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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

*Portuguese national winners will be announced after the national ceremony has taken place.

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.

Positive discrimination for national SMEs – Portuguese EEPA winner supports national enterprise

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be sources of employment and innovation in a national economy, yet conditions are not always favourable when these enterprises compete against larger competitors. The winner of Category 3 (Improving the Business Environment) at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016, strives to create these conditions and an SME supportive environment. The Leader SME programme is a mechanism to qualify enterprises that aims to highlight the merits of the most successful  national SMEs by creating conditions to strengthen their market reputation and fast-track access  to funding. The goal is to promote growth strategies and consolidate their competitiveness.

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

We first heard about the competition through several public and private entities that promote and encourage participation in the competition throughout Portugal, and applied using our public/private partnership. We felt that our project was a good and strong example of what EEPA represents. Our results from previous years were also very successful, so we thought that our project had good replication potential and could serve as a European example.

How did you go about preparing your application?

The preparation of an EEPA application is quite “heavy” in terms of the work involved. We did not prepare something special for EEPA, but instead created a working group for the preparation of the application as soon as the period of application was announced.

What was it like to win the award?

It was a surprise, considering the quality of other applications. However, we felt that we had a very good chance in this competition, since we were strongly convinced of the quality of our application. Just being included in the shortlist gave as a sense of achievement! Winning the competition was very important to us, and it was an extraordinary feeling: a reward for the work done, and concrete proof that we are on the right track.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?

Winning the award helped us not only externally, the increased visibility helped with publicity and will also help us in the future, but also internally. Internally the win helped to solidify our relationships with partners and make us a stronger network. It also resulted in overall better general knowledge of the objectives and better understanding of the technicalities of the project. The response was great and made us feel like we have an increased sense of responsibility, now we just have to maintain and increase the impact of the project. Whilst it was fantastic to represent our project, it was also very satisfying to be able to represent Portugal.

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

Yes. Considering the results of the initiative, and the relevance of the award, we think that the partners will be able to approach companies more easily in order to tighten the network links and increase the impact of the SME Leader initiative.

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

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! The preparation for EEPA stimulates evaluation, strengthens partnership, and gives visibility, all of which can only help strengthen your project.

What are your plans for the future?

Our project has the potential to increase the level and scope of impact on the companies, through a tightening of the network. We hope to raise awareness and increase knowledge about the companies considered to be SME Leaders, and disseminate their best practices to help others achieve the same leader status. Our whole project is about helping SMEs get access to finance, whether it be through creating the right conditions or helping them comply with requisites, in terms of the future we want to keep doing just that and increase the number of enterprises that we help and who can benefit.

European SME Week – Learning from Portugal’s 2016 strategy

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Are you an SME Week National Coordinator? Need some inspiration for your campaign? Look no further! Start your planning for European SME Week 2017!

Today we share the action plan developed by the Portuguese Coordinator for the European SME Week 2016 to present some ideas and best practices. The action plan covers various topics, from communication tips and communication strategies, to possible target groups, dissemination practices and how to reach the audience using social media.

The report, which you may find here, resulted in a total of 39 Portuguese organised events being posted on the SME Week Event Calendar. Use the calendar as a European platform to get international exposure for your events, get posting and see the results!

For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/support/sme-week_en

Winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2016 prove diversity of entrepreneurial spirit in Europe

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30415999933_56c9c9d966_zCongratulations! The seven winners of the 10th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced by Peter Varinský with the Grand Jury Prize being awarded to a Swedish city project.

The six projects that each won their category came from France, UK, Portugal, Finland, Serbia, and The Netherlands. The categories covered the broad areas of entrepreneurship, enterprise start-up and growth, international market opportunities, and green markets. Three projects from Latvia, Ireland and Greece received Special Mentions from the EEPA jury, which comprised seven representatives from government, business and academia from the EU.

The top prize was awarded to the district of West Hisingen in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The  project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It is divided into three parts: Entrepreneurship in education; Start your business, a course for newly arrived refugees with a business background in their home country; and Develop your business, a comprehensive business training programme.

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To see photos from the yesterday´s joyous ceremony, visit our Flickr. We will present all projects fully in coming weeks, but if you can´t wait, you can have a look at the EEPA 2016 Compendium.

