European SME Week events across the EU

This year’s successful European SME Week saw participating countries around the continent hold a range of exciting events and initiatives in order to promote SMEs and entrepreneurship across Europe. We’ve rounded up some interesting examples below.

Slovakia

In Slovakia, European SME Week focused on promotion of business micro loans and more diverse events. This was coordinated by the Slovak Enterprise Europe Network, which has been supporting Slovak SMEs for more than 20 years.

Business support organisations from across Slovakia worked on a range of activities to boost entrepreneurship and motivate the general public to start their own enterprises. For example, the Europe4Business conference focused on ensuring people are aware of the EU support they are entitled to from 2014-2020. In October the Slovak Business Agency began to promote the value of innovation in businesses, as well as the opportunities for family businesses.

Similarly, as part of the Slovak Business Agency’s drive to offer more favourable micro loans to Slovakia-based SMEs, small businesses can ask for financial support of up to €50.000. The deadline for this is 31 October 2014.

Malta

SME Week in Malta was organised by the Ministry for Economy between 17-28 October.

One of the central national events, the Youth Entrepreneurship Conference, was aimed at students in tertiary education to encourage them to consider entrepreneurship as a career and allow them to meet and network with Maltese entrepreneurs.

Another central event was the ‘EU Access to Finance Day,’ hosted by the European Commission in the capital, Valetta on 24 October. In this session businesses and representatives from government received information on the EU financial instruments, and assessed the situation of access to finance in Malta. This was followed by a new pilot project ‘Business Clinics,’ where businesses were able to receive an on-the-spot diagnosis for problems they are facing.

Other events included a Crafts Conference which addressed challenges in this niche market. Two interesting seminars on business transfers and crowdfunding were hosted by Maltese business organisations, with another two organisations.

Malta introduced two new concepts during its SME Week. First, a Pitching Event took place, where eight teams of potential start-ups sold their ideas to investors. Secondly, a Start-Up Village was set up on the island of Gozo, where youth (and those young at heart) were able to browse through various business support services for advice and listen to established entrepreneurs during forums on various subjects related to starting up. The week ended with the annual Female Business Cafe, which gave the opportunity for women entrepreneurs and those interested in starting a business to network, sought advice from various business support services and attended training sessions.

More information on all of these events can be found here.

Austria

European SME Week in Austria was co-ordinated by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and the Institute for Economic Promotion (WIFI) of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. There are a number of initiatives that these organisations have launched to help SMEs and promote entrepreneurship.

For instance, by the end of 2014 more than 150 SME focused events will have been held in Austria under the umbrella of the European SME Week. The main event of the European SME Week 2014 in Austria took place in Salzburg on 2 October. The event, ‘Austrian Business Opening: New impetus for our economy,’ saw around 400 experts from business, academia and politics come together.

The ‘Experteninfo kompakt’ series is an online knowledge-sharing platform. Through webinars, PowerPoint presentations and interviews with leading entrepreneurs, small businesses asked questions and learned more about starting up a business. The first in the series focused on innovation, content marketing, and working with employees.

Finally, the free ‘Hotspot SME 2014’ booklet was designed for European SME Week by the WIFI SME Support Centre. It shows the latest facts and figures on the performance of SMEs and also features their expectations for the future. The ‘Hotspot’ also includes information about the special services available for SMEs in Austria and for the first time ever, features data about the life cycle of specific companies. You can download the brochure here, or order a printed version here.

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