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EEPA – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

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

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

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

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

The final winner of the category, chosen by  the EEPA Jury, will be revealed in less than four weeks at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced. Let the countdown begin!

An overview of the previous three categories presented:

EEPA 2016 shortlist announced!

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

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

eepa-2016-shortlist
The winners are spread pretty evenly across Europe, with only Serbia featuring on the list more than once, with winning projects in the Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency categories. We will present all of the shortlisted projects, category by category, on the Promoting Enterprise blog over the next six weeks.

The winner in each category will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced. All of the national winners will have their costs covered to send one representative to attend the SME Assembly, while shortlisted projects will be able to send two representatives.

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

 

Lithuania: New trends in business finance

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LithuaniaMicrofinance is gaining growing recognition as a cost-effective tool for both social inclusion and regional economic growth in Europe. In 2010, the Lithuanian Government used part of its European Social Fund (ESF) allocation to promote entrepreneurship in the country through a financial instrument, called the Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund (EPF). A total of €14.48 million in ESF funds was distributed as low-interest loans and loans with favourable terms to SMEs and start-ups in Lithuania. The SMEs were also offered free training and consultations on how to strengthen their business.

“The combination of different measures – guarantees, training, interest rate subsidies, and compensation for employee salaries – was very important, not only for financing SMEs, but also for ensuring their sustainable development in the future. Together with experienced partners we ensured that the emerging market gap was immediately addressed and that the instrument was flexible enough to satisfy the demands of young SMEs,” said Audrius Zabotka, General Director of INVEGA, the guarantee institution established by the Government of Lithuania and supervised by the Ministry of Economy.

The EPF aims to address the market gap in access offering low-interest loans (up to €24,907) at better-than-market conditions, in combination with free training, to micro and small enterprises that have been operating for less than one year, as well as individual entrepreneurs and business-oriented social enterprises. Priority is given to disadvantaged groups, including the unemployed, disabled, youth (under 29 years of age) and individuals over 50 years old.

The combination of loans and training is a very important aspect of the strategy. Although training is not obligatory, it is very popular among the SMEs. Providing training on different aspects of business development improves entrepreneurial and management capacities. It also increases the scope for creating jobs and reduces the probability of loan defaults by the entrepreneurs.

Zabotka continued: “We believe that we have reached the primary aim of this financial instrument – to promote self-employment and entrepreneurship as a sustainable way of keeping people active in business and the labour market. Moreover, by the end of 2014, due to the re-investment nature of this instrument the value of loan agreements with final recipients was 27% higher than the total amount of the total fund. In other words, 27% of funds were already re-invested.”

The EPF issued its first loan in November 2010. Since then, the EPF has supported over 1,100 new businesses, which have created almost 2,600 new jobs.

Supporting youth in finding their first job

From 2013, INVEGA implemented its ‘Support for the first job’ instrument, which seeks to promote youth employment. Using this instrument, a part of the salary of a young employees (16-29 years) in their first job, is reimbursed to the employers. This instrument represents a new kind of support, allowing young people to gain work experience, and encouraging employers to invest in young people. There is currently €9.27 million allocated to this instrument from the ESF.

Zabotka said: “Usually it is hard to find your first job just after your graduation as young people don’t have much experience in the labour market. On the other hand the employers say that is too expensive to train young specialists and they tend to change jobs frequently. Thus, this measure aims to bring real benefits for both sides. At the moment we have more than 2400 companies investing in over 16 000 young people.”

Support under this instrument is available to both private and public legal entities (excluding budgetary institutions), branches and representative offices of foreign companies in Lithuania, and natural persons employing staff under 29 years of age.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2014: Winners announced

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eepa-ceremony-2014

 

The seven winners of the eighth annual European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced in Naples at the SME Assembly, which is the cornerstone of European SME Week.

The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Encouraging Business Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children, a Hungarian project that seeks to help mothers develop the skills and mind-set to launch and run successful businesses. It offers online resources and training programmes. The project also holds the Entrepreneurial Women’s Roundtable to help mothers navigate the world of business and build relationships with one another.

