy Viljar Lubi.
The State Secretary highlighted in his keynote speech the importance of SMEs as ‘key pillars in the economy’ as well as the need for international markets in order to fully exploit the potential of SMEs. Commissioner Bienkowska delivered a strong speech, encouraging startups to look for ‘the silicon valleys of Europe’ instead of taking their ideas and innovation outside of Europe. She acknowledged the need to facilitate startups and scaleups and impressed us all with her vision for an SME friendly Europe. The dynamic spirit continued when Mr Viljar Lubi challenged both speakers with insightful questions in preparation for Estonia’s hosting of the SME Assembly 2017.
It was then the turn of Mr Hendrik Halbe, co-founder of startup pitching competition ‘Get in the Ring’, to introduce the entrepreneurs battling it out to go to the international final in Singapore. After two battles, and an extremely close final, it was Dutch startup Pearltect who came out on top with a unique bracelet designed to protect wearers from sexual violence.
After the excitement of Get in the Ring it was time to talk policy and stimulate debate around entrepreneurship. The high level roundtable on entrepreneurship education allowed SME Envoys and experts in the field to come together and discuss the issues faced with implementation, incentives and training for entrepreneurship education. Over in the plenary room the panel on International Ecosystems hosted an international array of speakers, with special international guest Ms Jenny Fulton from the USA (CEO of Miss Jenny’s pickles) who shared her inspirational story about what it means to follow your passion. Delegates were then challenged to help write the agenda for the Open Space session on ‘Startup to Scale Up’, where topics were taken from the floor and discussions got underway. With topics ranging from solutions for startups that fail, to changing the perception of internationalisation for SMEs, the discussions were fruitful and culminated in a quick fire pitching round. This round kept pitches short, limiting topic holders to 45 seconds in order to summarise their discussions.
The day closed with the gala dinner, followed by the long awaited EEPA 2016 awards. If you want to find out more about the winners, read the 2016 EEPA winners´ post. Also be sure to check out @EEPA_EU on Twitter and on Facebook and stayed tuned for upcoming posts in which we get to know these prize-winning projects from across Europe.
The day was long and full of events, from inspirational talks to battling entrepreneurs. What will the third and final day have in store? You will have to wait and see our next post! In the meantime, visit the photo gallery on Flickr.
Winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2016 prove diversity of entrepreneurial spirit in Europe
Congratulations! The seven winners of the 10th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced by Peter Varinský with the Grand Jury Prize being awarded to a Swedish city project.
The six projects that each won their category came from France, UK, Portugal, Finland, Serbia, and The Netherlands. The categories covered the broad areas of entrepreneurship, enterprise start-up and growth, international market opportunities, and green markets. Three projects from Latvia, Ireland and Greece received Special Mentions from the EEPA jury, which comprised seven representatives from government, business and academia from the EU.
The top prize was awarded to the district of West Hisingen in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It is divided into three parts: Entrepreneurship in education; Start your business, a course for newly arrived refugees with a business background in their home country; and Develop your business, a comprehensive business training programme.
Speaking of the awards, Ms Kristin Schreiber, chair of the EEPA jury and Director for COSME programme at Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission, said: “The 57 projects selected to compete at European level, not just the winners, runners-up and special mentions, are a testimony to the passion and innovation that puts ideas into practice. These are examples that can inspire the creation of an ecosystem that helps entrepreneurial spirits, nurtures enterprises and helps them grow. All these projects have tangible results: they help to create new companies and new jobs. I hope they will be an inspiration to authorities, organisations and individuals across Europe to do more for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”
Next year’s awards ceremony will take place during the 2017 SME Assembly in Tallinn, under the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
And by the way – the cake for the 10th EEPA´s birthday was delicious! 🙂
What a great start! The SME Assembly 2016 is now well under way after kicking off yesterday on Wednesday 23 November in Bratislava, Slovakia. The day was full of events including business tours, the SME Week Reception and the Schumpeter Lecture to name a few. Missed out or couldn’t attend all sessions? Don’t worry here is a quick round up of yesterday’s highlights.
