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Youth Essay Competition 2017 – Who is going to Tallinn?

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The Youth Essay Competition results are in! After a lot of deliberation and discussion, the Jury have selected their top three submissions who will go on to compete for first place at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn!

So who wrote the top three submissions? Congratulations to:

Evlampia Karavangeli

Evlampia Karavangeli is 22 and from the small town of Drama in northern Greece. She is currently studying at the Democritus University of Thrace Medical School and is very enthusiastic about her studies. She is multilingual and speaks Greek, English and German and is also studying Spanish, which she combines with her love for sketching and literature.

Find out what her essay ‘Checkmate in Entrepreneurship’ is all about when she presents it live at the SME Assembly 2017 next month!

Oksana Vedmidska

Oksana Vedmidska is from the small town of Pryluky, not far the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. After finishing her studies in Technical Translation, she went on to work as a translator of medical texts, working in English, German and Russian. She then went on to win a scholarship that took her to Germany to study a Masters in the areas of dubbing, subtitling, audio descriptions for the blind, and easy language. Earlier this year she was also selected to represent her home country of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly in New York as a winner of the 2017 edition of the Many Languages One World competition.

What skills does Oksana think an entrepreneur needs? And why does she think “entrepreneurship is one of the most effective tools, which our global society has to transform the world into a better place”? We will find out during her live presentation in Tallinn in November!

Pavle Kostic

Pavle Kostic is from Nova Pazova in Serbia and is currently in the second year of his Management studies at the University of Belgrade. He has been actively involved in several art, essay, photography and debate competitions, including the Serbian competition for ‘Best business ethics essay’ which he won in 2014.

What can we expect from Pavle’s essay ‘Ethics and a system as a prerequisite of regular competition’? Find out next month at the SME Assembly when he presents it live!

We would also like to thank all the other writers who submitted their work. This year the quality was very high and the Jury had a very difficult decision when narrowing it down to the top three. Be sure to follow Evlampia, Oksana and Pavle on their journey to Tallinn as they get ready for the live finale where the Youth Essay Competition 2017 winner will be revealed...

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Supporting the internationalisation of business

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We have already met the national EEPA winners from Categories 1, 2 and 3…time for Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business! This category recognises initiatives that encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. In 2016 the prize was won by Human Security Finland for their project that tackles a key issue high on the global agenda, human suffering.

10 projects will be considered for a European title in this category. Well done to all the national winners and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Austria: Program Internationalization 2015 – 2020

Croatia: Pun ceker – kupujmo lokalno

Germany: Import Promotion Desk (IPD)

Greece: Greek Breakfast

Hungary: InnoTrade Program

Poland: Biznes Lubelskie

Portugal: MADEIRA VINTNERS

Serbia: Private sector Development Project- PSD

Slovenia: SKIS – Smart Key Information Support

Spain: ICEX Next

UK: Business West International Trade Centre

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

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As the jury decision for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist draws closer it is time for us to meet all of the outstanding projects from across Europe that are competing on European level! Promoting Enterprise will be presenting all of the national winners that are being considered for the European shortlist as well as the categories that they are competing.

This week is the turn of Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, which recognises initiatives that promote an entrepreneurial mindset, especially among young people and women. In 2016 the prize was won by the entrepreneurship stronghold Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat from France.

This year there are 18 projects competing in this category and competition is fierce! Good luck to all the projects and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Croatia: BUDI UZOR®/BE THE ROLE MODEL™

Cyprus: The Future in our hands:  Creating European entrepreneurs

Czech Republic: Jaudelam.cz

Denmark:
Fonden for Entreprenørskab som national, ansvarlig aktør for implementering af entreprenørskab i uddannelserne.

