Digital innovation, one of the themes of the SME Assembly 2017, is by far the biggest influencer, changing the way we do just about everything, from shopping to communication to running a business. Recently Gartner, Inc., revealed its top predictions for IT organisations and users for 2017 and beyond, focusing on three fundamental effects of continued digital innovation: experience and engagement, business innovation, and the secondary effects that result from increased digital capabilities.
- Augmented Reality
- By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality.
- Web Browsing
- By 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen.
- Mobile App Abandonment
- By 2019, 20 percent of brands will abandon their mobile apps.
- Knowledge Algorithms
- By 2020, algorithms will positively alter the behavior of more than 1 billion global workers.
- Blockchain Technology
- By 2022, a blockchain-based business will be worth $10 billion.
- Digital Giants
- By 2021, 20 percent of all activities an individual engages in will involve at least one of the top-seven digital giants.
- Digital Innovation Costs
- Through 2019, every $1 enterprises invest in innovation will require an additional $7 in core execution.
- Internet of Things Data Demands
- Through 2020, Internet of Things will increase data center storage demand by less than 3 percent.
- Internet of Things Savings
- By 2022, Internet of Things will save consumers and businesses $1 trillion a year in maintenance, services and consumables.
- Health Care Costs
- By 2020, 40 percent of employees can cut their health care costs by wearing a fitness tracker.
Interested in Digital Innovation? Curious about what lies in store for 2017 and beyond? Find out more about the predictions and where digital innovation is set to take us in 2017…
Pragmatism, knowing what works and thinking practically, all powerful tools for those in the world of entrepreneurship, startups, scale-ups and SMEs. This month’s featured book is Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking by William James. The book explores the validity of ideas based on their experiential and practical consequences, as well as the philosophical concept of radical empiricism.
Part of entrepreneurship is looking at existing problems and finding solutions, which can also mean defining the problem itself, something that William James explores in this collection of essays. Using a simple yet entertaining anecdote, Does a man go around a squirrel that is on a tree trunk if the squirrel keeps moving on the tree to keep the trunk always between himself and the man?, James demonstrates that an important distinction must be made and defined, ‘what constitutes ‘going round’ the squirrel?’. While abstract this principle can certainly be applied to entrepreneurs, who re-define ideas and concepts through innovation and in turn find effective solutions.
For more information:
Stepping into the working world as a fresh graduate is already a daunting prospect, especially for those wanting to start out as entrepreneurs. Today Promoting Enterprise presents an innovative Irish project designed to support these young and brave innovators.
EEPA Special Mention project IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme from Ireland, is a 9 month business development programme designed to support recent graduates turn innovative product and service ideas into sustainable, scalable businesses and in doing so, develop critical entrepreneurial skills. This interview gives us an insight into their application journey, their advice for EEPA 2017 applicants and what to expect from the project team in future.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
We heard about the competition via an email from Gillian Slattery, the Regional Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland. We had been running the programme since 2011 and the competition provided an excellent opportunity to see where we stood in comparison with similar programmes both nationally and internationally.
What was it like to receive a Special Mention?
It was very satisfying, we knew that we hadn’t been shortlisted for the main award so didn’t have any expectations. As a result it was a complete surprise.
How did winning immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?
The award is very important as international 3rd party validation of what we are doing for funders, sponsors and others who have supported the programme. The award was very positively received by our Local Authorities – Cork City and County Councils and we received letters of congratulation from the President of the University and the Senior Vice President Academic and Registrar.
Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?
It provided us with a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect on our project and we used the application process to provide a snapshot of the programme at that point in time. The Special Mention Award created a number of important opportunities to connect with others operating in the same space across Europe.
What are your plans for the future?
The plan is to double the programme over the next couple of years and to continue to develop the support offered to maximise the start-up success rate.
Calling all innovators! Do you know what is going to be happening in Malta on the 7th of March 2017?
The Ideas from Malta event is a collection of Ideas From Europe and Malta’s entries for business solutions to global challenges. If you are working on an idea that solves a global challenge, this is your opportunity to get recognised and gain the support you need to maximise impact. You can also nominate others.
From power, water & housing to education, healthcare & finance, if you are a Maltese / Dual citizen or resident of Malta building a solution to societal and environmental issues, we want you! Whilst the official deadline has passed you can still submit your ideas for consideration, feedback and guidance here.
