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SME Assembly 2017 – Delegate Feedback

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Welcome back! We hope you have all had a lovely holiday season and are ready to start the new year with us right here on the Portal. To start 2018, we decided to bring you the results of the SME Assembly 2017 delegate survey and find out what everyone really thought about their experience in Tallinn last November. Firstly the overwhelming feedback indicated that the SME Assembly was worth attending (94% of delegates agreed) and 97% of delegates said they would be participating next year, so we hope to be seeing some familiar faces in Graz this year!

Overall feedback

Attendees really enjoyed both the networking and learning opportunities, sighting the chance to meet experts, the quality of the speakers, interaction between different actors and stakeholders and the gained insights into new projects, as positive aspects of the location. Whilst we are interested in what was good, the Promoting Enterprise team are always looking for ways to improve so as to continue delivering high quality SME Assemblies. The two main improvements on which delegates commented were: the need for more networking time (both pre-arranged and facilitated) as well as increased opportunities for audience discussion within the sessions.

Sessions and content

This year the SME Assembly continued to offer a variety of plenary and policy sessions as well as specialised masterclasses and the entrepreneur expo. In terms of relevance and usefulness, the top plenary sessions were Ideas from Europe and E-Estonia, with over 50% of delegates indicating these sessions as ‘extremely useful’. The top two policy sessions, which received 53% and 51% ‘extremely useful’ ratings, were Single Market: New Barriers? and E-commerce. The top masterclasses, which were more niche and specialised in nature also received high ratings with 86% delegates saying ‘Ideas from Europe: 2 years on’ was either relevant and useful or extremely relevant and useful, closing followed by ‘An Hour of Code’, which was also rated relevant and useful or extremely relevant and useful by 85% of delegates.

Now that 2017 is behind us the preparations for this year’s SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria are getting underway. Thank you to all the delegates who took the time to fill out the survey, your feedback is very important to us and helps to continually improve the SME Assembly!

So what is in store for this year? Follow the News Portal for the latest updates about everything to come and join us on the journey to the SME Assembly 2018…

SME Week Newsletter 2017: Issue #9

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Season’s Greetings

 

With the last edition of the 2017 SME Week Newsletter, we would like to extend our season’s greetings to all of our readers as well as: the EEPA 2017 winners, the SME Assembly 2017 delegates, all YEC participants and in particularly this year’s finalists: Pavle Kostic and Evlampia Karavangeli and winner: Oksana Vedmidska, the Ideas from Europe finalists and finally the European Investment Project Portal.

We look forward to having you back with us on the Portal in the New Year and wish you a successful year ahead.

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From Slovakia to Estonia – The 2017 review

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The end of 2017 draws nearer, so what better time to look back on the exciting year we are soon to leave behind us! The Promoting Enterprise News Portal has been lucky enough to host several guest contributors, high profile interviews from the worlds of innovation and entrepreneurship, and of course be the ‘one stop shop’ for all European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) related content, amongst other topics.

We began the year by getting ready for the launch of EEPA 2017, looking back on the EEPA 2016 winners and finding out what the attendees of the SME Assembly 2016 thought about their time in Slovakia. The year continued on with the exciting launch of the 2017 edition of EEPA, during which we presented the shortlisted projects who went on to compete for European prizes. The standard of projects was extremely high and we would like to thank all of the National Coordinators for their hard work and dedication to their national campaigns.

The Youth Essay Competition also came back to Promoting Enterprise for a second edition, which attracted over triple the number of entries than last year. With many high quality entries coming from across Europe, and even beyond, the 2017 essay competition jury had a tough time choosing just three finalists for the shortlist. The finalists, Evlampia Karavangeli from Greece, Pavle Kostić from Serbia and Oksana Vedmidska from Ukraine, all impressed the jury with their answers to ‘What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?’, which they went on to present at the biggest event of the year…the SME Assembly 2017. After a live audience vote, Oksana Vedmidska was chosen as this year’s winner.

