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Winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2016 prove diversity of entrepreneurial spirit in Europe

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30415999933_56c9c9d966_zCongratulations! The seven winners of the 10th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced by Peter Varinský with the Grand Jury Prize being awarded to a Swedish city project.

The six projects that each won their category came from France, UK, Portugal, Finland, Serbia, and The Netherlands. The categories covered the broad areas of entrepreneurship, enterprise start-up and growth, international market opportunities, and green markets. Three projects from Latvia, Ireland and Greece received Special Mentions from the EEPA jury, which comprised seven representatives from government, business and academia from the EU.

The top prize was awarded to the district of West Hisingen in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The  project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It is divided into three parts: Entrepreneurship in education; Start your business, a course for newly arrived refugees with a business background in their home country; and Develop your business, a comprehensive business training programme.

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To see photos from the yesterday´s joyous ceremony, visit our Flickr. We will present all projects fully in coming weeks, but if you can´t wait, you can have a look at the EEPA 2016 Compendium.

Speaking of the awards, Ms Kristin Schreiber, chair of the EEPA jury and Director for COSME programme at Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission, said: “The 57 projects selected to compete at European level, not just the winners, runners-up and special mentions, are a testimony to the passion and innovation that puts ideas into practice. These are examples that can inspire the creation of an ecosystem that helps entrepreneurial spirits, nurtures enterprises and helps them grow. All these projects have tangible results: they help to create new companies and new jobs. I hope they will be an inspiration to authorities, organisations and individuals across Europe to do more for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Next year’s awards ceremony will take place during the 2017 SME Assembly in Tallinn, under the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

And by the way – the cake for the 10th EEPA´s birthday was delicious! 🙂

EEPA – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

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banner-eepa-blogThe European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist showcase continues! This week we are introducing you to the national winners competing in Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business. These projects have been shortlisted because of their initiatives that encourage enterprises, particularly SMEs, at national, regional and local level to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union. The projects come from across Europe, representing Finland, Lithuania and Spain, and cover the themes of: facilitation of business partnerships, improving national competitiveness and practical training and advice for SMEs to thrive in foreign markets.

human_security_finland-zambiaHuman Security Finland (Business opportunities from the Human Security expertise) is a national international development and crisis management business network. It assists with the building of partnerships between Finnish companies and experts aimed at assisting developing countries and crisis-hit regions with solutions to support sustainable development. The network combines business, education and research for human security. 100 organisations are now involved in the concept known as ‘crisis business’, which is based on commercialising human security expertise.

wings_chocolate_naiveYoung export leaders program – WINGS is the first scheme in Lithuania to unite the public and private sectors towards the achievement of one common goal: to promote the country’s  competitiveness through the development of skilled export managers by applying a hands-on approach to meet current market demands. Sixteen graduates were trained in business and export development and management, marketing, business   promotion   and   other   relevant   modern techniques, and gained practical experience through working with SMEs. 23 social initiatives were launched during the programme which generated a value of €650 000. Watch their video here!

balebila-06Balebila Project – International & Digital Communications for SMEs (Spain) is a practical training and advice programme for innovative SMEs to help them take their businesses to foreign markets. The project provides businesses with tools and advice on communication and public relations strategies through hands-on training. Current successes include; companies that have successfully presented their product to Sir Richard Branson, to those that are now the leading Basque developers for Sony Playstation UK, USA and Asia. Watch these videos to learn about some of the SMEs, like Muka Design Lab & Enigmedia, that the Balebila project has helped. 

The final winner of the category, chosen by  the EEPA Jury, will be revealed in less than four weeks 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. Let the countdown begin!

An overview of the previous three categories presented:

EEPA 2016 shortlist announced!

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In total, 343 National EEPA entries were received from 31 participating countries in 2016, which were then narrowed down by the national EEPA coordinators to 57 projects put forward for the European level of the competition.

At a meeting in Brussels on 27 September, the EEPA Jury drew up a project shortlist for each of the EEPA’s six project categories.  Let´s meet 18 shortlisted winners for EEPA 2016!

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The winners are spread pretty evenly across Europe, with only Serbia featuring on the list more than once, with winning projects in the Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency categories. We will present all of the shortlisted projects, category by category, on the Promoting Enterprise blog over the next six weeks.

The winner in each category 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. All of the national winners will have their costs covered to send one representative to attend the SME Assembly, while shortlisted projects will be able to send two representatives.

Congratulations to all of the shortlisted projects – they are all worthy winners, and the EEPA Jury will have a difficult task in selecting the winning projects in each category. We wish them all the best of luck at the SME Assembly in November.

