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A venture capitalist investor speaks…

Dr David DemetriusDr David Demetrius is an Australian entrepreneur who has lived in Belgium for over 25 years. One technology company that he created was sold at the height of the tech-boom and he uses the capital to invest in both start-ups and scale-ups. He also provides board-level training programmes.

Over the last few years you’ve been active as a venture capital investor in various businesses and also as a training provider. Could you explain a bit more about what you do and how you operate?

Through the training company that I founded in 2005, Emadin SA, I provide training for company directors in all aspects of corporate direction.  As a result of this, I’m often made aware of opportunities for my colleagues to take an equity stake in young start-ups and early growth companies.

You’re clearly focused on creating profitable partnerships. Can you explain the critical elements you look for?

The key points for me are to find individuals or teams with products or services that clearly fill a gap in the current offerings available and where the individuals or teams clearly believe passionately in what they are doing, and have the drive and commitment to carry it through. It is important that I feel that we can contribute something that the organisation is currently lacking. For example, I find that many young companies are reliant on the technical skills of the founder(s) and that they have little, if any, experience in developing corporate strategies or implementing sound corporate governance procedures.

Over the years, venture capitalists have become well known through television programmes such as Dragon’s Den and its clones across Europe, and it seems they always focus on three things: the business plan, the market and the cashflow. What’s the importance of these three things as far as you’re concerned?

In a sense, the more successful the company is, the more important is its cashflow. A fast growth puts cash under enormous pressure.  

Clearly, the market opportunities are also vital. It’s useless having a wonderful product if no one wants to buy it. Often, young entrepreneurs believe that if they like what they’re selling, then everyone else will obviously want to buy it. This is often not true.  

With respect to business plans, I’m often appalled to see how badly prepared such plans are.  I’m sure that I’ve missed many good opportunities simply because I was presented with such a badly written plan that I threw it away without even getting to page two!

board meeting fp

As you’re based in Belgium, is there anything that you feel the European Commission can do to assist you achieve your objectives as a business investor?

I’d be delighted to see the Commission simplify the procedures for obtaining EU grants and make it easier to know what grants are actually available. At present, most fledgling companies can’t afford to allocate the resources necessary to seek out and apply for grants.

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Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.
This week, Manfred Radermacher from the award-winning Enterability project in Germany reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA one year on…

Manfred Radermacher, Social Impact GmbH IFD- Selbstständigkeit

Name Manfred Radermacher
Organisation Social Impact GmbH IFD- Selbstständigkeit
Country Germany
Website www.enterability.de
Award won Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Year 2015

What was it like to win the award?

We were very surprised and very happy. Before the award ceremony, we were unsure that we would win as we didn’t think the jury would understand what we do. Often people don’t understand the core of what we do, they only see the surface and think it’s easy as pie. But we were sure that we would have a good chance if the jury understood our work. During the ceremony, we were convinced that the Dutch delegation would win. No one was more surprised than we were to have won the prize.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

A direct effect or immediate impact didn’t happen at first. The media response in Germany was nil. Unfortunately, all press statements and official texts were in English only. For some of our contacts, especially those that are important for the project, many of whom are in the regions in offices and agencies, job centres and employment agencies, regional business organisations and disability organisations, etc. they don’t speak English. It’s a prerequisite that you address them in German if you want to achieve anything.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

Our direct colleagues and our founders were very happy. We celebrated together and were very proud. Some of our other colleagues also rejoiced with us, even if they were a little jealous:)

What has been the long-term impact?

There are two main long-term effects:

1) Our reputation among our supporters has solidified. This has improved our position in negotiations when it comes to survival and the scale of our funding.

2) Our reputation within the sector has increased. This is also important when it comes to resources.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

This might sound arrogant, but it’s honest: We entered because we wanted to win! And we wanted to win because:

1) We were convinced that we helped a lot of people with disabilities. What we do is really innovative and could, if imitated, help many disabled people in Europe. We wanted as many people as possible to get to know our work because that would help to change the image of people with disabilities. And we believed we could do that if we win.

