Are you between the ages of 16-25? Want to make your voice heard?
This is your chance!
The Youth Essay competition, organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, is launching again and is looking for creative and well thought out answers to this question:
Do you have an opinion on how European policy can help shape the future; or on what government, academic institutions and businesses can do to ensure that young people can acquire the skills they need for tomorrow’s world of work? Would you like to share it with policymakers and entrepreneurs on a European stage? All you need to do to have a chance of winning an all expenses paid trip to the 2017 SME Assembly in Tallinn, is submit an essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 8 September 2017.
- The competition is open to all 16 to 25 years old from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
- Essays should not exceed 2 500 words in length
- All essays must be in English
- Only one entry per applicant
- The deadline for submissions is 8 September 2017
- The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale in Tallinn where they will present their essays
- The final winner will be chosen via a public vote
- An all expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly in Tallinn, Estonia for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
- Presentation training before delivering essay live on stage at the SME Assembly 2017
- Promotion of essays across SME Week social media channels
Follow us for competition updates: #SMEWeekYouth
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With a good idea, some investment and hard work, start-ups in the health and life sciences fields can get started in their local market. But if these firms are going to achieve meaningful growth, and if their innovations are going to benefit a wider audience, they will have to go abroad – which means understanding new regulations, a different culture and an unknown set of market realities.
This is where Product/Market Fit comes in. An EIT Health Accelerator programme, Product/Market Fit helps start-ups that have already established themselves in one market and are ready to expand beyond their borders. The support this programme offers has an estimated market value of EUR 25 000, but the opportunities it provides can be worth much more than that.
“Based on our experience in the Accelerator, grownup start-ups start needing support with going to other markets,” according to Katrien Van Gucht, a Co-Coordinator of the EIT Health Accelerator Strategy and Digital Health Program Manager at EIT Health partner IMEC. “We wanted to get in that sweet spot, right when they are ready to expand,’ said Johnny Waterschoot, who project manages European open calls for IMEC. “We are looking for companies that are ready to go beyond their borders, but lack the necessary funding to do just that. This programme will help them decide what markets to address next.”
According to Van Gucht, companies that are mature enough to qualify for this programme have typically raised about EUR 500 000 in investment and generally consist of two or three people. She said the companies obtain great value from the market testing that the programme can do. “The trial and error ratio of going out and seeing for themselves if they can make it in another market, we reduce this a great deal for them. They will see if they still need some work before they start growing in that market. Or the outcome could be that this market is not for them.”
If the entrepreneurs have the passion and drive to expand, the Product/Market Fit programme can provide them with many of the other tools they need.
Interested in finding out how to apply? Read more about the process here.
For more information: https://eit.europa.eu
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:
Today Promoting Enterprise welcomes guest contributor Daisy da Veiga, a self-employed entrepreneur who balances motherhood, travel and family life alongside running her own business. Over the next few weeks Daisy will be giving insight into the life of an entrepreneur and how to best communicate your ideas effectively.
Hello everyone, my name is Daisy da Veiga and I live in Rotterdam. I am 32 years old and a happy mom to Isaiah and wife of Mark. I am a self-employed entrepreneur in the empowerment sector since 2008.
With my enterprise Daisy da Veiga Coaching & Consultancy I get to empower people to make choices from the heart and live a victorious life. In 2007, after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in International Communication Management, I read the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. I had felt stuck for a while because I could not find a job in the field of work I studied for. After reading this book I was triggered to use the insights gained and put them into action. I had learnt that we create our own reality with our thoughts. The first dream I realised through applying the Law of Attraction, was to work abroad, in Abu Dhabi as an international media consultant. This meant daily interaction with CEO’s and chairpersons of the biggest companies in Abu Dhabi. In the two following years, I fulfilled my second dream, which was to meet inspiring people, like the social rights activist Desmond Tutu, the football player Clarence Seedorf and life success coach Tony Robbins.
With the realisation that we have the power to create our own reality, I decided to dedicate my life to communicate this message to as many people as possible. I do this as a life coach, author, empowerment trainer, blogger, vlogger and motivational speaker.
My biggest success is the thousands of people I have positively impacted with my work over the years, and my biggest challenge is balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. I’d like to spend all my time with both my son and my work.
One of the things I love to do is travel, as I believe that it is extremely important that I feel balanced between my social and professional life. I am very happy that I have found that balance, mainly due to my great husband.
My latest trip was to Lisbon in Portugal for an empowerment exchange project that I will tell you more about in the near future. In the video below I introduce myself, according to an introduction exercise we did on the first day of the project. Yes, sometimes I am a blue communicating Smurf!
