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!
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…
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.
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
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.
What did you think about the SME Assembly 2017?
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…
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.
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…
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!
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
The Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture is one of the highlights of the SME Assembly and is given by a different guest lecturer each year. This year Professor Jan Fagerberg, from the University of Oslo gave a lecture on the current status of European innovation and how this is closely related to the issues of economic transformation and climate change.
According to Professor Fagerberg, Europe is stuck in a partially self-inflicted stagnation and needs to transform accordingly. The European stagnation can be explained by globalisation, and the differing responses of European states, leading to a lack of homogeneity. The Euro in particular, meant that there was no specific need for policy coordination, which led to increased unemployment and different austerity policies. These outcomes mean that something must change, in order to rise out of stagnation, the economy must radically transform.
The need to transform the economy is particularly linked to climate change. European emissions are still at high levels, and must decline much faster than their current rates. This is where the link to renewable technology becomes relevant, both environmentally and economically speaking. Not only is it the answer to cutting down on emissions but due to: rapidly declining costs, unlimited availability, broad applicability and pervasive effects, it could arguably transform the current economy into a more sustainable model.
As both challenges are heavily influenced by each other, they require a coordinated policy response which should specifically have innovation policy at its heart. This entails innovation policy working across fields to promote, explore and provide opportunities in fields related to renewables. Through ICT and renewable technology there is a chance to not only transform the economy, but do so without causing further harm to the climate and possibly even remedy the current effects.
For photos from the lecture, please see the Flickr album.
For more information on his work and publications, please visit his website.
The SME Assembly 2017 has drawn to a close after three action packed days of networking, policy sessions, masterclasses, tours and awards. As always, the SME Assembly brought together people from across the world all striving towards creating a European environment in which SMEs can thrive and grow.
The day began bright and early with the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) breakfast, which was followed by an engaging policy session featuring an address from European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katanien, a speech from Director of DG Growth Kristin Schreiber, and an in depth look at the EIPP presented by a member of Vice President Katanien’s cabinet, Florentine Hopmeier. The dedicated EIPP policy session was then followed by the first ever live EIPP matchmaking event which simulated the work of the portal in real life. This was the first event of its kind allowing investors and entrepreneurs to meet face to face and make valuable connections for the future.
In parallel to the EIPP sessions, the 21st Century Enterprise segment of the Assembly featured different speakers discussing pertinent topics such as female entrepreneurship and the need to adapt the education system to modern work trends and society. There was also lively discussion on the role of youth in the workforce and their different attitudes in comparison to older generations. Speakers agreed with each other in that these differences should be celebrated and utilised rather than used to divide, and spoke of the need to integrate the different generations that make up the present workforce.
On the subject of youth, the session was lucky enough to have three young panellists representing that very demographic on stage. These panellists were of course the three finalists of the highly contested Youth Essay Competition which this year focused on the skills that future entrepreneurs need. All three finalists took to the stage to make spirited speeches and covered topics such as: cultural fusion being the backbone of brilliant ideas, the necessity for soft skills and the need for patience on the way to success. After the audience vote Oksana Vedimdska was announced as the deserving winner of this year’s competition, congratulations Oksana! We will be bringing you more information on Oksana and the other two finalists right here on the Portal in the form of exclusive interviews, so be sure to keep following us weekly!
The Assembly continued on with the final policy sessions and masterclasses, on interesting topics such as Digitalisation for SMEs from the Watify project, a look at the Ideas from Europe alumni, the role of Ecommerce for SMEs and the hot topic of the Single Market and whether it poses new barriers.
It was then time for the Assembly to come to an end, and for host country Estonia to pass the torch to next year’s hosts…Austria! The SME Assembly 2017 may be over, but the connections made and the ideas shared will continue to inform our European SME discussions. We hope that you enjoyed this year’s SME Assembly as much as we did, and perhaps we will see you all again next year in Graz…
Access all the photos here.
The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017 have come to an end, but what a journey it has been! From the opening of national competitions in early 2017, the announcement of all national winners, the long awaited publication of the shortlist and now finally the winner’s ceremony we have witnessed all of the hard work and dedication that goes into the outstanding projects submitted each year.
It is with great pride that Promoting Enterprise can now present to you the EEPA ‘class of 2017’, the projects that were crowned European winners at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia (click on the picture to see their video presentation).
What was their first reaction?
Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit: Enterprise Village, Estonia
Mehis Parn: “Now we know we do the right thing!”
Investing in entrepreneurial skills:
The Business Generator, Sweden
Anette Rhudin: “Hard working entrepreneurs need nutrition and that is what we do for them. Thank you!”
Improving the business environment: Reempresa, Spain
Albert Colomer: “We are just happy! Thank you for this fantastic award!”
Supporting the Internationalisation of Business:
“Internationalisation 2015 – 2020”, Austria
Johanna Mikl-Letiner (Governor of Lower Austria): “We now see that our strategy to internationalize is successful!”
Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship:
Adie (Association for Economic Rights Initiatives), France
Marine Viala: “It´s our birthday this year! Aide has a big potential and this prize “salut!” to our work!”
Grand Jury Prize: Innofest, The Netherlands
Anna van Nunen: “We thought you forgot us. But this, of course, is now a great surprise!”
Please find here the 2017 Compendium of winners: EEPA 2017 Compendium Brochure (in English).
Congratulations to this year’s winners and we hoped you enjoyed the ceremony (photos)! Be sure to keep following us here on the portal for winner interviews and updates to find out more about this year’s projects.