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‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’ – SME Assembly 2017

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The SME Assembly is the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, and gathers the best and most inspiring ideas with the potential to change the world for the better, from across the 28 Member States. The conference takes place once a year during the European SME Week. Together with the network of SME Envoys, the assembly creates the governance structure of the Small Business Act.

The 2017 edition of the SME Assembly will take place from 22 – 24 November 2017 in Tallinn, during and in cooperation with the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It will be the main event of European SME Week 2017. The opening ceremony will take place at the Seaplane Harbour Museum and the assembly itself at Kultuurikatel.

The Assembly focuses on how to make SME policy work in the everyday European context, in order for Europe’s SMEs to really thrive. In this, the sixth year of the SME Assembly, the programme will again include:

  • the Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ lecture, which will be held at the House of Blackheads;
  • the 11th European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony;
  • keynote speeches from high-level politicians and dignitaries;
  • interactive sessions where participants get an opportunity to drive the policy agenda;
  • practical masterclasses and boot camps;
  • and an interactive expo to promote start-ups and scale-ups and those that support them.

There will also be the Ideas from Europe semi-finale, which will showcase the conclusion of a member state wide competition to find the ‘Top 10’ ideas from visionary entrepreneurs across Europe.

Entry to the SME Assembly and European Enterprise Promotion Awards is by personal invitation from the European Commission only. If you would like to register your interest, please contact: smeassembly@lowassociates.eu.

So prepare yourselves to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, like the iconic barn swallows of Estonia, and follow us on the journey to Tallinn!

In order to keep up with updates, deadlines and news about the SME Assembly 2017, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, make sure to follow all the different social media and information channels:

Twitter: @EuropeanSMEWeek, @EEPA_EU

Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise

YouTube: Promoting Enterprise

Instagram: @promotingenterprise

European SME Week – Learning from Portugal’s 2016 strategy

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Are you an SME Week National Coordinator? Need some inspiration for your campaign? Look no further! Start your planning for European SME Week 2017!

Today we share the action plan developed by the Portuguese Coordinator for the European SME Week 2016 to present some ideas and best practices. The action plan covers various topics, from communication tips and communication strategies, to possible target groups, dissemination practices and how to reach the audience using social media.

The report, which you may find here, resulted in a total of 39 Portuguese organised events being posted on the SME Week Event Calendar. Use the calendar as a European platform to get international exposure for your events, get posting and see the results!

For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/support/sme-week_en

SME Assembly 2016 – The delegate verdict is here!

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Welcome back to the Promoting Enterprise blog! Are you ready for 2017? We have decided to kick off the year with a look at what you all thought of the SME Assembly 2016.

The response rate was 48%, with the most responses coming from Belgium, Slovakia, Netherlands and Greece. Of all the respondents, 98% believed the SME Assembly 2016 was worth attending, of which 47.44% said definitely. What does this mean for SME Assembly 2017? 92% of respondents indicated that they would definitely or were likely to attend, so we hope to see you in Tallinn!

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We were happy to see that the event was perceived to be successful in  “creating the environment when people are ready and willing for the real networking”, and “very well organised”. Other comments are also being used to improve our performance and your experience at the SME Assembly 2017.

Moving on to the business tours, which firstly took participants to see Slovakia’s flying car, an automotive innovation that makes use of existing aviation and automobile infrastructure to offer a future with the possibility of real door-to-door travel. The second tour featured an innovative Slovakian SME GA drilling, 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. It seems these tours were a hit with 97% of the tour attendees finding them extremely/relevant and useful.

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Overall, SME Assembly 2016 attendees appeared very satisfied with the rest of the 3 day conference events, including; the SME Week Reception (94% found it extremely relevant and useful) and the EEPA ceremony (87% said it fully met or exceeded their expectations), although participants would have appreciated more networking time.

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We also asked our delegates what they thought of the graphic recording of the SME Assembly, a real time depiction, which summarised the event with visuals, created by entrepreneur Sabine Soeder and fellow artist Martin Saive. 82% of delegates found this useful. The event app was also greatly appreciated with 92% of delegates believing it to be relevant and useful. The app can always be improved and with your suggestions regarding programme alerts, information about other attendees, networking facilitation and more.