Winners in the six official categories included organisations from Lithuania, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. These and many other initiatives encompassed areas as diverse as technology, sustainability and textile and proposed innovative solutions to a range of issues from pollution to lack of corporate social responsibility.

Below is the breakdown of winners and runners-up in each of the six competing categories.

 

Category 1: Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit

Winner:

Lithuania – Mobile Apps Laboratories

Responsible organisation: App Camp, JSC

 

Runners up:

Austria  AplusB build!

Responsible organisation: build! Gründerzentrum Kärn GmbH

Netherlands – 20-80 Learning

Responsible organisation: Willem van Oranje College

 

Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Winner:

Bulgaria  Brandiko

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Economy & Energy

 

Runners up:

Germany – Brennerei Next Generation Lab

Responsible organisation:  Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH

Serbia – Western Balkans Business Challenge

Responsible organisation: Junior Achievement Serbia

 

Category 3: Improving the Business Environment

Winner:

Spain – Start-up in 3

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Finance and Public Administration (MINHAP)

 

Runners up: 

Italy – Grow and Compete with Business Network  Contracts

Responsible organisationUnioncamere Emilia-Romagna

United Kingdom  The Sharp Project

Responsible organisation: The Sharp Project

 

Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Winner:

Italy – Mirabilia: European Network of UNESCO Sites

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

 

Runners up:

Netherlands – Get in the Ring

Responsible organisation: Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship

France –The Living Heritage Company Label

Responsible organisation: Directorate for Competitiveness, Industry and Services

 

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

Winner:

Portugal – AMS – Thinking Ahead

Responsible organisation: Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal, Public Enterprise (“AICEP”) in partnership with AMS-BR STAR PAPER, S.A. (“AMS”).

 

Runners up:

Malta – EU LIFE+ Investing in Water

Responsible organisation: Malta Business Bureau

Turkey – Developing a Widely Applicable, Low-Cost Model for Clean Production in the Textile Finishing Industry

Responsible organisation: Uludağ Textile Exporters Association (UTEA)

 

Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Winner:

Germany –Wiesbaden Engaged

Responsible organisation: Municipality of the City of Wiesbaden – Agency for Social Work

 

Runners up:

Poland – Consortium of the design “Construction and equipment of the Intramunicipal Vocational Rehabilitation Centre”

Responsible organisation: Polish Association for Persons with Mental Handicap, Szczecin Branch

France – The Entrepreneurs Team

Responsible organisation: National Association of Designer Groups (ANGC)

 

Special mentions:

United Kingdom  Primary to Professional

Responsible organisation: Gower College Swansea

Austria – Sources of Strength

Responsible organisation: Industrie- und Wirtschaftsentwicklung Murtal GmbH

Portugal – DO IT – Ideas of Portuguese Origin

Responsible organisation: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

LOGIN Startup Fair 2014

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LOGIN-Startup-Fair-2014

Graphic courtesy of facebook.com/startuplithuania

In April 2014 participants at the LOGIN Startup Fair were presented with innovative business ideas from 54 startup teams, 40 of which presented their products at the event.

The representatives of 24 venture capital funds and seven start-up accelerators, who were looking for new talent in Lithuania, attended the event. Among the guests were Europe’s largest venture capital fund Balderton Capital, Israel’s largest venture capital fund Pitango Venture Capital and investors that have already invested in start-ups founded by Lithuanians such as Wellington Partners and Intel Capital.

The “Matchmaking Area” saw 229 one-on-one meetings take place between investors and start-ups during the two days of the event.

Contact

Rimante Ribačiauskaitė, Project manager, Enterprise Lithuania, r.ribaciauskaite@enterpriselithuania.com, +370 618 0605

15 countries have projects in European Enterprise Promotion Awards shortlist

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The 2014 EEPAs will be presented in Naples, Italy

The 2014 EEPAs will be presented in Naples, Italy

Hundreds of projects competed in the 2014 national competitions for a chance to represent their country in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, due to be presented in October.

A record number of 31 countries entered the 2014 EEPAs. 22 projects from 15 countries – Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and the UK – were shortlisted during the jury meeting held earlier this summer.

