The first edition of the WATIFY Solution Award will take place this year on 15-16 November in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of the Global Finals of the Creative Business Cup 2017. The Award is looking to recognise the next innovative SME that has technological transformation at the core of its successful business. This SME should be an inspiring example for other European SMEs and encourage them to adopt digital and/or key enabling technologies.
All entries will be screened against a set of pre-defined criteria by WATIFY experts in the fields of innovation and technology. This screening will result in a shortlist of 5 finalists.
The finalists will then pitch their cases in Copenhagen before a live audience and a Jury composed of business executives and senior representatives from the European Commission (DG GROW), its Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME), the Creative Business Cup and WATIFY, will decide on the overall WATIFY Solution Award winner 2017.
The winner will:
- Receive a 1000 euro prize
- Have the opportunity to showcase their technological transformation in a promotional video
- Be awarded a CBC/WATIFY Diploma certificate
- Have opportunities to network with entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe
Who can apply?
European SMEs and entrepreneurs that have gone, or are going through, a high-impact and innovative technological transformation.
In particular, the Jury will be looking for a creative transformation that:
- Innovates in terms of technology, product or service
- Brings about change in the value chains of industry and inside the company itself and/or can inspire new business models
- Shows unique value propositions
- Has scalability potential.
The application deadline is 24 October 2017. More information on the WATIFY Solution Award can be found here.
Environmentally friendly innovation, is it possible? Can new ideas be sustainable, economically viable and still be innovative?
The Eco-innovation action plan aims to prove that innovation does not have to be separate from being sustainable and environmentally friendly. In fact, many of the projects supported under the eco-innovation scheme prove that the two go hand in hand! Through promoting the concept of circular economy and engaging in sustainable practices, SMEs do not have to be excluded from eco-innovation and can in fact make it a strong part of their identity and a unique selling point.
Sound interesting? Interested in finding out more about: Eco-friendly paper bottles, Eco-lights made from soda bottles or ECO°PAPER made out of confectionary production waste? Browse through the project gallery to discover the diverseness of Eco-innovation in Europe.
For more information on how to apply and benefit from funding for eco-innovative ideas have a look at the DG Environment Eco-innovation website: http://ec.europa.eu
Have you heard the news? The third edition of the European Youth Event (EYE2018) is taking place on 1 and 2 June 2018. On this occasion, the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg will welcome more than 8,000 people aged between 16 and 30 from any EU member State or another European country.
The European Parliament offers once more a unique opportunity for young Europeans to make their voices heard and to come up with innovative ideas for the future of Europe. Participants will get the chance to discuss them with political decision-makers and inspiring personalities on the European stage.
EYE2018 includes a wide range of activities in English, French and German run under the motto “The plan is to fan this spark into a flame.” (Hamilton, My Shot). The activities centre around five main themes:
- Young and old: Keeping up with the digital revolution
- Rich and poor: Calling for a fair share
- Apart and together: Working out for a stronger Europe
- Safe and dangerous: Staying alive in turbulent times
- Local and global: Protecting our planet
Young people who want to take part need to register on this website between October and December 2017. After successfully registering, they can also shape the EYE programme by proposing to organise an activity or an artistic performance.
Those who cannot make it to Strasbourg will still be able to debate the five main themes of the event online and take part in competitions on social media before and during the event.
Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark, is back for a final interview with Promoting Enterprise. Today the subject is the future, what does it hold for innovation and enterprise? What can we expect? What are the trends telling us? Read on to find out…
In Denmark specifically, the public sector is embracing innovation, which I see as a positive thing. Overall, user driven innovation is increasing, as consumers and users begin to play larger roles in development, and there is a shift from only research based innovation. The current trend is disruption of society as there is a need for innovation for us to advance.
What measures/steps are you taking to encourage digital innovation in Region Zealand?
In Region Zealand we currently don’t do enough and as such we are not a front runner in the digital space. In Denmark however there have been some steps towards pushing companies to work digitally and make that digital transformation. The Danish Business Authority (which takes care of company registrations and working in the Danish public sector) took the controversial decision to make it mandatory for all companies to digitally invoice if they wanted to work in the public sector. Initially there was a lot of resistance but overall it helped – and is still helping companies – to transition to the digital sphere. As such, Denmark has no physical paper trails for monetary transactions and the public sector is going fully digital. That is truly innovative.
As director for innovation and growth, what do you see as the future of enterprise?
