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The future of innovation and enterprise – What can we expect?

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Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark, is back for a final interview with Promoting Enterprise. Today the subject is the future, what does it hold for innovation and enterprise? What can we expect? What are the trends telling us? Read on to find out…

What trends do you see in innovation?

In Denmark specifically, the public sector is embracing innovation, which I see as a positive thing. Overall, user driven innovation is increasing, as consumers and users begin to play larger roles in development, and there is a shift from only research based innovation. The current trend is disruption of society as there is a need for innovation for us to advance.

What measures/steps are you taking to encourage digital innovation in Region Zealand?

In Region Zealand we currently don’t do enough and as such we are not a front runner in the digital space. In Denmark however there have been some steps towards pushing companies to work digitally and make that digital transformation. The Danish Business Authority (which takes care of company registrations and working in the Danish public sector) took the controversial decision to make it mandatory for all companies to digitally invoice if they wanted to work in the public sector. Initially there was a lot of resistance but overall it helped – and is still helping companies – to transition to the digital sphere. As such, Denmark has no physical paper trails for monetary transactions and the public sector is going fully digital. That is truly innovative.

As director for innovation and growth, what do you see as the future of enterprise?

The same situation can be seen across all the EU countries, the public sector is under enormous strain which has and will continue to be a catalyst and driver for innovation. This in turn will result in increased cooperation and further blurring of public and private divisions. This blurring of divisions also relates to how the idea of employment is changing and evolving, which is not to say it is negative, but simply means that new working models are beginning to emerge. I see the future of enterprise as no longer including the ‘employee’ concept, I think this will be phased out. It is not uncommon now and nor will it be in future to have multiple jobs or hybrid employment models, alongside an overall merging of individuals and companies.

What does the future of enterprise look like in Denmark? Do you think it is different to global trends or where the future of enterprise will go globally?

Denmark has always had a strong focus on creating a business environment conducive to startups and entrepreneurs. So far we have been successful, but we also need to change in order to stay competitive and innovative. The new focus now needs to be on helping startups to scale up. So the big question for us now is how do we scale up in Denmark? Perhaps a larger and certainly important question is, how do we scale up in the EU?

Innovation in large companies: CP Kelco, Region Zealand

If you enjoyed this insightful interview with Tue David Bak, be sure to read his other interviews right here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal.

First interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?

Second interview: Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions

Secrets of Success 2016/2017 – What makes an entrepreneur successful?

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What makes an entrepreneur successful? How do entrepreneurs define their success? What are the secrets behind their inspiring journeys? Promoting Enterprise presents the ‘Secrets of Success 2016-2017’ brochure, which answers all of these questions and more. So what is inside? This year the brochure features interviews with 33 successful business owners from across Europe, under the themes of: Concept/Idea, Drive, Leadership/Team, Success and finally Europe.

From Albania to the United Kingdom, tourism to medical innovation, the entrepreneurs and businesses featured in this brochure offer something for everyone. Each entrepreneur provides details of their personal success, as well as encouraging and inspiring words for other entrepreneurs to learn from and reflect upon. Each profile is also available in the native language of the entrepreneurs, so why not browse through and discover the some of the inspiring minds of Europe in the field of SMEs, startups and scaleups.

Read the brochure here.

The European Digital City Index

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Today at Promoting Enterprise we are presenting an exciting interactive tool, ‘The European Digital City Index’, which gives glimpses into what is going on in the European world of entrepreneurship.

The European Digital City Index (EDCi) describes how well different European cities support digital entrepreneurship.

It was produced by Nesta as part of the European Digital Forum, which exists to support digital entrepreneurship and digital startups across Europe. The European Digital Forum is run in collaboration with the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative.

For startups and scale-ups, it provides information about the strengths and weaknesses of local ecosystems, allowing them to plan accordingly and consider where they may need to devote more resources. For policy makers aiming to encourage digital entrepreneurship in their own city, the Index helps to identify existing and promising hubs of activity, in order to learn from their practices. Additionally, it allows benchmarking of performance against other European hubs, and helps identify which policy areas to prioritise.

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For more information: https://digitalcityindex.eu/

SME Assembly 2016 – Day 3

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That’s a wrap! The SME Assembly 2016 has come to an end after 3 days of networking, events, speeches, awards, masterclasses and most importantly bringing together people who value entrepreneurship and the creation of an SME friendly Europe.

