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Positive discrimination for national SMEs – Portuguese EEPA winner supports national enterprise

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be sources of employment and innovation in a national economy, yet conditions are not always favourable when these enterprises compete against larger competitors. The winner of Category 3 (Improving the Business Environment) at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016, strives to create these conditions and an SME supportive environment. The Leader SME programme is a mechanism to qualify enterprises that aims to highlight the merits of the most successful  national SMEs by creating conditions to strengthen their market reputation and fast-track access  to funding. The goal is to promote growth strategies and consolidate their competitiveness.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We first heard about the competition through several public and private entities that promote and encourage participation in the competition throughout Portugal, and applied using our public/private partnership. We felt that our project was a good and strong example of what EEPA represents. Our results from previous years were also very successful, so we thought that our project had good replication potential and could serve as a European example.

How did you go about preparing your application?

The preparation of an EEPA application is quite “heavy” in terms of the work involved. We did not prepare something special for EEPA, but instead created a working group for the preparation of the application as soon as the period of application was announced.

What was it like to win the award?

It was a surprise, considering the quality of other applications. However, we felt that we had a very good chance in this competition, since we were strongly convinced of the quality of our application. Just being included in the shortlist gave as a sense of achievement! Winning the competition was very important to us, and it was an extraordinary feeling: a reward for the work done, and concrete proof that we are on the right track.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?

Winning the award helped us not only externally, the increased visibility helped with publicity and will also help us in the future, but also internally. Internally the win helped to solidify our relationships with partners and make us a stronger network. It also resulted in overall better general knowledge of the objectives and better understanding of the technicalities of the project. The response was great and made us feel like we have an increased sense of responsibility, now we just have to maintain and increase the impact of the project. Whilst it was fantastic to represent our project, it was also very satisfying to be able to represent Portugal.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

Yes. Considering the results of the initiative, and the relevance of the award, we think that the partners will be able to approach companies more easily in order to tighten the network links and increase the impact of the SME Leader initiative.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

It is important to evaluate whether a project has the following: quality, results, strong partnership, and replicability. Our advice would be that if your project has all of the above, then you should definitely compete! The preparation for EEPA stimulates evaluation, strengthens partnership, and gives visibility, all of which can only help strengthen your project.

What are your plans for the future?

Our project has the potential to increase the level and scope of impact on the companies, through a tightening of the network. We hope to raise awareness and increase knowledge about the companies considered to be SME Leaders, and disseminate their best practices to help others achieve the same leader status. Our whole project is about helping SMEs get access to finance, whether it be through creating the right conditions or helping them comply with requisites, in terms of the future we want to keep doing just that and increase the number of enterprises that we help and who can benefit.

SME recovery continues… ANNUAL REPORT ON EUROPEAN SMEs

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Have you had a chance to read the Annual report on European SMEs 2015/2016 yet? We recommend that you do!

Have a read of our quick report summary below:

The main themes of the report can be summarised as follows: employment and growth, performance and population and the second chance principle.

Employment and Growth

SMEs are a vital part of the EU28 economy, in 2015 they employed 90 million people (an employment increase of 1.5%), accounting for two thirds of EU28 employment. Many of these SMEs are micro enterprises, with less than 10 employees, which form around 93% of all enterprises in the non–financial business sector. SMEs have also continued to grow, showing steady growth in value added both in 2014 (3.8%) and 2015 (5.7%). Growth varied across Member States but was generally positive.

Figure 1:  SME employment and value added growth in 2014 and 2015, EU28

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Performance and Population

Overall EU28 SMEs have performed better than previously, indicating better macro-economic conditions in 2015. However there are differing trends across small (e.g. legal and accounting services, advertising and marketing research) and large sectors (e.g. retail trade, construction). Smaller sectors experienced over 5% growth in employment, contrasting with only 2% growth or less in the larger sectors.

Figure 2:  EU SME value added annual growth by Member State, 2015  

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The second chance principle

The SME population is in constant fluctuation, as many new businesses are born and others cease to operate every year. New firm creation in the EU has caught up with USA rates, however the strengthening of second chance public policies to encourage startup dynamism after failure, would certainly counteract the barriers faced by those starting afresh for the second time. This would also ensure that potential entrepreneurs are not deterred by the prospects of bankruptcy or that existing entrepreneurs are not disheartened from trying again. This is where the SBA second chance principle could be every effective, not only for improving the environment and procedure for those businesses that do fail, but also by putting in place mechanisms to avoid businesses falling into such situations.