Interested in Daisy and her work? Come back to Promoting Enterprise for her next post and be sure to visit her website for more information: http://www.daisydaveiga.com/
‘Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur’ – The Rotterdam Business Case
Entrepreneurs are ambitious, daring and think outside of the box to help advance and innovate our daily lives. Yet who helps them when they are in difficulty? Who gives them a second chance or the advice they need to be successful? The Category 6 (Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship) winner of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), is a project that does just that. Today’s interview with Rob Gringhuis, one of the project partners, gives insight into this cutting edge project that is helping innovative individuals through challenging times.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
We first heard about EEPA when one partner got an email from the university of applied sciences in Rotterdam who had seen the EEPA announcement from our national economic ministry. Once we started looking into it we thought that we had a lot to offer with our project and were enthusiastic about showing people what we are doing. We had already been asked by the ministry of social affairs to present our project to other cities and regions in the Netherlands, so we saw this as a chance to take that to a European level. Our project is on the cutting edge of economic and social problems by providing entrepreneurial support, as entrepreneurs often become dependent on welfare and can cause societal difficulties. We were also curious about where our project stood on a national level and how we compared to other initiatives across the Netherlands.
How did you go about preparing your application?
Our national coordinator was very helpful and shared important advice with us during the application stage. We actually entered in 2015 but were unsuccessful, so 2016 gave us a chance to improve our original application and demonstrate the progress we had made in one year. Our 2016 application included more results which had since been expanded outside of Rotterdam and across the Netherlands.
What was it like to win the award and what kind of response did you receive?
Winning the award was fantastic! When we first saw our competitors in our category there was a familiar project there, the Swedish nominee Entrepreneurial West Hisingen. We already knew about each other because we lost to them in a previous eurocities competition, so we knew that they were an appealing and tough project to beat.
During the awards ceremony, we realised that there were only three projects announced in our category and that the Swedish project was no longer there, which made us feel a little more hopeful about winning. We were confident that we had shown the Jury the effect our project had on entrepreneurs, and also its potential for scaling up on a national level. When we were announced as the winners it was a big acknowledgment of our hard work and made us think about our project on a European level.
Before EEPA we were already developing our international expansion, but winning EEPA has certainly helped accelerate that process. We were congratulated by the EEPA team and also by previous Dutch winners from 2015, who we met not that long ago.
How did winning the award immediately impact your work?
We have had the Rotterdam business case since 2013, and have since started a foundation to help other cities. We are also in conversation with other regions to see if we can help them to do the same. All of this was already under way before the EEPA win but we now have an ‘approval stamp’ on our project which has helped us accelerate our processes, made it easier for others start their own business cases and also helped our partners put proposals forward faster. The win has been a tremendous push forward and as well as boosting enthusiasm also resulted in a lot of congratulations from our peers.
Ultimately this could also attract the interest of other cities and help us with our international vision. We are already in talks with Finland and may be looking at expanding to Bulgaria, so hopefully the EEPA quality stamp will help these developments.
Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?
This is now a strategic question for us, how do we go forward from here? We have been asked to go to seminars and tell our story, and the foundation that we started is helping other cities and helping with scaling up of existing cases. In the long term we would like to push the project forward on a European platform, maybe in 1-2 years time we will be able to have European level business cases, but this is ambitious and would require European partners. As our foundation board is entirely made up of volunteers the problem is not enthusiasm or ambition, it is time and money, but hopefully through our research programme which interviews entrepreneurs over the years to analyse the effectiveness of the project methods, we will continue to improve and grow.
Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?
Entering the national competition forces you to step outside of your project and learn how to: market it, develop a pitch and most of all make it interesting and inspirational for others. Inspiration is a very important part of EEPA work, it is what makes a project stand out. Aside from that, you should enter because it is fun! The whole process requires a lot of work and you need to invest the necessary time, but once that part is done you can really enjoy the experience of being in the competition.
What are your plans for the future?
Our vision is a global one, meaning that we want to expand on an international scale. The project is here to assist entrepreneurs that are almost failing and so far around 50% of those who have been helped have recovered and become successful. Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur, and currently there is a very large group of hard working entrepreneurs in Europe that just need help, which is why we want to expand the project, so that we can provide that necessary support. The goal is to make success a possibility for as many entrepreneurs as possible. The current target in the Netherlands is to assist 1 000 entrepreneurs a year, now we want to turn that into helping 10 000 entrepreneurs across Europe every year.
Stepping into the working world as a fresh graduate is already a daunting prospect, especially for those wanting to start out as entrepreneurs. Today Promoting Enterprise presents an innovative Irish project designed to support these young and brave innovators.