 

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

Tomi Alakoski, Me & MyCity

This week, Tomi Alakoski from the award-winning Me & MyCity project at the Economic Information Office in Finland reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA three years on….

Name Tomi Alakoski
Organisation Me & MyCity, Economic Information Office
Country Finland
Website www.yrityskyla.fi/en
Award won Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Year 2013

Tomi AlakosiWhat was it like to win the award?

It was a great honour to receive the award. It showed us that we’re doing important work in the field of entrepreneurship. We didn’t expect to win because Me & MyCity was a very new concept; it only started in 2010. On the other hand, we’d received very good feedback from our target groups and we also assumed that our concept was quite unique in Europe. It was the first time that a Finnish learning concept had got this far. Winning the award gave us the confidence that we can succeed in Finland as well as internationally.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The impact of winning the award was very positive and very broad. We started to get more attention and enquiries from abroad, internationally. It also increased our visibility in Europe.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

At first, people didn’t really believe in our concept and they thought that it was the craziest idea ever! We felt that winning the award was a great reward for the people who had believed in us from the beginning. It gave us the feeling that if we just believe in ourselves, our work might just bear fruit. It gave us a massive boost and helped to make Me & MyCity what it is today. Our utopian idea began to seem possible.

What has been the long-term impact?

The trust in our work has strengthened even more. Two months after winning the EEPA, we attended the “World Innovation Summit for Education” competition in Qatar. We ended up winning the competition in 2014 for “the Best Learning Innovation in the World.” As a result, our cooperation network began expanding. Companies started to be interested in us even more. We also got to participate in official governmental events where Finnish innovations were celebrated. It also made a great difference to our growth. Currently, 70% of Finland’s 6th graders are benefitting from the Me & MyCity learning concept.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

We felt that entrepreneurial education in Finland wasn’t where it should be. We hoped that the value of entrepreneurial education might increase nationally if we entered the competition.

The King and Queen of Finland visiting Me & MyCityThe King and Queen of Sweden visiting Me & MyCity

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?

We wanted to be very honest and open in the preparation phase. We wanted to share our story and tell how influential our operations are. All in all, it was the operation itself that we wanted to highlight. When we started writing the application, it was the first time that we’d analysed how influential our operations are in so many ways. We felt it would be beneficial for our concept to be recognised internationally, that it could help the whole of Europe, which was in danger of increasing youth social exclusion and unemployment. From our perspective, it’s important to develop new enterprises and an entrepreneurial spirit in Europe.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

Don’t apply for the competition only for the competition. Try to genuinely reflect what you’ve achieved and how it benefits your target group.

To find out more about the Me & MyCity project, visit the website  or watch the video.

Ideas From Europe

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Ideas from Europe logo

In under a month’s time, the nine most inspiring ideas from entrepreneurs with the potential to change the world will be chosen from across Europe’s 28 Member States at the Ideas from Europe Finals at the SME Assembly in Luxembourg on 20 November.

The initiative, which started in spring, aims to show that Europe’s future is in the hands of today’s entrepreneurs as they are the creators of businesses and jobs. By sharing their ideas they will inspire and encourage people to use their entrepreneurial spirit and, in turn, become the lifeblood of Europe’s economy.

Following the selection at the SME Assembly in Luxembourg and the online vote, the top ten ideas will then go through to a final judging session at The Hall of Knights on 31 March 2016 in The Hague.

The selection process is still ongoing, but below are some of the candidates involved so far…

Belgium: Laurent Eschenauer, Fleye 

Fleye is the brainchild of Dimitri Arendt and Laurent Eschenauer, two experienced engineers passionate about drones. It all started as a prototype hacked over numerous week-ends in Laurent’s attic, and is now a funded venture company, founded in December 2014 and supported by The Faktory, a private Tech Startup Accelerator and Seed Investment Fund from Belgium.

Bulgaria: Rennie Popcheva-Capri, Embrioo 

Rennie is the founder of Embrioo.com – an Open Innovation platform recognized by the International Jury at Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen (Special Prize Winner, 2013); Winner at Innovation challenge by IF Sheffield University (2012), TEDx speaker, featured in Forbes.

Cyrpus: Arestis Vrontis, Helikas Robotics

Arestis Vrontis , founder and Technical Director of Helikas Robotics (2010). After a number of years spent studying Marine Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Arestis went on to be production manager to “EPISKEVI” Machine Shop. Arestis has a lifelong fascination with robots and has tinkered with them for years designing and building multicopters and fixed wing aircrafts. He is also a member of Technical Chamber of Cyprus. Recently he has developed a vertical wind turbine for urban areas.