2) The award helped us – and still does – in negotiations with funders for support and resources. This has been really helpful, so entering to win was our goal.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

Focus on the essentials. Ask yourself: “What is the core of what we do?” and explain it simply but precisely with detailed justifications. Describe the positive impact of your work.

To find out more about Enterability, visit the website at www.enterability.de.  

 

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What kind of (Single) Market do start-ups and SMEs need?

Businesses across Europe already benefit from the European Single Market, but there are still challenges to tackle before SMEs and start-ups can fully gain from it. This was discussed during the final Single Market Forum, held in Amsterdam in June. Start-ups, SMEs, experts and government officials all agreed that it should be easier for businesses to start-up, hire talent, comply with administrative issues, win public tenders, scale-up and trade cross-border in Europe.

SIMFO classical market

These were the main takeaways for start-ups and SMEs:

Strengthen cross-border trade in the EU

SIMFO cooperationA services passport will be created to harmonise and unify procedures, in particular for business services such as accounting, architecture and engineering, ensuring they only need to complete them once and can cross-borders. This will make it easier for service providers who want to offer their activities in other Member States. There is also an ongoing plan to tackle VAT in E-commerce. This means business owners will have an easier time selling online with less paperwork. Additionally this means customers will receive a better service and lower prices when shopping online. A double win!

Start-ups and SMEs to have an easier access to public tenders

Public contracts and tenders offer many opportunities for SMEs to grow, yet many SMEs rule themselves out due to burdensome and diverging national rules on public procurement. This should not be the case! SMEs and start-ups’ participation in public tenders means that public money is better spent, but also results in better competition for public contracts, which essentially boosts growth, transparency and accountability.

A single information info point for all businesses

How do businesses find the information they need to navigate cross-borders? A single digital gateway is being developed to allow for business owners to access all the information they need to benefit from cross-border trade in a one-stop-shop. In order to know what information is needed, a collaborative discussion needs to take place. We need you on board to help us develop it.

Better education and access to finances are needed

Finally, how to support entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools they need to grow in the Single Market? Let’s talk about lifelong learning. In today’s economy it is clear that learning skills by itself is no longer enough for a successful career, and entrepreneurs need to hire staff that are adaptable. Additionally, we should support capital markets, making it easier for investors to invest in businesses cross-borders, and for start-ups to get more cross-border funding opportunities.

SIMFO Bieńkowska

Let’s not stop here. Let’s continue debating and finding the right solutions for start-ups and SMEs. What more do you think can be done to support start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs trade cross-border? Join the discussion in LinkedIn Group or tell the Commission what you think.

More photos from the event on Flickr.

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Q&A with Kenny Ewan

In this week’s column from June’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), we go head-to-head with Kenny Ewan of WeFarm to find out why he decided to step out on his own, whether he had that ‘lightbulb moment’ and how he secured the funding to finance his start up.

Why did you set up your company?

I spent many years working with isolated, indigenous communities in Peru and saw first-hand the grassroots innovation and ideas they were creating to solve challenges. However, I also saw that there was a huge discrepancy in the way this knowledge was shared, and information in general was accessed, in the developing world compared to the massive trend towards decentralization of knowledge and peer to peer sharing in the Western world driven by the internet. In 2009 I was offered the chance to be part of the Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF – A UK registered charity working with small-scale farmers around the world) start-up team with Claire Rhodes. We put our ideas and experiences together to design the first version of what would become WeFarm.

When did you set up your business, and how long did it take?

we farm 2WeFarm launched as a social enterprise in January 2015, and we launched the product one month later in Kenya.  We had previously been piloting and developing WeFarm as a CPF project for several years before taking the step to launch and scale as a social business – we felt this was a much more scalable and sustainable model.

We developed the product with farming communities in Peru, Kenya and Tanzania which I think was unbelievably beneficial – it meant that we developed something that people on the ground find useful and actually want to use!

Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’ that led to you starting your business, or which triggered a change in the way you did things?

