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Tag ‘entrepreneurship’

ECOSTAR – The custom built accelerator and entrepreneurship hub for nature based business

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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

European Innovation Scoreboard

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Ever wondered how innovative your country is? What about in comparison to its neighbours or overall in the region? The European Innovation Scoreboard is a European Commission initiative that provides a comparative analysis of innovation performance in EU countries, other European countries, and regional neighbours. It assesses relative strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems and helps countries identify areas they need to address.

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard is a regional extension of the European Innovation Scoreboard, assessing the innovation performance of European regions based on a limited number of indicators.

European Innovation Scoreboard 2017

The 2017 edition of the Scoreboard presents a refined analytical framework. Rankings are therefore not directly comparable with previous editions, but time series using the new analytical framework allow performance to be tracked over time. New indicators capture investments in skills, digital readiness, entrepreneurship, and public-private innovation partnerships. In addition, a new toolbox with contextual data can be used to analyse and compare structural differences between countries.

The new scoreboard reveals that EU innovation performance continues to increase, especially due to improvements in human resources, the innovation-friendly environment, own-resource investments, and attractive research systems. Sweden remains the EU innovation leader, followed by Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany. Lithuania, Malta, the UK, the Netherlands, and Austria are the fastest growing innovators.

In a global comparison, the EU is catching up with Canada and the US, but South Korea and Japan are pulling ahead. China shows the fastest progress among international competitors.

Interested in finding out more? Have a look at country profiles, an interactive online score board and find out who is leading innovation in Europe.

https://ec.europa.eu

Five finalists, two winners…who will represent the Netherlands at EEPA 2017?

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Congratulations to Innofest and IMC Weekend School who will represent the Netherlands at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017! The EEPA 2017 finals will take place in Tallinn, Estonia during the SME Assembly 2017 and feature the most original and successful initiatives of governments and public-private partnerships from the EU and COSME participating countries.

On the 11th of May, during the Dutch Entrepreneurship Week, the Dutch national finals for EEPA 2017 took place. Five projects pitched their initiatives to a jury and an audience of more than 100 SME entrepreneurs. After an exciting ceremony, Innofest and IMC Weekend School were chosen as the national winners, and the public award was awarded to Day for change.

Innofest is an innovative concept: the idea is to use festivals as live testlabs for new products and services. The audience is wide ranging as there are millions of festival goers every year in the Netherlands. The idea is transferable and applicable in other European countries. The jury liked the originality of Innofest as they really satisfy a need and effectively make use of the test environment at the final stage of development.

IMC Weekend School is a school for supplementary education in which youth from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, aged from 10-14, attend courses for three years every sunday given by passionate professionals, usually volunteers. The program comprises 15 subjects including: journalism, enterprise, philosophy, politics, law, medicine and arts. They have a large reach, with around 1 100 students attending and over 4 000 guest teachers each year. The jury praised the initiative, which is starting to roll out this inspiring design across the Netherlands and Europe.

Public Award

In addition to the jury prize there is also a public award, which this year went to Day for change. Day for Change is committed to a fair economic system, with (social) entrepreneurship and where inclusive finance is central. With the Day for Chance Activities, the Dutch youth are operating with a microcredit. Their profits are supporting entrepreneurs in developmental countries. Each academic year between 5 000 and 6 000 pupils participate in the Day for Change in the Netherlands

For more information on EEPA in the Netherlands: www.rvo.nl

Read the full press release (in Dutch): www.rvo.nl/actueel/nieuws

What does a national coordinator do? – Inside the Spanish national EEPA 2017 campaign

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The 2017 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) is in full swing, and a lot of national deadlines are approaching…so get those applications in!

Today we meet Spanish EEPA National Coordinator Antonio Fernandez Ecker, who gives us a glimpse into the Spanish campaign and his advice for promoting EEPA 2017.

How have you been promoting EEPA 2017 so far?

The promotion for EEPA 2017 has been focused on providing relevant information and getting it to the right people. Part of this is including the relevant information about EEPA 2017 on the web page of the Ministry for Industry and SMEs and disseminating it via social media and email.

For our email dissemination we have directed our communications to specific entities such as:

  • Members of the State Council for SMEs: an advisory board for SME affairs which is made up of representatives of the general state administration as well as representatives from the autonomous communities and local entities
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Business schools
  • Universities
  • Points of care for entrepreneurs (a network of unique one stop shops which exist in Spain, for information and electronic administration services for entrepreneurs and companies)
  • 2016 prize winners

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for reaching out to potential applicants?

  • Motivate them to participate by showing them that they are running an initiative with good results
  • Prepare a good application that reflects why the project is good
  • Give them relevant information about previous editions

What are the main aspects of your EEPA 2017 campaign?