Estonia: Enterprise Village

Finland: Pikkuyrittäjät – Mini company program for primary school

France: Start’Up Lycée

Germany: BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @Hansenberg

Greece: PATRAS Innovation Quest (Patras IQ)

Hungary: Startup Campus Program

Italy: 3D 4-Uman Technology is not uniquely human

Latvia: Information campaign “Support for entrepreneurs

Lithuania: KTU Startup Space

Romania: Doing innovative business based on advanced research and public communication

Serbia: Caravan of Youth Entrepreneurship

Slovakia: I will do it.sk

Turkey: Supporting Entrepreneurship, Skills and Future of Children and Youth Programme

United Kingdom: Made in North Tyneside

Business and family – developing the skills of a juggler

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img_9731Lina Tsaltampasi is the owner of OCEON Group, a business and development consultancy she set up in 2003. In this post, Lina talks about her experience as a woman in the international business environment.

Hi there! I am Lina Tsaltampasi, I live in Thessaloniki, Greece and I own OECON Group. People ask me what I do for living and I tell them that I am a Business Development Consultant. My kids say that this is a lie; because I’m actually a juggler…well perhaps this is also true. Being a mom, wife, daughter and a businesswoman in the field of international business sometimes makes you feel like a juggler (a good one I hope).

My business is oriented towards developing extroversion and internationalisation for SMEs and stakeholders. As you can imagine this type of business requires frequent travel. Trips mean less available family time, less personal time. So, you have to make choices. The first step you take in being an entrepreneur is making choices. Choices about how you are going to spend or invest your time, choices about resources (there is usually a lack of all types of resources at the beginning), choices about lifestyle. But your business is something that you also chose to nurture; it is your child too.

Being a woman in international business is even tougher. Airports become your home, and you notice that frequent flyers, especially to third countries, are mostly male. In Greece, female unemployment is currently running at almost 67%. Eighty per cent of women entrepreneurship is in traditionally female sectors. Achieving your goals in a competitive environment demands hard work and personal sacrifices. But once you have achieved it, there is an immense sense of satisfaction.

In OECON Group we just have started a MEGA project with a Chinese public counterpart. To us, this seems as large a challenge as climbing Mt. Everest. So, now we’ll have the chance to try out our climbing skills… With this project we are developing a Trade Support Gate for transactions between Europe and China. This will result in actual benefits for SMEs, since this Trade Support Gate will enable even smaller companies to have safe transactions with China.

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For us, being a typical European SME, it seemed very ambitious to get involved in such a huge deal. Although we might be little dreamers, nevertheless we believe that we, and other SMEs, can be part of bigger projects. We have already gone against all the odds up to now. We developed our biggest projects over the last five years, the years of global recession, the years of the Greek crisis, the years of non-existing bank finance….so yes, everything is possible.

My business is part of who I am. If I had listened to people around me I might have quit. Many times, people tried to discourage me, telling me that this is not a job for you. I replied to them this job is me. Being a woman, you will be told many times what you should do. Just tell everybody what you want to do, and just DO it. Gender is not an obstacle. Gender is who you are.

Starting your own business is an amazing journey – Haris Ioannou

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Haris is a 21 year old student in the third year of an Electrical and Software Engineering course at the National Technical University of Athens in Greece. Aged only 17, he won a prize for the best engineering project in the European Union Competition for Young Scientists (EUCYS) and was also one of the five global finalists in his age category in the Google Science Fair 2013. Since starting college he has developed software for Bioassist, a company focusing on applications that help the elderly with health-related issues. In this blog entry, Haris tells us about his work and his plans for the future.

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What are you working on at the moment? How does this fit in with your wider business development plans?

My passion is inventing and combining technologies and approaches in order to solve problems of everyday life. If I see an exciting opportunity to challenge my knowledge, skills and learn something new, the challenge is accepted.

For the past three years, I have participated in the initial stages of development of a research project aiming at assisting the independent living of elderly people. We have founded a company called Bioassist, and developed an application that remotely monitors the vital signs of older people, such as glucose and oxygen levels, blood pressure etc. in their home environment. It can also remind users to take their medication, keep a personalised health record and also lets users communicate with their relatives via video conferencing.

