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Ideas from Europe 2017 – Joint Development. Shared Purpose.

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Ideas from Europe 2017 is about to begin! So what can you expect and what are the key dates that you need to remember?

Ideas from Europe was launched in 2015 as a joint initiative of the SME Envoy network and the Dutch government, and will soon become a formal not-for-profit foundation based in the Netherlands in order to continue its activities at European level.

The primary aim of Ideas from Europe, was to shine light on European visionary entrepreneurs – we believe that most of the solutions to our global challenges are already out there, in the hands of visionary entrepreneurs.

The 2017-2018 edition of Ideas from Europe will kick off on 6 April 2017 in Malta, and marks the start of a new search for potential solutions to global challenges. All 27 EU Member States are involved in searching for innovative ideas and the entrepreneurs behind them, and together with Ideas from Europe will give them the opportunity to present their ideas on a European stage. The 2017-2018 programme will continue with a scaling up of ideas from 2016, which will run in parallel with the new search from May to November 2017.

The semi-finals will be held during the SME Assembly 2017 in late November 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, which will be complemented by a public vote across the EU to help find the top ideas in Europe.

For more information on Ideas from Europe be sure to keep checking their website for updates.

Do you have an idea that could compete on European level? Do you think you have a potential solution to a global challenge? Why not get in touch with Ideas from Europe and enter your idea for consideration? Contact them for information at info@ideasfrom.eu.

Look here for more information on previous speakers.

Ideas from Malta – Will we see you there?

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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

The importance of creativity in business

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The blog post on 30 May, talked about creativity being at the heart of scaling up, but creativity is also at the heart of developing and building any business, as Dr Leonie Baldacchino, Director of the Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta, explains in this interview.

At the SME Assembly in Luxembourg last November you explained how everyone can be more creative. Could you give a brief overview of how this can be achieved?

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I view creativity as a skill.  Since a skill is an ability that is learned through practice, I believe that everyone can be more creative by engaging in regular creative thinking exercises.  

Let’s take swimming as an analogy.  Human beings are born with the potential to learn how to swim but, in order to become competent swimmers, they must first acquire basic swimming skills, followed by many hours of training in the pool to enhance their technique, strength and endurance. Similarly, human beings are born with the potential to be creative, but attaining this potential requires skill acquisition followed by regular practice to internalise creative thinking skills and develop expertise.  

One of the simplest exercises that one can carry out to enhance creativity is the application of divergent thinking to everyday objects. Divergent thinking refers to the generation of multiple responses or solutions to a particular stimulus or problem. This is regarded as a key skill in creativity as it enables individuals to generate many different ideas. Getting into the habit of generating alternatives by, for example, thinking of many different (and unusual) uses for common items like a sock, a wheel or a piece of paper, enhances one of the most basic skills in creativity.

Many tools and techniques are available to help us be more creative. Some may seem awkward or difficult to the uninitiated but, just like swimming becomes effortless to the swimmer who glides through the water after mastering the relevant techniques, creativity becomes second nature to individuals who make use of creative thinking tools on a regular basis.

A great deal has been written about innovation and its importance for entrepreneurs. How does this differ from creativity and how do you see the role of creativity in business?

I view creativity and innovation as overlapping constructs at two ends of the creative process.  Creativity is the first stage in the creative process and occurs when an individual has an idea that is both new and useful. Innovation is the last stage of the process and refers to the implementation of a creative idea in order to derive value. Innovations can take various forms, including products, services, processes and technologies. The defining feature is that they must be different from and better than what is already available in a particular context. Therefore, before ideas are implemented, they are generally screened to determine their novelty, added-value, feasibility and compatibility with business objectives to ensure their appropriateness for particular settings.    

It has become widely accepted that creativity and innovation are crucial for business success, especially in the ever-changing and uncertain world which we live in today.  Creative thinking is required to regularly come up with new ideas to solve problems that may arise, and to address the challenges brought about by changing customer requirements, market structures, or competitive fields.  However, the reactive function of creativity in the face of change is only one half of the picture.  Creativity is also concerned with instigating change on the basis of a new idea or concept, not because there is a problem to solve, but because an opportunity for improvement has been recognised.  Entrepreneurs who run high-growth businesses do not simply adapt to changes in their environment, but are actively involved in disrupting and creating new markets, i.e., they are trendsetters, not followers.  This proactive side of creativity is especially important in today’s highly competitive business world in which players are constantly striving for that added advantage, thus rendering the mere maintenance of one’s current position insufficient.  

Some businesses outsource their R & D and their product development but it seems likely you would not suggest this solution, but would, rather, encourage the business to build their capacity for creativity. Can you offer some guidance on increasing creative capacity across a business as a whole?

