Invest Europe, the association representing Europe’s private equity, venture capital and infrastructure sectors, has once again joined forces with policymakers, the investment industry, policy–focused organisations and entrepreneurs to host Invest Week 2017. Supported by the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Invest Week 2017 will focus on how Europeans can work together to create a brighter future through investment and innovation. A variety of events throughout the week will look at the role of investment in stimulating sustainable economic growth.
Michael Collins, CEO of Invest Europe stated:
“Europe is a global standard bearer for sustainable investment and has an increasingly powerful entrepreneurship and innovation culture. With 30 organisations spanning finance, pensions, insurance and entrepreneurship involved, Invest Week exemplifies the cross-border, collaborative approach that makes Europe a special place to invest and build businesses.”
“Invest Europe is proud to once again lead the organisation of Invest Week, which has this year secured the backing of the Estonian Presidency, the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund. We look forward to a packed agenda sharing ideas to help the EU meet its sustainable investment goals.”
Consult the agenda to view already scheduled events covering topics ranging from funding for start-ups, female entrepreneurship, financial regulation and sustainability. Confirmed speakers include: European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen, serial entrepreneur and investor Hermann Hauser, Chairman of the European Innovation Council, and Roger Havenith, Deputy CEO for the European Investment Fund.
For events and the latest updates, follow Invest Week 2017 on Twitter.
Journalists are welcome to attend Invest Week events. For more information and registration, please contact Emma Thorpe on email@example.com.
Read the full press release here.
About Invest Europe
Invest Europe is a non-profit association located in Brussels, that represents Europe’s private equity, venture capital and infrastructure sectors, as well as their investors. Their members take a long-term approach to investing in privately held companies, from start-ups to established firms. This commitment helps deliver strong and sustainable growth, resulting in healthy returns for Europe’s leading pension funds and insurers, to the benefit of the millions of European citizens who depend on them.
Invest Europe aims to make a constructive contribution to policy affecting private capital investment in Europe, and provides information to the public on their members’ role in the economy. Their research provides the an authoritative source of data on trends and developments in their industry. It also promotes the industry’s professional standards, demanding accountability, good governance and transparency from their members.
We are back with the next two entrepreneurs in our ‘Meet an Estonian entrepreneur’ series! Why Estonian entrepreneurs? This year the SME Assembly 2017, the flagship event for European SME Week, will be held in Tallinn under the Estonian presidency from 22-24 November 2017. In order to get ready for the event, Promoting Enterprise will be exploring Estonia as a digital pioneer as well as meeting the exciting entrepreneurs it has to offer! Today it is time to meet Stella Soomlais, a sustainable leather accessories designer and studio owner, and Kristel Kruustük, co-founder and CEO of Testlio – an end-to-end Quality Assessment management platform.
Stella Soomlais is a leather accessories designer and studio owner, who designs and creates bags made to last. In 2004 she began making custom orders whilst at Tartu Art School, and set up her own company in 2011. In 2014 she began recruiting employees and now has over 10 people working for her. Her vision, and that of her company, is a sustainable one, and champions the idea of reusing leather after its first life cycle so as to maximise material use.
What motivates you?
I’m motivated by the ability to make things better and to improve situations. It makes me happy when I see that my actions are making a difference.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Freedom – I can pick the projects and people I love to work with and be the boss of my own time.
What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?
I would say that tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need to treat others as they would like to be treated. This includes everybody and everything, clients, colleagues and Mother Nature as well. Understanding different characters, the way they work and feel motivated, and the importance of sustainability is the key to success. In addition, good old patience is still necessary – it takes years of 24/7 work to implement your dreams and visions. But it’s worth it!
Find out more about Stella and her sustainable products: www.stellasoomlais.com
Kristel Kruustük is co-founder and CEO of Testlio – an end-to-end Quality Assessment management platform and community of highly vetted testers that help businesses deliver amazing customer experiences. At the age of 23 she came up with the id ea of building a platform that would appreciate the work of testers and elevate the importance of Quality Assessment within organisations. Since launching in 2012, the company has raised $8M in funding, hired over 60 employees, and established offices in Tallinn and San Francisco. Clients include Salesforce, Lyft, Microsoft, CBS Interactive, Flipboard and Strava.
What motivates you?
I’m motivated by my vision for Testlio which is to change the way Quality Assessment is done and to help businesses create successful products with a great team, community and customers. Even when things get very challenging and hard, I know that there’s always a solution for every problem.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Making your vision and dream come true. Testlio began because of my own frustration about how software testers were treated in the industry. Testing was often perceived as an afterthought and testers were often blamed when things didn’t go as expected.
What’s especially rewarding about being an entrepreneur is when things move in the right direction. It is so inspiring when the people around you are happy, excited and motivated to make a difference. I have written more on what I love about entrepreneurship here.
