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Which projects are ‘Improving the business environment’ at EEPA 2017?

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Time for the Category 3: ‘Improving the Business Environment’ introductions! The Jury has selected four projects as 2017 finalists all with different innovative ideas. This year the Category 3 projects represent the Netherlands, Austria, Italy and Spain.

Innofest works with eight summer festivals in northern Netherlands as living labs for innovation, and provides a safe environment for entrepreneurs to test their prototypes before bringing them onto the market. Innofest sees festivals as temporary mini societies, with their own set of challenges in the areas of water, food, logistics, energy and waste, among others. As contained environments, product testing results are measurable, and can reduce innovation failure rates in an area with many SMEs but that is lagging behind the rest of the Netherlands in innovation. During the festival on-site support is offered along with networking opportunities and follow-up guidance.

 

‘Innovation to Company, the project from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna, brings together innovative and flexible start-ups with established enterprises with resources and market positioning. Through active networking and matchmaking, start-ups help with the development of innovation and solving of challenges that an established enterprise may face. In turn the established enterprises offer resources and market placement, making the cooperation mutually beneficial. To date, 16 enterprises (2015-2017) and 150 start-ups (2017 not yet included) have participated, and 2.5 million EUR in potential profit opportunities for start-ups has been generated.

 

Manufacturing Project – The Green Innovation Factory is transforming the historic Rovereto factory into an industrial innovation centre. The centre covers eco-sustainable construction, renewable energy, technologies for environmental management and monitoring, natural resources, and the circular economy. Within the project exists the Pole of Mechatronics, which involves public bodies, private individuals, and trade associations. It is an innovative hub serving a widespread production chain that involves the qualified participation of companies ranging from automotive, robotics, sensors, industrial automation, up to biomedical industries. It houses productive spaces, technological workshops, and school buildings.

 

Reempresa pioneers the innovative concept of a trading market for SMEs in Catalonia, which helps ‘re-entrepreneurs’ i.e. buyers take ownership of an existing SME. The business transfer scheme preserves existing businesses and jobs, thereby ensuring continuity, and promotes economic growth. It also promotes awareness about public-private collaboration and the benefits of standardising business transfer facilitation procedures. Since 2011, Reempresa has successfully transferred more than 1,230 businesses, preserved more than 3,500 direct jobs and generated more than EUR 56.8 million in investment. This one-stop-shop platform brings retiring business owners, or others who choose to sell their business on, together with young entrepreneurs that wish to acquire a business without having to start from zero. From the first meeting, through negotiation to the conclusion of the transfer, Reempresa provides mentoring and support to ensure a smooth transfer and the future viability of the business. The scheme is also an employment opportunity, providing sustainable careers for the ‘re-entrepreneurs’, 40% of which were previously unemployed. Not only is Reempresa a national success story, but it is also an example of a highly innovative and inspiring project with high replicability potential.

Who will be the Category 3 winner for 2017? Find out this November at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn! Find out about the Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills nominees, and stay tuned for Category 4 introductions next week!

Where are they now? Business College 20-80 Learning, EEPA 2015 finalist

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What happens to EEPA winners after the ceremony? What do they get up to next? Today Promoting Enterprise is proud to introduce Leny van der Ham, the founder of International Business College 20-80 Learning, a 2015 EEPA finalist. Today she shares with us what her project is about and her exciting updates since being a part of EEPA back in 2015.

20-80 Learning promotes the entrepreneurial spirit of young people, helps them complete their regular education in 80% of the time leaving the other 20% of their time for creative collaboration and personal development. 20-80 Learning focuses on self-development, entre- and intrapreneurship, follow-up study, real life, metacognition and languages. In more than 30 Dutch secondary schools the students complete the standard secondary school course in 4 days a week using 80% of the class time. The remaining 20% is the 20-80 Learning day when students develop metacognition, entrepreneurship and skills for their further education and careers. The 20-80 learning philosophy is now being applied in the fields of business, science, sport and arts, and is receiving widespread positive recognition by the Dutch Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and Economic Affairs.