The same situation can be seen across all the EU countries, the public sector is under enormous strain which has and will continue to be a catalyst and driver for innovation. This in turn will result in increased cooperation and further blurring of public and private divisions. This blurring of divisions also relates to how the idea of employment is changing and evolving, which is not to say it is negative, but simply means that new working models are beginning to emerge. I see the future of enterprise as no longer including the ‘employee’ concept, I think this will be phased out. It is not uncommon now and nor will it be in future to have multiple jobs or hybrid employment models, alongside an overall merging of individuals and companies.
What does the future of enterprise look like in Denmark? Do you think it is different to global trends or where the future of enterprise will go globally?
Denmark has always had a strong focus on creating a business environment conducive to startups and entrepreneurs. So far we have been successful, but we also need to change in order to stay competitive and innovative. The new focus now needs to be on helping startups to scale up. So the big question for us now is how do we scale up in Denmark? Perhaps a larger and certainly important question is, how do we scale up in the EU?
If you enjoyed this insightful interview with Tue David Bak, be sure to read his other interviews right here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal.
First interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?
Second interview: Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions
What does the European Union (EU) invest in? What projects do they support? The EU is here to help support great ideas and give everybody a chance to get ahead and to give innovative European ideas a chance. Through different funding schemes the EU is able to invest in projects across the spectrum, from those that are investigating cleaner sources of energy, to those that aim to provide cutting edge healthcare.
In order to invest in such a diverse range of initiatives, the EU has a comprehensive Investment Plan. The investment plan focuses on removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and making smarter use of new and existing financial resources. To achieve these goals, the plan is active in three areas:
- mobilising investments of at least €315 billion in three years;
- supporting investment in the real economy;
- creating an investment friendly environment.
The Investment Plan provides background and context, but where does this investment go? On the InvestEU website, there are many different project stories to browse through, which highlight some of the innovative European projects that are being funded. In upcoming posts, Promoting Enterprise will be highlighting some of the projects from across the Member States and from different sectors.
Promoting Enterprise is proud to welcome back Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark. In his second interview with us, Tue sheds some light on startups, accelerators and incubators in Region Zealand and Denmark, current trends and the regional influences on startup culture.
In Denmark we have actually worked to avoid having too many regional accelerators and incubators, we prefer to have these bodies on a national level so as to keep them open to all Danish and even global companies. Global companies are not excluded from accessing our incubators and accelerators. As long as they have a Danish license and a physical presence in Denmark they can access all the resources. Through this openness we hope to facilitate a link between the Danish and global markets, thus making Denmark just as attractive as the Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs.
What trends are you seeing on the startup scene?
There is an increasing acknowledgement from startups that they do need help. The old idea of two guys in a garage doing everything on their own and not needing any support is starting to be replaced by the realisation that getting a startup to take off is difficult and that there a multitude of resources to draw from and that they are there for a reason. This links to another trend which is an overall change in mindset regarding partnerships. Similar to the collective realisation that they need help, startup founders are specifically beginning to value the need for partnerships with mentors, larger companies etc.
What trends are you seeing in startup culture? For example, does geography play a role?
Absolutely, just looking at the differences between Northern and Southern Europe is an illustration of the role of geography. I have more experience and expertise in Northern Europe, and overall I have seen that there is a strong entrepreneurial culture in Northern Europe, including acceptance of changes of career as a ‘normal’ part of professional life.
Even within countries geography is a big influence, a startup or company located in a rural area will not behave in the same way as an urban counterpart. Rural startups are more traditional working on the idea of being your own boss and are often less aggressive in their approach to scaling up. They are also more in line with the traditional Danish culture which means not standing out or drawing attention to yourself. In contrast urban areas are experiencing an aggressive growth of entrepreneurs.
Tue David Bak will be back next week on Promoting Enterprise for his final interview on the future of innovation and enterprise and what Denmark and the EU need to focus on to stay competitive.
Read his first interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?
Today on Promoting Enterprise we are joined by Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark. In the first of a series of interviews, he shares with us his experiences in identifying innovation and creating innovative environments.
Firstly, we must identify how innovation takes place before talking about how it is fostered. Innovation takes place via two processes:
1. Internal innovation within companies and organisations
2. Public or other innovative institutions creating innovation frameworks
In this context, I am going to focus more on the second process, as this is where the region plays a role. In Region Zealand there are different schemes which establish innovation frameworks to encourage innovative behaviour, for which specific funds are set aside. For example, one of the things that we do at the regional level is to reduce the risk for companies that are willing to invest in innovative ideas. Currently the focus is on innovation in the healthcare system. The region has set aside funds so that investors are taking financial fewer risks, and, hence, willing make much investments that are much greater than expected in innovation.