What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?
Putting people first and not treating business like a machine. Businesses are all about people (your team, your customers, your community) and in today’s world, ideas don’t matter anymore, what matters is people, making connections and building long term relationships.
Read more of Kristel’s ideas and thoughts on her entrepreneurial journey: https://medium.com/@kristelkruustuk
Have you heard the news? The third edition of the European Youth Event (EYE2018) is taking place on 1 and 2 June 2018. On this occasion, the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg will welcome more than 8,000 people aged between 16 and 30 from any EU member State or another European country.
The European Parliament offers once more a unique opportunity for young Europeans to make their voices heard and to come up with innovative ideas for the future of Europe. Participants will get the chance to discuss them with political decision-makers and inspiring personalities on the European stage.
EYE2018 includes a wide range of activities in English, French and German run under the motto “The plan is to fan this spark into a flame.” (Hamilton, My Shot). The activities centre around five main themes:
- Young and old: Keeping up with the digital revolution
- Rich and poor: Calling for a fair share
- Apart and together: Working out for a stronger Europe
- Safe and dangerous: Staying alive in turbulent times
- Local and global: Protecting our planet
Young people who want to take part need to register on this website between October and December 2017. After successfully registering, they can also shape the EYE programme by proposing to organise an activity or an artistic performance.
Those who cannot make it to Strasbourg will still be able to debate the five main themes of the event online and take part in competitions on social media before and during the event.
Educators are tasked with the necessary burden of preparing today’s students to shape tomorrow’s world as our next generation of thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs — the tireless creators who are at the forefront of innovation and driving the world’s economy. Recently, we’ve seen the traditional learning models begin to evolve with the meaningful incorporation of technology, as we try to equip students with the digital literacy required of today’s employees. But, with technology constantly changing, can we actually predict what skills and knowledge today’s students will need to lead the future workforce?
This uncertainty about the future is precisely what defines the type of workers we’ll need: flexible and collaborative problem solvers. Where the traditional learning model leans heavily on memorisation and discipline to create uniform, self-reliant students, the educational system must shift the focus from what students learn to how well students can apply knowledge to break barriers, chart their own paths and ignite their own career passions and interests. As we redefine the education environment through technology and innovative learning styles, we can prepare students to meet changing workplace expectations by teaching them how to learn, think and lead.
In these new education models key styles of education have been identified:
- Mobility enhanced personalised education: Learning how to learn
- The Maker Movement: Learning how to think: a hands-on approach
- Student-led learning: Learning how to lead
Incorporating technology in the classroom is already having an enormous impact on students, but if the lesson doesn’t go beyond the classroom, what value does it truly have for students’ real lives? Educators need to focus not only on how far we can advance learning with tech, but also how to build a culture of challenging outdated models and embracing new solutions; this is critical for our future workforce.
For today’s students to succeed in the workforce, they must learn to be contributors and innovators, rather than masters of a specific skillset. As technology evens out the playing field for global companies, innovation and differentiation will become even more instrumental in the success of a business. Today’s students will carry the burden of taking risks and thinking outside their roles to keep companies competitive and afloat. Future workplaces will not need “expert accountants” or “expert coders,” but rather expert problem solvers, thinkers, collaborators and “intrapreneurs.”
The burden doesn’t only fall on educators; technology companies also need to continue to provide communities with special STEM programs, focused on areas like data science and engineering. They can also help by supporting organisations like Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to closing the gender gap in computer science and technology, and Major League Hacking, a student hacking league that supports weekend-long invention competitions. Organisations like these inspire students and foster a drive to learn the skills needed to build a better world.
So whether you’re an educator or member of the tech community, it is up to us to help students think differently by teaching and supporting them with the world of tomorrow in mind, rather than defaulting to the ways we were taught as children. It’s vital we work together to set a precedent for innovation now so the next generation of entrepreneurs and employees can create a positive global impact when we pass the torch.
Read the full article: www.entrepreneur.com
As we prepare for SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, let us not forget about the success of the SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava! The presentation from the SME Assembly 2016 is now available for you to look at here.
Want to have a look at some of the presentations from the SME Assembly 2016? Browse the list below to refresh your memory:
10 Years On
Ladislav Ambrovics (MINIT Slovakia)
Scale Up Lab
Pieter Waasdorp (NLGroeit)
Policy Session – Skills for SMEs
Rosanna Kurrer (Digital Leadership Institute)
Alberto Onetti (Mind the Bridge, SEP)
Masterclass – Crowdfunding: Yannig Roth (Marketing Director, WiSEED)
Policy Session – Single Market Lab
Stefan Vratny (EEN)
Policy Session – Creating a Collaborative Economy
Marco Torregrossa: Rethinking Work in the Collaborative Economy (Secretary General, European Forum of Independent Professionals Managing Director, European Sharing Economy Coalition)
Julia Rzepecka (VVA – Europe)
Policy Session – Accessing Alternative Finance
Pim de Bokx (Founder PIONEERZ Chairman DIA – Dutch Incubators & Accelerators)
Kristof de Buysere (Eucaps)
Philippe Gluntz (Business Angels Europe)
Policy Session – The Growth of Social Enterprise
Roger Spear (OU&RUC)
Nils Dreyer (Hilfswerft GmbH)
Joseba Sagastigordia (Mondragon corp.)