It all started bright and early with the first business tour of the day to go and see none other than Slovakia’s flying car! Yes you read that correctly, the entrepreneurs behind this automotive innovation showed delegates the product of their efforts, a flying car that makes use of existing aviation and automobile infrastructure to offer a future with the possibility of real door-to-door travel. The second business tour took delegates to GA drilling. This innovative SME in the drilling sector is working towards revolutionising current drilling technology to allow for cheaper and more efficient drilling, with the idea of providing affordable and sustainable geothermal power to all. Delegates were treated to a very interactive demonstration of the unique plasmabit technology that is currently under development.
There was little time to rest as the next events got underway, with the SME Week Reception starting first in the Old Market Hall where the guests were welcomed by State Secretary of the Slovak Republic Rastislav Chovanec. The reception was full of fun as national winners, exhibitioners and other attendees had the chance to meet, network and socialise. The Committee of the Regions introduced the 2018 EER Awards, and a regional polish project, Selvita (a drug research company) was also given the floor. Along with all these introductions, guests were treated to a taster of what is to come in the following days of the SME Assembly.
To finish off an amazing first day with the presence of Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowská over dinner at the Restauracia Hrad, a small group of delegates was invited to the Schumpeter Lecture. Special guest speaker Philippe Aghion from Harvard University delivered a captivating lecture. Professor Aghion addressed the trials of promoting innovation in Europe and the need for Europe to adapt and reform, saying that ‘If we want to revive the idea of Europe, we have to deliver abroad’, when speaking of Europe’s performance on the global market.
To see photos from the first day, visit our Flickr. It was an eventful day to say the least and with so much going on it was great to see everybody active on Twitter helping to promote #SMEassembly2016! So stay tuned, follow live Twitter updates if you just can’t get enough (@EEPA_EU) and bring on Day 2…
The wait is almost over! The SME Assembly 2016 is taking place in Bratislava on 23-25 November, 2016. Around 600 delegates will be present, including experts and entrepreneurs from across Europe with a common goal to collaborate on helping European enterprises strive and scale up in Europe and beyond.
The event will kick off with the Business Tours and the European SME Week Reception, both hosted by the Slovak Presidency. Harvard Professor Philippe Aghion will also be speaking during the invitation-only Schumpeter Lecture.
The second day of the Assembly will include keynote addresses by EU SME Envoys and European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska. After that – Get in the Ring! As part of the Global Startup competition entrepreneurs will have to face off in a pitching competition in a real boxing ring to convince, persuade and present their visions to a jury. The day will culminate in the presentation of the nominees and announcement of the winners in the EEPA Awards, followed by a gala dinner. Have a look at the EEPA shortlist to find out who the 2016 candidates are!
Friday will begin by celebrating the EEPA’s tenth birthday. The session Ten Years On will be dedicated to predictions on how the world of SMEs, start-and scale-ups will look like in 2026. The winner of the Youth Essay Competition, Andri Pandoura, will present her prize-winning entry and her views on what the EU can do to encourage youth entrepreneurship. The rest of the day, participants will have the opportunity to participate and collaborate during the many policy sessions, workshops and master classes.
Want more details? Download the programme here. With seminars, pitch battles, an exhibition and so much more, this event is one to look forward to!
The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and Startup Estonia have been selected to host the Startup Nations Summit in 2017. The event, organized annually by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), will continue to explore rapidly-growing European startup hubs. The event in Tallinn will be held right after the Global Entrepreneurship Week from November 20-22, 2017 as a suitable pre-cursor to European SME Week.
The key aim of the Summit in 2017 is to explore how digital disruption is changing the world. It is both startups as well as policymakers that must take advantage of digital technologies and make a difference. “Estonia is among the most forward-thinking governments in the world and we are happy to share our experiences in digital governance,“ said Ms Liisa Oviir, Minister for Entrepreneurship. “We are ready to immerse all policymakers in how digital technologies have made a huge difference for entrepreneurs in Estonia. We call startups to expect more from their governments, so they can start and scale faster,“ Oviir added.
Startup Estonia is a governmental initiative for developing the Estonian startup ecosystem. As a proud member of Startup Nations, Startup Estonia invites all parties to use the opportunity given by the Summit: “The Estonian startup community is delighted to be hosting the startup ecosystem for key players from around the world in Estonia. We hope to show how truly global a small country such as Estonia can be in its mindset and how exciting and impressive startups are grown here.”