But what is the goal of 20-80 Learning? Why is it important to reserve 20% of young people’s time for other skills and activities? For founder Lenny van der Ham, the answer is simple and manifold:

To me, every day is so valuable that boredom is unacceptable. An entrepreneur has to be alert to market processes: a teacher is an intrapreneur and must always be aware of his customer and his product, thus there should always be room for innovation in education!”

Through this program she aims to make education not only well-rounded and useful, but to put the fun back into education and provide a space for both students and teachers to experiment and develop. Via this approach the goal is to minimise potential negative effects such as poor performance, negative attitudes to work, negative interaction with teachers, and dropouts from further education.

After such success in the Netherlands, Leny is looking at how to expand her transferable concept on a global scale, and explore the possibilities of setting up accredited campuses across the world.

Interested in the concept? Want to help implement Leny’s global vision and bring this system to teenagers worldwide? Find out more from the website www.20-80learning.nl, and contact nfo@20-80leaening.nl for more information.

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

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Have we met all of the projects competing for a place on the EEPA 2017 European shortlist? Almost! Today Promoting Enterprise presents the final category of national winners, Category 6: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship. This category recognises initiatives that promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, legal migrants, disabled, or people from ethnic minorities.

In 2016 the prize was won by The Rotterdam Business Case from the Netherlands, for their project that strives to help innovative individuals and entrepreneurs who have failed with a venture or are in financial difficulties.

10 projects will be considered for a European title in this category. Well done to all the national winners and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Bulgaria: Listen Up Online Platform for Equal Access

France: Adie Microfranchise Solidaire (AMS)

France: Start’Up Lycée

Iceland: Social and green impact of an electronic drug administration system in an Icelandic nursing home for the elderly

Malta: Setting up our Social Enterprise

Netherlands: IMC Weekendschool

Poland: Karlino na drodze rozwoju

Portugal: MUNDAR: Change your world – young entrepreneurship contest

Romania: ARAD WELDING SCHOOL

Slovakia: DATAROOM

Sweden: STAR (Social Innovation och Tillväxt för Alla i Regionen)

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Improving the business environment

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Who else will be competing for a place on the European shortlist for EEPA 2017? Time to find out about the European projects competing in Category 3: Improving the business environment! Don’t forget to have a look at the national winners in Category 1 and Category 2.

Category 3 recognises initiatives that support enterprise start-up and growth, simplify legislative and administrative procedures for businesses. In 2016 the prize was won by the Leader SME programme from Portugal for their activities to support national SMEs.

This year there are 8 projects competing for a European title in this category. Congratulations to all the national winners and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Austria: Innovation to Company

Czech Republic: Třebíč is lively

Ireland: Mayo Ideas Lab

Italy: Progetto Manifattura – Polo Meccatronica

Netherlands: Innofest

Slovenia: Podjetno v prihodnost

Spain: Reempresa

Turkey: Business Friendly Uskudar Municipality

Dutch national finalists compete for EEPA 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017 national campaigns are all underway across Europe. Some of the national deadlines have passed but some are still open so be sure to check whether your country is still accepting applications here!

Today we travel to the Netherlands for the Dutch EEPA 2017 final, where the top five national candidates will compete to represent the Netherlands as national winners. The final is part of the entrepreneurial week currently taking place, during which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial experts share their knowledge and insights.

The candidates will be judged by a jury which includes: Pieter Waasdorp (Ministry of Economic Affairs, DG Entrepreneurship and Innovation), Toon Buddingh (Incubator entrepreneur) and Hendrik Halbe (Co-founder Get in the Ring). For the first time the jury’s decision will also be supported by an audience vote, which will determine the two winners that go on to compete at European level.

 The five candidates are competing across three categories:

Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
 

Day for Change

 

Category 3: Improving the business environment

Innofest

 

Restart Fund MKB Flevoland

 

Brightlands Innovation Factory

 

Category 5: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship  

 

IMC Weekend School

 

Be sure to follow the latest updates about the ceremony on Twitter and stay tuned to find out who the Dutch national winners will be!

How to win EEPA? Past winners reveal their recipe for a winning formula

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What is the recipe for success? What is the secret? How can you make sure your project is one of the next European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) winners? EEPA is an opportunity for public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States, (as well as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey) to put forward their most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Each country selects their top national winners to compete at European level across five different categories.