There are many ways in which entrepreneurs and managers can increase the creative capacity of their businesses.  First, they must realise that they have a very important role to play in providing top-down support for creativity and innovation as their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours invariably lay the foundations on which their organisation’s practices and policies are built.  Second, they should appreciate that, if given the opportunity, each and every member of an organisation has the potential to contribute to the creative capacity of a business, as they often have ideas that could lead to an improvement in some aspect of the organisation.

Business leaders must therefore walk the walk by creating a climate that is characterised by a high level of trust and open communication across all levels to foster creativity and innovation.  Furthermore they should actively encourage idea generation, risk-taking and experimentation, and they should treat failures that are made in the pursuit of innovation as learning opportunities.  Furthermore, a system must be in place to facilitate the generation, communication, evaluation and implementation of employee ideas. Such systems, which are generally referred to as idea management or innovation management systems, are a set of procedures that dictate what should happen when employees have ideas that they would like to propose to their organisation.  Many people believe that structures and procedures are detrimental to creativity and innovation, but without such a system, ideas are likely to fizzle out and die before they can ever be implemented.

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You’ve already described the creativity process and how to build and develop creativity as a skill set, could you now give a brief outline of the academic programmes in this field that you run at the University of Malta.

The Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta offers a Master in Creativity and Innovation, a part-time evening Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as a PhD programme in these subject areas.

The Master in Creativity and Innovation is an interdisciplinary programme designed to assist participants to expand their perception, employ creative skills, develop ideas individually and within teams, sustain a creative climate and manage innovation.  This programme attracts professionals from a broad base of disciplines from the local and international scene.  

The Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is aimed at individuals who would like to further their education and improve their career prospects but are not in a position to attend full-time day courses due to other commitments. Students shall develop knowledge, transferable skills and attitudes concerning creativity and idea generation, innovation (including innovation management), and entrepreneurship.  

The PhD programme is aimed at individuals who would like to undertake research at a Doctoral level in one of the Institute’s subject areas, namely creativity, innovation (including innovation management), entrepreneurship, or foresight (futures studies).

For further information:

 

SME Week Newsletter: Issue #2

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Entrepreneurs, national EEPA winners, competitions, and more about business in the EU

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This month is a busy one as we continue to gear up for SME Week this November. June sees the closure of all national European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitions in time for the European closing date of 1 July. Find out if you still have a chance to enter and win one of the prestigious European awards by searching the deadlines in the article below. Also, meet Kenny, our new Entrepreneur in Residence, and enter or promote our youth essay competition. Read more >>

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“I want to wake up with energy, drive and curiosity for what life will bring next.”

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In his final column as May’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance offers his advice for those considering following in his footsteps and stepping out on their own in business.

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Five frogs on a log. One decides to jump in. How many frogs left on the log…..? Five, because there’s a big difference between ‘deciding’ and ‘doing’.

So thinking leads to deciding, but you can’t stop there. You need to act with confidence and determination. How? Firstly, surround yourself with the right people at different times of the business cycle. Our mind plays tricks on us and the little voices of doubt and self criticism can kill our confidence, so we need to have both strategists and cheerleaders around us all the time. Taking calculated risks is important to get us into flow. The easy option won’t help us grow, or prepare us for the inevitable storm. Practice breaking small things before you play with the valuable things. Get experience in a contained space, but do get out of your comfort zone often and consistently. Don’t get amygdala hijack from being too stretched and afraid to act, or you’ll die from paralysis. Don’t overanalyse, yet do your homework well. Remain focussed on your journey, and don’t get sidetracked by your short term goals. Goals are good to take stock of progress. Slalom gracefully around them if they seem to take you off course.

The most important thing, and the biggest source of failure of businesses that solve global problems is this: they remained a dream. Once you have a vision, have designed a plan, and raised the resources to implement it, GO FOR IT! Even if it fails, the worst case scenario is that you’ve gained the opportunity to learn something new.

Pros and cons

Of course, there are pros and cons to starting your own business. The pros of being in control of your destiny are the main reasons to set up your own business. Even as a CEO of a large organisation that I helped create, there was always a sense that I was a cog in a big wheel.

I still felt 100% responsible and I was more than just an employee, but creating something you know will be entirely yours sparks something special in your spirit. It’s also great to not have to ask for permission to put an idea into practice, or feel that you can’t change direction if you so decide one day. Yes, you have responsibilities if you have employees, but it’s different than being a manager.