I think the path to WeFarm being launched was more of a gradual coming together of ideas, experiences and pilots than a single lightbulb moment. However, there have a few special moments along the way. I would pick out the first international test we did with farmers in Peru and Kenya as a great WeFarm moment… I was with a group of rural farmers in Peru as the first messages came in from Kenya, and it was amazing to see people’s reaction to receiving key information from the other side of the world, all in their own language and without internet. That was the moment I knew we had something of huge potential on our hands.

Where did you source funding to set up your business?

WeFarm initially was developed and tested under the UK charity Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) and received grant funding from Nominet Trust and Knight Foundation. Then, in 2014 we won the Google Impact Challenge Award. The prize money enabled us to put our plans to launch WeFarm at scale as a social enterprise into action.

In 2015 we were part of the Wayra accelerator programme in London, which included investment into WeFarm.

Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow?

The Wayra accelerator programme was very valuable in getting business support, coaching, mentoring, and certainly  a lot of practice in how to pitch! We have also been part of the Ideas From Europe initiative run by the European Commission over the last few months. This has helped us gain a bit of exposure on the European stage, and culminated in a talk at TEDxBinnenhof, which was very exciting.

With hindsight, which would have been the single most valuable skill to have before setting up your business?

I’d say pitching and public speaking. It’s not necessarily fair that startup businesses are judged on a two or three minute ‘pitch’, but that is the reality. There is no doubt that the startups who can tell a great story and capture people’s imagination in a pitch find themselves with lots more opportunities across PR, funding and entry into different events.

Ultimately you obviously need to have substance behind it to succeed, but I’d certainly advise startup founders to practice, practice and practice their pitch. Or be brave enough to know it’s not your thing, and find a partner who can.

About Kenny

Kenny-Ewan 2Kenny is CEO of WeFarm, a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 450 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the internet. After graduating from the University of Dundee, Kenny went to Peru in 2002 to work on sustainable development projects with indigenous communities. He loved the country so much that he decided to stay. In 2007, he became Peru’s Country Director for ProWorld Service Corps. This international development NGO specialises in projects for isolated, indigenous communities. He returned to the UK in 2009 to join the Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) start-up team. He designed and managed all of CPF’s international projects across East Africa and Latin America.

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Success for “great and inspiring” German national EEPA winners

1000px-Flag_of_Germany.svgThe German national EEPA winners for 2016 have been announced! Egon, an enterprise guiding project, and Network with Courage, which works with refugee entrepreneurs, were the triumphant projects in the tightly contested competition. Promoting Enterprise spoke to Juliane Kummer, German National EEPA Coordinator about running a successful national campaign and enduring the difficult task of picking a winner from a crowded, competitive field.

How many entries to your national competition did you receive this year?

We had 30 applications this year.

How did you promote your national competition?

We did a number of things:

  • The federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy issued a press release, as did RKW Kompetenzzentrum, a national SME support and development organisation.
  • Immediately after the national competition was announced, we sent letters about the competition to more than 1200  institutions (Ministries, chambers of commerce, trade associations, foundations, Chairs of Entrepreneurship at universities, startup and technology centres etc. We asked them to spread the news about the competition and/or to apply if they had appropriate initiatives.
  • Additionally, we sent ready-made text for newsletters and a factsheet to about 50 public relations contacts and asked them to publish the information on their websites, via newsletters, in journals, and through other communication channels.
  • Moreover, we contacted about 150 interesting initiatives and invited them to enter the competition.
  • There were ongoing social media activities on our Facebook and Twitter channels.
  • We also distributed materials at fairs for entrepreneurs.

What were you looking for in winning entries?

We were looking for interesting projects in each of the six competition categories that were innovative, inspiring, and with an economic impact.

Who was the jury made up of and why these particular members?

The jury was made up of representatives from Ministries, chambers of commerce, associations, corporations, and public institutions. They are our national experts, with expertise in supporting entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial ecosystems, SMEs in general, and other aspects, like internationalisation, that are covered by the EEPA. This is why they’re qualified to select our national winners.