Shortlisted innovators will be invited to present their idea at an event to be held in Malta on 7th March 2017. The winner will be Malta’s representative for Ideas from Europe. All innovators who submit an idea will be reviewed and provided with opportunities to further their development, including access to mentors, internships, partners and investors.
This is a unique opportunity to gain access to the partners and funding you need to reach your goals. Let’s help you get there and maybe even further: to the Ideas from Europe finals taking place at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn.
For more information: www.ideasfrommalta.com
Innovative business ideas can come from all sorts of people, as seen today in the next European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016 winner interview. Read about these successful project journeys, and pick up their useful tips and tricks for future applicants.
This interview looks at one of the EEPA 2016 Special Mentions, Latvian project Radam Novadam (Create for County), represented here by project coordinator Andris Cheksters. This project, which received Erasmus+ funding that was granted by Agency of International Programms for Youth in Latvia, is a competition for students with three key objectives: To generate added economic value in Latvian regions, To discover and unleash the skills and abilities of students to help them along in their careers and finally to build a new generation of socially responsible entrepreneurs.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
I first heard about the EEPA competition when I was working on the project, and thought it looked like a good opportunity. We were planning to launch the project one more time and thought that should we be recognised with this award that it might help us obtain the necessary funding to continue providing this opportunity for students to get into the entrepreneurial mindset.
How did you go about preparing your application?
We actually applied quite late in June, and in Latvia the national winners are announced in July so we did not have much time to prepare. It was actually a surprise when we found out we were national winners because we did not hear anything for quite a while so just assumed that nothing had happened and forgot about the application.
What was it like to win the award and what kind of response did you receive?
It was definitely a surprise and it felt good to be promoted on a European level. We actually were surprised twice, first by being announced as national winners and again when we found out we were going to be a special mention at the SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava! It made our work feel appreciated and recognised, which is great for our project because the student teams in the competition can also benefit from extra exposure.
How did winning the award immediately impact your work?
It was not particularly big news on a national level, but it was a big thing both for myself and all the project partners. There were several articles written about the project, and the exposure the award gives definitely helped with our credibility. I am not sure if this is a direct result of the exposure, but around the same time we also managed to secure some funding we had applied for to help continue running the competition for students.
Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?
The award has already helped in terms of scaling up the project, which really suits my vision for this project’s future. In future hopefully this project can be replicated across different European countries so that all European students and youth can start companies and use their local advantages in order to create international teams and in turn successful businesses. The project has a different structure to other ‘business idea’ competitions with a reality show style format and a focus on actual results and created economic values, so I want to bring this innovation and entrepreneurial opportunity to other European countries.
Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?
This award provides recognition which is always good for project, especially if that recognition comes from a higher and recognised entity like the European Commission. This level of validity and credibility makes it much easier to launch a project or to look for funding, which is support we need with our innovative approach.
The project will re-launch again on 6 February to continue the search for inspiring entrepreneurs!
On the first day of the SME Assembly 2016, acclaimed French economist, Professor Philippe Aghion, gave the Inaugural Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture, during which he warned that people in countries who do not share in the wealth created by reform, and feel ignored, will respond at the ballot box. He declared that reform must be ‘inclusive’ and spoke of the power of innovation to produce social mobility.
Philippe Aghion is the Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics at Harvard University, an invited professor at the Paris School of Economics, and Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics. He talked of the need for many countries to undergo fiscal and structural reform in order for them to truly prosper, but added that reform alone would not be enough – countries must still be open and innovative. Comparing the US economy with European ones, he asked the audience ‘why is Europe not growing as fast as the US; why after the crisis are we on a very low growth path in Europe; and how can you deliver growth across Europe?’, to which he responded that the US is more ‘resilient’ and growing faster than Europe for several reasons, including the fact that it has a more proactive ‘macro-policy’, is more ‘counter-cyclical’ and has a more flexible labour market.
Some European countries need structural reform, and he stated that investment in infrastructure and structural reform are complementary, and unless this reform is implemented, the disadvantaged will react accordingly. What is required is “good education and good training” in order to help them attain employment and share in wealth creation. Innovation is also key because there is a “positive relationship between innovation and social mobility”. So, he argued, we should “encourage and reward the reformers”.
Professor Philippe Aghion delivered compelling arguments as to why reform is needed and how to go about aiding European economies to grow. He left the audience with much to contemplate including the following: “If we want to revive the idea of Europe, people to love Europe, Europe has to deliver growth. If we don’t deliver growth, it is over”.