Running your own business also has its perils. You lose objectivity because it is personal. You may find yourself heading for trouble and keep going because you’re emotionally attached to the goal, or to avoid embarrassment. You don’t want to be proven wrong and, therefore, don’t accept criticism easily. It takes a particular character to be entrepreneurial, but these character traits can also be your downfall. Hard-headed, passionate, ambitious and a risk taker come to mind.

nathan5Starting a business after having led an organisation has helped me stay focussed and not put emotions before logic. I’m more mature and have had a fair amount of mishaps that I’ve learnt great lessons from. Not only is it not too late to start your business at 40, but it’s actually helpful to have experience under your belt. I’ve had a few sideline businesses over the years so I had some startup practice. It’s also important to have good people around you to keep you grounded. It’s easy to become engrossed in the project and lose your relationships with loved ones, and distance yourself from friends and family. Taking stock, or being coached is very important to get a reality check every so often.

To me it’s the mindset that’s the major difference between running a business and working for someone else. You can be equally passionate and driven working for someone else’s business with less personal risk and stress. Running your own business is not for everyone. It shouldn’t be everyone’s ambition. I too need to employ great managers, accountants, experts and associates to make up for all my weaknesses! Thankfully enough people choose to be professionals too.

My hope for Ultimate Performance is to continue to grow my impact by reaching more businesses and business leaders. I want to keep having fun and do exciting things, whilst sharpening my skills. I want to spend time with the people I care about and share experiences with them whenever possible. I want to wake up in the morning with energy, drive and, most of all, curiosity for what life will bring next.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

“The battle between work and life is nonsense”

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In this week’s column from May’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance explains how he achieves work-life balance, and tells us what it’s like to work with his wife.

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It’s always an interesting dynamic to mix family and business. With your partner being one of your associates, it’s even more complex from an emotional perspective. We’re very different characters, with Deirdre being direct and extroverted while I’m an introvert and very pragmatic in my approach to problems. Mostly we do our own thing in our own way, and sometimes argue if our paths collide but, at the end of the day, we have the advantage of being able to settle it over a bottle of wine and a cuddle. Not many colleagues have that advantage, I guess…

The main stress on us both is managing our time with our kids. They’re so busy and their extracurricular activities are very energy consuming. They dance, do sport, and are always on sleep-overs or at parties, while we taxi them around to make sure they don’t miss out. Sometimes our quiet weekends suffer because we are so busy. By the end of Sunday, we’re all tired, and the next day it’s back to work.

But our kids are great. Watching them grow and develop has been an enlightening experience. I’ve learnt a great deal about leadership from being a father. I’ve also learnt a lot about managing emotions with three ladies in the house!

I wake up early and go for a run, swim or cycle if I’m racing triathlon. This is my time to think, to mentally plan my day and perhaps listen to a podcast or chapter in an interesting textbook. Doubling up the time to take care of my body and my mind is a great life-hack.

I usually have a quick breakfast and coffee then get to my desk at home to catch up on admin or emails. I do most of my social media marketing on the fly so, as soon as I can, I get out of the house and spend my day with clients, or at the foundations. I rarely get the time to stop during the day. I love the fact I have no set office, and change scenery many times a day. I love the diversity my work brings, from coaching and teaching to keynote speaking, politicking and strategising. My mind stays sharp with constant change. I also get to ride my Triumph Bonneville all day across town, which is great fun!

I usually work 10 hour days, with evening events happening a few times a week. Sometimes these are charity fundraisers, VIP events, a date with my wife or simply catching up with friends. In between, it’s at home with a good movie, a glass of wine and healthy home cooked food. I try and spend as much time with my kids over the weekend, and I help with homework and activity trips during weekday evenings. I make it a point to put them to bed and kiss them goodnight every night.

Achieving work-life balance

I developed a thought process that I call The FIRE Model, which I use in my coaching as well as to keep stock of my own life. The model helps me cope with the multitude of pressures on our lives, and shows us that the battle between ‘Work’ and ‘Life’ is nonsense. We have one life and we need to maximise it in every area.

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Using the model, I’m careful to create opportunities to fill each area of my life in a balanced way. Like a Balance Scorecard, I want to make sure that every aspect of my life is given due attention. I seek out things that scare me and excite me at the same time. I like to be out of my comfort zone. This leads to more flow, which helps me focus at work and get things done with less pressure.

Because of time constraints, our need to continuously learn and develop often falls by the wayside. I practice mindfulness, learn new things all the time and always accept an opportunity to try and hone my skills, whether it’s public speaking or my coaching skills. We must continue to sharpen the knife of excellence if we want to be fulfilled, and be useful to others.