EEPA German Jury

Juliane Kummer, front left, with the German national EEPA jury (Image source: RKW Kompetenzzentrum)

Why did you choose the winning entries?

The German winners are the great and inspiring EGON and Network with Courage.

EGON_IGZ-BesuchEGON is a guiding project based on voluntary/honorary guiding activities. The Mayor of the commune, together with other guides, helps entrepreneurs to build up a company and works to ensure their success in the region. The project was chosen because of its great transferability, even for structurally weak regions, and because of its success: In a region with 320 companies, 30 were founded with the help of EGON in the last four years. Other European countries can adapt the initiative easily with minimum cost and can make their region more attractive in the international competition for business locations.

Network with courageNetwork with Courage is an initiative from an enterprise network in Berlin. Our national jury was very convinced by the network’s comprehensive and sustainable activities to combat xenophobia/racism and discrimination, and to support refugees’ integration by providing internships and participating (on a voluntary basis) in projects against discrimination and racism. From managers to apprentices, everybody helps to support tolerance and diversity. The initiative’s inspiring model and its transferability, as well as its economic and societal success and impact, makes it a national winner.    

What was their reaction to being winning the national competition?

Their reaction was somewhere between happy and incredulous! They are full of passion for their initiatives and want to make them more known. And for sure they want to win the international competition.

What do you think your chances are of winning at the European level?

Our national jury made a great decision by selecting these winners. I think our chances of winning at the European level are high because of the fantastic transferability of both projects, their success, and their economic and political meaning and impact.

To find out if EGON and Network with Courage win big at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards this November, keep visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog and follow us on Twitter.

You can also watch Network with courage Projektportrait 1 and Karneval der Kulturen videos.

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Overcoming young people’s barriers to entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurs, especially those who choose not to enter tertiary education, face real barriers when entering business. Fortunately, there are organisations that can help.

I am your boss

With the limited curriculum that time imposes on most educational systems, those who leave school at 16 and who don’t go on to tertiary education end up entering a world in which they lack business knowledge and experience. They frequently lack saleable skills, and usually have no access to start-up finance. These are very genuine barriers to entering the business world and make this category of young entrepreneur genuinely disadvantaged.

Unfortunately, they seldom attract any attention but they have plenty of potential to be successful business operators, often as self-employed business people or maybe working with a small team. But to become successful they need to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills, find experienced mentors and gain access to finance. In the United Kingdom, the organisation par excellence for helping young (and therefore disadvantaged) entrepreneurs is The Prince’s Trust, set up in 1976 by HRH The Prince of Wales when he left the Royal Navy. Now, some 40 years later and having helped over 825 000 young people in the UK, he recalled that decision saying, “What struck me was that young people weren’t being given the opportunities quickly enough. No one was putting the trust in them that they needed.” In a video on the Trust’s website, he explains his rationale in greater depth. In 2014, The Prince’s Trust International was set up to expand the Trust’s activities overseas.

entrepreneur-696968_1280The Prince is an indefatigable supporter of youth enterprise. “I have always been of the opinion that young people have the skills and energy to make a real difference to our world, and we must do all that we can to harness their talents.” In addition to The Prince’s Trust, he has set up Youth Business International. In each case, the organisation can help young people find and attend the right training courses, obtain the right skills and access the necessary funds.

Similar support can be obtained from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, which is financed through the EU and operates through local contact points in Member States. So, even though youthful entrepreneurs face many disadvantages, this shouldn’t stop them from developing a business.

More information and a lot of useful ideas can be found at the following organisations:

The Prince’s Trust

The Princes Trust International

Youth Business International

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

Supporting entrepreneurs and the self-employed – blog

If you’re aged between 16 – 25 years old, enter our European SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Learn how >>

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Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

This week, Ivaylo Grancharov from the award-winning Brandiko project in Bulgaria reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA two years on…

Ivaylo Grancharov, Brandiko project at the Ministry of Economy in Bulgaria

Name Ivaylo Grancharov
Organisation Brandiko project at the Ministry of Economy in Bulgaria
Country Bulgaria
Website www.facebook.com/Brandiko
Award won Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Year 2014

Brandiko (3)What was it like to win the award?