Commenting on the shortlist, Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, the newly appointed Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, stressed the creativity and imagination used to produce these outstanding results. He said it proves exactly why harnessing and celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit is so important to driving the growth of European business. He believes that the 22 shortlisted projects will inspire and encourage young people and women especially, to choose entrepreneurship as a viable career path.

 

Shortlist for the 2014 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Austria: AplusB build! Start-Up Centre’s two main goals are to promote entrepreneurship as a career option and stimulate entrepreneurship by providing coaching, training and financial support for innovative start-up projects in the Carinthia region. Their goal is to support 8-10 new start-up projects each year, and the initiative has already funded more than 95 start-ups, with over 90 per cent of these companies trading successfully.

Responsible organisation: build! Gründerzentrum Kärn GmbH

Organisation website: www.build.or.at

 

Hungary: Encouraging Business Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children helps mothers to acquire the entrepreneurial skills and mindset to start a business and make it profitable. The project delivers online resources including a blog, Facebook page, e-learning training programmes and a weekly newsletter, as well as the Entrepreneurial Women’s Roundtable meeting to help mothers navigate the world of business and network with each other. The project also hosts the annual Mother Company of the Year competition and the Business Mums’ Conference.

Responsible organisation: Gazdagmami Kft.

Organisation website: www.gazdagmami.hu

 

Lithuania: Mobile Apps Laboratories is an initiative to promote entrepreneurship in information and communication technologies. Working in the four biggest Lithuanian education institutions, Mobile Apps Laboratories bring together young people with academics and industry professionals to deliver ‘App Camp’ during their bachelor, master or PhD dissertation works, with the objective of bringing innovative new products and services to the market. It also aims to increase the number of women starting businesses in information technology.

Responsible organisation: App Camp, JSC

Organisation website: http://www.appcamp.lt/

 

Netherlands: International Business College 20:80 Learning is an entrepreneurial programme for students in secondary education. The young students complete the standard Dutch secondary school course in four days per week (80%) and during the remaining time (20%) they have an International Business College (IBC) day where they set up and run their own business. There are currently 10 active IBC schools and 350 students involved in this education programme.

Responsible organisation: International Business College

Project website: www.20-80learning.nl

 

Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Bulgaria: Brandiko educates students on how to build a brand and register the brand as a Community Trade Mark. Students establish training companies and are mentored on how to build and manage their own brand, market the brand and use it to increase sales. Pupils also learn about the importance of intellectual property protection. More than 1,700 students have completed the Brandiko programme.

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Economy & Energy

Organisation website: www.mi.government.bg

 

Germany: BRENNEREI Next Generation Lab enables master’s students and graduates to learn and develop new entrepreneurial approaches. Together with professionals from the science and creative industries, scholars work full-time in inter-disciplinary teams to solve the real problems of companies or public entities. The activities include analyses and finding novel approaches that are socially relevant in the areas of communication, product design, and use of new media. Approximately 60 applications from all over Europe have been received for the 2014 scholarship.

Responsible organisation: WFB Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH

Organisation website: www.wfb-bremen.de

Project website: www.brennerei-lab.de

 

Serbia: Western Balkans Business Challenge is a unique competition for high school students from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. In mixed teams (4 students from each country), they compete to provide the best business idea for the challenge put before them. The initiative develops entrepreneurial and financial skills and motives the students to think proactively. At least 1,500 students and 200 business community representatives have participated in the competition so far.

Responsible organisation: Junior Achievement Serbia

Organisation website: www.ja-serbia.org

 

UK: Primary to Professional (P2P) engages primary and secondary school pupils introducing them to important entrepreneurial skills including creativity, innovation and risk taking and leads to a specialist enterprise academy for start-up businesses. This has developed into supporting business start-ups with the first Start up Weekend in Wales and the new Tech Hub for new Tech Entrepreneurs. More than 4,000 secondary school pupils have taken part in Young Business Dragons and enterprise is now embedded in a number of educational institutions across Swansea.

