Time to meet the next category of European projects competing to be on the EEPA 2017 shortlist! Look here if you missed Category 1, but today it is the turn of Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills.
This category recognises initiatives that improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills. In 2016 the prize was won by Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom, for their project working to embed entrepreneurship into education curriculums.
This year there are 9 outstanding European projects competing in this category. Best of luck to all the projects and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!
Bulgaria: Implement a Strategy for local development in the municipality of Ardino and implementation process of the Strategy for Community-led local development in the municipalities of Ardino and Djebel
Sweden: Business Generator
Today Promoting Enterprise welcomes back Karen Boers, co-founder & CEO of Startups.be and European Startup Network, for her insights into the taboo of failure in the European startup world and why failure and the lessons learnt from it could actually be the key to future success.
5 years ago Failing Forward was launched as a keynote conference, with big role models testifying about the hardships they had overcome along the way and why the lessons they learned were critical to their success. Because let’s face it, failure is nothing more than a stepping stone in a learning process – and yet we seem to be very ashamed to talk about it. Thankfully, the campaign has been growing across Europe with events, media campaigns and social media stories – breaking through the stigma associated with failure.
European startups have long felt the sting of failed ventures, yet forums to discuss what went wrong are scarce. When we started to invite speakers for a conference on this topic, we really experienced how deeply people – especially entrepreneurs – fear discussing the subject in public.
Yet failure is not something to feel ashamed of. In many areas of life, it is common sense that practice makes perfect, and practice requires – guess what – trial and error, or failure. In the US, investors applaud entrepreneurs with previous experience, good and bad, as long as there are clear take-aways from that experience. In Europe, it’s all or nothing: either you make it the first time around or you might be banned from entrepreneurial life forever.
Why is failure important and what can we learn from it?
The point is not that we should try to avoid failure – that goes against the heart of innovation. The point is that we should embrace the lessons learned from failure. When a kid falls off the bike, you don’t tell them to go figure it out themselves either. You tell them what they’re doing wrong, help them learn and persevere – and become an expert before you know it.
So whenever we take a wrong turn or fall face first on the ground, let’s not be shy about it, help each other stand up again and prevent others from making the same mistakes.
How have you been tackling the ‘failing’ stigma in Belgium and Europe since starting this initiative?
Starting out with the keynote conference, we started gathering more partners around the topic. First we were able to join forces with 15 partners in a two year European project, tackling the subject across the different communities. We did this through local events, panels in big startup events as well as some research into the obstacles leading to failure and countermeasures allowing us to share and recommend best practices.
At present, a four year Flemish project is allowing us to take the campaign to a new level by including local events, a big media campaign every six months and an online platform where people can share their own stories.
What progress have you seen since the last failing forward conference?
It’s been great to see the progress in how easily people talk about the subject. Previously we had a very tough time lining up 10 hot shot speakers for the first editions, now people are knocking on our door, eager to share their stories. Not all people dare to speak about the topic that openly, but the culture is shifting slowly but steadily.
Mainstream press have also picked up on the topic, providing many more two-sided tales of the failed entrepreneur rather than stories focusing exclusively on their failures.
Read more about Karen Boers here on Promoting Enterprise:
Daan De Wever co-founded Belgian Network Solutions in 2001 and is currently Managing Director of the communications company Destiny, which he co-founded with his brother Samuel. In this post, Daan talks about his experience in setting up his company and provides advice for budding entrepreneurs.
When I was starting up my business, I’d look into the mirror and I’d say: “I’m 28 years old, we have a fantastic idea, but do I have the skills to build a cloud-telco myself?” The answer was “No” but, two months later, we hired an experienced CEO and put him in place above myself and my brother, who I co-founded the company with.
That was the best decision of our lives. We needed finance. By the end of 2008, we’d searched for seed money; the round closed at the end of 2009. After a period of birth, survival, and fast growth, we closed a further round with private equity in May 2016. We decided to internationalise our business because everything boils down to the maxim, “Don’t miss your opportunity.”
Yes, we could be a nice “lifestyle” company in Belgium, but we believe we would miss out on opportunities in a market where mid-sized companies are massively underserved by incumbents. Today, we are active in eight European countries and our next aim is to achieve strong organic growth so that we can acquire other companies.
Having done it myself, my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to follow your dream and do the things that make you happy!
For more info:
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
|Organisation||The Belgium Starters’ Agreement, City of Ghent|
|Award won||Improving the Business Environment|
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Category | Grand Jury Prize
A special prize awarded to the entrepreneurial initiative considered the most creative and inspiring in Europe.
Think Small First – Introduction to Micro Companies in Latvia
The Latvian Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) developed Think Small First to help bring Latvia out of the economic crisis.
The initiative has helped micro-enterprises by promoting the creation of a special tax rate and simplified tax accounting system. It has also introduced a micro-credit programme and has made information about launching a business available in one place.
The LCCI has played one of the leading roles in discussions held in the Latvian Parliament, the Saeima. This included initiating amendments of laws to enable implementation of the concept of micro-enterprises. Through support from the Ministry of Economy, the Saeima supported the Micro-Enterprise Tax Law, which came into effect on 1st September 2010. In addition, improvement of the regulatory framework is ongoing, thus providing support to the smallest enterprises.