We also run gap financing schemes through universities, which also aim at reducing the level of risk for potential investors. Our role as the region is to bridge the gap between research and commercial finance, which in many cases could stop a potentially innovative body of research from receiving the necessary support to grow and expand. One example is the company Xnovo, which began as a research idea developed at the Technical University of Denmark. Through the support provided with the gap financing scheme it has now developed into a commercial company with its own private employees.
What are the key aspects of an environment that encourages innovation?
There are three main elements required for an innovative environment:
1. Private and public risk capital
You need free money to finance risk taking
2. The ability for public institutions to purchase innovative ideas
Region Zealand has recently changed its internal procurement laws to stimulate innovation by incentivising public institutions to purchase novel ideas and technology.
3. Excellent advising systems
Companies and individuals require guidance when it comes to innovation, therefore it is necessary to have easy to use support systems in place.
In the case of Region Zealand, I believe that we have all of the elements above but simply not enough of each. We can strengthen the advisory and support systems that currently exist. We can increase our in-house purchase of innovative ideas. In the United States the small business administration had special programmes to acquire public contracts, which is something we can learn from and build upon. In Denmark certain requirements for companies, e.g. a three year track record, have been taken away in order to make it easier for new startups which would not fulfil this criterion. Taking away this type of requirement could make certain steps in the process of scaling up and establishment easier, for example access to funds and schemes. Removing barriers is absolutely key, you have to make it easy, to provide incentives and minimise the risk of purchasing innovative ideas.
Stay tuned for more from Tue David Bak on global innovation, where it will lead us, the future of enterprise and trends in startup culture.
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.
Bottom-up innovation could be the competitive way forward for European advancement on the international stage across industrial sectors, and help to harmonise the current digitisation discrepancies across European industrial sectors. Digital innovation is necessary in order to keep up with the fast pace of digital technological change, but this fast pace can leave decision makers with difficult decisions regarding when to invest, to what level and in which technologies.
Currently around 60% of large industries and more than 90% of SMEs feel like they are lagging behind in digital innovation, which is why the European Commission (EC) has been actively developing Digital innovation hubs to ensure that every company, regardless of size and technological capabilities, can grasp digital opportunities.
There are already several initiatives and platforms from the EC that aim to shape the pan-European network of DIHs, with a focus on helping SMEs master their digital transformations:
- Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs (I4MS);
- Smart Anything Everywhere (SAE);
- Open Data Incubator Europe (ODINE);
- European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC);
- European Coordination Hub for Open Robotics Development (ECHORD++);
- Access Center for Photonics Innovation Solutions and Technology Support (ACTPHAST);
- Supercomputing Exercise for SMEs (SESAME NET);
- The call for tender EU13 DIHs;
- A thematic smart specialisation platform for industrial modernisation; and
With EU funding and the initiatives above, there has been not only an increase in competitiveness of existing industries, notably for SME and mid-caps, but also additional business creation in new digitised products and services. The EC aims to continue supporting these actions by channeling 500 million EUR over the next five years from Horizon 2020 budget.
For more information: https://ec.europa.eu
With a good idea, some investment and hard work, start-ups in the health and life sciences fields can get started in their local market. But if these firms are going to achieve meaningful growth, and if their innovations are going to benefit a wider audience, they will have to go abroad – which means understanding new regulations, a different culture and an unknown set of market realities.
This is where Product/Market Fit comes in. An EIT Health Accelerator programme, Product/Market Fit helps start-ups that have already established themselves in one market and are ready to expand beyond their borders. The support this programme offers has an estimated market value of EUR 25 000, but the opportunities it provides can be worth much more than that.
“Based on our experience in the Accelerator, grownup start-ups start needing support with going to other markets,” according to Katrien Van Gucht, a Co-Coordinator of the EIT Health Accelerator Strategy and Digital Health Program Manager at EIT Health partner IMEC. “We wanted to get in that sweet spot, right when they are ready to expand,’ said Johnny Waterschoot, who project manages European open calls for IMEC. “We are looking for companies that are ready to go beyond their borders, but lack the necessary funding to do just that. This programme will help them decide what markets to address next.”
According to Van Gucht, companies that are mature enough to qualify for this programme have typically raised about EUR 500 000 in investment and generally consist of two or three people. She said the companies obtain great value from the market testing that the programme can do. “The trial and error ratio of going out and seeing for themselves if they can make it in another market, we reduce this a great deal for them. They will see if they still need some work before they start growing in that market. Or the outcome could be that this market is not for them.”
If the entrepreneurs have the passion and drive to expand, the Product/Market Fit programme can provide them with many of the other tools they need.
Interested in finding out how to apply? Read more about the process here.
For more information: https://eit.europa.eu