Responsible organisation: Gower College Swansea

Organisation website: www.gowercollegeswansea.ac.uk

 

Category 3: Improving the Business Environment

Austria: Sources of Strength has five clear objectives to improve the manufacturing economy in the Murtal-Murau region. These include building a sustainable image of the industrial/manufacturing economy, positioning this sector as an attractive employer, strengthening the integration of businesses in the region and developing an industrial tourist product and launching this into the tourism market. Since its inception, 61 leading companies have come together to strengthen the integration of industry and trade services in the region.

Responsible organisation: Industrie- und Wirtschaftsentwicklung Murtal GmbH

Project website: http://kraft.dasmurtal.at

 

Italy: Grow and Compete with Business Network Contracts promotes and disseminates a business contract culture and to support companies interested in setting up business networks, particularly to facilitate internationalisation processes and increase competitiveness in foreign markets. The project includes a training phase and a customised support phase for businesses expressing an intention to aggregate through network contracts. So far, the project has led to 12 network contracts being finalised, involving 50 businesses.

Responsible organisation: Unioncamere Emilia-Romagna

Organisation website: www.ucer.camcom.it

 

Spain: Start-up in 3 is a technology platform that streamlines and simplifies business creation and business start-up procedures, linking existing platforms through a single point of access and connecting all the Local Authorities in Spain. The aim of the project is to reduce the time between the establishment of the company and the time it takes for the enterprise to become operational to just three days which is achieved by registering the enterprise through a cloud-based system.

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Finance and Public Administration (MINHAP)

Organisation website: www.minhap.es

 

UK: The Sharp Project has converted a redundant distribution centre into a media hub for over 60 companies, including those specialising in digital content production, digital media and TV and film production. It is where space, power, connectivity and people converge in the inspiring surroundings to develop careers and compete on a global stage. The aim of the project is to reduce barriers that prevent creative and digital businesses from growing, creating work and generating wealth.

Responsible organisation: Manchester City Council

Project website: http://www.thesharpproject.co.uk/

 

Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

France: The French Label Living Heritage Company focuses on quality assessment and is awarded by the French Government to distinguish companies with excellent craft and industrial skills. Recognised businesses are characterised by a long trading history, innovation capabilities and rare know-how that has helped establish their reputation. Since 2005, the label has been awarded to 1,157 companies, who account for 53,000 jobs and more than €11 billion in cumulative turnover.

Responsible organisation: French Government

Organisation website: http://www.dgcis.gouv.fr/

 

Italy: Mirabilia: European Network of UNESCO Sites links together areas of common historical, cultural and environmental significance for the first time. The project is aimed at creating a network of places recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage sites, but which are lesser known to Italian and international tourism, with the aim of promoting them in a co-ordinated and organised way to Italian and foreign tourists.

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

Organisation website: www.mt.camcom.it

Project website: www.mirabilianetwork.eu

 

Netherlands: Get in the Ring is a worldwide platform for start-ups to raise capital. It brings together the most promising entrepreneurs from around the world and gives them a chance to secure an investment of up to €1,000,000 by pitching in front of prominent international investors. There have been 1326 participating start-ups attracting over €6million in investments.

Responsible organisation: Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship

Project website: www.getinthering.nl

 

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

Malta: EU LIFE+ Investing in Water is aimed at identifying water saving measures amongst best practice enterprises, disseminating this information to others and supporting their implementation. The project is focussed on sharing information through face to face meetings, printed materials and an interactive CD, workshops and via the website. The project has identified 26 best practice enterprises and saved an estimated 141 million litres of water per annum.

Responsible organisation: Malta Business Bureau

Organisation website: http://www.mbb.org.mt/

Project website: http://www.investinginwater.org/

 

Portugal: AMS – Thinking Ahead set itself the challenge of becoming ‘the most efficient supplier of tissue on the Iberian Peninsula’, achieving this through innovation and differentiation. It has revolutionized traditional industrial processes by installing a pipeline connection to its pulp supplier; a unique alliance that has reduced CO2 emissions by 11,000 tonnes per year and generated significant competitiveness in external markets.