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Thank you to everyone who provided us with feedback and took time to fill in the survey. The preparations for SME Assembly 2017 are already underway…so stay tuned and see you in Tallinn this November!

SME Assembly 2016 – Day 1

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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.

30396367203_4bccaec88b_zIt 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.

30396363193_7fbaf6809e_zThere 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.

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30397309743_ef1f04c0a9_zTo 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…

Social Entrepreneurship in the spotlight at Germany’s SME Week Conference 2016

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Germany’s main SME conference ahead of this year’s European SME Week focused on the lively social enterprise scene that has developed in the country. According to the keynote speaker Kristin Schreiber, from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, one in four new companies set up across the EU is a social enterprise.

160628_KMU-Konferenz_SprecherThe German national event, which took place on 28 June, brought together almost 130 experts from networks, funding bodies, science and academia as well as entrepreneurs. In line with the motto of this year’s conference – ‘Addressing social challenges. Undertaking dedicated action. Embracing responsible entrepreneurship’, the discussion focused on what social enterprises need in order to flourish.

The main idea behind this conference was to make social enterprises more widely known and to promote their interests and needs among established players, such as chambers of commerce, consultancy firms and funding bodies. A particular highlight of the conference was the four presentations given by social entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative business ideas:

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Ralf Sange< Andrea-Victoria Noelle is co-founder of Beliya GmbH, a designer label for bags and accessories that works for a good cause: for every bag sold, a child in Africa is sponsored for one school year.

Ralf Sange > from Gründer 50plus UG supports people over the age of 50 who are considering setting up their own business.

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< Anne Kjær Riechert founded the ReDI School of Digital Integration gGmbH where refugees – mostly from Syria – become students, learning computer programming and coding so that they can find a job in Germany.

Martin RSOMartin Reh > co-founded the RSO Shift GmbH, a company that constructs a medical device for developing regions that cleans, disinfects and sterilises operating equipment using nothing but solar power.

The discussion also focused on the results of a study on social entrepreneurship published by the German Economic Affairs Ministry.

A video of the conference highlights, with subtitles in English, is available here below.

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In conversation with: 2015 Grand Jury Prize Winner

The Grand Jury Prize was awarded during the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony, during the SME Week 2015. It is an award that can be given to an initiative from any category, and was given to the entry considered to be the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

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We asked Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship, the winners of the 2015 Grand Jury Prize, a few questions about winning this prestigious award. The programme works to support responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship – from helping to develop business plans to advising on how best to obtain funding.

  1. What did you learn from your experience with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards?

It was a great experience with lots of visibility in the entrepreneur environment.

Taking part in the Ceremony was a fantastic experience, we met some very interesting projects and contacts.  We also shared experience, challenges and solutions for the creation and growth of SMEs.

  1. What did winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 SME Assembly in Luxembourg mean to you?

Recognition (and more motivation) for the project, and also being recognised in Lisbon for the promotion of entrepreneurship and the economic development of the city.

Lisbon Micro Entrepreneurship is a programme developed by the municipality to help entrepreneurs to start small business in Lisbon.

The idea is to use the institutional power of the municipality to celebrate partnerships with public and private entities in order to promote business in Lisbon, facilitate access to finance and boost entrepreneurship.

Since 2013, we have made more than 1000 contacts, worked with more than 200 entrepreneurs with potential businesses and helped to establish more than 70 businesses, creating 160 jobs.

The main clients of Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship are unemployed people with skills (mostly people with college degrees and work experience), aged between 30 and 50 years old.

Our work is divided in 3 main sectors:

Mentoring – We help people to work on their business concept; business plans; and coaching through the whole process of the project development. Sometimes, this also includes further mentoring after the business is established.

Access to finance – We use partnerships with public institutions, private institutions and banks that permit access to credit products with very special rates.

Access to spaces – We help businesses to get access to either public (public offers in parish councils) or private spaces with special conditions (this includes collaborative work space and, business incubators, for example).