This year’s SME Assembly was held in Tallinn, Estonia from 22-24 November 2017 and focused on encouraging us all to start, scale and spread our wings. If you missed it, read our daily posts (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3), have a look at our Instagram and watch the highlights video for coverage of this European flagship event for entrepreneurs, facilitators and innovative thinkers. There is also an SME Assembly conclusions post discussing the main results from Tallinn.

2017 has been a busy year with exciting developments, news, competitions and events. The Assembly continues to grow, European SME Week continues to excel and innovators continue to share their thoughts with us here on Promoting Enterprise. As we close a busy year, the whole Promoting Enterprise team would like to thank you for your support throughout 2017, we hope you enjoyed our posts and will continue to bring you more next year in 2018.

 

Youth voices of Europe – Meet Youth Essay Competition winner Oksana Vedmidska

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‘What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?’, was the question that we posed to the youth of Europe for this year’s edition of the SME Youth Essay Competition.

Today, Promoting Enterprise is excited to present this year’s winner, Oksana Vedmidska from Ukraine! Oksana first impressed the Youth Essay Competition jury with her passionate essay and then went on to blow the audience away with her ideas at the SME Assembly 2017. Interested in what impressed the jury? Read her essay here and continue reading to find out more about her and her thoughts about the SME Assembly 2017.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Firstly, I decided to enter the competition, because entrepreneurship is a topic which is personal for me. Thanks to entrepreneurship, my family was able to survive difficult economic times in Ukraine in the 90s. Secondly, and this is probably because of the fact that my parents are involved in entrepreneurial activities, I myself adore the independence and passion that stands behind your freelance work or your own company.

In addition, this probably has something to do with my genes. I must admit that if one looks at Ukrainians from a historical perspective, they will see that we are used to being owners. This began from being owners of small agricultural plots, where we worked hard to cover the needs of our families. As a result we developed crucial skills like practical thinking, responsibility, independence and the ability to take risks – qualities and skills which are crucial for an entrepreneur. I believe Ukrainians inherited these skills and qualities and that is why we strive to establish our own small businesses/start-ups.

Thirdly, I considered the Youth Essay Competition to be a fantastic opportunity to spread my ideas and talk about problems and solutions concerning entrepreneurship that we face nowadays.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2017?

The SME Assembly 2017 was characterised by an incredible spirit of innovation and what the future holds. I was very delighted to see that we spoke about digitalisation as one of the keys of entrepreneurial success. Somehow in our ordinary lives we do not notice the importance of this topic and do not discuss opportunities it gives and the risks it involves, but during the Assembly we were really able to recognise the importance of e-governing, e-commerce, data exchange etc. not only for entrepreneurs and customers but for the society as a whole.

Moreover, a highlight of the SME Assembly 2017 was probably social entrepreneurship. I cannot remember any project of the Ideas from Europe which did not have some significance for society. Somehow the final purpose of each start-up was to guarantee benefits to a human-being. To my mind, that is a big step in the business environment, when a person is not simply seen as a customer by a business, but as a human-being with different specialised needs. If I had an investment fund, I would definitely provide venture capital, not only with the purpose to obtain some gains, but also because successful implementation of a social business project would improve the environment our global society lives in, and in which our kids will continue to live.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, what does that mean to you?

From a practical point of view, I would reinterpret it as ‘Develop an idea. Study your potential market niche. Write a business plan. And go for it, no matter what’. In my way of thinking, an entrepreneur is a dreamer, who respects the material bounds of our world. I would take this slogan and use it in schools to inspire teachers to change the old-fashioned science-oriented way we use to teach our children and also in order to motivate kids and adolescents to work on their entrepreneurial skills.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

Revealing personal plans is like revealing a sweet dream you had last night and since you want to keep the odds on your side you try to keep it secret… 🙂

In reality I am busy with my second degree that I have just started at the University of Applied Science of Darmstadt. So for the next 3 years I plan to study Information Law there. That is probably why all of my time will be devoted to studies, work and discussions concerning development and possibilities of improvement of our society. Anyway, we will see what is in store for me, one thing I know for sure is that there are still so many countries to visit, cultures and languages to learn, and experiences to gather and share, so I will not sit still!