The Summit is an entrepreneurial highlight during the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council, bringing together policymakers and entrepreneurs into a single, eventful conference. Policy-wise, the Summit in 2017 is organised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and GEN, along with the European Commission and Dell as partners. Startup Estonia and EIT Digital will be co-organisers to offer great value to startups. All attendees can expect to be exposed to the best elements of policy making and entrepreneurship.
Startup Nations is an initiative run by the Global Entrepreneurship Network and funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. It is focused on exploring different regulatory changes and policy ideas to help accelerate new and young firm formation. The Startup Nations Summit connects policymakers, advisers and startup community leaders to help enable high impact entrepreneurship and stimulate entrepreneurial growth around the world. The 2016 Summit, held in Cork, Ireland, brought together delegates from more than 70 countries.
Awarding the 2017 Startup Nations Summit to Estonia is part of an effort by GEN to examine effective policy efforts underway in strong entrepreneurial economies – and to share best practices with startup-savvy policymakers around the world. “Over the past several years, policymakers on every continent have begun to truly understand the power of entrepreneurship to grow their economies and improve the lives of their citizens,“ said Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “Estonia is a thriving digital hub and there is much to learn from its tech-savvy government and economic growth over the past ten years.”
The Summit will serve as the official conclusion of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017, a week long celebration of entrepreneurship with more than 30,000 events and roughly 10 million participants in 160 countries. It will also serve as a bridge to European SME Week, a pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe. Coordinated by the European Commission, this campaign consists of events throughout the whole year. For EIT Digital, the Summit of 2017 is a significant step forward in partnering with Estonia and an important opportunity to jointly opens doors for startups to European and international venture capital funds and markets. Previously, the Startup Nations Summit has been held in Toronto (Canada), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Seoul (Korea), Monterrey (Mexico) and Cork (Ireland).
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Ukraine launches the SME 2020 Strategy development process to boost a sustainable business environment in the country
The small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) are the driving force and the backbone of the European economy; they are critical in creating sustainable jobs, leading to growth and prosperity. Although in Ukraine the SME make up 99.9% of all registered enterprises in the country, there are limited possibilities for growth and competitiveness. All the stakeholders involved recognise that the situation of SMEs in the economy requires immediate and swift improvement. Only by providing the SME sector with the opportunity to unleash its full potential, can the country be set on its path to sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
To mark the launch of a comprehensive and viable SME 2020 Strategy development that will serve as a roadmap towards improved business environment, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine (MEDT) commenced the stakeholder consultations on 17 November 2016. The development of the Strategy is underpinned by broad-based participatory approach and involvement of business community. The development of the Strategy is supported by the FORBIZ project within the EU4Business initiative. The stakeholder consultation on 17 November was launched by Stepan Kubiv, First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Thomas Frellesen, Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.
“Recognising the critical role of the SME sector in the economic growth, the EU Delegation to Ukraine supports the development of comprehensive and participatory SME 2020 Strategy of the Ukraine’s government via the EU4Business initiative. We welcome the joint, collaborative work of the Government and Ukrainian business community in defining the priorities and the best development scenario for improved SME environment in the country”, Thomas Frellesen, Charge d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine.
Although there have been some attempts to draft a SME Strategy in the past, the key to the success of SME 2020 Strategy development commenced by the MEDT is their focus on comprehensive and deeply analytic approach, compliance with the Small Business Act (SBA) and close involvement of the SME stakeholders – both public and private. It is important to emphasize that the business consultations for the first time have become an integral part of the SME Strategy development process.
The discussion between the Government and over 100 business community representatives on 17 November kick-started the round of consultations. It illustrates the first successful step in joint and collaborative approach to the SME Strategy development in Ukraine. Furthermore, the business community is involved in setting the country’s SME agenda that includes such important issues as access to finance, export opportunities and DCFTA, innovation and competitiveness, SME development in the regions and enhancement of entrepreneurial culture and skills.
The Public consultation on the Strategy priorities is taking place in support of the European SME Week, held in Ukraine for the first time. It denotes Ukraine’s commitment to SME development and demonstrates EU support towards sustainable SME development in the country.
The Stakeholder Consultation on 17 November kicks off a range of consultation events that are taking place from November 2016 till January 2017 and it underpins the development of the SME 2020 Strategy in Ukraine.
The Strategy will be accessible on the website of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, as of 30 November 2016.
For any additional information, please, contact Aiga Nebare via e-mail: email@example.com or tel: +380 (50) 520 42 93.