The lecture was the first of the annual Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture series and is now available to watch here (37mins).
For further information, please contact:
Press & PR Manager for the SME Assembly and EEPA 2016
Tel: +44 7976 728 051
Petar Isirov an entrepreneur who formed part of the creation of Kartner-M, a privately held label printing company. They are based in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia and were founded in 2014. In this blog post, Petar talks about his motivation for starting a business and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
After talking with friends in the food and beverage industry, we realised that many local companies had problems with the quality of their labels. They couldn’t do marketing campaigns properly, and the quality of the labels made it difficult for them to export their products around the world. We saw an opportunity to bring something new to the printing industry in our country, something that would help many businesses.
We found the money we needed by pooling our resources and getting loans. We used it to buy the necessary machines and organise ourselves to work efficiently. Europe is a great place to be an entrepreneur because the business environment is always developing and improving. There are countless opportunities for entrepreneurs; all you need is the right idea. I believe Europe is very supportive of young entrepreneurs, which helps motivate young people to consider becoming entrepreneurs. However, more EU involvement in countries like FYR of Macedonia would benefit small and medium enterprises to develop their business more efficiently, and expand operations outside of their countries.
Persistence is essential for entrepreneurship because it’s difficult to succeed and even more so when you are a young, aspiring company. For me, a great leader is committed to a cause, outgoing and able to take responsibility and risks. They are able to motivate, have a vision for the company, have objectives and be aware of their surroundings.
For more information: www.kartner-m.mk
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.
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.
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.
The surge in innovation triggered by the invention of the internet and the development of the worldwide web 20 years ago has, to put it bluntly, changed everything. Apps appear (and disappear) all the time as we seek to harness the power of a virtually free globalised communication system. There are apps to tell us how many kilometres we’ve run, jogged, walked; there are apps to monitor our health, apps that recognise wine labels and can tell us where to buy a bottle; there are even apps to tell us about apps.
Some of these apps will turn out to be useful, some will be a flash in the pan, and some will be game-changers … but so far none will tell you how to be successful in starting up a business and making it grow.
If the truth be told, although the internet has changed everything, everything has stayed the same. The challenges of starting and developing a business are the same now as they have always been. Whether you’re operating in the infotech world of apps or have developed a new medical procedure, if you want to monetise it then you need to answer one fundamental question: what are we going to sell, in what market, and at what price?
Although the question is simple, the answer is probably not because inherent in it is a business fundamental: can we sell enough of our product to generate sufficient cashflow to allow the business to survive? Let’s remember, without cashflow, the business will fail: it’s as harsh as that.
If your analysis shows that you’re unlikely to sell sufficient volume and you’re unable to market it at a sufficiently high price, then this suggests that you’re unlikely to be able to start up a company. But that’s not the end of it: if, in your opinion, the product or service is a genuine game-changer then, after establishing your intellectual copyright, you could market it on licence to one of the big players in the field and take royalties
The real business world is one of harsh reality. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute for every 100 start-ups, 25 fail in the first year, 27 fail in the second year and 21 fail in the third year. That’s a staggering 73% failure rate over the first three years. The main reasons are: incompetence (particularly emotional pricing, taking too much from the business, non-payment of taxes, no knowledge of pricing, lack of planning, lack of knowledge of financing and no experience in record keeping) and lack of managerial experience (particularly poor credit granting practices and too rapid expansion).
Having invented a game-changing and innovative product, remember that starting up your own company is not necessarily the right answer. So consider sharing the risks and working with others to monetise your great idea.
The concept of the “State Startup” (Start-up d’Etat) was developed by the French SGMAP (Secrétariat Général pour la Modernisation de l’Action Publique) to improve digital services offered to citizens by the state. State Startups use agile methodologies to develop and improve administrative web services so as to bring them closer to citizens. Users, product teams and ministries collaborate to improve online public services.
- In December 2012, CIMAP (the Comité Interministériel pour la Modernisation de l’Action Publique ordered French ministries to collect information on citizens’ needs so as to simplify administrative procedures.
- In 2013, the French President officially announced measures (in a program called “le choc de simplification”) to simplify the relations between citizens, private companies and public administration. A first wave of 170 measures were initiated in July 2013. In January 2014, the Council of Simplification was put in place. In February 2016, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced 170 new measures.