This award is very important to the project, because it gives it credibility and will help when negotiating new partnerships, particularly with the financial institutions that have better conditions for entrepreneurs. It also allows us to support more entrepreneurs.

  1. What advice can you give to other SMEs wanting to take part in the Awards?

We would advise other cities and/or regions to have a proactive strategy to support entrepreneurship; create networking among the various players; and partner up to meet the needs of SMEs.

It is important to participate in the EEPAs because it gives you the opportunity to meet new projects, potential partners, share and learn from each other about how to support the creation and growth of SMEs.

To find out more about Libson Micro-Entrepreneurship, watch this short video.

Looking back: SME Assembly

As part of European SME Week, the European Commission organised its annual conference, the 2015 SME Assembly. The event, which took place between Wednesday 18 to Friday 20 November 2015, is known as the most significant event for SMEs in Europe.

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Figures from business, academia, policy-making and the media were invited to the event which was held in cooperation with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Assembly encouraged interaction and engagement between potential partners, SMEs and senior governmental figures during planned policy sessions and open discussions. The purpose was to encourage awareness of the business landscape and to highlight best practise within the field.

High level speakers included HRH Maria Teresa, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. Also speaking at the event was Kristin Schreiber, Director for SME Policy and COSME, and Elźieta Bieńkowska, EU SME Envoy and Member of the European Commission for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

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Open discussions and policy sessions

Over the course of event, a number of engaging open discussions and policy sessions took place involving policy-makers, academia, delegates and the media, some of which are listed below.

To celebrate the UN’s Women Entrepreneurship Day on Thursday 19 November, attendees joined together to listen to a discussion about female entrepreneurship. The discussion panel consisted of HRH The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, and female business leaders Henryka Bochniarz, Betty Fontaine, Amy Millman and Marianne Costigan, who discussed the successes and struggles they individually face in the industry, in their position.

Open space

‘Are our expectations limiting men and women in business? Do we prohibit ourselves from reaching the stars?’

‘We shouldn’t be afraid to fail! Failure may happen, but entrepreneurs should be prepared to be resilient and grow!’

‘What are the prime factors that enable long-term success for SMEs? TEAMWORK, TEAMWORK, TEAMWORK.’

‘Failure. Solidarity amongst Women Coaching.’

An OpenSpace session also took place during the SME Assembly, which aimed to encourage attendees to think creatively with others to share best practise. Feedback has been incredibly positive from this session, which helped many to network and listen to the ideas of those around them!

Policy sessions included Skills for SMEs, Making the Single Market Work for SMEs, From Refugee to Entrepreneur, and Alternative roads to finance for SMEs.

Masterclasses

Further to the policy sessions, a number of Masterclasses were arranged for those at the SME Assembly 2015 to attend. The sessions are listed below:

  • Creativity with Leonie Baldacchino, Director, The Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking, University of Malta.
  • SMEs on the Stock Exchange with Eric Forest, Chairman and CEO, EuroNext, and two entrepreneurs.
  • Crowdfunding with Kristine Pontoppidan, CEO, NinjaConsult.
  • Circular Economy with Rien Otto, Founder and Creative Director, Dutch aWEARness.
  • Digitising Government with Mel Ross, Director, Adapt2Digital; Tristan Wilkinson, Founder, Digital Citizens; Claire Allington, Head of Digital, Lloyds Banks.
  • Twitter for Business with Viv Jemmett, Head of Digital, Hanover Communications

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If you would like to view any of the slides from the Masterclasses, please click here.

More information

To access slides from speaker presentations and masterclasses, please click here.

To access our SME Assembly 2015 compendium in all EU languages, please click here.

To access more photographs from the SME Assembly 2015, please click here.

To watch some of the key sessions from the SME Assembly 2015, please click here.

If you’d like more information about the SME Assembly 2015 in Luxembourg or the SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava, Slovakia, please follow our social media channels linked below. Alternatively, please contact us on eepa@lowassociates.eu.