Today Promoting Enterprise brings you advice from the best of the best, past EEPA winners. Ready to discover the answers? Read on…

Why should you enter EEPA?

Many of the past winners have mentioned that one of the key benefits of entering EEPA is that it provides “a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect”, as “you can’t always focus on what you did well yesterday…the analysis is important and it gives you a chance to make your learning journey visible so that others can learn from it.”

Not only does it allow for reflection but it provides an opportunity to meet with other pioneering initiatives from across Europe, as “participating in a competition is a real opportunity to meet and share with initiatives and people…learning from their experiences is very enriching”. Some winners also mentioned the increased internal learning and contact saying that “entering EEPA gives a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and contacts with colleagues, experts and other stakeholders, drawing focus to the relevant questions and impact SME development”.

All the winners agreed that winning, in the words of one winner “the most rigorous and professionally run enterprise award in the world”, was quite an experience. Ultimately this award “provides recognition from a higher recognised entity like the European Commission”, which for many has led to exciting national and international developments for their projects.

Finally very importantly “you should enter because it is fun! The whole process requires a lot of work and you need to invest the necessary time, but once that part is done you can really enjoy the experience of being in the competition.”

What should you bear in mind when you apply?

So how did this variety of winners come out on top in each of their respective categories? Each winner has their own story to tell which you can read here, but read some of the tips they wanted to share with the potential winners of the future:

  • “Apply and share as much as possible!”
  • “It is important to evaluate whether a project has the following: quality, results, strong partnership, and replicability. Our advice would be that if your project has all of the above, then you should definitely compete!”
  • “Focus your attention on strategy and results achieved.”
  • “A good idea, a quality product, enthusiasm, detailed planning, active stakeholder involvement and teamwork were the key to our success. Our recommendation to future competitors would be to make sure to find their own distinctive formula.”
  • “Develop a pitch and make it interesting and inspirational for others. Inspiration is a very important part of EEPA work, it is what makes a project stand out.”
  • “You should not be scared to point out things that you learnt from and definitely take help from others, don’t do it all on your own.”

Interested in finding out more about EEPA? Are you going to apply and compete for a European title? Be sure to contact your national coordinator for more information and check when your national deadline is. Hurry up because the deadlines are approaching!

Read about the SME Assembly 2017 during which the EEPA finals and awards ceremony will be held.

‘Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur’ – The Rotterdam Business Case

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Entrepreneurs are ambitious, daring and think outside of the box to help advance and innovate our daily lives. Yet who helps them when they are in difficulty? Who gives them a second chance or the advice they need to be successful? The Category 6 (Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship) winner of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), is a project that does just that. Today’s interview with Rob Gringhuis, one of the project partners, gives insight into this cutting edge project that is helping innovative individuals through challenging times.

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

We first heard about EEPA when one partner got an email from the university of applied sciences in Rotterdam who had seen the EEPA announcement from our national economic ministry. Once we started looking into it we thought that we had a lot to offer with our project and were enthusiastic about showing people what we are doing. We had already been asked by the ministry of social affairs to present our project to other cities and regions in the Netherlands, so we saw this as a chance to take that to a European level. Our project is on the cutting edge of economic and social problems by providing entrepreneurial support, as entrepreneurs often become dependent on welfare and can cause societal difficulties. We were also curious about where our project stood on a national level and how we compared to other initiatives across the Netherlands.

How did you go about preparing your application?

Our national coordinator was very helpful and shared important advice with us during the application stage. We actually entered in 2015 but were unsuccessful, so 2016 gave us a chance to improve our original application and demonstrate the progress we had made in one year. Our 2016 application included more results which had since been expanded outside of Rotterdam and across the Netherlands.

What was it like to win the award and what kind of response did you receive?

Winning the award was fantastic! When we first saw our competitors in our category there was a familiar project there, the Swedish nominee Entrepreneurial West Hisingen. We already knew about each other because we lost to them in a previous eurocities competition, so we knew that they were an appealing and tough project to beat.