However, the latest SBA reviews highlight some areas for improvement:

  • in only slightly more than half of Member States can the discharge from bankruptcy be achieved in 3 years or less;
  • half of EU Member States treat re-starters on an equal footing with new start-ups; and,
  • all the other SBA second chance policy measures are implemented in less than half of Member States. Moreover, the SBA second chance principle is the one showing the least progress since 2008.

Progress has been made but more can be done, especially on the SBA second chance principle, so that SMEs can continue to recover and thrive, in turn strengthening the EU28 economy.

Figure 3: Forecast growth of SME value added and employment from 2015 to 2017 in Member States  

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Read the full report here.

EEPA – The winners of the 2016 edition

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The SME Assembly 2016 may be over, but the conversation continues! Today is an opportunity for us to present to you the European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners from the 2016 edition. You met them here on the blog when they were shortlisted, but here is an overview of the projects that came out on top…


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Category 1- Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, the winner was Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat (Lyon City of Entrepreneurship) from France. This initiative is a network of 46 organisations and 200 experts from across the region, working to promote the entrepreneurial spirit more widely, increase the number of businesses created and improve the robustness of new businesses. Each year, the network provides support to between 10,000 and 12,000 businesses and entrepreneurs, with 17 “access points” providing assistance, information and guidance. Experts provide support on the creation, takeover and handover of businesses and on aspects including how to grow or fund a business, start up and training.

In Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, the prize went to Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom. This project has created the world’s first internal, accredited, enterprise educator training programme. The training and support of over 600 staff of all disciplines to embed enterprise skills across the university curriculum has been at the heart of the programme. In the first two years alone 21 000 students were reached and over 2 000 freelance businesses created. Business and public sector projects projects benefited from student support resulting in an economic impact valued at over EUR 4.4 million (GBP £4 million).

In Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment, the category winner was Portuguese project Leader SME programme. This entry annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015!


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Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business, it was Human Security Finland that came away the winner. This entry is a national international development and crisis management business network. It assists with the building of partnerships between Finnish companies and experts aimed at assisting developing countries and crisis-hit regions with solutions to support sustainable development. The network combines business, education and research for human security. 100 organisations are now involved in the concept known as ‘crisis business’, which is based on commercialising human security expertise.


In
Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency, the Lime Trees & Honey Bees for Sustainable Development of the Danube Microregion project from Serbia took the category prize. It strengthens the competitiveness of beekeeping in the Fruška Gora region and motivates young people to start beekeeping businesses. The project aims to increase the market share of Fruška Gora lime honey by investing in human resources and skills development, improved knowledge through scientific research, education and the introduction of new technologies. In addition, it ran a high-profile promotional campaign to raise public interest and created a marketing plan that changed the ad hoc approach of 8 beekeeper associations to a value-added, branded product, with export potential.  


In
Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Dutch project The Rotterdam Business Case (De Rotterdamse Zaak), a work training company where students in higher vocational education and experienced business coaches help support entrepreneurs to improve their business practices and entrepreneurial skills, was the Jury’s winning choice. The project focuses on entrepreneurs who operate below the poverty line and are not financially able to find a solution to their problems. More than 600 entrepreneurs have already been helped through the combined efforts of experienced senior coaches, who act as a sounding board for entrepreneurs, and junior coaches who offer more practical support.


Finally, the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’, was awarded to Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden! Originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, this project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It covers three projects: Entrepreneurship in education, Start your business, and Develop your business, which provide different styles of support to various groups ranging from schoolchildren, all the way to seasoned business people. 

EEPA – Improving the business environment

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We continue our showcase of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist with an introduction to the national winners competing in Category-3 – Improving the Business Environment. These three projects, each with their own specific focus, have in common the fact that they improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in their respective countries – Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia. Two of the projects are based on a competition/award scheme, while the third is a co-working space that motivates young entrepreneurs.

konfetti-vinder-nsc-2016-copySo, in no particular order, the first in our list this week is Denmark’s Next Step Challenge (NSC). NSC is an ambitious European startup competition focusing on Smart Energy & Digitalisation and Sound & Home Integration. Ambitious startups are offered the chance to access a one-of-a-kind business development programme in direct collaboration with big corporations, SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen. Along with EUR 250 000 in prize money, the winners are also supported by SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen, who open up their organisations, share knowledge and strategy, and assist with product and/or business development. Check out their video!

