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Positive discrimination for national SMEs – Portuguese EEPA winner supports national enterprise

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be sources of employment and innovation in a national economy, yet conditions are not always favourable when these enterprises compete against larger competitors. The winner of Category 3 (Improving the Business Environment) at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016, strives to create these conditions and an SME supportive environment. The Leader SME programme is a mechanism to qualify enterprises that aims to highlight the merits of the most successful  national SMEs by creating conditions to strengthen their market reputation and fast-track access  to funding. The goal is to promote growth strategies and consolidate their competitiveness.

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

We first heard about the competition through several public and private entities that promote and encourage participation in the competition throughout Portugal, and applied using our public/private partnership. We felt that our project was a good and strong example of what EEPA represents. Our results from previous years were also very successful, so we thought that our project had good replication potential and could serve as a European example.

How did you go about preparing your application?

The preparation of an EEPA application is quite “heavy” in terms of the work involved. We did not prepare something special for EEPA, but instead created a working group for the preparation of the application as soon as the period of application was announced.

What was it like to win the award?

It was a surprise, considering the quality of other applications. However, we felt that we had a very good chance in this competition, since we were strongly convinced of the quality of our application. Just being included in the shortlist gave as a sense of achievement! Winning the competition was very important to us, and it was an extraordinary feeling: a reward for the work done, and concrete proof that we are on the right track.

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

Winning the award helped us not only externally, the increased visibility helped with publicity and will also help us in the future, but also internally. Internally the win helped to solidify our relationships with partners and make us a stronger network. It also resulted in overall better general knowledge of the objectives and better understanding of the technicalities of the project. The response was great and made us feel like we have an increased sense of responsibility, now we just have to maintain and increase the impact of the project. Whilst it was fantastic to represent our project, it was also very satisfying to be able to represent Portugal.

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

Yes. Considering the results of the initiative, and the relevance of the award, we think that the partners will be able to approach companies more easily in order to tighten the network links and increase the impact of the SME Leader initiative.

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

It is important to evaluate whether a project has the following: quality, results, strong partnership, and replicability. Our advice would be that if your project has all of the above, then you should definitely compete! The preparation for EEPA stimulates evaluation, strengthens partnership, and gives visibility, all of which can only help strengthen your project.

What are your plans for the future?

Our project has the potential to increase the level and scope of impact on the companies, through a tightening of the network. We hope to raise awareness and increase knowledge about the companies considered to be SME Leaders, and disseminate their best practices to help others achieve the same leader status. Our whole project is about helping SMEs get access to finance, whether it be through creating the right conditions or helping them comply with requisites, in terms of the future we want to keep doing just that and increase the number of enterprises that we help and who can benefit.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards – 2017 edition launch

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3, 2, 1…. GO! EEPA 2017 is here! Across Europe the EEPA National Coordinators have been working hard to get ready for the 2017 edition of the awards.

Throughout 2017 there will be important dates to remember, starting with today, 23rd February, which marks the opening of EEPA 2017 by the European Commission. The national deadlines will differ across countries but will all be before the European deadline for submissions, on the 3rd of July. This will be followed by the Jury meeting and the announcement of the shortlist by the end of September. Finally, the prestigious awards ceremony will take place on the 23rd of November in the Estonian capital Tallinn as part of the SME Assembly.

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Public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States, as well as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey will be competing for the coveted awards, which go to the most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). All the information about the awards and application process can be found on the DG GROW website, and is available in all EU languages except for Irish. For 2017 there is a slight modification to the categories, and Category 5 ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’, has been suspended for one year.

The 2017 active EEPA categories are as follows:

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Interested in learning more about EEPA? Want to know what the awards ceremony is like? If you are thinking about applying for an award speak to your national coordinator and be sure to read the EEPA 2016 winner testimonials for some inspiration and advice. For more information about EEPA 2016 take a look at the shortlist and watch the ceremony below!

The EEPA secretariat team look forward to supporting you throughout the 2017 EEPA campaign. For support with social media, blogs and promoting EEPA in your country please contact Pavlina Dravecka promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu and for all other technical questions, please contact Andrew Dec, Secretariat Manager andrew.dec@LOWeurope.eu.

Stay updated with all EEPA news by following us on Twitter (@EEPA_EU and #EEPA2017) and Facebook (@PromotingEnterprise).

Download the Press release (doc).