Ultimately, we need to find meaning in what we do and this is best described by the various layers of F.I.R.E. we can create. The more we can find Flow, make an Impact, act Responsibly and continuously seek to be better tomorrow than we are today, i.e. Excel, the more meaningful our lives will be.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

“Everything I do has purpose”

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In this week’s column from this month’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance explains what drives him, and how he relishes the opportunity to train others to make an impact

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All that I do has to have a purpose. It has to add value to the business, society and make a difference to people in general. The minute I find that my impact is not useful, then I stop. Whilst I have business goals, personal goals, family and charity objectives, they all have to fit into my ‘meaning of life.’

Whilst I try and balance my energy across all my responsibilities, at the moment, my business plans are taking precedence because the Academy is still a startup. I have a number of associates but just one employee, so we are agile and lean. Each associate was chosen because of their mindset and independence as well as their skill. They have their own business success but contribute to UP (my business) in ways that add value to our clients. Daphne, my business admin is the coordinator of all our efforts, as well as the events organiser. She makes sure that we deliver on our promises to our clients. All the associates are accountable for their own deliverables, so I don’t have to do any management; I just lead the way.

With the Foundation, there’s a management structure which I lead, but I trust fully to deliver operationally. I spend very little time on the day-to-day work involved in running a business and focus my time on vision and strategy. In this way I can ensure that the objectives of the organisation are met by empowering management through leadership.

We have an international market opening up that will take more of my time, but it’s exciting, so worth the sacrifice of time and effort. I’m also a keynote speaker at a couple of international corporate events and this always leads to new opportunities to explore. People around the world seem keen to learn how we unlock leadership and performance potential at the UP Executive Academy and we love to share our ideas. Running the Academy for Chief Executives franchise has also opened up new possibilities as this too can be globalised.

Ultimately my goal is to train more UP coaches and equip them with a toolkit that allows them to unlock the potential of more people, widening our positive impact and helping organisations to grow or increase their own performance, be it financial or social.

Facing challenges

Staying focussed on the journey is the toughest challenge. Many times opportunities take you sideways and off-track because they may be lucrative in the short term, or make sense at the time. But you need to stay focussed on the long view and sit back at the rudder of your ship, not constantly be up in the crow’s nest looking for opportunity.

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Another difficulty is finding talent that has both the skills and the mental fortitude. We have excellent university graduates that have very little experience or problem-solving skills. Knowledge is lost in business if not applied effectively. It’s my job to create the opportunities for talent to be useful, but it’s not always easy to fit in the dedicated time. I see this time as an investment in a future asset – the mind of the employee or associate, helping them grow in parallel with the business. With so many things on my plate I must learn to trust my associates and employees so they can learn from experience. I can’t afford to micromanage. I don’t want to either.

Other challenges relate to the failures of others that impact my life. Lack of respect, poor planning, bad management and lack of vision by collaborators, suppliers or even customers can drive you crazy. I’m a firm believer in resilience and positive action. If clients don’t keep time, I shorten their session. If partners or suppliers fail to deliver, I move on without them. Whilst it may seem easier said than done, I run my life based on mutual respect. Problems are often created in our head by emotions that are out of control. Staying practical and realistic makes my life easier to manage.

I’m a firm believer in altruism. I give the benefit of the doubt and the chance to redeem. I also point the finger at myself first as I can often be part of the problem. By being open and having regular sensible conversations with the people I deal with, we build mutual trust and, mostly, things get done without hassle. If that trust is dented despite the second chances, then I decide to end the relationship, but this is rare.

To keep up with Nathan, and find out what’s next for him on his entrepreneurial journey, don’t miss the third instalment of his blog here next Wednesday.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

SME Week Newsletter: Issue #1

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Entrepreneurship, creativity and Europe’s startup scene

Welcome to the first SME Week newsletter of 2016! 

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We’re looking forward to bringing you the most inspiring news and features from across the European enterprise landscape. As we approach SME Week this November, stay tuned for updates on preparations for the Week, the SME Assembly and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Read more>>

Next issue #2 >>

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Hi, I’m Nathan, and I’m a serial entrepreneur

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Each month on the Promoting Enterprise blog, an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) will give us an insight into their entrepreneurial journey. This month’s entrepreneur is Nathan Farrugia from Malta. His company, Ultimate Performance, works with CEOs, leaders and business owners who are seeking to take their performance to a higher level in business and in life. Watch his TEDx talk here.

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At the end of 2014, I quit my CEO role at Inspire, Malta’s leading non-profit education and health provider, and set up my coaching business in January 2015. Since then, it’s been an interesting journey of metamorphosis for me personally, building up something from scratch while delivering services to my clients through my coaching services and the Ultimate Performance, UP Executive Academy.  