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A look at where the world of entrepreneurship would be ‘Ten Years On’ was the opener for Friday, with delegates imagining what kind of world entrepreneurs, startups, scaleups and all those in between would encounter in 2026. The panelists included a range of experts from across Europe and industries, including: Michael Mellinghoff (TechFluence), Cristina Fernandez (Global Entrepreneurship Network), Ladislav Ambrovics (MINIT Slovakia) and Kenneth Ryan (KPMG Slovakia). They all shared their visions of entrepreneurship in 2026, with a common theme being a shift in entrepreneurial focus from solving an existing problem, to enhancing the customer experience. As part of the opening, Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura presented her winning entry and implored the audience to “Don’t only work for youth, but work with them. Ask them for their opinion and show you care”.

The fast paced and high energy programme from Days 1 and 2 continued on Day 3 with an array of masterclasses and policy sessions, covering topics from social enterprise to crowdfunding, from sustainable clothing to virtual reality. There was also the Scale Up Lab organised by Ideas From Europe, which challenged participants to form clusters on issues affecting scaleups. For pictures of these sessions have a look at the albums on Flickr!

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Then it was finally time for the SME Assembly 2016 to draw to a close. Costas Andropoulos, from DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, along with Sabine Soeder the Founder of CoCreative Flow, presented the conclusions and highlights of the Assembly. We were then treated to a sneak preview of what to expect next year, as the Estonian SME Envoy Viljar Lubi took the stage to get us ready and excited for the 2017 SME Assembly set to take place in Tallinn!

Thank you to everyone that joined us this year in Bratislava, and to all who couldn’t be there but followed our coverage, we hope you enjoyed it all and we look forward to seeing you in Estonia in 2017! 

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Build strong foundations to scale up

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You’re not on your own: Business Incubators and Accelerators are there to help you develop a sustainable model that will help your business not only survive, but thrive.

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Castles built on sand have the tendency to find their foundations washed away and the same applies to companies.

A quick look at the stats shows that 46% of business failures in the first three years are due to incompetence, and a further 30% are a result of unbalanced or lack of managerial experience. This suggests that obtaining management training and good advice should be at the top of an entrepreneur’s ‘to do’ list. There are many who have a great idea and then rush into production, start hiring lots of people, pay themselves a large salary and then find themselves with a failed company. But this decline and fall is entirely avoidable if the business is built on strong foundations.

Business incubators could be the answer. Incubators and accelerators are organisations established to provide space, training and business services to startups to ensure that they’re properly run, adhere to relevant regulations and have access to experienced management advice. So successful have these incubators been that just about every country in the EU has them, often associated with universities or funded by local authorities. The incubator success rate is impressive: around 87% of businesses that have been incubated survive the difficult first three years and go on to scale-up successfully.

A recent University Business Incubator conference revealed the top ranking European incubators and reported that “Europe’s business incubators have attracted a total of $2,4b in investment, meaning each of the 117 incubators has received an average of $20m each. With regard to deal flow, Europe as a whole receives 15.3k applications per year, equating to an average of 131 per incubator. In the last five years Europe’s business incubators have created 40,500 jobs (346 jobs per incubator) and over the same time period generated $5.6b in sales, equating to an average of $47m in sales per incubator.”

The vast majority of startups that survive the first three or four years then scale up, often still with the help of an Incubator or Accelerator, while others set their sights on becoming a publicly owned company trading on a stock exchange.

However, as Eric Forest, Chairman and CEO of EnterNext, a subsidiary of the EuroNext markets dedicated to SMEs, says:

An IPO is a very important step for any company, large or small, and has to be meticulously prepared. The listing process brings the opportunity for the management to step back and formalise the company’s perspectives. It requires a re-examination and a clarification of the company’s business and strategy. Communication and reporting obligations also imply structuring efforts that are extremely valuable for the company’s management. It is, moreover, key to unify the internal teams around the project and to sharpen the equity story to convince investors about the company potential.

At EnterNext, we decided to provide the means to help companies entering the market in the best possible ways. For instance, in 2015, we designed the programme TechShare, which is a unique one-year pan-European course to familiarise non-listed innovative businesses with capital markets and gives them the information they need to take their companies to market. Although the listing obligations are often considered as “constraints”, they actually help entrepreneurs to build their castles on the rock.

R2I-Surrey-Phase2_2015-03Going public is definitely not a step to be taken lightly since one of the first things that happens is the entrepreneur has to give way to the professional business manager, which effectively means losing control of the company, or at least, the spirit of the company. If the scale-up has been successful, then this may not be a problem but recognising when to hand over the reins is always difficult. Again, this is where Incubators and Accelerators have a major role to play: they are not just for start-ups but generally have expertise in scaling up businesses and can guide the entrepreneur towards making the right decision before putting them in touch with the appropriate professionals.

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