Ariane Rodert (EESC)
This year the SME Assembly 2017 will take place in Tallinn, Estonia! Keep up with all the latest information, preparations and exciting announcements right here on Promoting Enterprise and we hope to see you in Tallinn…
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.
So, 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, which 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!
KIKštarter 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.
Petar Isirov an entrepreneur who formed part of the creation of Kartner-M, a privately held label printing company. They are based in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia and were founded in 2014. In this blog post, Petar talks about his motivation for starting a business and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
After talking with friends in the food and beverage industry, we realised that many local companies had problems with the quality of their labels. They couldn’t do marketing campaigns properly, and the quality of the labels made it difficult for them to export their products around the world. We saw an opportunity to bring something new to the printing industry in our country, something that would help many businesses.
We found the money we needed by pooling our resources and getting loans. We used it to buy the necessary machines and organise ourselves to work efficiently. Europe is a great place to be an entrepreneur because the business environment is always developing and improving. There are countless opportunities for entrepreneurs; all you need is the right idea. I believe Europe is very supportive of young entrepreneurs, which helps motivate young people to consider becoming entrepreneurs. However, more EU involvement in countries like FYR of Macedonia would benefit small and medium enterprises to develop their business more efficiently, and expand operations outside of their countries.
Persistence is essential for entrepreneurship because it’s difficult to succeed and even more so when you are a young, aspiring company. For me, a great leader is committed to a cause, outgoing and able to take responsibility and risks. They are able to motivate, have a vision for the company, have objectives and be aware of their surroundings.
For more information: www.kartner-m.mk
Part of the Business Wales service, the Big Ideas Wales campaign aims to support the next generation of young entrepreneurs in Wales. On the initiative’s website, young Welsh entrepreneurs share their experience and give their top tips for other young entrepreneurs aiming to achieve success in the business world.
Abi Carter – Forensic Resources
My business is Forensic Resources Limited, and my big idea was to set up a forensic science consultancy firm. My top tip for young entrepreneurs would be to have self-confidence and to take whatever your gut tells you as a very, very good warning sign, be it good or bad.
Dan Lewis – PHP Genie
Our big idea was to be the best in web design in the very early days. My top tip for young entrepreneurs would be to be passionate about what you do.
Phillippa Tuttiet – Female Building and Interiors
My big idea was to set up an all-female building company called Female Building and Interiors. My top tip for young entrepreneurs would be to get a job, no matter what the job is, even if it is a paper-round. Go out and get some work experience, find out what it is like to be in the real world.
Geraint Hughes – BWTRI
My big idea was, and still is, to develop a food business in my local area. What is my top tip for young people? Well, I’d say, if you can, try to trial your idea on a small scale initially. You will learn, because something unexpected always comes up.
Gareth Jones – Welsh ICE
My big idea was to bring together passionate and committed entrepreneurs. My top tip for young entrepreneurs is: don’t ask for permission, just get on with it. It is a lot easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission in the first place.
Adam Amor – Buffoon Media
My big idea was to set up a video production company. My top tip for young entrepreneurs in Wales is to do your homework, research your area and competing businesses and make sure your idea is unique.
Sarah Reast – Timberkits
My big idea was to work in a business where I could run a team, because for me that’s where the fun is in running a business – seeing a team coming together, with all their different skills and ideas, and to bring that together in a way that creates something interesting. Top tip for young entrepreneurs is to do something in a different way; do something different in a different way.
Shaun Roberts – Creative Catalysts
My top tip is: just do it! There is never a perfect time to start a business, there is only the present.
Andrew Evans – Artist
My big idea was to become an artist. Top tip – go for it!
Nicola Hemsley – Organised Kaos
My big idea was to turn my hobby into a viable business and to involve the community. My top tip – my first one would be: ‘don’t give up!’ My second and third one would be: ‘don’t give up!’ The fourth is: trust yourself. The fifth would be to listen to your own advice, don’t let other people tell you what to do. The sixth would be to get out there, find your market. Seven – don’t give up! Eight – don’t give up! Nine – it’s going to be really hard sometimes, but still don’t give up. Number ten – reach for the stars, because you will get half-way there.