That’s it for the 2017 finalists and winner! If you missed the finalist exclusive interviews be sure to read about Evlampia Karavangeli and Pavle Kostic on the News Portal. Where will these young finalists find themselves next? We will have to wait until 2018 to find out…

The EIPP – Providing connection opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs

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The European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) is a virtual meeting place for project promoters and investors. This year the Portal was present at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, and came to life in the first ever EIPP matchmaking session during which investors, entrepreneurs and project promoters were able to meet in person and discuss future partnerships and investment opportunities.

But what did the participants think? Check out the videos below to see what everyone thought and be sure to go through the photo albums on Flickr to see, as Vice President Jyrki Katanien once put it, ‘the tinder of investment’ in action!

Ichó, Steffen Preuss, DE

Slow Mills, Erwin Meijboom, NL

Virtual Medicine, Tomáš Brngál, SK

EIPP Session highlights

Youth voices of Europe – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Pavle Kostić

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European youth certainly have a lot to say about entrepreneurship, at least judging by the large number of entries for the 2017 edition of the SME Youth Essay Competition. This year the essays had to answer ‘What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?’, at first glance a simple question but which we discovered has many answers! 

Today, Promoting Enterprise continues to present this year’s talented finalists who we all met on stage in Tallinn at the SME Assembly 2017. Today’s interview takes us to Serbia to meet Pavle Kostić, a third year Management student at the University of Belgrade. Pavle impressed the jury with his passionate ideas and critique of current systems in his essay Ethics and a system as a prerequisite of regular competition, available for you to read in English and Serbian.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

The opportunity to go and see Estonia, was the first thing that attracted me to participate. Every trip has a big contribution in developing people` s skills and enhancing the power of observing the environment around themselves. I also like to express myself, and in that sense, I saw a great chance to express my opinion in front of the whole of Europe. Ultimately, my Management studies and interest in entrepreneurship were strong reasons to take part in the Youth Essay Competition.

Sabine Soeder & Johanna Baumann, CoCreativeFlow

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2017?

What a great event! Estonia did an excellent job in organising the SME Assembly. I especially liked the E- Estonia showroom business tour, where I could see the amazing results of digitalization in Estonia, which made me ask myself why Serbia is such a bureaucratic country.

I heard a lot of useful ideas in the “Ideas from Europe” session and met smart people who discussed very important topics. In my opinion one of the best sessions, was listening to the smart young ladies, who discussed entrepreneurship in the 21st century.

 

 

 

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, what does that mean to you?

This theme made me confront the real situation in my country, and the incorrect government strategy that is based on attracting multinational companies where manual labour and poor salaries dominate, as I wrote in my essay. We need to restart. We need support in order to stay and spread our ideas and energy to all regions, and to make a better society. We need equal conditions for everyone.

It also made me think  about Queen’s song “Spread your wings and fly away, fly away, far away…” which to me signifies going abroad and creating a new start, because your country does not understand you.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

There are a lot of plans for the future. I am currently a member of the Case Study Club, and we are preparing for global competitions. I also take every moment possible to work on additional projects, cases, and activities because I feel that I am doing something valuable and useful. I would like to go on Erasmus+ student mobility, but we will see… I am not good at predicting my future. I try to do what I like, and who knows where these paths will take me…

Read about the other Youth Essay Competition finalist Evlampia Karanvegeli and be sure to come back next week for an interview with this year’s winner Oksana…

Youth voices of Europe – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Evlampia Karavangeli

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What do Europe’s youth have to say about entrepreneurship? What skills do they think tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need? The 2017 edition of the SME Youth Essay Competition asked the youth of Europe for their answers to ‘What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?’. 

This year we were amazed by all of the entries from across Europe, all expressing different ideas and proposals to this year’s question.