Speaking of the awards, Ms Kristin Schreiber, chair of the EEPA jury and Director for COSME programme at Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission, said: “The 57 projects selected to compete at European level, not just the winners, runners-up and special mentions, are a testimony to the passion and innovation that puts ideas into practice. These are examples that can inspire the creation of an ecosystem that helps entrepreneurial spirits, nurtures enterprises and helps them grow. All these projects have tangible results: they help to create new companies and new jobs. I hope they will be an inspiration to authorities, organisations and individuals across Europe to do more for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Next year’s awards ceremony will take place during the 2017 SME Assembly in Tallinn, under the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

And by the way – the cake for the 10th EEPA´s birthday was delicious! 🙂

EEPA – Improving the business environment

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We continue our showcase of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist with an introduction to the national winners competing in Category-3 – Improving the Business Environment. These three projects, each with their own specific focus, have in common the fact that they improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in their respective countries – Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia. Two of the projects are based on a competition/award scheme, while the third is a co-working space that motivates young entrepreneurs.

konfetti-vinder-nsc-2016-copySo, in no particular order, the first in our list this week is Denmark’s Next Step Challenge (NSC). NSC is an ambitious European startup competition focusing on Smart Energy & Digitalisation and Sound & Home Integration. Ambitious startups are offered the chance to access a one-of-a-kind business development programme in direct collaboration with big corporations, SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen. Along with EUR 250 000 in prize money, the winners are also supported by SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen, who open up their organisations, share knowledge and strategy, and assist with product and/or business development. Check out their video!

The next project takes us to Portugal and the Leader SME programme, whichzmz_0083-edit annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015! Have a look at their video!

kikstarter-08KIKštarter was established to encourage young people in Slovenia to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. A co-working space in the deprived area of Kamnik, it provides entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and is home to 27 startups. The startups receive assistance and guidance in developing their ideas, have access to workspace, and participate in a series of motivational events. The project is contributing to the promotion of entrepreneurship to all residents in the area, which is undergoing regeneration, and helping to unlock the potential of the area and its people. The initiative has directly resulted in seven new businesses and at least as many new jobs with minimal financial investment.

Only one of these projects can be declared the ultimate winner in the category and, given the high standard of all three, the EEPA Jury is faced with a difficult choice. But choose they must, and their eventual choice 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.

Don’t forget that you can still read about EEPA Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills national winners.

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!

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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.

 

IAPMEI celebrates 10 years of EEPA

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The Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (IAPMEI) held a public event in Lisbon on September 8 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). The Portuguese national EEPA winners for 2016, selected from 50 top-quality national applications, were also announced at the event.

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From left to right side, Jury member, Deputy of the President of Republic, Awarded and the Minister for Economy

The event, which was chaired by IAPMEI President Miguel Cruz, was attended by 150 participants, including representatives from the EEPA candidates, a deputy of the president of the Portuguese Republic, a member of the European Commission Representation in Portugal and other stakeholders. Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral and Secretary the State for Industry João Vasconcelos also attended this session, highlighting the importance for Portugal of the international recognition provided by EEPA and its role in promoting entrepreneurship in Portugal.

eepa-2016-presSpeaking at the event, Miguel Cruz noted that by joining this European Commission initiative, IAPMEI aimed at sharing good practices as drivers of entrepreneurial activity and competitiveness. The IAPMEI president said that, bearing in mind that Portugal was the country that received more applications at the national level in the current edition, most of them of high quality, these results were in line with the high performance of entrepreneurship in Portugal. He added that the results demonstrated a mobilising capacity and the ability to foster a scale effect that was key in helping to create a more competitive country.

IAPMEI welcomed participants with a video on “Innovation, entrepreneurship, development with a view to creating more jobs, better quality of life, more competitiveness, more growth: these are the objectives of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards”:

This video includes testimonials from representatives of Portuguese projects that have been awarded at EU level:

Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship (2015): This award was very important for Lisbon Micro-Entrepreneurship, providing huge national and international visibility. It has allowed new partnerships for development. I strongly recommend applying for the EEPA. Margarida Figueiredo and Maribel Ferreira.

AMS – Thinking Ahead (2014): We managed to make a society which became more cost effective in the Iberian Peninsula. The greatest impact was visibility. Paulo Santos.