At the same time, over the past couple of months I have co-founded another project aiming at efficient and secure management of online passwords. Our main goal is to resolve this problem by eliminating people’s need to keep track of their passwords for websites. Our solution is a mobile application called Code Pi! We have built a new way for users to access their web accounts using their mobile device as an authentication element. Essentially you connect your phone and computer under the same Wi-Fi and when you try to log in to a website, it automatically fills in your account details for you. It is important to note that maximum security is ensured for all users by securely encrypting and storing all their credentials locally on their phones, and not on our servers.

haris_ioannou_photoHow do you manage to balance work and life? What is a typical day like for you?

My course is considered to be one of the most challenging in my university. My modules include programming languages, control systems, high-power electronics and robotics. When I want to relax I prefer working out, by running or going to the gym, rarely reading a book and occasionally going out with friends. All of these things help me to take a break from my everyday work.

Most days, after class, I have to attend meetings at Bioassist and Code Pi or at some of my other ventures. Combining studies and work is very fascinating, because you are given the chance to apply your theoretical knowledge in practice. For example, I might have learned an algorithm during my morning class and then I have to apply it into one of my projects. However, most times it happens that I have to use an algorithm that I don’t know yet and so I need to research it. Usually I will come across this algorithm 1-2 years later in one of my classes.

What are the pros and cons of running your own business? What challenges do you have to overcome on a day-to-day basis?

So far I am not fully responsible for the day-to-day operations in any of my ventures. However, I am responsible for the majority of the technical details for each of my projects, such as selecting the new technologies that we will be implemented in new features. I like to see each project not only from a technological viewpoint, but also from a business and a research perspective.

The interesting part is when you have to combine already existing approaches and technologies or even invent some new ones to come-up with the desired solution. If the solution satisfies the problem constrains then, most of the time my team and I publish a paper or launch the feature straight into our product. I think there is definitely a distinction between open time-frame research projects and scheduled product launches, but it does not have to be discrete and watertight.

I am trying to follow this workflow for two important reasons. Firstly, as a student, I have seen multiple projects being started and then abandoned after making only a couple of publications in scientific journals. Therefore I don’t want the projects to which I commit my time to end up like this. Secondly, solving a problem following the scientific method and documenting the result has a great value for the academic community and anyone else interested in the specific topic.

How are you preparing for the next stage of your business? What advice would you give to others thinking of starting their own businesses?

Currently being an undergraduate student, I consider myself very lucky to have people who trust me and really take my thoughts and ideas into consideration. Usually, as a student, you’re not involved in the decision making process of a company, due to lack of experience and technical knowledge, especially in the tech sector.

My goal through this project is to learn as much as I can in a small and very innovative corporate environment. Since my colleagues are both older and more experienced than me, I try to be influenced by them day by day. They have already been in my position and they have probably faced many of the problems that I am encountering. I don’t know where are we going to be in the next five years, I don’t even know where are we going to be in the next three, the market is so competitive and is not as straightforward as a business plan. I am very optimistic that we will have the same focus on our products and our customers and, if this turns out to be true, then we are definitely going to be successful.

Starting your own business is an amazing journey, on which you can learn and do important things. Whether this involves managing people in a team, or making a business plan or even deploying a new feature, these are skills that drastically change the way you think and work. You have to be open to listening to ideas from your team, but you should also carve out a specific plan and lead the team to deliver your product. Many examples show that the age at which you start a company is completely irrelevant to how successful it is going to be. Success it is directly related to how determined you and your team are in delivering the promise that you have made to your customers.

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European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2015: Shortlisted Projects Announced

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Hundreds of projects competed in the 2015 national competitions for a chance to represent their country in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards; 19 projects have now been shortlisted. A record number of 32 countries entered the Awards this year with the most popular category being “Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit”.

This year’s jury was made up of members of the outgoing Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the current Luxembourg Presidency along with representatives from the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, business, and academia. Following much deliberation, the jury established a shortlist of 19 nominees in six categories. The winners for each of the categories will be announced at a central event of European SME Week, the SME Assembly in Luxembourg, to which all nominees will be invited. The prestigious Grand Jury Prize winner and special mentions will also be announced at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony.

Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

France: Youth Awareness Week for Female Entrepreneurship sees female entrepreneurs go into schools over the course of the week and put on presentations, talks or forums for young people aged 13–25 about female entrepreneurship and how women can start businesses and find success. The initiative aims to increase  young  people’s  awareness  of  female entrepreneurship,  and  how  women  can  start businesses and find success. Over the past three years 816 woman entrepreneurs, 18,000 young participants and more than 250 educational establishments – colleges, secondary schools and higher education institutions – have been involved.  

Responsible organisation: The 100,000 Entrepreneurs Association

Organisation website: http://www.semaine-entrepreneuriat-feminin.com/

Netherlands: ZomerOndernemer allows young people to start their own companies and experience entrepreneurship during their summer holidays. By turning young people into proud business owners, the initiative helps them develop crucial skills as well as stimulate the spirit of entrepreneurship. Launched in 2010, the project has already attracted 265 young people and helped produce 82 companies.

Responsible organisation: The New Entrepreneur Foundation

Organisation website: www.zomerondernemer.nl

United Kingdom: The John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank supports the development of an entrepreneurial culture within the City of Hull by engaging young people from the age of 5, allowing them to gain “soft skills” and entrepreneurial experience. The initiative raises awareness of the self-employed option as a pathway post education. It has supported over 350 young people interested in business from across Hull and the East Riding area.

Responsible organisation: Hull City Council

Organisation website: www.youthenterprise.co.uk

Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Denmark: The Mobile FabLab is entrepreneurship on wheels, designed to raise awareness on new prototyping technologies and entrepreneurial skill by visiting and facilitating a large number of events, workshops and meet-ups all over Denmark for pre-entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs and SMEs. They have initiated the first mobile FabLab-facility of its kind worldwide, put on more than 60 events reaching almost 28,000 people, 232 SMEs have been through FabLab- counselling and competence development courses and they have facilitated workshops for 1600 students in FabSchool.

Responsible organisation: FabLab Danmark c/o Væksthus Sjælland

Organisation website: www.detmobilefablab.dk

Ireland: Going for Growth focuses on encouraging female entrepreneurs to be ambitious and supports them to achieve their growth aspirations. Based on annual cycles, the initiative leverages the volunteer efforts of successful female entrepreneurs. The impact is measured in increased revenues, employment created and first time exporters, as well as in greater ambition, confidence, and a heightened strategic perspective among the participants; to date, over 400 ambitious owner managers have been supported.

Responsible organisation: Fitzsimons Consulting in association with the Gender Equality Division, Department of Justice and Equality

Organisation website: Going for Growth focuses on encouraging female entrepreneurs to be ambitious and supports them to achieve their growth aspirations.

Italy: Alternating Work & School Experience provides students in secondary education with the professional skills required by businesses today, through a range of programmes and work experience opportunities. The initiative aims to ensure the best work experience school programmes are created to benefit the greatest number of students possible in the province. Some of the skills that are developed through the initiative are centred around business innovation, the corporate culture, the development of relevant statistical data, problem solving and marketing and business plan development. Since the initiative has been implemented, there has been a marked improvement for the schools and businesses involved, particularly in terms of skills and knowledge acquired.

Responsible organisation: Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Crafts and Agriculture of Macerata

Organisation website: http://www.mc.camcom.it/P42A0C176S166/The-Chamber-of-Commerce.htm

Category 3: Improving the Business Environment

Croatia: Your Business Friendly Town acts as an accessible and practical example of how new and established entrepreneurs have the opportunity to succeed, by strengthening the capacity of local government. It has opened the doors of domestic and foreign investment to create new jobs, promote entrepreneurship in the local area, and to overcome administrative hurdles by adopting local government as “business partners”. The initiative has successfully increased the number of investors, entrepreneurs and jobs in the Economic zone of Jalševac, doubling the number of jobs in to over 850.

Responsible organisation: City of Jastrebarsko

Organisation website: www.jastrebarsko.hr

Malta: Strengthening the Business Environment through Active Social Dialogue focuses on providing professional management support to SMEs, as well as working to educate the general public on employment-related issues. Due to a series of specialised and focused activities, at least 14% of the SMEs in Malta have been empowered to become increasingly active participants in social dialogue in Malta.