Today, Promoting Enterprise presents one of the talented finalists who made it to Tallinn to present her idea live on stage at the SME Assembly 2017, meet Evlampia Karavangeli! 22 year old medical student Evlampia impressed the jury with her essay titled ‘Checkmate in Entrepreneurship’, which you can read here.

 

 

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Although at first glance it appears rather peculiar for a medical student to be interested in entrepreneurship, I saw this competition as a great chance to voice my firm belief that every future scientific breakthrough can only be achieved through the cooperation of people with various professional backgrounds, who possess certain talents and skills. My motive was to emphasise the importance of these qualifications on the road to professional success, regardless of the vocation one has chosen. Moreover, I wanted to convey a message to policymakers concerning the changes that need to be made, so as to promote youth entrepreneurship.

CoCreative Flow, Sabine Soeder & Johanna Baumann

 

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2017?

It was definitely a unique experience to be surrounded by so many inspiring people from all around the world, to discuss with them and exchange ideas about promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and research. I had the chance to participate in so many interesting conversations, learn new things and make connections. I also had the honour to present my own ideas in front of all the delegates and listen to their comments and point of view, which indeed helped me broaden my spectrum of thinking and motivated me for the future.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, what does that mean to you?

It reminds me of the last phrase in my essay, that there is no elevator to success, so you have to take the stairs. A profitable enterprise and a successful career don’t happen overnight, you have to start by building your own vision and putting in work and devotion, as you scale and evolve by accumulating knowledge and experience, until you’re ready to spread your wings towards success.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

For the time being, I am staying focused on getting my medical degree in 1,5 years. I am highly fascinated by neuroscience, so I plan on expanding my knowledge in this field, during the time of my residency. Apart from clinical medicine, my dream is to contribute to research programmes concerning neurodegenerative and neuroimmunological diseases. Of course, I always remain open to new prospects and opportunities that might come up and I’m excited to see what the future holds!

Be sure to read an exclusive interview with another Youth Essay Competition finalist, Pavle Kostic

 

SME Week Newsletter 2017: Issue #8

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Another year, another SME Assembly in the European SME story.

The SME Assembly is over for another year and the 2017 edition, hosted by Estonia, was another exciting chapter in the European SME story. Over 600 delegates attended and speakers from a wide variety of disciplines including, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, digitalisation, e-commerce, public procurement and many more were all present in Estonia to share their knowledge and exchange with the European SME community.

Enjoy reading about everything that happened in Tallinn and be on the lookout for some exciting content and exclusive interviews coming your way very soon!

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What are the most entrepreneurial cities and regions in Europe?

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The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has opened the call for applications for the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2019 award on 23 November in Tallinn, at the European SME Assembly organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The EER 2019 edition was launched by Johanna Mikl-Leitner (AT/EPP), CoR Member and Governor of Lower Austria, one of the three EER winners of the current year. The EER award is open to all EU regions and cities that are ready to implement an ambitious strategy to support their SMEs and entrepreneurs. The deadline to apply for the EER 2019 label is 17 April 2018.

Each year, the EER label is awarded to three EU territories with an outstanding, future-oriented strategy to promote entrepreneurship and support small and medium-sized enterprises in their territories. The forward-looking orientation of the EER initiative means that the EER label is open to all EU territories – not only to those that are already among the top performers, but also to regions and cities that may still be less prosperous, but that have an ambitious entrepreneurial vision to reinvigorate their economy and a credible action plan to transform this vision into reality.

Over the past seven years, the EER winners have demonstrated how cities and regions can successfully strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems. During the SME Assembly’s first day, Lower Austria (EER 2017) was awarded the Commission’s European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) in recognition of its outstanding achievements in supporting SME internationalisation.