I accepted this award as the Oscar in our field of work. Given at the EU level, EEPA is the highest award in the field of entrepreneurship promotion. I didn’t expect it as it was the only time Bulgaria has ever been nominated for an EEPA. It was a big surprise – first ever nomination, first ever win – and the only one for us so far. This makes it even more precious for me and my country.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The media attention was great. The Euronews programme, Business Planet, hosted by the great Serge Rombi, made a wonderful video about Brandiko. Some national magazines also showed interest. It was very flattering, and encouraging.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

My colleagues were very happy for me. We were grateful!

What has been the long-term impact?

After getting the award, Brandiko had its best ever season – record-breaking participation from school kids who wanted to be part of the project.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

As Bulgaria had never been shortlisted at the European level before, my motivation was that this project was good enough to portray the country as a place where projects for entrepreneurial support can happen and possess European-level quality.

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?

I was very careful by presenting all the important details, and providing statistics to prove the project’s impact. It was important to provide accurate and to-the-point data and illustrate it in the most appropriate way.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

If you believe you’ve done a great job with your project, don’t hesitate to show it to the world! Good luck, everybody! The EU is the greatest place in the world!

To find out more about Brandiko, visit the website at www.facebook.com/Brandiko or watch the video.  

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Estonian national EEPA winners announced: Garage48 and Innokas win big!

estoniaGarage48, a tech hub and coworking space, and innovation centre, Innokas are the winners of this year’s Estonian national EEPA competition, beating seven other projects that were in the running for this year’s contest.

After winning the competition, Head of Innokas, Angela Leppik said, “This kind of competition is necessary as it helps entrants to see their organisation’s performance through the eyes of an outsider. It allows you to see more clearly what your business needs are so that you can focus on those activities in the future. It also helps you to understand even more how important it is to work at the county level, nationally, and to find partners outside Estonia.” Leppik also acknowledged the need to involve county development centres in the competition process since they are familiar with various activities at the local level.

Garage48

Garage48 board member, Maarika Susi said that she was pleased that the national EEPA process recognised entrepreneurial thinking and good ideas. “We are happy to win this competition, and for the acknowledgment. Our organisation supports entrepreneurship promotion and this recognition motivates us even more to contribute to the development of the start-up community and entrepreneurial awareness. We’re also happy to see that both female entrepreneurship and increasing opportunities in the IT sector were important to the jury, who supported our efforts and urged us to continue our activities,” said Susi.

Innokas

The jury had a difficult decision to make from a strong field, according to Deputy Secretary General of Economic Development, Viljar Lubi, who acted as Chair. “It was a pleasure to have so many strong candidates from organisations dealing with business promotion activities on different levels and in different areas. In the end, the jury decided to select an organisation with a strong international dimension and the originality of the Garage48 idea that expedites the move from idea to first prototype stood out. Innokas has achieved a remarkable qualitative leap at the local level, and their close cooperation with other private enterprise networks is exemplary.”

 

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The Internet for people with no Internet

In this week’s post from our June Entrepreneur in Residence, Kenny Ewan of WeFarm delivers a TEDx Talk about providing the benefits of the Internet to the 500 million small-scale farmers around the world with no Internet access.

ewan

WeFarm is a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 500 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the Internet. These farmers are isolated; often many miles walk from the nearest village or access point to vital information. They have no way to diversify, improve their farms and livelihoods or even start a new micro-enterprise. Which is where WeFarm comes in. With WeFarm, users can share questions, advice and ideas addressing anything from farming techniques to business ideas, and all accessible to anyone, anywhere – without leaving the farm or having any access to the Internet.
WeFarm picture farm
Since its launch, WeFarm has already scaled to more than 29,000 farmers using the system, with more than 3.6 million SMS processed already. By harnessing the generations’ worth of knowledge contained within farming communities themselves, WeFarm aims to have one million farmers benefitting from the system by end 2016.