I spend about half of my time working one-to-one with Chief Executives and Managing Directors who want to challenge their personal and business limits and reach new heights. Often, this revolves around growing or scaling their business, developing strong leadership or a positive and empowering culture. Sometimes, it’s helping them find the internal strength to carry out an exit plan. Everyone is different, but we are all the same. We are wired to be cautious, cynical and suspicious of our own ability. This holds us back and keeps us from achieving great things. My job is to help unlock this potential by asking the right questions and helping to uncover the answers from within.

I’ve been through this growth process myself, as it took a lot of courage to quit a well-paying job with great work-life balance to venture out solo. I grew that courage with learnt techniques, which I now share with my clients. Learning how to build confidence, take risks and prepare for adversity has made me very resilient. I’ve taken on a number of extreme physical and mental challenges for charitable causes, running, swimming and cycling some of the world’s toughest races to help raise funds for charity. These challenges have also helped me develop my character and ability to feel comfortable in extreme discomfort.

For me, the journey is more important than the goal. My journey is one of self discovery and personal growth, as much as it’s about growing a business from a financial perspective.

My mind is currently focussed on developing a scalable model for my coaching business and taking it international. The challenge is always staying true to what you believe in, and being persistent to stay on the right path. Often, opportunities can take you in the wrong direction if all you are chasing is a goal. For me, the journey is more important than the goal. My journey is one of self discovery and personal growth, as much as it’s about growing a business from a financial perspective.

Chairing and running the Academy for Chief Executives franchise in Malta is helping our country’s leaders to develop themselves through peer-to-peer learning and sharing best practice. This is a great space for leadership inspiration and we want to increase our membership.

I also want to spend time in the various foundations I run, including Empower Coop and the Lino Spiteri Foundation, which are creating jobs for disabled persons. Our model is making a difference and we want to spread the word to encourage other countries to follow suit. The recent TEDx talk in The Hague generated some interest, alongside our I AM ABLE media campaign.

In addition to all this, I’m also chairman of the the Paralympic Movement in Malta and we’re gearing up for the Rio 2016 Olympics this summer. We’re a small team but it’s a great feeling to carry our national flag. I chair the Malta Voluntary Sector, which supports the 1000+ NGOs in Malta, and we’re very busy providing training programmes, funding and mentoring to the extremely active sector. Malta has a rich volunteering scene and we’re responsible for its upkeep.

Finally, we’ve just organised Xterra Malta, an annual international triathlon race, which I co-founded, that sees 200 people from 20 countries race in our beautiful Majjistral Nature Reserve. It’s a mecca for mountain bikers and sports enthusiasts and I’m very proud of our national heritage.

So I’m pretty busy at the moment, but I manage to balance this well with my wife and two young daughters, and I also make time for my own personal learning, my sport and my social life.

To keep up with Nathan, and find out what’s next for him on his entrepreneurial journey, don’t miss the second instalment of his blog here next Wednesday.

About NathanDee-I

Nathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2015: Shortlisted Projects Announced

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

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

Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

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

Responsible organisation: The 100,000 Entrepreneurs Association

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

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

Responsible organisation: The New Entrepreneur Foundation

Organisation website: www.zomerondernemer.nl

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

Responsible organisation: Hull City Council

Organisation website: www.youthenterprise.co.uk

Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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

Responsible organisation: FabLab Danmark c/o Væksthus Sjælland

Organisation website: www.detmobilefablab.dk

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

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

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

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

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

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

Category 3: Improving the Business Environment

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

Responsible organisation: City of Jastrebarsko

Organisation website: www.jastrebarsko.hr

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

Responsible organisation: Malta Employers’ Association (MEA)

Organisation website: www.maltaemployers.com

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

Responsible organisation: Creative Quarter Nottingham Limited

Organisation website: www.creativequater.com

Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business 

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

Responsible organisation: GameFounders OÜ

Organisation website: www.gamefounders.com

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

Responsible organisation: Foundation TechHub Riga

Organisation website: riga.techhub.com

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

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

Organisation website: www.ucer.camcom.it

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

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

Responsible organisation: Vienna Chamber of Commerce

Organisation website: www.wkw.at

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

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

Organisation website: www.sdk.lu

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

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

Organisation website: www.fundación-biodiversidad.es

Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

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

Responsible organisation: Public Employment Service Austria

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

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

Responsible organisation: Social Impact gGmbH

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

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

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

Organisation website: www.pcci.gr

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

Responsible organisation: Lisbon Municipal Council

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

About the awards

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

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

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

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