For more information: https://businesswales.gov.wales/bigideas/video/top-tips-young-entrepreneurs
The German national EEPA winners for 2016 have been announced! Egon, an enterprise guiding project, and Network with Courage, which works with refugee entrepreneurs, were the triumphant projects in the tightly contested competition. Promoting Enterprise spoke to Juliane Kummer, German National EEPA Coordinator about running a successful national campaign and enduring the difficult task of picking a winner from a crowded, competitive field.
How many entries to your national competition did you receive this year?
We had 30 applications this year.
How did you promote your national competition?
We did a number of things:
- The federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy issued a press release, as did RKW Kompetenzzentrum, a national SME support and development organisation.
- Immediately after the national competition was announced, we sent letters about the competition to more than 1200 institutions (Ministries, chambers of commerce, trade associations, foundations, Chairs of Entrepreneurship at universities, startup and technology centres etc. We asked them to spread the news about the competition and/or to apply if they had appropriate initiatives.
- Additionally, we sent ready-made text for newsletters and a factsheet to about 50 public relations contacts and asked them to publish the information on their websites, via newsletters, in journals, and through other communication channels.
- Moreover, we contacted about 150 interesting initiatives and invited them to enter the competition.
- There were ongoing social media activities on our Facebook and Twitter channels.
- We also distributed materials at fairs for entrepreneurs.
What were you looking for in winning entries?
We were looking for interesting projects in each of the six competition categories that were innovative, inspiring, and with an economic impact.
Who was the jury made up of and why these particular members?
The jury was made up of representatives from Ministries, chambers of commerce, associations, corporations, and public institutions. They are our national experts, with expertise in supporting entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial ecosystems, SMEs in general, and other aspects, like internationalisation, that are covered by the EEPA. This is why they’re qualified to select our national winners.
Juliane Kummer, front left, with the German national EEPA jury (Image source: RKW Kompetenzzentrum)
Why did you choose the winning entries?
EGON is a guiding project based on voluntary/honorary guiding activities. The Mayor of the commune, together with other guides, helps entrepreneurs to build up a company and works to ensure their success in the region. The project was chosen because of its great transferability, even for structurally weak regions, and because of its success: In a region with 320 companies, 30 were founded with the help of EGON in the last four years. Other European countries can adapt the initiative easily with minimum cost and can make their region more attractive in the international competition for business locations.
Network with Courage is an initiative from an enterprise network in Berlin. Our national jury was very convinced by the network’s comprehensive and sustainable activities to combat xenophobia/racism and discrimination, and to support refugees’ integration by providing internships and participating (on a voluntary basis) in projects against discrimination and racism. From managers to apprentices, everybody helps to support tolerance and diversity. The initiative’s inspiring model and its transferability, as well as its economic and societal success and impact, makes it a national winner.
What was their reaction to being winning the national competition?
Their reaction was somewhere between happy and incredulous! They are full of passion for their initiatives and want to make them more known. And for sure they want to win the international competition.
What do you think your chances are of winning at the European level?
Our national jury made a great decision by selecting these winners. I think our chances of winning at the European level are high because of the fantastic transferability of both projects, their success, and their economic and political meaning and impact.
To find out if EGON and Network with Courage win big at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards this November, keep visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog and follow us on Twitter.
Garage48, a tech hub and coworking space, and innovation centre, Innokas are the winners of this year’s Estonian national EEPA competition, beating seven other projects that were in the running for this year’s contest.
After winning the competition, Head of Innokas, Angela Leppik said, “This kind of competition is necessary as it helps entrants to see their organisation’s performance through the eyes of an outsider. It allows you to see more clearly what your business needs are so that you can focus on those activities in the future. It also helps you to understand even more how important it is to work at the county level, nationally, and to find partners outside Estonia.” Leppik also acknowledged the need to involve county development centres in the competition process since they are familiar with various activities at the local level.
Garage48 board member, Maarika Susi said that she was pleased that the national EEPA process recognised entrepreneurial thinking and good ideas. “We are happy to win this competition, and for the acknowledgment. Our organisation supports entrepreneurship promotion and this recognition motivates us even more to contribute to the development of the start-up community and entrepreneurial awareness. We’re also happy to see that both female entrepreneurship and increasing opportunities in the IT sector were important to the jury, who supported our efforts and urged us to continue our activities,” said Susi.
The jury had a difficult decision to make from a strong field, according to Deputy Secretary General of Economic Development, Viljar Lubi, who acted as Chair. “It was a pleasure to have so many strong candidates from organisations dealing with business promotion activities on different levels and in different areas. In the end, the jury decided to select an organisation with a strong international dimension and the originality of the Garage48 idea that expedites the move from idea to first prototype stood out. Innokas has achieved a remarkable qualitative leap at the local level, and their close cooperation with other private enterprise networks is exemplary.”