About Kenny

Kenny-Ewan 2Kenny is CEO of WeFarm, a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 450 million small-scale farmers around the world with no access to the internet. After graduating from the University of Dundee, Kenny went to Peru in 2002 to work on sustainable development projects with indigenous communities. He loved the country so much that he decided to stay. In 2007, he became Peru’s Country Director for ProWorld Service Corps. This international development NGO specialises in projects for isolated, indigenous communities. He returned to the UK in 2009 to join the Cafedirect Producers Foundation (CPF) start-up team. He designed and managed all of CPF’s international projects across East Africa and Latin America.

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The future is an opportunity

In a recent interview, Jan Vanherck, a well-known Belgian entrepreneur and Dean of the United International Business Schools in Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland, took the opportunity to look into the future.

binoculars-1209011_1280

In 1975, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation and Fairchild Semiconductor, forecast the doubling of computer power every two years. Will this continue and how will it affect the world of the future?

His prediction has proven to be accurate over the past 40 years. It has led to an ever-accelerating progression and miniaturisation in all chip-based technologies, and this evolution has huge consequences for the world of tomorrow. Experts have forecast that computer hardware will match the human brain, in terms of creative design and analytical capabilities, in 15 to 20 years. The interaction between brain science and information technology will create artificial intelligence, a research field crucial to future generations.

Already, this increased computing power is delivering better understanding of the human body, and DNA sequencing is a good example.  In 1970, Nobel laureate, Jacques Monod, said: “The molecular size of DNA prohibits, without any doubt, modification of the genome. The sequencing of the human genome is impossible, or, anyway, unreachable in three to five centuries”. How wrong he was! Only six years later, the first genetic manipulation took place and in the first years of this century, the first full sequencing of human DNA was achieved. Just ten years later, the consumer genomics company 23andMe began offering genome sequencing for $999 and soon it will be available for as little as $100. This is the gateway to personalised medicine, particularly for the treatment of all hereditary diseases, and cancer.

Do you see other technologies having a similar effect?

Absolutely! For example, nanotechnology.  Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. To give you an idea of what a nano size is, the thickness of printer paper is about 100 thousand nanometres. On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometre, then one metre would be the size of the earth.

Nanotechnology will allow us not only to develop medicines that act on the level of our cells and tissues, repairing defects on an inconceivably small scale, but also to build micro engines and micro sensors.

The technology will be widely available in a few years time and will extend our life expectancy dramatically. Neuro-genetic scientist, Laurent Alexandre, in a now famous TED-talk entitled,  “Le recul de la mort” (“The retreat of death”), summarised this evolution by saying that he believes that the first person who will live to be 1000 years old has already been born.

What about globalisation and entrepreneurs?

Globalisation is a term that has been politicised so let’s talk about global networks instead. They already exist, facilitated via the Internet and, from the point of view of society, it will make us interact with a lot of people, spread over the world, exchanging ideas, thoughts, and concerns. Political power will shift and emerging countries, such as China and India, will take a dominant role. New players and new markets will emerge. We’ll need to cope with different cultures, each with their own set of values.

Internet technologies, another area for innovators and entrepreneurs, are causing rapid changes in the world with the rise of Big Data. The world is becoming dominated by an all-knowing network. The fact that it gathers an enormous amount of data and, more importantly, has the computing power to actively process it and get information out of it, will force us to rethink a lot of things, privacy, for example, and freedom, family, friendship, love, and honesty.

Intellectual property is another issue. Billions of people thinking, generating ideas, writing papers, books, songs… Inventing new applications, offering new commercial services and products. Can individuals or companies claim the knowledge and decide whether they will use it, or simply put it in the fridge? Should we allow organisations to gather and process our individual data? How will we define ownership and plagiarism? These concepts were developed in the last century by a world where communication was done using handwritten letters, then wired phones and facsimile machines. Are these concepts strong enough to overcome the tsunami of the Internet and Big Data?

space-telescope-532989_1280

What is the role of business education in all this?