Finland: Pirkka Palomäki, Enevo

Pirkka Palomäki is the COO & CTO at Enevo, a privately held company providing smart logistics optimization solutions for the waste management and recycling industry. Prior to joining Enevo he has worked at F-Secure Corporation in several executive management positions including the head of strategy, CTO and Interim CEO. Earlier in his career, he has been with Telecom Finland (currently TeliaSonera) in business development and product marketing roles. Palomäki was recognized as the CTO of the year in 2011 by the Technology Academy of Finland.

Germany: Gerhard Dust, PolyCare.

Dr. Gerhard Dust started his career in the construction business. After service in the Luftwaffe and graduation from university he followed his family tradition of working in the book industry. Being COO of Libri 1991-2008, he earned an international reputation for the analysis, design and implementation of high level automated storage and distribution systems. In 2010, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, he founded PolyCare.

Ireland: Nora Khaldi, Nuritas

Dr. Nora Khaldi is a mathmetician with a PhD in Molecular Evolution and the founder of Nuritas, a company that has revolutionised the discovery of health-benefitting molecules using artificial intelligence and machine-learning. Throughout her career, Nora’s ambition has been to disrupt the status quo and introduce new ways of thinking to address many of the health and sustainability issues facing the world today.

 

Secret of Success – Samuli Tursas (Liana Technologies)

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Samuli Tursas - Liana Technologies

Liana develops and supplies digital marketing and communication software. Our customers are digital marketing and PR professionals and our cloud-based software helps them perform better. Thanks to local and EU business support we have expanded into four other countries and our goal is to become #1 marketing cloud provider in Europe. We have also been able to employ 100 people let go by Nokia.

I would like to see a government sponsored account manager for each start up; bottom up business support programmes; and direct support for sales and marketing activities.

“Entrepreneurs are useful to society because we are the ones that turn innovation into reality; we are the people who get things done.”

Hero(es): My team

Start up capital: Own

Growth rate p.a.: 30%

Mentor(s): My business partners

Can you code? Yes

Employees: 110

Education / Training: Computing and marketing

Product / Service: Marketing and communications software

Grand Jury Prize Winners 2006-2012

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Outset presented with the 2012 EEPA Grand Jury Prize in Cyprus

Outset presented with the 2012 EEPA Grand Jury Prize in Cyprus

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards have run since 2006. There have been 42 winning entries including one Grand Jury Prize winner in each competition. The most recent recipient of the Grand Jury Prize being Think Small First – Introduction to Micro Companies in Latvia.

Winners from previous years are listed below. We hope they inspire you to enter your national competition in 2015!

2012

Outset, YTKO
Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

Outset-YTKO-Cambridgeshire

Outset is designed to show the unemployed that self- employment and enterprise
is a realistic alternative to unemployment. Since the start of the programme, Outset has engaged with over 10,000 people. Of those, 1,916 have started a business, together creating 2,188 jobs.

www.outset.org

2011

Barcelona Activa SAU SPM, Barcelona City Council, Spain

With its mission to transform entrepreneurship and business growth in Barcelona, the centre acts as a reference point and hub for entrepreneurs and uses an innovative model of online and on-site services to train individuals, thereby fostering the establishment of more than 6,000 new companies.

www.barcelonactiva.cat

2010

Entrepreneurs’ Residencies, Auvergne Agence Regionale de Developpement des Territoires d’Auvergne (ARDTA), France

Entrepreneurs’ Residencies provides short and long-term support measures for business creators or buyers from outside the area willing to settle in the region. They are designed to support, facilitate and accelerate the setting up of new businesses by guiding potential entrepreneurs and refunding their living expenses.

www.auvergnelife.tv

2008/09

The Scarborough Renaissance Partnership, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

The development project transformed the north-east England seaside town of Scarborough by pioneering renaissance and boosting entrepreneurship, thus turning a seasonal economy with winter unemployment 50% higher than summer into a year-round economy with only a 10% difference between summer and winter employment.

www.scarborough.gov.uk

2007

Development of premises for business use, Lan Ekintza-Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain

Innovative urban redevelopment initiative that aims to prevent city decay by attracting startups and established businesses to relocate to the old heart of the city by providing financial support as well as combating marginalisation and social exclusion.

www.bilbao.net/bilbaoekintza

2006

Y4 Committee, Finland

A complete methodology that introduces the business perspective in regional decision-making, encourages innovation and entrepreneurship espousing ethically sustainable values. The project triggered a cultural change in Central Finland, raising the proportion of entrepreneurs in a region that previously had a well- established culture of paid employment.

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