The first edition of the WATIFY Solution Award will take place this year on 15-16 November in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of the Global Finals of the Creative Business Cup 2017. The Award is looking to recognise the next innovative SME that has technological transformation at the core of its successful business. This SME should be an inspiring example for other European SMEs and encourage them to adopt digital and/or key enabling technologies.
All entries will be screened against a set of pre-defined criteria by WATIFY experts in the fields of innovation and technology. This screening will result in a shortlist of 5 finalists.
The finalists will then pitch their cases in Copenhagen before a live audience and a Jury composed of business executives and senior representatives from the European Commission (DG GROW), its Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME), the Creative Business Cup and WATIFY, will decide on the overall WATIFY Solution Award winner 2017.
The winner will:
- Receive a 1000 euro prize
- Have the opportunity to showcase their technological transformation in a promotional video
- Be awarded a CBC/WATIFY Diploma certificate
- Have opportunities to network with entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe
Who can apply?
European SMEs and entrepreneurs that have gone, or are going through, a high-impact and innovative technological transformation.
In particular, the Jury will be looking for a creative transformation that:
- Innovates in terms of technology, product or service
- Brings about change in the value chains of industry and inside the company itself and/or can inspire new business models
- Shows unique value propositions
- Has scalability potential.
The application deadline is 24 October 2017. More information on the WATIFY Solution Award can be found here.
This week Promoting Enterprise is starting a series of interviews with a group of Estonian entrepreneurs to find out about what they do! From motorised scooters to furniture, these entrepreneurs are diverse, creative and not afraid to think outside of the box. Read on to meet our first two entrepreneurs, Kenneth and Sander and learn about where their entrepreneurial path has led them…
Meet Kenneth – he is 24 and the founder of his brand Kenneth Pert Natural Furniture. Kenneth is a designer and furniture craftsman. At the moment, his company is a ‘one man show’, Kenneth has to fill different roles – from managing the business side to cleaning his workshop. At this point, he has been in the field for 5 interesting and challenging years.
What motivates you?
I am inspired by people who have overcome challenges, their own personal struggles and added some extra value to the world. People play an important part in my life. That is why my closest friends and family are also my biggest driving force. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur?
The opportunity to use my time as I wish. I have been able to focus on my own interests and to grow at my own pace. This gives me enough room to devote time to the people I hold most dear. At the same time, it is important to stay disciplined and remember that I have a lot of responsibilities.
What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?
The skills of today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs largely overlap, for example, adaptability, consistency, discipline and curiosity. There has been a rising demand for people to have emotional intelligence regardless of their role or position in an organisation. It is quite essential to identify the right people to hire, because without help, it’s almost impossible to create a successful business.
When developing a product or service a lot of research, testing and feedback analysis goes into it. In this phase being good with numbers and having analytical skills is definitely another essential entrepreneurial skill.
Sander Sebastian Agur
Sander Sebastian is the 26 year-old co-founder of Inventory.com, the first online B2B marketplace to offer a comprehensive inventory management service by comparing suppliers and transactions up to the final delivery of products. Sander is also a Senior Vice President of ERPLY Retail Platform, which is a web-based on Enterprise resource planning application with support for accounting, inventory, invoicing, e-commerce, Point Of Sale (POS) and more, offering retailers a complete IT solution that can be adapted to meet unique requirements. The company includes well known clients such as Sony, Walt Disney, Amazon, Elizabeth Arden, Garmin and many others.
At the young age of 22, Sander was chosen as the successor to the head of Estonian Air, the former national airline of Estonia, but decided to work in private enterprise instead.
What motivates you?
Learning new skills and applying them usefully. I’ve definitely failed more than I’ve succeeded. As most long-term goals require skills that we don’t have when we set the goals, this motivates me to grow together with the challenges.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur?
In my sector there are almost no limits to what can be built. Once you realise that everything around you has been created by people that are no smarter than you, it all becomes doable.
What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?
I think skills are important, but they can also be acquired on the way. What is more important is your mindset for what’s coming and your openness to learn and make stuff happen. Everything changes so fast so you must be able to work in constant chaos. I think that’s what a startup is, nonstop chaos you need to navigate.
Anything else you want to share?
For Inventory.com, we got a small grant at the beginning of 2017 of 50, 000 EUR from the European Commission to kickstart the development, which we are super grateful for. Unfortunately we were rejected for the second phase of the Horizon2020 program, but we are continuing to invest our own resources to help Europe have a multinational sales channel for product exchange and we hope that our next application in November will be successful!