- In November 2013 a new French law (2013–1005) empowered the government to simplify its relationships with citizens. The “Faire-Simple” project is an example of an implementation of this law.
- The State Startup concept was officially launched during Public Innovation Week in October 2015, after two years of experimentation.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
After two years of experimentation, the concept of a State Startup (Start-up d’Etat in French) was officially introduced in October 2015, during France’s Public Innovation Week. “We develop Web applications created with and for administrations”, explains Hela Ghariani, project owner at SGMAP, which is part of DINSIC. The Direction interministérielle du numérique et du système d’information et de communication (DINSIC) is the new French government IT organisation, the 2015 merger between the predecessor DISIC and Etalab, the government’s open data hub. Ms Ghariani runs Mes-Aides.gouv.fr, which is an example of a State Startup.
15 startups are now being incubated by DINSIC, including :
- Marché Public Simplifié (MPS – Simplified Public Market), which facilitates the tendering process by requiring only a company ID number (SIRET);
- Le.Taxi, a mobile application for ordering taxis through a nation-wide geolocalised database;
- La Bonne Boîte (“the right employer”), connecting job-seekers to companies who are recruiting; and
- Mes Aides, a simulator for state benefits (see below).
Identify & fix real problems
The goal of State Startups is to identify real problems, quickly develop applications and web services to solve them, and ultimately help to modernise public services in France. To accelerate the development process and build applications close to the needs of citizens, State Startups rely on modern management methods (agile methods) like those generally used in private startup companies.
“In developing a web application that solves a user problem, it is quite difficult to follow the traditional processes used by the French administration,” said Hela Ghariani.
So with State Startups the development of public digital services is moving away from the traditional approach and instead relies on small teams. These teams focus on identifying a problem and solving it via a digital solution. “This is how we prototype better public services online” Hela Ghariani says.
The small teams in the DINSIC Incubator are usually made of:
- Developer: understands the technical and the users’ issues;
- Product Owner: defines how the project will solve the problems it has identified;
- Coach: coordinates the project as a whole and helps the team to stay focus on making the best product.
Lean startup methodology
“These teams rely on the working methods used by startups,” Hela Ghariani says. To adapt to the limited financial resources, each State Startup comprises just two people: “These limited resources force us to be creative in finding solutions. We are trying to eliminate constraints that exist today in the administrative world when it comes to producing a web service,” she says. With the new approach, the first prototypes are ready for production within six months.
State Startups use a methodology known as Lean Startup. “This identifies a public service that needs to be improved to meet citizens’ expectations,” Hela Ghariani says. “We try to understand the user’s problem, and identify how they interact with the administration.” Once the problem is well defined, the team starts to prototype a product. The teams use agile methods like Scrum, tailoring them according to the project, the ecosystem and the external partners.
Users are at the heart of the process of identifying the problem and developing a solution. “Tests are carried out with users according to the nature of the project,” explains Hela Ghariani.
An interministerial mission
Government ministries are also committed to the process, and serve as business experts. “State Startups have an interministerial mission because most of the time they involve services that cross the boundaries between several administrations,” says Hela Ghariani.
The source code of the final Web application is open and available under several open licenses. The source code is available on GitHub.
Main results, benefits and impacts
The example of Mes-aides.gouv.fr, a simulator for state benefits
Hela Ghariani manages a State Startup called Mes-aides.gouv.fr, which shows French citizens the state benefits they are entitled to. “Problems with state benefits were identified in a study conducted by SGMAP in 2013,” she says. “One of the questions was: ‘Why do some people never ask for the benefits they are eligible for?’. Indeed, some of the social benefits were poorly designed and that information about benefits was not reaching the right people. The eligibility criteria were really complex, so a typical person may not know whether he or she is eligible for one or more benefits,” says Hela Ghariani.
The first draft of Mes Aides was posted less than six months after the project began. A beta was online on October 2014, after four months of development.
According to the dashboard of digital services published by SGMAP in 2015, 26% of French people used online services in 2015. They recorded a satisfaction rate of 89%, which is very high. 20 out of 27 administrative procedures recorded an increase in the share of digital applications, reveals the barometer.
- The chronological evolution of “Le choc de simplication” (PDF in French)
- The governmental portal dedicated to the modernisation of public action
Source: European Commision, Joinup portal