EEPA Special Mention project IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme from Ireland, is a 9 month business development programme designed to support recent graduates turn innovative product and service ideas into sustainable, scalable businesses and in doing so, develop critical entrepreneurial skills. This interview gives us an insight into their application journey, their advice for EEPA 2017 applicants and what to expect from the project team in future.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
We heard about the competition via an email from Gillian Slattery, the Regional Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland. We had been running the programme since 2011 and the competition provided an excellent opportunity to see where we stood in comparison with similar programmes both nationally and internationally.
What was it like to receive a Special Mention?
It was very satisfying, we knew that we hadn’t been shortlisted for the main award so didn’t have any expectations. As a result it was a complete surprise.
How did winning immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?
The award is very important as international 3rd party validation of what we are doing for funders, sponsors and others who have supported the programme. The award was very positively received by our Local Authorities – Cork City and County Councils and we received letters of congratulation from the President of the University and the Senior Vice President Academic and Registrar.
Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?
It provided us with a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect on our project and we used the application process to provide a snapshot of the programme at that point in time. The Special Mention Award created a number of important opportunities to connect with others operating in the same space across Europe.
What are your plans for the future?
The plan is to double the programme over the next couple of years and to continue to develop the support offered to maximise the start-up success rate.
From innovating scientists to high school founders, this year’s 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list highlights entrepreneurs making an impact combating climate change, empowering the visually impaired, and activating developing markets.
The members of this year’s 30 Under 30 Europe list are culled from over one thousand online nominations and research by a team of reporters at Forbes and across Europe. Candidates for the Social Entrepreneurs list were evaluated by a panel of experts in their fields: Jean Case of the Case Foundation; Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green; and Randall Lane of Forbes Magazine. The final list is built from the recommendations of our judges.
Here are some of notable areas the Under 30s will be impacting Europe and the world in 2017:
Making Fresh Produce Accessible
Agricool cofounders Guillaume Fourdinier, 29, and Gonzague Gru, 29, are making cities more sustainable with their Cooltainer, a storage container capable of producing fresh produce year round. The French duo recently harvested a $4.3 million funding round that will enable them to ramp up production in 2017.
Integrating New Arrivals
Ninon Demuth, 27, is using food as a catalyst for long-lasting refugee integration. She cofounded Über den Tellerrand, an organization that connects refugees with locals through refugee-led cooking classes, street food markets and cookbooks. The idea is catching hold: already they’ve spread to 25 cities in four European countries.
Inspiring Entrepreneurs of the Future
Ben and Jodie Cook, both 28, the husband and wife team behind Clever Tykes, realised that their entrepreneurial spark began in early childhood. Looking to inspire the next generation of leaders, they developed a series of children’s books featuring enterprising young role models. They scored a major partnership with the Lloyds Banking Group in late 2016 that now enables them to offer the books free of charge to every primary school across the United Kingdom.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
Scientist turned entrepreneur Julian Melchiorri, 29, invented the first synthetic biological leaf that mimics the work of an actual leaf. By absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting breathable oxygen, the BioSolar Leaf holds limitless possibilities from increasing air quality in cities to even potentially making life on another planet possible.
These are only a few of the trailblazers leading the way to a better future. Meet the rest of the social entrepreneurs in the full Under 30 Europe – Social Entrepreneurs List.
Today at Promoting Enterprise we are presenting an exciting interactive tool, ‘The European Digital City Index’, which gives glimpses into what is going on in the European world of entrepreneurship.
The European Digital City Index (EDCi) describes how well different European cities support digital entrepreneurship.
It was produced by Nesta as part of the European Digital Forum, which exists to support digital entrepreneurship and digital startups across Europe. The European Digital Forum is run in collaboration with the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative.
For startups and scale-ups, it provides information about the strengths and weaknesses of local ecosystems, allowing them to plan accordingly and consider where they may need to devote more resources. For policy makers aiming to encourage digital entrepreneurship in their own city, the Index helps to identify existing and promising hubs of activity, in order to learn from their practices. Additionally, it allows benchmarking of performance against other European hubs, and helps identify which policy areas to prioritise.
For more information: https://digitalcityindex.eu/
Are you ready to meet the winner of the Youth Essay Competition? At only 16 she is challenging us all to reconsider our thoughts on youth entrepreneurship and the opportunities offered to the younger generations to make their voices heard at the European level. Please welcome Andri Pandoura!