The project “Inventory.com” increases the visibility and competitiveness of manufacturing SMEs on the EU market by creating conditions for an open and efficient market. Currently manufacturing SMEs lack access to suppliers and clients. They are reliant on a small number of business partners and are invisible to any other potential partners. Many SMEs, due to their niche products, find it hard to expand their client network, find suppliers and create international contacts. Product availability, specifications, price and delivery information is not available to market participants and the required information is not presented, standardised and/or not available in different languages. Therefore, companies cannot compare and decide on the best choice. This is a problem our European customers face daily and we would like to change that.
The 2017 SME Assembly will take place in Tallinn, Estonia from 22 – 24 November 2017.
The conference will be the flagship event of European SME Week.
The 2017 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) is in full swing, and a lot of national deadlines are approaching…so get those applications in!
How have you been promoting EEPA 2017 so far?
The promotion for EEPA 2017 has been focused on providing relevant information and getting it to the right people. Part of this is including the relevant information about EEPA 2017 on the web page of the Ministry for Industry and SMEs and disseminating it via social media and email.
For our email dissemination we have directed our communications to specific entities such as:
- Members of the State Council for SMEs: an advisory board for SME affairs which is made up of representatives of the general state administration as well as representatives from the autonomous communities and local entities
- Chambers of commerce
- Business schools
- Points of care for entrepreneurs (a network of unique one stop shops which exist in Spain, for information and electronic administration services for entrepreneurs and companies)
- 2016 prize winners
What are your top 3 pieces of advice for reaching out to potential applicants?
- Motivate them to participate by showing them that they are running an initiative with good results
- Prepare a good application that reflects why the project is good
- Give them relevant information about previous editions
What are the main aspects of your EEPA 2017 campaign?
To increase the dissemination of information amongst interested actors in the SME environment, with the goal of getting them to present success stories which take place in local environments which normally would not have as much publicity. We have also been taking a direct contact approach, providing information via email or telephone, so as to resolve any doubts that projects may have before presenting themselves as candidates.
What is the most important thing you have learnt during your experience as National Coordinator?
In my brief experience as a National Coordinator, I have only been in this role from September 2016, I have learnt that knowing, sharing and disseminating examples of successful initiatives in different EU countries is very important. It allows us to learn from each other, avoid previously made mistakes and put into practice initiatives that would otherwise have been difficult to implement. Overall, I believe that EEPA is extremely useful for promoting entrepreneurship in our countries.
Digital innovation has led to several technological advances, born in the minds of innovative entrepreneurs who go on to bring their ideas to life. With an increasing number of us online, both socially and professionally, cybersecurity is an issue that affects us all, consumers and entrepreneurs alike. How can you protect yourself? What information do you need to safely reap the benefits of our digitally innovative world? Today, Promoting Enterprise looks into the development of fraud detection systems, accessible cybersecurity and remote incident response platforms.
The tendency for people to be creatures of habit is being put to good use in the cybersecurity industry, thanks to new identification software that uses typical login times and locations, keystroke dynamics and in-app behaviour to verify if someone is who they say they are. It’s one of a series of innovations being developed by European businesses keen to claim their share of a growing cybersecurity market. Analysts predict that global spending in cybersecurity will be well over EUR 100 billion a year by 2021, yet according to a 2016 report despite being the most trusted area globally when it comes to data security and privacy, the European industry is only growing 6% annually, compared to growth of 8 % for the market as a whole.
One of the aims of the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) – the association implementing a cybersecurity public-private partnership set up by the EU in 2016 – is to create connections between industry players, national public authorities and users of cybersecurity solutions to identify priorities and increase collaboration in research and innovation. That connection – particularly between providers and end-users – is crucial if Europe is to grow the industry and take its place in the market. European businesses such as Czech-based cybersecurity firm ThreatMark (advanced fraud-detection systems developer) and German cybersecurity company Applied Security (apsec), could benefit from this connection which could manifest as business-to-business platforms and direct interactions between SMEs and potential clients.
With the development of the cybersecurity industry, there are still three areas to be addressed:
- Cybersecurity tools need to be considered as integral parts of computer systems. EU funded projects like CyberWiz, where users set up a model IT network and carry out various kinds of simulated attacks, allow for system development whilst exposing weak points and giving an overview of the network security.
- Skilled technical experts are important for the overall success of the industry, but especially in the small- and medium-sized sector. According to chief executive of Secon Cyber Security UK Robert Gupta, ‘In general, there is a lack of the right skills and when you are recruiting, technical experts in cybersecurity are very hard to come by’.
- The costs of implementing cybersecurity. Between the costly search for experts, their employment and the implementation and upkeep of a security system, many smaller businesses simply cannot afford this integral part of their online presence. However, EU funded project ConnectProtect could be the answer; a remote incident-response platform helping small- and medium-sized businesses to combat attacks and security threats – at a more reasonable cost. Through such a system and economies of scale for cybersecurity software licences, the total cost of security could come down dramatically for small businesses – perhaps by as much as 75 % per member of staff.