To increase the dissemination of information amongst interested actors in the SME environment, with the goal of getting them to present success stories which take place in local environments which normally would not have as much publicity. We have also been taking a direct contact approach, providing information via email or telephone, so as to resolve any doubts that projects may have before presenting themselves as candidates.

What is the most important thing you have learnt during your experience as National Coordinator?

In my brief experience as a National Coordinator, I have only been in this role from September 2016, I have learnt that knowing, sharing and disseminating examples of successful initiatives in different EU countries is very important. It allows us to learn from each other, avoid previously made mistakes and put into practice initiatives that would otherwise have been difficult to implement. Overall, I believe that EEPA is extremely useful for promoting entrepreneurship in our countries.

Thinking of applying? Contact your national coordinator before your national deadline!

French entrepreneurship stronghold wins at EEPA 2016

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15 years of supporting entrepreneurship, the European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) for ‘Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit’, local press coverage and an appearance on Euronews, are just some of the things that the Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat project has on their list of successes. The winner of the EEPA 2016 Category 1 award has no plans to slow down and today shares with us their EEPA journey, what to expect from them in the future and their advice for being a European level award winning entry.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We first heard about the competition through word of mouth and through the website. We have been involved in supporting entrepreneurship for 15 years and through several European programmes we have had the opportunity to share our experiences and enrich our own knowledge with that of our European counterparts. It just seemed like a natural progression for us to present ourselves as candidates for the EEPA prize.

We also saw EEPA as an opportunity to firstly, reward the 50 organisations that engage with and are united by the Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat network (including 200 experts in entrepreneurship), and secondly, to go further with our sharing of experience with our European counterparts and perhaps even implement some actions together. Once we decided to enter we created a specific internal project team that was in charge of preparing the application.

What was it like to win the award?

We were obviously very happy to receive the prize and really considered it as an acknowledgement of 15 years of engagement and the culmination of a journey. The awarding of this prize came at a moment when we were carrying out a big overhaul of our project model in order to improve on what we have done until now. Winning this prize galvanised us and offered us great opportunities to undertake some meaningful collaborations with our European counterparts and really go beyond just sharing experience with one another.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?

It was both internal and external acknowledgement. EEPA allowed us to increase our visibility, in addition to articles in the local press, our initiative was the subject of a Euronews report which was broadcasted in several languages across different countries. It was recognition of both the motivation and engagement of our numerous partners. This prize also gave us the opportunity to begin exchanges with other national and European winners during our time in Bratislava.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

It is important to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship beyond our borders, and to share our experiences so that our entrepreneurs can grow. One piece of advice: apply and share as much as possible!

Participating in a competition is a real opportunity to meet and share with initiatives and people, learning from their experiences is very enriching. Of course, if winning the prize is at the end of your competition journey; then it just makes it even better.

What are your plans for the future?

Before winning the EEPA prize, we were working on an ambitious project focused on supporting entrepreneurs, specifically for the development of an innovative numeric platform. We plan to include and work with other European initiatives, with the support of the European Union. At the SME Assembly, Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska mentioned that she wanted to see the emergence of a European ecosystem, and we believe that our project fits in completely with that vision.

Empowerment through entrepreneurship – Meet guest contributor Daisy da Veiga

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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

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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.

Secrets of Success 2016/2017 – What makes an entrepreneur successful?

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What makes an entrepreneur successful? How do entrepreneurs define their success? What are the secrets behind their inspiring journeys? Promoting Enterprise presents the ‘Secrets of Success 2016-2017’ brochure, which answers all of these questions and more. So what is inside? This year the brochure features interviews with 33 successful business owners from across Europe, under the themes of: Concept/Idea, Drive, Leadership/Team, Success and finally Europe.

From Albania to the United Kingdom, tourism to medical innovation, the entrepreneurs and businesses featured in this brochure offer something for everyone. Each entrepreneur provides details of their personal success, as well as encouraging and inspiring words for other entrepreneurs to learn from and reflect upon. Each profile is also available in the native language of the entrepreneurs, so why not browse through and discover the some of the inspiring minds of Europe in the field of SMEs, startups and scaleups.

Read the brochure here.

Entrepreneurship in curriculums, the future of education? – Innovative education wins at EEPA 2016

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sme_instagram_09_03_2017Entrepreneurship as a key part of education curriculums is a real possibility thanks to this educational initiative from Liverpool, United Kingdom. The Enterprise Educators Academe has trained and supported over 300 staff of all disciplines to embed Enterprise Skills into the entire University curriculum for maximum impact, reaching 21 000 students in the first 2 years. How did this project win Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, at the 2016 European Enterprise Promotion Awards? Read on to find out the story behind their success.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

I heard about the competition through a review of the Enterprising Britain site which runs the National EEPA site. In my view the national award is a very prestigious one because it focuses on civic impact. I felt it was an excellent fit for a Liverpool university. I was also excited by the opportunity that the two best national award winning entries would be entered in the European Economic Community wide competition.