EEPA – The winners of the 2016 edition

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The SME Assembly 2016 may be over, but the conversation continues! Today is an opportunity for us to present to you the European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners from the 2016 edition. You met them here on the blog when they were shortlisted, but here is an overview of the projects that came out on top…


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Category 1- Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, the winner was Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat (Lyon City of Entrepreneurship) from France. This initiative is a network of 46 organisations and 200 experts from across the region, working to promote the entrepreneurial spirit more widely, increase the number of businesses created and improve the robustness of new businesses. Each year, the network provides support to between 10,000 and 12,000 businesses and entrepreneurs, with 17 “access points” providing assistance, information and guidance. Experts provide support on the creation, takeover and handover of businesses and on aspects including how to grow or fund a business, start up and training.

In Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, the prize went to Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom. This project has created the world’s first internal, accredited, enterprise educator training programme. The training and support of over 600 staff of all disciplines to embed enterprise skills across the university curriculum has been at the heart of the programme. In the first two years alone 21 000 students were reached and over 2 000 freelance businesses created. Business and public sector projects projects benefited from student support resulting in an economic impact valued at over EUR 4.4 million (GBP £4 million).

In Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment, the category winner was Portuguese project Leader SME programme. This entry 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!


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Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business, it was Human Security Finland that came away the winner. This entry 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.


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Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency, the Lime Trees & Honey Bees for Sustainable Development of the Danube Microregion project from Serbia took the category prize. It strengthens the competitiveness of beekeeping in the Fruška Gora region and motivates young people to start beekeeping businesses. The project aims to increase the market share of Fruška Gora lime honey by investing in human resources and skills development, improved knowledge through scientific research, education and the introduction of new technologies. In addition, it ran a high-profile promotional campaign to raise public interest and created a marketing plan that changed the ad hoc approach of 8 beekeeper associations to a value-added, branded product, with export potential.  


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Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Dutch project The Rotterdam Business Case (De Rotterdamse Zaak), a work training company where students in higher vocational education and experienced business coaches help support entrepreneurs to improve their business practices and entrepreneurial skills, was the Jury’s winning choice. The project focuses on entrepreneurs who operate below the poverty line and are not financially able to find a solution to their problems. More than 600 entrepreneurs have already been helped through the combined efforts of experienced senior coaches, who act as a sounding board for entrepreneurs, and junior coaches who offer more practical support.


Finally, the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’, was awarded to Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden! Originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, this project 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. 

EEPA – Improving the business environment

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We continue our showcase of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist with an introduction to the national winners competing in Category-3 – Improving the Business Environment. These three projects, each with their own specific focus, have in common the fact that they improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in their respective countries – Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia. Two of the projects are based on a competition/award scheme, while the third is a co-working space that motivates young entrepreneurs.

konfetti-vinder-nsc-2016-copySo, in no particular order, the first in our list this week is Denmark’s Next Step Challenge (NSC). NSC is an ambitious European startup competition focusing on Smart Energy & Digitalisation and Sound & Home Integration. Ambitious startups are offered the chance to access a one-of-a-kind business development programme in direct collaboration with big corporations, SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen. Along with EUR 250 000 in prize money, the winners are also supported by SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen, who open up their organisations, share knowledge and strategy, and assist with product and/or business development. Check out their video!

The next project takes us to Portugal and the Leader SME programme, whichzmz_0083-edit annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015! Have a look at their video!

kikstarter-08KIKštarter was established to encourage young people in Slovenia to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. A co-working space in the deprived area of Kamnik, it provides entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and is home to 27 startups. The startups receive assistance and guidance in developing their ideas, have access to workspace, and participate in a series of motivational events. The project is contributing to the promotion of entrepreneurship to all residents in the area, which is undergoing regeneration, and helping to unlock the potential of the area and its people. The initiative has directly resulted in seven new businesses and at least as many new jobs with minimal financial investment.

Only one of these projects can be declared the ultimate winner in the category and, given the high standard of all three, the EEPA Jury is faced with a difficult choice. But choose they must, and their eventual choice will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced.

Don’t forget that you can still read about EEPA Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills national winners.

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    • Positive discrimination for national SMEs – Portuguese EEPA winner supports national enterprise March 23, 2017
      Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be sources of employment and innovation in a national economy, yet conditions are not always favourable when these enterprises compete against larger competitors. The winner of Category 3 (Improving the Business Environment) at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016, strives to create these conditions and an SME supportive […]
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      3, 2, 1…. GO! EEPA 2017 is here! Across Europe the EEPA National Coordinators have been working hard to get ready for the 2017 edition of the awards. Throughout 2017 there will be important dates to remember, starting with today, 23rd February, which marks the opening of EEPA 2017 by the European Commission. The national […]
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