For more information: https://horizon-magazine.eu
Digital innovation is a key theme for this year’s SME Assembly 2017 taking place in Estonia, so stay tuned for more digital innovation content right here on Promoting Enterprise.
If you liked this have a read of: 2017 and beyond: How digital innovation will impact the world
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.
Welcome and join us to celebrate the EEPA launch!
Nominations for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards open today (Thursday 23rd February 2017). The prestigious awards ceremony will take place this November in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, as part of the SME Assembly. Public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States and COSME participating countries, will be competing for the coveted awards which go to the most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This year there will be one minor modification to the award categories: the ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category will be suspended for one year, as the number of entries was consistently very low; we are using the time of the suspension to review the categories.
Therefore the five active categories for 2017 will be as follows:
Find about more about the EEPA launch and other exciting things to come in the first issue of 2017! Read more >>
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.
So, 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, which 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!
KIKštarter 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.
Daan De Wever co-founded Belgian Network Solutions in 2001 and is currently Managing Director of the communications company Destiny, which he co-founded with his brother Samuel. In this post, Daan talks about his experience in setting up his company and provides advice for budding entrepreneurs.
When I was starting up my business, I’d look into the mirror and I’d say: “I’m 28 years old, we have a fantastic idea, but do I have the skills to build a cloud-telco myself?” The answer was “No” but, two months later, we hired an experienced CEO and put him in place above myself and my brother, who I co-founded the company with.
That was the best decision of our lives. We needed finance. By the end of 2008, we’d searched for seed money; the round closed at the end of 2009. After a period of birth, survival, and fast growth, we closed a further round with private equity in May 2016. We decided to internationalise our business because everything boils down to the maxim, “Don’t miss your opportunity.”
Yes, we could be a nice “lifestyle” company in Belgium, but we believe we would miss out on opportunities in a market where mid-sized companies are massively underserved by incumbents. Today, we are active in eight European countries and our next aim is to achieve strong organic growth so that we can acquire other companies.
Having done it myself, my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to follow your dream and do the things that make you happy!
For more info:
Businesses across Europe already benefit from the European Single Market, but there are still challenges to tackle before SMEs and start-ups can fully gain from it. This was discussed during the final Single Market Forum, held in Amsterdam in June. Start-ups, SMEs, experts and government officials all agreed that it should be easier for businesses to start-up, hire talent, comply with administrative issues, win public tenders, scale-up and trade cross-border in Europe.
These were the main takeaways for start-ups and SMEs:
Strengthen cross-border trade in the EU
A services passport will be created to harmonise and unify procedures, in particular for business services such as accounting, architecture and engineering, ensuring they only need to complete them once and can cross-borders. This will make it easier for service providers who want to offer their activities in other Member States. There is also an ongoing plan to tackle VAT in E-commerce. This means business owners will have an easier time selling online with less paperwork. Additionally this means customers will receive a better service and lower prices when shopping online. A double win!
Start-ups and SMEs to have an easier access to public tenders
Public contracts and tenders offer many opportunities for SMEs to grow, yet many SMEs rule themselves out due to burdensome and diverging national rules on public procurement. This should not be the case! SMEs and start-ups’ participation in public tenders means that public money is better spent, but also results in better competition for public contracts, which essentially boosts growth, transparency and accountability.
A single information info point for all businesses
How do businesses find the information they need to navigate cross-borders? A single digital gateway is being developed to allow for business owners to access all the information they need to benefit from cross-border trade in a one-stop-shop. In order to know what information is needed, a collaborative discussion needs to take place. We need you on board to help us develop it.
Better education and access to finances are needed
Finally, how to support entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools they need to grow in the Single Market? Let’s talk about lifelong learning. In today’s economy it is clear that learning skills by itself is no longer enough for a successful career, and entrepreneurs need to hire staff that are adaptable. Additionally, we should support capital markets, making it easier for investors to invest in businesses cross-borders, and for start-ups to get more cross-border funding opportunities.
Let’s not stop here. Let’s continue debating and finding the right solutions for start-ups and SMEs. What more do you think can be done to support start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs trade cross-border? Join the discussion in LinkedIn Group or tell the Commission what you think.
More photos from the event on Flickr.
At Expo Milano 2015, TEDx Binnehof 2016 launched its search for the most inspiring entrepreneurs and world changing ideas. The 2015 SME Assembly, taking place in Luxembourg on 18-20 November, will also be part of this search for ideas worth spreading. During the SME Assembly, entrepreneurs from all 28 EU Member States will pitch their ideas. Ten entrepreneurs will be selected to present their ideas at TEDx Binnenhof 2016 “Made in Europe” in The Hague.
Follow the conversation on Twitter: #TEDxB16 and #MadeInEU