How did you go about preparing your application?

In preparing the application I was focused on showing the exact methodology and reviewed my impact data. The criteria were very clear and the staff that ran the competition were very helpful and inspirational, in particular Derek Kozel, our national coordinator.

What was it like to win the award?

It was the best experience of my life. I was treated so well as a finalist. The opportunity to make a speech when you win an award is very important and does not happen very often. The assembly and the awards ceremony were the best I have ever been to and I have won many awards.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?

To win a European competition has had a huge impact. I have had many offers of collaboration and it led to my educator group winning a global award in the USA. It also motivated my group of over 600 educators, so overall the response has been amazing.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

EEPA has created a long term impact and the chance to help European and other international educators implement the model we have worked so hard on.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

They should enter because they will receive so much help before during and after the application process…it is the most rigorous and professionally run enterprise award in the world!

What are your plans for the future?

We are now training many educators in China and plan to work with many European countries to help them embed entrepreneurship in the curriculum for maximum economic impact.

‘Winning has given us room to manoeuvre’ – EEPA2016 increases project credibility

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daniela_olmunger_photo_by_anders_feldtThe European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016 category winner interviews are here! Find out about the story behind these successful projects, and even pick up some of their useful tips and tricks for future applicants. Today is the turn of the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’. The winning project for 2016 was Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden, originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship and represented by Daniela Ölmunger in this interview, supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It covers three projects: Entrepreneurship in education, Start your business, and Develop your business, which provide different styles of support to various groups ranging from schoolchildren, all the way to seasoned business people.

Today’s interview gives insight into how this project became an EEPA 2016 winner, what happened next and where we can expect to see them in the future. This is just the first of several interviews so stick around to find out more about the EEPA 2016 winners in the coming weeks!

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We first heard about the national competition from the Swedish Agency for Economical and Regional Growth, Tillväxtverket. They called us and advised us to compete seeing as we were already competing for the ‘regional stars’, due to the results and lessons in the project Entrepreneurial West Hisingen.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

First of all I love to compete and write, I am also a project developer so I am used to working with deadlines and conducting analyses and I thought why not. It was also an honour to be asked to compete at European level, where you don’t always know what other people are doing, only that they are great projects.

How did you go about preparing your application?

Well we didn’t actually know that we were nominated until quite late, but once we did we conducted a workshop to discuss the application questions, look at different aspects of the project and consult our stakeholders to gather their opinions. Competing also gives you a chance to reflect, and we knew we had really good results but this reflective period was still very useful.

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What was it like to win the award?

It was so crazy! We actually thought that we had been forgotten at first because our movie was not presented when our category was announced and then we thought that perhaps there had been an administrative mistake and that we were not actually national winners. When the Grand Jury Prize was announced I had not even thought about that category as we had all been so focused on the original category we entered, as our achievements were being read out we started to think that someone might have stolen our ideas! Once we were announced as the winners everything was a bit chaotic, I had nothing prepared for when we went up on stage, but overall it was very surprising and exciting to win.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The main difference we saw was definitely in terms of political impact. Upon our return, we began receiving several visits from different parties and politicians, including the minister of finance and her team, who came for some insight and points from our project after we were first nominated. This increased political interest has led to us being more respected, and being invited to various city council groups which in turn has increased our local impact and overall our role in national political development.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

Winning this prize has helped us build our credibility and earned the respect of those around us in various circles. We are slightly unconventional in Swedish terms, but people now take notice of us and trust our opinions and views. Being winners has given us room to manoeuvre and the lasting impact will be that we can now stand up for and defend that room. This is important as we already have launched a new entrepreneurial project in Gothenburg – the EU-project One Stop Future Shop.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

I think that entering EEPA gives you a chance to reflect on what you have done with your project, which is work worth doing and not something we get much of an opportunity to do. You can’t always focus on what you did well yesterday, but the analysis is important and it gives you a chance to make your learning journey visible so that others can learn from it. You should not be scared to point out things that you learnt from and definitely take help from others, don’t do it all on your own. In our case we asked for the opinions of our stakeholders and learnt a lot from them during this fun and honouring process.

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What are your plans for the future?

Currently we are working on One Stop Future Shop, which is based on the learnings and results from Entrepreneurial West Hisingen. In this project we are already seeing substantial results. This has a lot to do with the experiences from the previous project where we have been able to sort out what the needs are and how to contribute to making a more entrepreneurial region. In the future we hope to contribute to local growth and the creation of local companies, as well as motivate people to see that they can do anything they want to in life. Future plans depend on a lot of things, I have a lot of ideas, but maybe some of them are too innovative!

Watch the EEPA 2016 Grand Jury Prize Winner video here.

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