The next project takes us to Portugal and the Leader SME programme, whichzmz_0083-edit annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015! Have a look at their video!

kikstarter-08KIKštarter was established to encourage young people in Slovenia to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. A co-working space in the deprived area of Kamnik, it provides entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and is home to 27 startups. The startups receive assistance and guidance in developing their ideas, have access to workspace, and participate in a series of motivational events. The project is contributing to the promotion of entrepreneurship to all residents in the area, which is undergoing regeneration, and helping to unlock the potential of the area and its people. The initiative has directly resulted in seven new businesses and at least as many new jobs with minimal financial investment.

Only one of these projects can be declared the ultimate winner in the category and, given the high standard of all three, the EEPA Jury is faced with a difficult choice. But choose they must, and their eventual choice will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced.

Don’t forget that you can still read about EEPA Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills national winners.

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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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, Ria Dossche from the award-winning Belgium Starters’ Agreement reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA three years on…

Ria Dossche, The Belgium Starters’ Agreement

Name Ria Dossche
Organisation The Belgium Starters’ Agreement, City of Ghent
Country Belgium
Website oog.stad.gent/nl/starterscontract
Award won Improving the Business Environment
Year 2013

City of Ghent 2013 winner

What was it like to win the award?

As the project was nominated, we hoped that we would end up high in the rankings. Winning was a nice surprise, and confirmation of the whole team’s hard work on the project.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

It drew remarkable media attention, both online and offline. We had internal coverage on our intranet and in the internal City of Ghent magazine, and we also referred to winning the award in several publications after the event.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

We received only positive reactions from colleagues, management, and partners, and there was also interest from other city administrations.

What has been the long-term impact?

Externally, it boosted the number of applications for the Starters’ Agreement. Its internal effect was that it supported the conservation of the budget dedicated to Starters’ Agreements in the following legislatures.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

We wanted to share this successful project. Feedback from former applicants told us that the Starters’ Agreement was something very positive. From the applicants‘ survival rates, we knew that we’d reached our goal; some even became international businesses and big players. Moreover, we saw over the years that entrepreneurs who had a Starters’ Agreement stayed attached to the city. They felt at ease contacting the city administration with requests for help (e.g. how to find personnel and even how to relocate) and they stayed here to do business.

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

As we do a bi-yearly evaluation of the Starters’ Agreements, we had most of the information ready. It was a challenge to gather the requested data, but it was a manageable effort.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

Entering EEPA implies an extra, external evaluation of your project. When you get nominated, it boosts your communication and you get confirmation that your team is doing a good job.

To find out more about The Belgium Starters’ Agreement, visit oog.stad.gent/nl/starterscontract or watch the video

 

Build strong foundations to scale up

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You’re not on your own: Business Incubators and Accelerators are there to help you develop a sustainable model that will help your business not only survive, but thrive.

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Castles built on sand have the tendency to find their foundations washed away and the same applies to companies.

A quick look at the stats shows that 46% of business failures in the first three years are due to incompetence, and a further 30% are a result of unbalanced or lack of managerial experience. This suggests that obtaining management training and good advice should be at the top of an entrepreneur’s ‘to do’ list. There are many who have a great idea and then rush into production, start hiring lots of people, pay themselves a large salary and then find themselves with a failed company. But this decline and fall is entirely avoidable if the business is built on strong foundations.

Business incubators could be the answer. Incubators and accelerators are organisations established to provide space, training and business services to startups to ensure that they’re properly run, adhere to relevant regulations and have access to experienced management advice. So successful have these incubators been that just about every country in the EU has them, often associated with universities or funded by local authorities. The incubator success rate is impressive: around 87% of businesses that have been incubated survive the difficult first three years and go on to scale-up successfully.

A recent University Business Incubator conference revealed the top ranking European incubators and reported that “Europe’s business incubators have attracted a total of $2,4b in investment, meaning each of the 117 incubators has received an average of $20m each. With regard to deal flow, Europe as a whole receives 15.3k applications per year, equating to an average of 131 per incubator. In the last five years Europe’s business incubators have created 40,500 jobs (346 jobs per incubator) and over the same time period generated $5.6b in sales, equating to an average of $47m in sales per incubator.”

The vast majority of startups that survive the first three or four years then scale up, often still with the help of an Incubator or Accelerator, while others set their sights on becoming a publicly owned company trading on a stock exchange.

However, as Eric Forest, Chairman and CEO of EnterNext, a subsidiary of the EuroNext markets dedicated to SMEs, says:

An IPO is a very important step for any company, large or small, and has to be meticulously prepared. The listing process brings the opportunity for the management to step back and formalise the company’s perspectives. It requires a re-examination and a clarification of the company’s business and strategy. Communication and reporting obligations also imply structuring efforts that are extremely valuable for the company’s management. It is, moreover, key to unify the internal teams around the project and to sharpen the equity story to convince investors about the company potential.