Responsible organisation: Malta Employers’ Association (MEA)

Organisation website: www.maltaemployers.com

United Kingdom: Creative Quarter describes itself as an ‘incubator without walls’, which aims to support creative SMEs to generate prosperity and create jobs. It develops highly-skilled local workforce who are ready to compete with one another to transform The Creative Quarter area in the city to make it a great business location. The initiative has supported over 700 businesses and has created just over 600 jobs. It has also contributed to the development of over 7,500 sq m. of new workspace for SMEs, entrepreneurs and creative businesses.

Responsible organisation: Creative Quarter Nottingham Limited

Organisation website: www.creativequater.com

Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business 

Estonia: GameFounders is a global gaming industry accelerator that aims to support technically strong teams with developing a business model and guidance on product development. Since its launch, the accelerator has implemented four cycles and has worked with 28 teams from 16 countries. GameFounders has contributed to the increase of Estonian gaming industry start-up numbers.

Responsible organisation: GameFounders OÜ

Organisation website: www.gamefounders.com

Latvia: TechHub Riga is a major technology and IT co-working space for startup companies. The space was created with a view to bring together like-minded startups that can help each other to successfully develop their projects. The initiative has provided office space for more than 30 technology startups since its creation. More recently, over the past 2 years, 50 businesses have been incubated, as well as several international and local conferences, meetings, and experience sharing events being organised and held each year.

Responsible organisation: Foundation TechHub Riga

Organisation website: riga.techhub.com

Italy: The Temporary Export Manager project provides businesses with the option to employ a junior/trainee member to the team to work in a company in close cooperation with company management in an international marketing position. The project aims to spread a culture of internationalisation among micro businesses and SMEs in the region, thus responding to the need for technical skills required by companies to possess and consolidate their business with those companies located overseas. Throughout the four years, over 150 new university graduates have been inserted in as many companies in the region.

Responsible organisation: Regional Union of the Chambers of Commerce of Emilia-Romagna

Organisation website: www.ucer.camcom.it

Category 5: Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency

Austria: Resource-efficient Industrial Park Liesing works to help coordinate the management of the neighbourhood in the former industrial park of Liesing, ultimately creating a positive identity for the area. Research and advisory activities focus on resource-saving and resource-efficient economies. The initiative has successfully raised awareness of the issue of conserving resources, – both with companies and businesses and the local population – and have committed to the preservation of the industrial park as a site for manufacturing companies and businesses.

Responsible organisation: Vienna Chamber of Commerce

Organisation website: www.wkw.at

Luxembourg: SuperDrecksKëscht works to certify waste management concepts of facilities and plants, promotes the consumption of sustainable products and supports the further development of resource-efficient recovery operations. It aims to develop the classical waste management process for the recycling/de-manufacturing industry, and thus, expand and provide support to the environmental technology and services. The initiative has recorded an increase in the number of participating plants implementing ecological waste management, and has contributed to an increase in the sales of sustainable products.

Responsible organisation: The Environmental Administration/The Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructures.

Organisation website: www.sdk.lu

Spain: Green Business Network is the first networking platform in Spain to specialise in green business. Targeting entrepreneurs and investors, the project seeks to promote entrepreneurship in the environment sector and to encourage sustainable business development. The initiative has already attracted over 7,000 members, including 100 investors and funders.

Responsible organisation: Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment

Organisation website: www.fundación-biodiversidad.es

Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Austria: Business Start-up Programme for the Unemployed works with the Austrian Public Employment Service to provide start up advice, company specific qualifications and livelihood security for the unemployed. It does so through three core services: 1. Start-up advice from a commissioned third-party consulting firm 2. Company-specific qualifications and 3. Livelihood security. Their aim is to support unemployed people in taking up successful and sustainable self-employment. They have achieved a high number of start-ups (in 2014: 5,169 UGP start-ups, of which women accounted for around 40%), very good labour market success and “survival rates”: 64% after 5 years, and additional employment effects: 25% of company founders employ staff.