FAZ – Ideas of Portuguese Origin (2014): The award gave us more visibility, more contacts with national and international enterprises and replicability, namely with Greece. We invite all the companies and organisations that believe in their work to apply for EEPA. Luis Jerónimo.

The sexiest industry in Europe (2013): It is giving results and this for us is highly rewarding. Paulo Gonçalves.

Douro Boys (2012): It was very important that the Douro Boys project was awarded very high visibility not achieved up to that point. Francisco Olazabal.

On the spot Firm (2007): It is worth mentioning the effort that was made to submit the application in order to give visibility at internal and external levels to good quality projects, as it was with On the spot Firm. Maria Manuel Leitão Marques.

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The Jury Members and candidates

 

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

This week, Paulo Santos (pictured) from the award-winning AMS – Thinking Ahead project in Portugal reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA two years on…

Paulo Santos, Navigator Tissue Rodao

Name Paulo Santos
Organisation NAVIGATOR TISSUE RODAO (FORMER AMS-BR STAR PAPER, SA)
Country Portugal
Website http://www.amspt.eu/en/
Award won Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency
Year 2014

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What was it like to win the award?

It was recognition of all the work that we’ve been doing since 2009. The European Enterprise Promotion Award confirmed that, by thinking in a green way, we can convert a standard production process into an eco-friendly production process that, in this case, amounts to a huge combination of sustainability and profitability.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

It was great for our social media exposure. Before the EEPA, the company was very well known in local social media, but after the award, we got a lot of coverage nationally on social media, who were trying to cover the ecoview of the tissue production process. At the same time, we had a visit from the Deputy Prime Minister and the Environment Minister to show their support for this green concept.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

The best response that we’ve received from our peers is to see that nowadays, our eco view of the tissue production method is being emulated by them. If we go back in time, we remember that in 2009, all our peers said that producing paper by pipeline – getting the liquid pulp from our supplier to our plant – was pure imagination.

What has been the long-term impact?

We can’t say for sure whether the European Enterprise Promotion Award was the big factor in our acquisition by one of the biggest global enterprises in the paper industry – The Navigator Company. However, the EEPA gave us the kind of social media exposure that we wouldn’t have had without it.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

We decided to enter the national competition to promote our concept internationally and show that our production method not only works, but works better than the standard production model. We were trying to be the disruptors in our industry.

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?

I would say it was quite easy. We explained the production process in a simple way and summarised all the economic and social benefits of our project from the beginning.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

My best advice would be keep it simple. My second best advice would be to describe the project very clearly and to quantify all the impacts (not only the economic impacts, but the social ones too).

To find out more about AMS Thinking Ahead, visit http://www.amspt.eu/en/

EEPAs at a national level

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Many countries held national Awards ceremonies to celebrate their national entries, below is an example from Portugal.

The President of the Board of IAPMEI, Professor Miguel Cruz, chaired a Ceremony to announce the 44 national applications in Portugal in July.

Miguel Cruz, President of IAPMEI

Miguel Cruz, President of IAPMEI

The session aimed to:

  • Recognise and thank the commitment of all candidates
  • Promote the visibility of the entries and projects, each candidate also received a participation certificate.
  • Announce and reward the best projects by category and the runners up.
  • Promote and share good practice and promote the European Enterprise Promotion Awards.

By joining this European Commission initiative, IAPMEI aims to promote and share “good practice”. It also aims to widen the visibility of initiatives that work as drivers of entrepreneurial activity in a range of ways, demonstrating the capacity and potential which is key in helping Portugal to become a more competitive country, IAPMEI’s President said.

Miguel Cruz added that due to the investment and growth challenges faced, a growth must rely on the diversification and sophistication of products and services, on markets’ diversification and on a strong trademark.

The session was attended by more than 90 participants, with a large representation of EEPA candidates, and to whom certificates of participation in the “EEPA 2015” were issued.

EEPA Candidate

EEPA Candidates

IAPMEI has been the National Coordinator for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards since its first edition (2006). Thanks to an integrated action plan, a good cooperation with stakeholders and a pro-active demand, IAPMEI succeeds in involving the participation of SMEs and stakeholders committed to sharing good practices resulting in higher levels of competitiveness and entrepreneurship.  Throughout the nine editions of the EEPA, IAPMEI has distinguished approximately one hundred projects in Portugal.

 

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