Responsible organisation: Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal, Public Enterprise (“AICEP”) in partnership with AMS Gomà-Camps, S.A. (“AMS”)

Organisation website: http://www.portugalglobal.pt/PT/Paginas/Index.aspxhttp://www.amspt.eu/

 

Turkey: Developing a Widely Applicable, Low-Cost Model for Clean Production in the Textile Finishing Industry is a pioneering project which develops models to reduce the quantity of raw materials used in the textile industries and promote sustainable production. The project has resulted in solid methodologies and processes that can be widely adopted and used by a multitude of manufacturing businesses at almost no cost.

Responsible organisation: Uludağ Textile Exporters Association (UTEA)

Organisation website: www.uib.org.tr

 

Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

France: The Entrepreneurs Team helps young and unskilled people, including those excluded from school, to succeed in employment and autonomy. Offering teaching and coaching based on entrepreneurship, the project involves two main phases; a University Diploma in Business Creation which is accessible to the unqualified, followed by socio-professional support in conjunction with an entrepreneurship advisory body and a University. The project has supported 167 individuals; 23% have successfully created their own business.

Responsible organisation: Association Nationale des Groupements de Créateurs (ANGC)

Organisation website: www.groupement-de-createurs.fr

 

Germany: Wiesbaden Engaged – the corporate citizenship strategy of the city of Wiesbaden – promotes the social sense of responsibility of businesses and entrepreneurs in Wiesbaden. They have developed four key activities within the project; an annual day promoting social engagement, two long term projects promoting integration and employability, an award for engaged businesses to establish a local reputation and participation in a national corporate social responsibility networking and consultation project.

Responsible organisation: Municipality of the City of Wiesbaden – Agency for Social Work

Project website: www.wiesbaden.de

 

Poland: The Construction and Equipping of the Intramunicipal Vocational Rehabilitation Centre aims to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities, particularly mental disabilities, enabling them to participate equally in society and in a professional capacity. The Rehabilitation Centre offers employment within eight departments including catering, laundry, garden maintenance, cleaning and hygiene, assembly/disassembly and recycling. Employees not only earn an income, but also receive training in vocational and social skills to encourage independent living.

Responsible organisation: Polish Association for Persons with Mental Handicap, Szczecin Branch

Organisation website: www.psouuszczecin.org.pl

 

Portugal: DO IT – The idea behind Portuguese Origin is a competition to use the experience, talent and dynamism of Portuguese emigrants to benefit their country of origin. Under the slogan ‘They think of it there, they do it here”, the project aims to select and promote ideas and support the realisation of social entrepreneurship projects which contribute to transforming emigration trends in an effective way for Portuguese society and the country as a whole.

Responsible organisation: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Organisation website: www.gulbenkian.pt

Take a look at past European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners: 2012; 2013; Grand Jury Prize 2006-2012.

32,000 young entrepreneurs at Enterprise Lithuania events

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The logo of Enterprise Lithuania

The logo of Enterprise Lithuania

“Business rocks” is a series of events held in 16 cities. Organised by Enterprise Lithuania to promote young entrepreneurship, it has been running for four years.

Participants are shown how to establish a business by locally and nationally-recognised business leaders. A series of practical exercises help young people to improve their skills and test their knowledge of business environment.

Over 32,000 people visited events from 2011-2013. By May 2014, 5,000 participants had attended the first five events.

Contact

Inga Stegvilaitė, Project manager, Enterprise Lithuania, i.stegvilaite@enterpriselithuania.com, +370 614 98243

European Enterprise Promotion Awards holds 2014 jury meeting

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Members of the EEPA jury and EEPA secretariat meeting in Brussels

Members of the EEPA jury and EEPA secretariat meeting in Brussels

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury met on 9 July, 2014 in Brussels, to consider a record number of entries from 31 countries, including from 28 EU member states.

After much deliberation, 22 projects have been shortlisted. The winners for each of the six categories will be announced at an Awards ceremony at the SME Assembly in October.

The 2014 jury is made up of members of the outgoing Greek Presidency of the Council and the current Italian Presidency along with representatives from government, business, and academia. Joanna Drake from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry, chairs the jury.

Projects from the following countries were shortlisted: Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

Find out more about the impact and objectives of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.

Watch highlights from the 2013 ceremony:

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