Portuguese programme for responsible entrepreneurship wins top prize at EEPA 2015

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The seven winners of the 2015 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) have been announced, with the Grand Jury Prize being awarded to a Portuguese project.

The project, Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship, is a programme that works to support responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship – from helping to develop business plans to advising on how best to obtain funding.

Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship was set up in 2013 with the aim of invigorating the city’s economy and promoting job creation. It forms part of Lisbon Municipal Council’s global strategy to support entrepreneurship and brings together public, private, local and national bodies to enable anyone to get support for projects. The programme helps entrepreneurs develop ideas and business plans, assists in obtaining funding and provides support on project implementation. The organisation has already successfully set up 50 companies, created over 100 jobs and held over 550 meetings with entrepreneurs.

See Lisboa Empreende on Business Planet: Why Lisbon is luring entrepreneurs (video)

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Six other projects from the Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom, Estonia, Spain and Germany were recognised for their work on fostering entrepreneurial spirit, improving and simplifying business creation and investing in skills. Projects from Denmark, Malta, Slovenia, and Greece also received Special Mentions from the EEPA jury. The Awards ceremony took place in Luxembourg on 19 November 2015 as part of the SME Assembly, the main event of the European SME Week.

Background

Since 2006, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards have rewarded public bodies and public-private partnerships who have shown excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small businesses. Over 3100 projects have entered during this time, and have supported the creation of thousands of new companies. The awards’ objectives are to create a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in European society and encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. This is achieved by identifying and recognising successful activities and initiatives to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship, and then showcasing and sharing examples of best entrepreneurship policies and practices.

More information

EEPA website

EEPA on Twitter

EEPA on Facebook

SME Week

SME Assembly

Winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2015

Grand Jury Prize Winner
Portugal – Lisboa Empreende/Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship is a successful, inspiring and innovative programme stimulating micro-entrepreneurship in Lisbon through a comprehensive range of measures focusing on disadvantaged groups, while staying open to all future entrepreneurs.

Responsible organisation: Lisboa Municipal Council

Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit
Netherlands – ZomerOndernemer changes mind-sets and improve entrepreneurial skills of young people during their summer holidays. The project is based on ‘learning by doing’, and has impressive results with almost ¼ of participants deciding they want to be entrepreneurs.

Responsible organisation: The New Entrepreneur Foundation

Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Ireland – Going for Growth encourages female entrepreneurs to be ambitious and supports them in achieving their growth aspirations with a mix of measure encompassing role models promotion, networking and peer-learning.

Responsible organisation: Fitzsimons Consulting in association with the Gender Equality Division, Department of Justice and Equality

Improving the Business Environment
United Kingdom – Creative Quarter aims to support creative SMEs in generating prosperity and creating jobs by developing a highly-skilled local workforce ready to compete in the knowledge economy.

Responsible organisation: Creative Quarter Nottingham Limited

Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Estonia – GameFounders is a global game industry accelerator that aims to support technical teams in developing a product business model. The project has already supported 28 teams from 16 countries, all of whom are still operating.

Responsible organisation: GameFounders OÜ

Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency
Spain – Green Business Network is the first networking platform in Spain to specialise in green business. It follows a comprehensive approach, including support for start-ups, for business consolidation, for new green business lines of existing companies, and for environmental innovation.

Responsible organisation: Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Germany – Enterability is a project benefitting people with disabilities. It combines measures relevant for this group with a sound start-up expertise, employing a diversity of tools: seminars, mentoring, or peer-counselling.

Responsible organisation: Social Impact GmbH

The 2015 SME Assembly Programme

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The 2015 SME Assembly begins today (18-20 November, Luxembourg) and the full conference programme is now available (please see below). Hosted in partnership with the Luxembourg Presidency, the Assembly, which is the main European SME Week event, will feature speakers from the Government of Luxembourg and the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, academia and the private sector. Key speakers include: HRH, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Pierre Delsaux, Deputy General of DG Growth, European Commission, Amy Millman (President of Springboard Enterprises), and Corinne Vigreux (Co-founder of Tom Tom).