At EnterNext, we decided to provide the means to help companies entering the market in the best possible ways. For instance, in 2015, we designed the programme TechShare, which is a unique one-year pan-European course to familiarise non-listed innovative businesses with capital markets and gives them the information they need to take their companies to market. Although the listing obligations are often considered as “constraints”, they actually help entrepreneurs to build their castles on the rock.

R2I-Surrey-Phase2_2015-03Going public is definitely not a step to be taken lightly since one of the first things that happens is the entrepreneur has to give way to the professional business manager, which effectively means losing control of the company, or at least, the spirit of the company. If the scale-up has been successful, then this may not be a problem but recognising when to hand over the reins is always difficult. Again, this is where Incubators and Accelerators have a major role to play: they are not just for start-ups but generally have expertise in scaling up businesses and can guide the entrepreneur towards making the right decision before putting them in touch with the appropriate professionals.

Tips for finding the right incubator

France learns from startup companies in modernising public online services

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The concept of the “State Startup” (Start-up d’Etat) was developed by the French SGMAP (Secrétariat Général pour la Modernisation de l’Action Publique) to improve digital services offered to citizens by the st­ate. State Startups use agile methodologies to develop and improve administrative web services so as to bring them closer to citizens. Users, product teams and ministries collaborate to improve online public services.

Policy context

  • In December 2012, CIMAP (the Comité Interministériel pour la Modernisation de l’Action Publique ordered French ministries to collect information on citizens’ needs so as to simplify administrative procedures.
  • In 2013, the French President officially announced measures (in a program called “le choc de simplification”) to simplify the relations between citizens, private companies and public administration. A first wave of 170 measures were initiated in July 2013. In January 2014, the Council of  Simplification was put in place. In February 2016, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced 170 new measures.
  • In November 2013 a new French law (2013–1005) empowered the government to simplify its relationships with citizens. The “Faire-Simple” project is an example of an implementation of this law.
  • The State Startup concept was officially launched during Public Innovation Week in October 2015, after two years of experimentation.

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Description of the way to implement the initiative

After two years of experimentation, the concept of a State Startup (Start-up d’Etat in French) was officially introduced in October 2015, during France’s Public Innovation Week. “We develop Web applications created with and for administrations”, explains Hela Ghariani, project owner at SGMAP, which is part of DINSIC. The Direction interministérielle du numérique et du système d’information et de communication (DINSIC) is the new French government IT organisation, the 2015 merger between the predecessor DISIC and Etalab, the government’s open data hub. Ms Ghariani runs Mes-Aides.gouv.fr, which is an example of a State Startup.

15 startups are now being incubated by DINSIC, including :

  • Marché Public Simplifié (MPS – Simplified Public Market), which facilitates the tendering process by requiring only a company ID number (SIRET);
  • Le.Taxi, a mobile application for ordering taxis through a nation-wide geolocalised database;
  • La Bonne Boîte (“the right employer”), connecting job-seekers to companies who are recruiting; and
  • Mes Aides, ​a simulator for state benefits (see below).

Identify & fix real problems

The goal of State Startups is to identify real problems, quickly develop applications and web services to solve them, and ultimately help to modernise public services in France. To accelerate the development process and build applications close to the needs of citizens, State Startups rely on modern management methods (agile methods) like those generally used in private startup companies.

“In developing a web application that solves a user problem, it is quite difficult to follow the traditional processes used by the French administration,” said Hela Ghariani.

So with State Startups the development of public digital services is moving away from the traditional approach and instead relies on small teams. These teams focus on identifying a problem and solving it via a digital solution. “This is how we prototype better public services online” Hela Ghariani says.

The small teams in the DINSIC Incubator are usually made of:

  • Developer: understands the technical and the users’ issues;
  • Product Owner: defines how the project will solve the problems it has identified;
  • Coach: coordinates the project as a whole and helps the team to stay focus on making the best product.

Lean startup methodology

“These teams rely on the working methods used by startups,” Hela Ghariani says. To adapt to the limited financial resources, each State Startup comprises just two people: “These limited resources force us to be creative in finding solutions. We are trying to eliminate constraints that exist today in the administrative world when it comes to producing a web service,” she says. With the new approach, the first prototypes are ready for production within six months.