During the awards ceremony, we realised that there were only three projects announced in our category and that the Swedish project was no longer there, which made us feel a little more hopeful about winning. We were confident that we had shown the Jury the effect our project had on entrepreneurs, and also its potential for scaling up on a national level. When we were announced as the winners it was a big acknowledgment of our hard work and made us think about our project on a European level.

Before EEPA we were already developing our international expansion, but winning EEPA has certainly helped accelerate that process. We were congratulated by the EEPA team and also by previous Dutch winners from 2015, who we met not that long ago.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

We have had the Rotterdam business case since 2013, and have since started a foundation to help other cities. We are also in conversation with other regions to see if we can help them to do the same. All of this was already under way before the EEPA win but we now have an ‘approval stamp’ on our project which has helped us accelerate our processes, made it easier for others start their own business cases and also helped our partners put proposals forward faster. The win has been a tremendous push forward and as well as boosting enthusiasm also resulted in a lot of congratulations from our peers.

Ultimately this could also attract the interest of other cities and help us with our international vision. We are already in talks with Finland and may be looking at expanding to Bulgaria, so hopefully the EEPA quality stamp will help these developments.

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

This is now a strategic question for us, how do we go forward from here? We have been asked to go to seminars and tell our story, and the foundation that we started is helping other cities and helping with scaling up of existing cases. In the long term we would like to push the project forward on a European platform, maybe in 1-2 years time we will be able to have European level business cases, but this is ambitious and would require European partners. As our foundation board is entirely made up of volunteers the problem is not enthusiasm or ambition, it is time and money, but hopefully through our research programme which interviews entrepreneurs over the years to analyse the effectiveness of the project methods, we will continue to improve and grow.

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

Entering the national competition forces you to step outside of your project and learn how to: market it, develop a pitch and most of all make it interesting and inspirational for others. Inspiration is a very important part of EEPA work, it is what makes a project stand out. Aside from that, you should enter because it is fun! The whole process requires a lot of work and you need to invest the necessary time, but once that part is done you can really enjoy the experience of being in the competition.

What are your plans for the future?

Our vision is a global one, meaning that we want to expand on an international scale. The project is here to assist entrepreneurs that are almost failing and so far around 50% of those who have been helped have recovered and become successful. Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur, and currently there is a very large group of hard working entrepreneurs in Europe that just need help, which is why we want to expand the project, so that we can provide that necessary support. The goal is to make success a possibility for as many entrepreneurs as possible. The current target in the Netherlands is to assist 1 000 entrepreneurs a year, now we want to turn that into helping 10 000 entrepreneurs across Europe every year.

EEPA – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

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banner-eepa-blogWe have arrived at the end of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist showcase!

Today we present the national winners from Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship. These projects come from all over Europe and represent: Croatia, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden. They have been nominated for their recognition of national, regional or local initiatives by authorities or public/private partnerships that promote corporate social responsibility among SMEs. This category also covers projects that promote entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, especially long term unemployed, legal migrants, disabled or people from ethnic minorities.

eepa-2016An Enterprising and Responsible City Zagreb in Croatia, seeks to develop a socially responsible ecosystem that promotes inclusive entrepreneurship by empowering: the long-term unemployed, veterans, and other vulnerable groups to take up entrepreneurship, and to facilitate co-financing of their entrepreneurial projects. Since the project was launched in 2005, 508 subsidies have been granted totalling €1,630,295 and 492 businesses launched. The Public Works for Unemployed Croatian Veterans and the Unemployed Citizens of Zagreb programme resulted in 2 in 3 of the 3,445 participants finding jobs. The project was recognised by the EUROCITIES network as among the 12 best examples of European practice in promoting social inclusion through green jobs. Watch their video for more!

img_1407 The Grossbeerenstrasse Corporate Network (NG) in Germany, consists of 60 companies with 1,500 employees and 120 trainees. Alarmed by an increase in right-wing extremism in Berlin’s Grossbeerenstrasse commercial zone, they identified a need for increased social awareness and action to defend diversity, tolerance and non-violence. As a result, in 2013 member companies launched the initiative: Courageous Network: Against Xenophobia and Discrimination! (Netzwerk mit Courage), to raise public awareness and create active networks. The scheme provides training for managing directors, HR managers, trainers and apprentices on the topic of ‘diversity in practice’ and works with schools. It also supports the integration of displaced people by providing internships and around 500 people are currently involved in NG’s various activities. Find out more from their video!