Responsible organisation: Public Employment Service Austria

Organisation website: www.ams.at/service-arbeitsuchende/finanzielles/foerderungen/unternehmensgruendungsprogramm

Germany: Enterability is a management consultancy for people with disabilities that provides help before and after starting a business. The overarching goal is to enable people with disabilities to participate in the labour market through targeted counselling and training for self-employment. They provide peer counselling, advice, seminars with specific contents and methods, sign language interpreters and information on accessing loans specifically for disabled people.

Responsible organisation: Social Impact gGmbH

Organisation website: http://www.ifd-enterability.de/

Greece: Vocational Training & Certification of the unemployed workers of the ship repair industry in the Piraeus area, aimed at reduction of unemployment and recovery of the sector aims to enhance the capabilities of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry by providing a programme that hopes to increase employment levels in the local area. The programme aims to enhance entrepreneurship, mainly in the ship repair sector, and to reduce unemployment by involving those that are unemployed. Of the 1,500 unemployed who participated in the Vocational Training Programme, 867 obtained certification, and 150 gained employment.

Responsible organisation: Piraeus Chamber of Commerce & Industry (EVEP)

Organisation website: www.pcci.gr

Portugal: Lisbon Micro Entrepreneurship is a programme working to support responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship, be it through helping to develop business plans, to advising on how best to obtain funding. It was set up in 2013 with the aim of stimulating the city’s economy and supporting company and job creation. The initiative is therefore a part of Lisbon Municipal Council’s (LMC) global strategy to support entrepreneurship, bringing together public, private and local and national bodies with a local focus, enabling anyone to get support for projects in a range of fields, from the planning phase through to the first years of activity. Support comes in the form of help to structure ideas, developing business plans, help with implementing their projects, and obtaining funding. Over 50 companies have been set up, 27 of which have been funded, over 100 jobs have been created, and over 550 meetings have been held with entrepreneurs.

Responsible organisation: Lisbon Municipal Council

Organisation website: http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/www.cm-lisboa.pt

About the awards

Since 2006, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards have rewarded excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small business at a national, regional and local level. Over 2 800 projects have entered since the awards were launched and in total they have supported the creation of well over 10 000 new companies. Its objectives are to identify and recognise successful activities and initiatives to promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship, showcasing and sharing examples of best entrepreneurship policies and practices, creating a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in European society and encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs.

For more information on the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the website, follow the Awards on Twitter or visit the official Awards Facebook page. For more information on European SME Week you can visit the website and follow on Twitter.

Watch a video of last year’s winner, Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children.

Secret of Success – Marco Veremis (Upstream)

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Marco Veremis - UpstreamMy partner Alex Vraskides and I had the vision to make mobile a mainstream marketing medium 12 years ago. MINT, our marketing technology platform delivers the highest conversion rates in the industry. We have advertised goods to over 700 million consumers with close to 100 million making a purchase. We are connected in 40 countries and 23 languages and we are increasingly focused on the emerging markets where we can offer services that have a huge impact on local communities such as English lessons or health alerts.

I would lower tax rates for start ups; modernise intellectual property rules; and develop partnerships between leading universities and start up communities across Europe.

“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we create jobs. The best of us fuel progress in people’s everyday lives through truly innovative products and services.”

Hero(es): My father

Start up capital: Business angels

Growth rate p.a.: 28.4%

Mentor(s): No

Can you code? Yes

Employees: 157

Education / Training: International and EU politics

Product / Service: Online marketing services

Learn more about Upstream here.

Meet the jury: European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2014

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The 2014 EEPA jury met in Brussels

The 2014 EEPA jury met in Brussels

Each year, an independent high-level European jury takes on the difficult task of selecting the best entries to the European Enterprise Promotion Awards in each category. This year’s jury includes representatives from government, business and academia as well as Greece and Italy – as part of their EU presidencies during 2014.

There are also two permanent representatives, one from DG Enterprise and Industry and one from the Committee of the Regions. The winner of the previous year’s Grand Jury Prize is also invited to sit on the jury. The 2014 judges are:

Joanna Drake

Chairperson

European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry

Joanna has been Director responsible for the promotion of entrepreneurship and SMEs at the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission since 2010. Previously Head of the EC Representation in Malta and prior to that Head of the Legal & Regulatory Department of Vodafone Malta Ltd, Joanna has in addition taught and researched law at the University of Malta and studied at the College of Europe, Bruges.