“SMEs, start-ups and scale-ups are a motor for life quality and sustainable development in our cities and regions. I strongly believe that, as regional and local decision-makers, it is our responsibility to set up the right conditions for the emergence of flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystems. Through the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) label, the European Committee of the Regions contributes to this objective. We identify and reward EU regions and cities that create an environment in which entrepreneurial initiative can unleash its full potential”, stated CoR Member Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

The implementation of the awarded regional and local strategies will be monitored throughout 2019 by the EER jury, which is composed of CoR members, representatives of EU institutions and social partners. At the end of the award year, the jury will visit the awarded territories in order to verify the progress made, provide them with an objective outside appraisal of their policies and gain new insights and inspiration for the further development of the EER scheme. The main results and achievements of the EER 2019 winners will also be shared and discussed among regional and local authorities through the EER network, which since its inception in 2010 has grown to include 24 territories, giving it the critical mass necessary for a fruitful exchange of good practices, peer-learning and successful cooperation among past and present EER winners.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 17 April 2018. The application form and detailed information about the assessment criteria are available on the EER web page: www.cor.europa.eu/eer

Contact:
Carmen Schmidle
Tel. +32 (0)2 282 2366
Mobile: +32 (0)494 735787
carmen.schmidle@cor.europa.eu

Lights, camera, action…Conclusions from the 2017 SME Assembly

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CoCreativeFlow.com, Sabine Soeder and Johanna Ballmann

The 2017 SME Assembly has come and gone, but it certainly has not left us indifferent. It has been clear from this year’s edition that the focus has been much more on action and on the implementation of the SME-related policies developed in previous years. But what results are these policies producing? Here are some of the main conclusions from the event:

  • Let’s aim to solve problems rather than buy products in public procurement: different stakeholders worked together to generate innovative ideas responding to a real-life policy challenges at the Policy Hack It is a common practice in the EU that governments tend to buy highly specified products rather than solutions to their problems. This needs to change towards more participatory, solution-oriented approach, adding a new perspective to the public procurement process.
  • Public procurement is a key opportunity for SMEs: EUR 2 trillion is spent annually in the EU on public procurement. The EU Public Procurement Package of Measures is a step in the right direction, however, more work needs to be done in certain sectors to improve access to information, guarantee more transparency and use better fitting selection criteria.
  • A positive outlook for European SMEs in most countries: both the number of SMEs and their added value above the 2008 levels (pre-crisis) levels, though there is a clear north-south division with southern countries still struggling. Steady growth is expected for 2017 and 2018 according to the SME Performance Review 2016/2017, where a focus on self-employment will become ever-increasingly important.
  • Some tangible results of EC actions, but still a way to go: the Small Business Act has already generated tangible results. However, more has to be done in crucial areas for the future of SMEs, such as innovation.
  • Greater visibility of European investment opportunities: the EC is carrying out a number of actions to increase the visibility of investment projects with a focus on SMEs. Examples include the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) and the European Investment Fund. However, whether these initiatives will meet the real finance needs of European SMEs still remains to be seen. Decreasing a minimal ticket to 1 mln EUR is a move in the right direction, however, understanding how venture funds approach deals would be welcomed.
  • Access to finance is still one of the highlighted issues for SMEs in Europe: a fragmented legal and tax system in Europe are the main barriers to access finance. The development of regional co-investment funds, harmonisation of the regional cooperative framework and mutual recognition of existing fiscal incentives for business angels are some of the potential solutions to overcome these barriers.
  • Preparation for the future: SMEs have to prepare themselves for the market conditions of the future. 21st century enterprises should be experience-focused, outcome-based, agile & lean, service-oriented and ecosystem-driven.
  • Evidence of successful on the ground initiatives: such as the eResidency Programme in Estonia allowed entrepreneurs outside of the EU to start a business no matter where they reside.

The event may be over, but the online discussion continues here.

Written by Jon Switters and Katarzyna Jakimowicz

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    • SME Week Newsletter 2017: Issue #9 December 22, 2017
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      European youth certainly have a lot to say about entrepreneurship, at least judging by the large number of entries for the 2017 edition of the SME Youth Essay Competition. This year the essays had to answer ‘What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?’, at first glance a simple question but which we discovered has many answers!  Today, […]
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