eepa-picture-2The Rotterdam Business Case (De Rotterdamse Zaak) from the Netherlands is a work training company where students in higher vocational education and experienced business coaches help support entrepreneurs to improve their business practices and entrepreneurial skills. The project focuses on entrepreneurs who operate below the poverty line and are not financially able to find a solution to their problems. More than 600 entrepreneurs have already been helped through the combined efforts of experienced senior coaches, who act as a sounding board for entrepreneurs, and junior coaches who offer more practical support. Watch their video here!

entrepreneurial_west_hisingen-01Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden is an initiative that supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It covers three projects:

1) Entrepreneurship in education, in which 20,000 pupils pitched ideas, wrote, designed, published, marketed and sold their own books, at the largest book fair for children in Sweden. 2) Start your business, a joint venture with the University of Gothenburg and the Red Cross to pilot a start-up course for newly arrived refugees with a business background in their home country. 3) Develop your business, a training programme covering areas including online marketing, sales and trade, business negotiations, branding, etc. Watch this video to learn more!

With only two weeks to go before the assembly be sure to read up on all the national winners competing for the 2016 EEPA titles!

Have a look at the previous categories here:

EEPA – our introduction to the Jury continues

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Each year, in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, an independent high-level Jury is faced with the difficult task of drawing up a shortlist of projects that will compete for the first prize during the SME Assembly. This year is no different – the EEPA Jury should select three shortlisted projects in each of the six project categories by mid-September, a task that is made especially difficult by the high quality of the participating projects.

The EEPA Jury is typically made up of a representative from the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, the countries holding the first and second semester EU presidencies (this year the Netherlands and Slovakia), a European SME organisation, the Grand Jury prize winner from the previous year (this year Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship) and a representative from academia.

Last week we began with an introduction to the academia representative – Thomas M. Cooney, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland, and Thomas Wobben from the Committee of the Regions. This week we continue by presenting the representative of the Dutch first semester EU presidency and the representative from a European SME organisation which, this year, is UEAPME – the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

Pieter Waasdorp

Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs

pieter-waasdorpPieter is director of Entrepreneurship at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands and has been an EU SME envoy since 2014. He has over 25 years’ experience in policy-making and has worked at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in several management functions.

He was the manager of a joint programme of the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Education, Culture and Science. Entrepreneurship is a topic that runs through his curriculum vitae. As EU SME Envoy, he launched the TEDx Binnenhof Ideas from Europe platform. Pieter has been a member of many entrepreneurship competition juries.

 

Alban Maggiar

Vice President, UEAPME

Alban MaggiarAlban is in charge of European Affairs for CGPME, the French Association of SMEs. He is also vice-chair of UEAPME, the Brussels-based federation of European SMEs and chairs its Economic and Fiscal Committee.

For over a quarter of a century, Alban has been the head of Laboratoire CARRARE, a French company that specialises in probiotics, yeasts and botanicals-based food supplements. He was Chairman of the French association SYNADIET from 2005 to 2015, and of the European association EHPM from 2013 to 2016. He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Law and an Advanced Master’s Degree in Tax Law.

 

 

The judging process

For the EEPA Awards, individual countries were invited to conduct national competitions to determine the best projects to represent their nation. Hundreds of projects competed in these national competitions in 2016 for a chance to vie for an EEPA. Countries were allowed to nominate a maximum of two entries per category to the European competition. Each Jury member reads and assesses every entry against defined criteria covering: originality and feasibility, impact on the economy, improvement of stakeholder relations and transferability. The Jury then meets to discuss their top entries in each category, before agreeing on winners, runners up and any special mentions. The shortlist is published shortly after the jury meeting and the winners are announced during the Awards Ceremony at the SME Assembly.

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/support/enterprise-promotion-awards_en

Previous blog post: EEPA – Meet the Jury!

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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