What kind of support is out there for green and eco-entrepreneurs? How can you sell an idea that is innovative, eventually profitable but also green and sustainable? Entrepreneurs in this field may find it difficult to convince investors or find the right support systems for their offered products and services. This is where the newly launched ECOSTAR accelerator is there to help!
ECOSTAR is the research-enterprise impact hub and accelerator that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation for nature-based businesses. The initiative is promoted by a university-enterprise partnership between European and US-based institutions, and it is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, and other private investors. It’s an Impact Hub that promotes the start-up and acceleration of new business initiatives with a positive impact on environment and society. It’s a Research-Business alliance that links universities and companies, providing networking and market-oriented training. It focuses on business models that make profit by marketing, promoting and enhancing biodiversity, and ecosystem services. The initiative provides business opportunities and real benefits for the environment through the following main actions:
JOIN: Create a wide research-enterprise network at EU level, linking together entrepreneurs, scientific and business mentors, and investors, wanting to create value for nature through new business ideas.
LEARN: Deliver a series of specialised entrepreneurship and innovation trainings targeted to MEEB through multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning.
GROW: The ECOSTAR Nature-Accelerator selects and invests in early-stage impactful startups that are developing innovative and sustainable solutions for disrupting the agriculture, forestry and natural resource sectors.
E-learning technology, business model case studies, EU support networks, and free ad hoc MEEB business plan advice, are some of the methods that are delivered through a strong and committed partnership of businesses and universities at country and European level.
To find out more about this exciting initiative and to read some of the success stories from participating eco-ventures, visit their website: www.ecostarhub.com
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, Silvia Fernández-Campa de Luis from the award-winning Biodiversity Foundation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment in Spain reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA one year on….
Silvia Fernández-Campa de Luis, Biodiversity Foundation
|Name||Silvia Fernández-Campa de Luis|
|Organisation||Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Spain.|
|Award won||Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency|
It’s been a great honour for the Biodiversity Foundation to have been selected as a winner of the 2015 European Enterprise Promotion Awards in the “Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency” category. This category recognises policies and initiatives at the 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 project that we won the award for, the Green Business Network, is the first networking platform in Spain dedicated to green business. Targeting entrepreneurs and investors, the project seeks to promote entrepreneurship in the environmental sector and to encourage sustainable business development. It has already attracted over 7,600 members, including 100 investors and funders. The aim is to facilitate and enhance the efforts of these business and entrepreneurs for a greener, bluer, low carbon and circular economy.
We at the Biodiversity Foundation are very proud to have won the EEPA, especially when we consider the other six projects in the winners list. The awards ceremony was really exciting for us. We were very surprised when we received the award because, although we believed that our project was very good, the projects vying for the award in our category were also of a very high quality. So we didn’t expect to be winners at all. We’d like to take congratulate the European Commission for having kept the surprise until the last moment. It made the awards ceremony very thrilling!
How did winning the award immediately impact your work?
It’s been a tremendous attainment for the Biodiversity Foundation and an acknowledgement of our achievements to date. It’s had a very positive impact and has resulted in a lot of positive media coverage, which is appreciated by the members of the Green Business Network. It’s also had lots of visibility in the green entrepreneur space. This award not only acknowledges the achievements of the Green Business Network, but has also rewarded the initiatives of its more than 7,600 members.
The award has motivated us to continue working towards a more sustainable society and a greener economy. A huge effort has been made to encourage and support people in the difficult task of entrepreneurship. We’ve been working hard, devoting much energy to support the talent of our green entrepreneurs. Some of these projects have become competitive businesses that are creating jobs, while promoting a more sustainable, green, low carbon and circular economy.
This award is an important stimulus to continue working. We want to help more entrepreneurs. We want more green entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true, and we want more investors and financiers to join our network. We are proud of the results achieved, which encourage us to continue working for the environment and business creation.
Moreover, the Biodiversity Foundation takes this award to be recognition of all the people and entrepreneurs working very hard in developing initiatives and running businesses in the environmental sector.
What has been the long-term impact?
It’s still too soon to talk about long-term impact, but we’re convinced that winning the EEPA will have an extremely positive impact on the activities carried out by the Green Business Network. In this new, ongoing period, we expect the number of members of the Green Business Network to increase significantly and we’re going to continue promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, supporting green entrepreneurs and SMEs, and stimulating the consolidation of green businesses. The award is a huge boost to achieve all of these goals.
Why did you decide to enter the national competition?
The main motivation was to get an acknowledgment for all our achievements so far. In its five years of life, the Green Business Network has produced many positive impacts and results, including:
- More than 7,600 members, including 100 investors and funders.
- 2 editions of the Green Entrepreneurship Awards.
- More than 31,000 followers on social media.
- 34 newsletters have been published.
- 3 Green Investment Forums celebrated.
- More than 15 Green Entrepreneurs meetings and Speed Networking events.
- Development of reference publications about employment and green entrepreneurship.
- Organisation of the Green Circular Day, a huge event about entrepreneurship and circular economy.
As a result of all these activities, members of the Green Business Network have created new green companies. We thought that all this work and its results would perfectly match the goals of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.
How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?
Preparing the application was quite easy. The EEPA Secretariat provided the application form and information about how to fill it out. We just had to explain and describe the activities carried out in the framework of the Green Business Network.
What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?
We would highly recommend taking part. It provides the opportunity to learn about projects being developed in other European countries, to meet potential partners, and to learn and exchange opinions and ideas about how to promote entrepreneurship and support the creation and growth of small business. Our experience has been really positive so we can only encourage others to participate by entering. It’s a really good opportunity to show what you’re doing in your countries to promote the entrepreneurship and to help SMEs.