The Assembly will be opened formally on Thursday 19 November by Elżbieta Bieńkowska, EU SME Envoy and Member of the European Commission for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs and Francine Closener, State Secretary, Ministry of Economy of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

This year for the first time, there will be an Open Space session where participants will have the opportunity to agree together new ways of implementing and promoting the principles of the Small Business Act. All delegates to propose and debate ideas for moving SME policy forward.

The SME Assembly will also feature the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony where the 19 nominees will compete for their chance to win either in one of six categories or the Grand Jury Prize. You can find out more about the 2014 winners here.

The Ideas From Europe Finals will take place on Friday 20 November, where the nine most inspiring ideas from entrepreneurs with the potential to change the world will be chosen from across Europe’s 28 Member States. Following the selection at the SME Assembly and the online vote, the top ten ideas will then go through to a final judging session at The Hall of Knights on 31 March 2016 in The Hague.

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Ideas From Europe

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Ideas from Europe logo

In under a month’s time, the nine most inspiring ideas from entrepreneurs with the potential to change the world will be chosen from across Europe’s 28 Member States at the Ideas from Europe Finals at the SME Assembly in Luxembourg on 20 November.

The initiative, which started in spring, aims to show that Europe’s future is in the hands of today’s entrepreneurs as they are the creators of businesses and jobs. By sharing their ideas they will inspire and encourage people to use their entrepreneurial spirit and, in turn, become the lifeblood of Europe’s economy.

Following the selection at the SME Assembly in Luxembourg and the online vote, the top ten ideas will then go through to a final judging session at The Hall of Knights on 31 March 2016 in The Hague.

The selection process is still ongoing, but below are some of the candidates involved so far…

Belgium: Laurent Eschenauer, Fleye 

Fleye is the brainchild of Dimitri Arendt and Laurent Eschenauer, two experienced engineers passionate about drones. It all started as a prototype hacked over numerous week-ends in Laurent’s attic, and is now a funded venture company, founded in December 2014 and supported by The Faktory, a private Tech Startup Accelerator and Seed Investment Fund from Belgium.

Bulgaria: Rennie Popcheva-Capri, Embrioo 

Rennie is the founder of Embrioo.com – an Open Innovation platform recognized by the International Jury at Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen (Special Prize Winner, 2013); Winner at Innovation challenge by IF Sheffield University (2012), TEDx speaker, featured in Forbes.

Cyrpus: Arestis Vrontis, Helikas Robotics

Arestis Vrontis , founder and Technical Director of Helikas Robotics (2010). After a number of years spent studying Marine Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Arestis went on to be production manager to “EPISKEVI” Machine Shop. Arestis has a lifelong fascination with robots and has tinkered with them for years designing and building multicopters and fixed wing aircrafts. He is also a member of Technical Chamber of Cyprus. Recently he has developed a vertical wind turbine for urban areas.

Finland: Pirkka Palomäki, Enevo

Pirkka Palomäki is the COO & CTO at Enevo, a privately held company providing smart logistics optimization solutions for the waste management and recycling industry. Prior to joining Enevo he has worked at F-Secure Corporation in several executive management positions including the head of strategy, CTO and Interim CEO. Earlier in his career, he has been with Telecom Finland (currently TeliaSonera) in business development and product marketing roles. Palomäki was recognized as the CTO of the year in 2011 by the Technology Academy of Finland.

Germany: Gerhard Dust, PolyCare.

Dr. Gerhard Dust started his career in the construction business. After service in the Luftwaffe and graduation from university he followed his family tradition of working in the book industry. Being COO of Libri 1991-2008, he earned an international reputation for the analysis, design and implementation of high level automated storage and distribution systems. In 2010, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, he founded PolyCare.

Ireland: Nora Khaldi, Nuritas

Dr. Nora Khaldi is a mathmetician with a PhD in Molecular Evolution and the founder of Nuritas, a company that has revolutionised the discovery of health-benefitting molecules using artificial intelligence and machine-learning. Throughout her career, Nora’s ambition has been to disrupt the status quo and introduce new ways of thinking to address many of the health and sustainability issues facing the world today.

 

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