State Startups use a methodology known as Lean Startup. “This identifies a public service that needs to be improved to meet citizens’ expectations,” Hela Ghariani says. “We try to understand the user’s problem, and identify how they interact with the administration.” Once the problem is well defined, the team starts to prototype a product. The teams use agile methods like Scrum, tailoring them according to the project, the ecosystem and the external partners.

Continuous testing

Users are at the heart of the process of identifying the problem and developing a solution. “Tests are carried out with users according to the nature of the project,” explains Hela Ghariani.

An interministerial mission

Government ministries are also committed to the process, and serve as business experts. “State Startups have an interministerial mission because most of the time they involve services that cross the boundaries between several administrations,” says Hela Ghariani.

The source code of the final Web application is open and available under several open licenses. The source code is available on GitHub.

Main results, benefits and impacts

The example of Mes-aides.gouv.fr, a simulator for state benefits

Hela Ghariani manages a State Startup called Mes-aides.gouv.fr, which shows French citizens the state benefits they are entitled to. “Problems with state benefits were identified in a study conducted by SGMAP in 2013,” she says. “One of the questions was: ‘Why do some people never ask for the benefits they are eligible for?’. Indeed, some of the social benefits were poorly designed and that information about benefits was not reaching the right people. The eligibility criteria were really complex, so a typical person may not know whether he or she is eligible for one or more benefits,” says Hela Ghariani.

The first draft of Mes Aides was posted less than six months after the project began. A beta was online on October 2014, after four months of development.

According to the dashboard of digital services published by SGMAP in 2015, 26% of French people used online services in 2015. They recorded a satisfaction rate of 89%, which is very high. 20 out of 27 administrative procedures recorded an increase in the share of digital applications, reveals the barometer.

More information:

Source: European Commision, Joinup portal

Greece and Sweden joining the other 10 speakers at TEDxBinnenhof

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Ideas from Europe logoAfter inspiring campaigns of both Greece and Sweden, TEDxBinnenhof has decided to send them both to The Hague on March 31. There they will join the other 10 speakers to share their Ideas from Europe. Greece and Sweden topped the Wildcard Challenge, where almost 60.000 people casted a vote. With more than half the votes between them, Charalampos (Harris) Ioannou of Greece and Micael Hermansson from Sweden held a fierce campaign over the last few weeks.

Harris used his network and his Facebook page to let people know to vote for him. “After a couple of days my friends told me they shared it with their friends and that everybody was voting. Then the local press caught it and wrote an article about TEDxBinnenhof and the Ideas of Europe. That helped a lot.”

Micael used his network of the national teachers union of Sweden. Also MP’s of the leading parties in the Swedish parliament were involved in calling on people to vote for Micael. All because they find that his idea was worth spreading. “In Luxemburg we had only three minutes to share our idea. Now that we have seven minutes, it will be great.”

Both Harris and Micael will be in The Hague on March 31, in The Knights Hall. Along with ten other Ideas from Europe, they will speak about their idea.

Charalampos (Harris) Ioannou
GREECE – CHARALAMPOS IOANNOUCharalampos Ioannou is a 20-year-old undergraduate student and inventor. He is currently studying Electrical and Software Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). In 2012 he won the European Union’s competition for young scientists, “The Best Engineering entry” (EUCYS 2012), and in 2013, he was one of the 5 global finalists of Google’s global science competition, “Google Science Fair” with his invention of a movement-enhancing exoskeleton glove. He was a speaker at TEDx Athens for both 2012 and 2013, communicating his passion for inventions and creative science projects. Currently, he is a founding member of “Bioassist”, a company that applies state of the art software and machine learning algorithms in order to monitor vital health signal of independent living for elderly people.
Watch his Talk in Luxembourg.

Micael Hermansson
SWEDEN – MICAEL HERMANSSONMicael is a teacher from the Swedisch northern town Umeå. He has developed a concept with micro lessons, only 8 minutes, a fairytale of facts. This concept has not only inspired pupils, but also their parents, siblings and teachers all over Sweden. More than 20000 teachers use his concept. He has facilitated the biggest digital educational community and in 2015 Micael was elected as Best Teacher of the year. Micael calls it ‘Grej’of the day; a micro-lesson format designed to kick start each day with a knowledge injection.
Watch his Talk in Luxembourg.

For more information about TEDxBinnenhof | Ideas from Europe and the speakers. Please contact Diana Kool or Michiel Stol.

Follow us on social media
www.ideasfromeurope.eu | #TEDxB16 | #IdeasfromEU
Office The Hague: Inholland | Theriasastraat 6 | The Hague
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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.

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

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