Prof. Thomas M. Cooney

Professor in Entrepreneurship, Dublin Institute of Technology

Thomas is Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Academic Director of the DIT Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship. He is a Member of the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Chair of the 2014 ICSB World Conference.  Thomas has taught, researched, and published widely in the area of Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Gundars Strautmanis

President of the Council, Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)

Dr. Gundars Strautmanis is currently the president of LCCI and member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). Gundars has been President/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lattelcom Ltd and Chief Executive Officer at FORMULA, the Canadian-Latvian joint venture as well as holding leading positions at the Riga Scientific Research Institute of Micro Devices of JSC ALFA.

Guiseppe Tripoli

Italian SME envoy

Guiseppe was appointed as Head of Department for Enterprise and Internationalisation within the Ministry for Economic Development in 2009 having previously been General Secretary of Unioncamere from 2001 to 2009.  He has been the SME Envoy for Italy since February 2011. In 2012 he was nominated as Italian Guarantor for micros and SMEs.

Marta Martí Carrera

Chair of BUSINESSEUROPE’s “Entrepreneurship and SME” Committee

In 2005 Marta created Tribu Respira to provide companies with valuable business management tools helping to raise productivity and to bring out the hidden talent of employees.  Her clients include many prestigious brands. A serial entrepreneur, she is developing two other companies: “Sips of Light” and Mitocondria, an audiovisual production company.

Thomas Wobben

Committee of the Regions

After studying Economics and Politics, Thomas worked for voluntary sector organisations. In 1993 he joined the European policy services of the Land Saxony- Anhalt and in 1995 he began working in the Liaison Office of Saxony- Anhalt in Brussels taking over as Director in 2000. Since March 2012 he has been Director for Horizontal Policies and Networks at the Committee of the Regions.

Dionysios Tsagkris

SME Envoy for Greece

As Head of the SME Policy Directorate, Dionysios has worked actively on SME and Entrepreneurship policy development at the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness.  He has chaired various implementation policy committees in facilitating access to finance for SMEs.  He has also coordinated the digital platform STARTUPGREECE which has a primary objective to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in Greece.

Interview: Greece’s European SME Week Coordinator

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Olga Nikolopoulou, European SME Week National Coordinator for Greece

Olga Nikolopoulou, European SME Week National Coordinator for Greece

Each country participates in European SME Week in a way relevant to its own small and medium-sized enterprise community, so we interviewed Olga Nikolopoulou, National Coordinator for Greece, to find out more.

How does the Week work in Greece?

It seems to be working quite well, as we tend to get a serious number of applications to hold events every year. Entrepreneurs, young people, students and various stakeholders are always interested in being informed about the available European Union financial instruments for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises. They also seek training and networking opportunities.

Which organisations are involved?

The General Secretariat for Industry of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness and the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

How do you promote European SME Week?

As soon as the SME Week platform gets activated, we begin our SME Week promotional campaign through various channels, such as: e-mail campaigns to targeted stakeholders, via social media, the Ministry of Development & Competitiveness’s interactive digital platform startupgreece.gov.gr which numbers over 5,600 members, relevant articles published in several Ministries’ newsletters, as well as direct communication with potentially interested parties.

What did you learn from last year’s events?

In 2013, we successfully co-organized “Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth: Promoting Business Partnerships in Greece” with the European Commission. The two-day event promoted business partnerships between Greek and European businesses in six developing sectors. 300 Greek enterprises, 110 foreign enterprises from 25 countries participated and over 1,300 business meetings were held between attending businesses. We learned that entrepreneurs are eager for any kind of networking opportunities, especially for entering new international markets.

And finally, what impact does European SME Week have in Greece?

Taking into account the fact that SMEs in Greece represent 99.6% of total enterprises, it is obvious that economic development in the country relies on successful SMEs. European SME Week events are therefore very popular.

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