We need to make sure that future entrepreneurs can handle the big, unknown challenges. Let me quote Gordon Moore again: “The technology at the leading edge changes so rapidly that you have to keep current after you get out of school. I think probably the most important thing is having good fundamentals.”

Learning does not stop. Only a few decades ago, the teaching of students was considered complete when they graduated. In the best case, people took a few refresher courses during their professional life and that was it. Today, with the vast amount of new knowledge in front of us, learning is a continuous activity. It doesn’t stop today, it simply goes on. It is important to realise that every theory and model we teach is only a statement of current knowledge and is only true in certain circumstances and those circumstances are subject to radical change at ever increasing speed. We need to teach our students – the entrepreneurs of the future – how to think because they are going to have to answer questions we’ve not yet even thought of. We need too re-think ourselves and our environment, and challenge everything.

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    • A venture capitalist investor speaks… June 27, 2016
      Dr David Demetrius is an Australian entrepreneur who has lived in Belgium for over 25 years. One technology company that he created was sold at the height of the tech-boom and he uses the capital to invest in both start-ups and scale-ups. He also provides board-level training programmes. Over the last few years you’ve been […]
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    • Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners June 24, 2016
      2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award. This week, Manfred Radermacher from the award-winning Enterability project in Germany reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA one year […]
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    • What kind of (Single) Market do start-ups and SMEs need? June 23, 2016
      Businesses across Europe already benefit from the European Single Market, but there are still challenges to tackle before SMEs and start-ups can fully gain from it. This was discussed during the final Single Market Forum, held in Amsterdam in June. Start-ups, SMEs, experts and government officials all agreed that it should be easier for businesses […]
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    • Q&A with Kenny Ewan June 22, 2016
      In this week’s column from June’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), we go head-to-head with Kenny Ewan of WeFarm to find out why he decided to step out on his own, whether he had that ‘lightbulb moment’ and how he secured the funding to finance his start up. Why did you set up your company? I […]
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    • Success for “great and inspiring” German national EEPA winners June 21, 2016
      The German national EEPA winners for 2016 have been announced! Egon, an enterprise guiding project, and Network with Courage, which works with refugee entrepreneurs, were the triumphant projects in the tightly contested competition. Promoting Enterprise spoke to Juliane Kummer, German National EEPA Coordinator about running a successful national campaign and enduring the difficult task of […]
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    • Overcoming young people’s barriers to entrepreneurship June 20, 2016
      Young entrepreneurs, especially those who choose not to enter tertiary education, face real barriers when entering business. Fortunately, there are organisations that can help. With the limited curriculum that time imposes on most educational systems, those who leave school at 16 and who don’t go on to tertiary education end up entering a world in […]
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    • Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners June 17, 2016
      2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award. This week, Ivaylo Grancharov from the award-winning Brandiko project in Bulgaria reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA two years […]
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    • Estonian national EEPA winners announced: Garage48 and Innokas win big! June 16, 2016
      Garage48, a tech hub and coworking space, and innovation centre, Innokas are the winners of this year’s Estonian national EEPA competition, beating seven other projects that were in the running for this year’s contest. After winning the competition, Head of Innokas, Angela Leppik said, “This kind of competition is necessary as it helps entrants to […]
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    • The Internet for people with no Internet June 15, 2016
      In this week’s post from our June Entrepreneur in Residence, Kenny Ewan of WeFarm delivers a TEDx Talk about providing the benefits of the Internet to the 500 million small-scale farmers around the world with no Internet access. WeFarm is a pioneering social enterprise, scaling a unique peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform for the 500 million small-scale […]
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    • The future is an opportunity June 13, 2016
      In a recent interview, Jan Vanherck, a well-known Belgian entrepreneur and Dean of the United International Business Schools in Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland, took the opportunity to look into the future. In 1975, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation and Fairchild Semiconductor, forecast the doubling of computer power every two years. Will this continue and […]
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