As a result of this initiative, a total of 28,000 enterprises have utilised the simplified tax accounting system and the number of micro-enterprises in Latvia is continuing to grow.
Overall, the introduction of the concept of micro-enterprises in Latvia has helped to further the country’s rapid economic growth within the European Union and provide a favourable climate for small businesses to operate.
Lita Kokale, Head of Public Relations
Krišjāņa Valdemāra Iela 35
Category | Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Recognising actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset. Raising awareness about entrepreneurship in society.
MyCity, The Finnish Economic Information Office, Finland
The MyCity learning entity is a miniature city, built from mobile wall elements, and includes at least 15 different local and regional enterprises and public services. Students work within his or her own trade in the city and receive wages. They also act as consumers and citizens of the society. Approximately 70 pupils work at the same time at the MyCity site. MyCity, sponsored by the Finish Ministry of Education and Culture, operates in eight different municipalities and 24,000 sixth graders and 1,000 teachers have visited the sites.
Tomi Alakoski, Executive Director
Category | Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Recognises regional or local initiatives to improve entrepreneurial, vocational, technical and managerial skills.
Senior Enterprise, The Mid East Regional Authority, Ireland
Senior Enterprise is specifically designed to encourage a greater involvement with enterprise by those aged 50 and over and to raise awareness of their potential to start a business, acquire or invest in a business started by someone else, or to become a volunteer mentor. To date almost 1,000 individuals over 50 years of age, who have received support from Senior Enterprise in Ireland, the UK and France, have set up new businesses.
John Byrne, Director
Category | Improving the Business Environment
Recognising measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, particularly for start-ups.
Starters’ Agreement for Entrepreneurs
The Belgium Starters’ Agreement helps aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to succeed. Entrepreneurs enter into a starters’ agreement with the City of Ghent, Belgium, to draft a business plan, appeal for professional advice and specialist guidance, follow training and development courses and to continue the independent business activity for at least three years in Ghent. With this contract, entrepreneurs can receive support of a maximum of €5,000 for education, professional guidance and investment. All start-ups that have been established as independent enterprises in Ghent for less than two years can apply for a starter’s agreement. One of the most important objectives of the agreement is to increase the success rate of starting companies during their first years and to prevent failures. To date, a total of 171 starters’ agreements have received a positive recommendation by the evaluation committee, with 166 of these approved by the Council of the Mayor and aldermen.
Ria Dossche, Advisor
Category | Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Recognises policies to encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union.
Portuguese Shoes: The Sexiest Industry in Europe, Portuguese Association of Footwear Industries, Components, Leather Goods and their Substitutes, Portugal
The Portuguese footwear industry exports more than 95% of its production to the most demanding international markets. In order to allow the sector to continue to take firm steps in a competitive international environment, the APICCAPS, a national business association, with the support of the Compete Programme, has taken various measures to promote Portuguese footwear. The current campaign has helped to promote around 120 SMEs at professional events all around the world. A campaign symbol for Portuguese shoes was developed using the slogan ‘Portuguese Shoes: Designed by the Future’. The image promotes a mark of quality and seeks to establish Portuguese Shoes as a sophisticated innovation. As a result of this strategy, footwear exports have grown more than 20% in the past two years.
Paulo Gonçalves, Director of Communication
Category | Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency
Recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency through, for example, green skills development and matchmaking as well as funding.
The Town of Gürsu Developing with Unlimited Clean Energy, Municipality of Gürsu, Turkey
Key aims of the Town of Gürsu project are to increase the use of green energy in Gürsu to prevent environmental pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels, to save energy used for municipal services and to help socio-economic development of the town. Since the initiative began, four innovative applications have been configured, tested and applied. A photovoltaic solar energy plant was developed and Gürsu is now well-known for using clean solar energy in all of its service areas. The project aims to enable Turkey to take a leading role in renewable energy investments at both regional and national levels. Since the project began, Gürsu has obtained 40% of its electricity needs from the sun in the 5 months of winter and 100% in the 7 summer months.
Hüseyun Özmen, Strategic Planning Division Manager
Category | Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Recognises regional or local actions promoting corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices.
Integration of Disadvantaged People , AV Mobilita s.r.o., Slovakia
AV Mobilita s.r.o. is a sheltered workshop specialising in integrating disabled people into all areas of life. As a pilot organisation, it focused on car repairs and it now co-ordinates other sheltered workshops forming part of the Škoda Handy Disabled Persons Project in Bratislava, Prešov, Banská Bystrica and Žilina. It participates in the cultural, social and sporting activities of Associations of Registered Disabled Persons throughout Slovakia. The scheme has facilitated the smooth integration of disabled people into society through mediation of special-priced vehicle sales and through comprehensive theoretical and practical training of applicants seeking a licence to drive a car. In 2009, the workshop received an award from the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic for the integration of disabled persons into the workplace.
Klaudia Valušková, Owner of Auto Valušek