Andri is currently studying in her native Cyprus, but has already developed a keen interest in youth and human rights. She has further developed this interest through her membership of the Cyprus children’s parliament and plans to take it further by studying human rights law at university. Today she shares with us what drove her to participate, her thoughts on presenting at the SME Assembly 2016, where she sees the future of entrepreneurship and finally her words of wisdom for other ambitious young people.
What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
I saw it as an opportunity to write about my interest in youth rights and voice my opinions as a young person in Europe. There is a lot of over complication, so my idea was to take a simple, even childlike approach to this topic and think about all the small steps that can lead us to something bigger. In general there are not many opportunities for those of us under 18 to participate in such competitions so I think that every time there is an opportunity like this one we should take it!
What did you think about the SME Assembly 2016?
I thought it was amazing and the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’. There was such a welcoming atmosphere and I got to speak to and interact with inspiring people who did not care that I was 16. Initially I thought that the presentation would be stressful, and honestly I was stressing about it since I found out, I thought I might even faint on stage. In the end though all the staff and other speakers really helped me to relax and feel comfortable and I just did it. I think the assembly is a great initiative as well as the competition itself and really hope it continues again next year so that others can have the same opportunity to make their voices heard.
Looking 10 years ahead from now, in 2026, what do you think entrepreneurship will be?
I don’t believe that the actual definition of entrepreneurship will change, but it will become more accessible and anyone will be able to become an entrepreneur. I hope that there will be cross-generational cooperation as we have a lot to learn from each other and this can contribute to a constant flow of innovation and ideas. Education will also continue to play a big role 10 years from now, and it will develop alongside the advancement of technology. I think entrepreneurs will be coming up with things we can’t even begin to imagine!
Alongside this I think there will be a focus on working with clients to give them what they want, for example, working with students to see what it is they want and need for their education. This in turn will hopefully lead to an increase in the number of start-ups, particularly youth ones. Start-up and SME culture will have developed and we will see more support in the form of bodies, panels and organisations designed to foster entrepreneurship.
I want to take this opportunity to say to other young people that you should not be afraid of actually trying, and that if you fail then just try again. Winning this competition has made such a difference and given me such an amazing platform which has led to other opportunities. I would not be able to say I’ve been invited to attend a session of the European Economic and Social Forum in Brussels as the guest of Cypriot delegation if I had not entered this competition, so I wanted to say thank you and encourage everyone to take all the opportunities available to you.
Read Andri’s entry here.
Today we have the honour of presenting Sabine Soeder, an entrepreneur and owner of CoCreativeFlow, a “connector in a vibrant global network”. Sabine, along with artist Martin Saive, was responsible for the graphic recording of the SME Assembly 2016, all of which you can see right here !
Sabine first started as an architect and lighting designer, before moving on to found CoCreative Flow in Frankfurt, Germany, and work as a ‘Flow Architect’. They offer clients visuals as graphic recordings to facilitate discussions and processes, alongside Co-Creation. Today Sabine shares her entrepreneurial journey, where she sees herself in the future and her advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Since I was little I’ve been drawing and using my drawings as a communication tool to make emotions more tangible and digestible. Going on to study architecture taught me two very important skills, which have built the foundation for my work today: Learning to “think with your hand” and explaining that to others through visuals, and to think and work strategically by finding the best structure for that unique place and special need. 10 years ago I realised that these skills were not only useful for architectural design, but also in designing and creating collaborations, which is what I do with my clients as a flow architect. Co-designing with my clients is the best way to create the most effective collaboration and visuals have a huge impact in that process.
Jumping into your own business can be a small or a huge step – it depends so much on your strengths and how you interact with others. I built my business step by step through diverse partnerships until I felt ready to open my own company. It’s important to have business experiences, and to build connections to people in various networks. I really love having my own rhythm, to connect different threads and bring them together in a new way. It also helps to have some financial foundation at the beginning. When you offer an experience based and innovative service it needs more explanation and demonstration, which can be a challenge. Balancing work and family life, is also challenging as having my own business has allowed me to be at home more but as we become more successful there is a need for flexibility, meaning sometimes working late nights or on weekends. As the business is growing I am thinking about scaling up and enlarging the enterprise and CoCreative Flow brand on a global scale.
My advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs would be to look at who is active and inspires you in your professional field. Get into contact with these people and try to learn from them, find opportunities to collaborate with them – sometimes there are apprenticeship opportunities and build from there. Find opportunities where you can learn, be it through enterprises or through different events and networking. Utilise online community platforms (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook) to connect to people all around the world. You don’t have to do everything by yourself, ask for help and connect with those who can strengthen what you already have to offer. Finally, keep a clear vision and the purpose of your enterprise at the centre of your work and surround yourself with your chosen team, that way you can create something meaningful with an impact.