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‘Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur’ – The Rotterdam Business Case

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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.

Turning graduate innovation into sustainable business – EEPA 2016 Special Mention

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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.

free pic no repro fee pictured at the annual IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme Awards and Showcase in UCC’s Aula Maxima on Monday, 27th June. pictures by Gerard McCarthy 087 8537228 more info Alison O’Brien Fuzion Communications 021 4271234 086 3879388

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.

Meet the 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs changing Europe in 2017

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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.

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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.

Source: www.forbes.com

The European Digital City Index

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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.

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For more information: https://digitalcityindex.eu/

Meeting the voices of tomorrow – Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura

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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!

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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.

“Be open, flexible and ready to act in the now” – Sabine Soeder

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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 !

sabineSabine 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.

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http://www.cocreativeflow.com/

 

Meeting the voices of tomorrow – Youth Essay Competition finalist Katie Williams

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This is the third in our series of blog posts presenting our winner and finalists of the Youth Essay Competition, which was held as part of the SME Assembly 2016 which took place from 23-25 November 2016 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Today we get to know the final runner up, Katie Williams, a young multilingual worker in the field of International Trade currently based in Brussels.

As a passionate language graduate who currently speaks English, French and German, Katie demonstrated her love and value of multilingualism and multiculturalism in her entry and how this has shaped her views. With this international, open mindset, Katie has worked in Great Britain, France, Germany and now Belgium and entered this competition to speak her mind about her generation and her ideas about what opportunities could be made available to them.

Today she shares with us why she entered the competition and where she sees the world of entrepreneurship in 10 years’ time…

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What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I entered the SME Youth Essay Competition because I felt it was a good opportunity to grapple with an interesting and relevant topic, which particularly has an impact on my own generation. I know a lot of people who are, these days, facing a countless number of difficulties when it comes to entering the job market. This initiative was a great chance to explore in greater detail the ways in which young people can progress in the professional world from a different perspective. It is true to say that these days professional prospects are channelled in one direction: going to university and obtaining a degree. I welcome the chance to explore the ways in which these prospects could be broadened for young people.

Looking 10 years ahead from now, in 2026, what do you think entrepreneurship will be?

In 2026, I would like to see entrepreneurship take off more in developing countries in the world. In addition, I believe that entrepreneurship could be used as a means to enhance gender equality in the future. Currently there are fewer women involved in entrepreneurship than men in OECD countries, plus women-owned enterprises tend to reap lower profits. I hope that future policy makers introduce programmes specifically targeted at women in order to help them build their capabilities for business ownership.

Want to know more about Katie’s proposal for stimulating youth entrepreneurship in Europe? Read her entry here.

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.

From Startup Manifesto to a truly unified European startup ecosystem

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Karen Boers, co-founder & CEO of Startups.be and European Startup Network; is our current entrepreneur in residence. This week she shares the story of the European Startup Manifesto and the ongoing developments in the world of policy affecting Europe’s entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs provide the oxygen in our economy, creating new businesses and new jobs, new ways to look at thportrait_karen_boerse world and to interact with everyone around us. They invent and they build, they wreck and replace. In doing so, they often come up against the boundaries of legislation and regulation that have yet to adapt. Although creative ways can often be found to overcome such obstacles, this can slow them down considerably, allowing companies from more forward-looking regions in the world to snatch the market from right under their noses. Sometimes they chose to flee the country or even the continent, moving to places where experiments are welcomed and policy adapts more agilely to changing circumstances.

You may think that entrepreneurs have formed a powerful lobby to counteract all this, but they are already slaving away 24/7 to safeguard and build their businesses and teams, putting out today’s fires. Fighting for a better policy framework for entrepreneurs is often the last thing on their minds. They are scattered across smaller businesses, across regions, and have little structured organisation, meaning little changed for a very long time.

In 2013, Neelie Kroes as Commissioner for Digital Agenda called upon the Startup Europe Leaders Club to craft a European Startup Manifesto, a set of high-impact recommendations to create a better entrepreneurial climate in Europe. Yet many of the recommendations touched upon areas in which European Commission has little or no impact. It was up to the Members States to implement the change. The startup community rose to the challenge and got organised. An entire Startup Manifesto Movement emerged – with entrepreneurs across countries voicing their solutions and suggestions!

Now three years later, almost every European startup community has created their very own Startup Manifesto – often crowdsourced – and many have had considerable impact on local policy makers, as demonstrated by the Startup Manifesto Policy Tracker. Tax shelters were introduced, legislation on e-commerce was modernised, crowdfunding was eased, governments and corporations started buying from startups, the procurement legislation was adapted, a startup test is under development to stress test all new legislation for impact on startups, and much more!

The European Commission continued with its support, developing a Startup Europe program to connect startup hubs across Europe and allow more business to start and grow in the EU – and “startup managers” have emerged at all levels of policy making, from city to international. Some of the collaborations that grew out of these efforts grew into long-term sustainable platforms and networks. The European Startup Network unifies over 20 national startup associations to create a common voice and provide data analysis, facilitate an international go-to-market and build strong national ecosystems. Allied for Startups acts on behalf of startups worldwide. Entrepreneurs have also stepped up to the challenge individually and started sharing their stories of success, but also on (how to learn from) failure. Understanding that challenges were shifting from starting business to fast-growing companies scaling across Europe, a European ScaleUp Manifesto was once more crowdsourced from all those different communities, with clear action points for all involved at any level.

It is clear that the entrepreneurial voice is here to stay. Hopefully this voice will help construct a more inclusive and tolerant world, one in which change and diversity can be embraced rather than feared. We’re on the barricades for all those who wish to develop their passion into their profession – their dreams into reality. If you’re a dreamer, make sure no one holds you back, for there is always a way to change whatever is in your way! So what you can do? Sign the ScaleUp Manifesto and join the movement!europe-qnifesto

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.

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      The 2017 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards is now under way! The prestigious awards ceremony will take place this November in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, as part of the SME Assembly. Many of the national deadlines have now been announced and national campaigns have been launched across all the participating countries. Thinking about […]
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    • ‘Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur’ – The Rotterdam Business Case March 17, 2017
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