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Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

Today we are continuing to introduce you to the members of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury by talking with Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker. Selma represents the organisation that won last year’s Grand Jury Prize. Her recent experience as a participant in the competition means her advice for this year’s cohort is particularly valuable. Keep reading to hear it!

Selma is Programme Director of COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige (CfS), an initiative started by the German non-profit Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e.V. (I.S.I. e.V.) working in Berlin. For more than 30 years, I.S.I. e.V. has been empowering and qualifying women with a migration background to pursue entrepreneurship. Before being awarded last year’s Grand Jury prize, CfS was selected as the winner in the competition’s Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category.

EEPA 2022 Jury Member Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

Through CfS, I.S.I. e.V. promotes entrepreneurship amongst immigrant women in Berlin by providing free training and access to networking events. What’s more, I.S.I. e.V., which is itself managed by immigrant women, not only supports women looking to become entrepreneurs, but also those who are already entrepreneurs and are looking to expand their businesses. Below, Selma talks about her experience in the competition, gives some excellent advice, and lets us know what will make a project stand out for her in this year’s competition.

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

It showcases entrepreneurship initiatives from the whole of Europe, sharing valuable examples and boosting entrepreneurship by increasing the recognition and value of entrepreneurs. By shining a light on local initiatives, it shows the great European potential of entrepreneurship and its role in nurturing and shaping our society.

Do you have any advice for the participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

It is very important to include information on the impact the initiatives have had, both with figures and performance indicators and with concrete examples. The vision for the future is also very important, since these initiatives must constantly adapt to changes in the environment and respond to the real needs of society.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

The difficult political situation has brought instability and economic crisis, as well as uncertainty about the future. To build trust and hope, we need to move toward a healthy society that is attentive to social values and gender equality, thus promoting sustainable, equitable and responsible initiatives and projects. In this context, attention to the needs of the most vulnerable is crucial, as well as a focus on people’s mental and physical well-being.

What are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

An innovative and engaging approach, impact on people and on the local economy, and attention to the well-being of people.

We will introduce you to the other members of the 2022 EEPA jury soon – so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

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Get Digital: Go Green and Be Resilient

On the Promoting Enterprise portal today, we are highlighting a call for expression of interest related to green, resilient and digital companies in the European Union, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. The ‘Get Digital – Go Green and Be Resilient’ initiative launches on Tuesday, 24 May, with the goal of creating a catalogue featuring innovative digital solutions.

The Russian aggression in Ukraine has refocused international efforts on energy dependence and supply chain resilience. In this context, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) along with the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), and the European Digital SME Alliance (DigitalSME) will create a catalogue with leading European businesses providing use cases to help industry become more resilient.

The initiative aims to put the spotlight on digital solutions and business models that can offer the most impactful approaches to become less dependent on oil, gas and raw materials, and more resilient within the global supply chain. If you have a start-up or SME from the EU, Ukraine, Moldova or Georgia that provides an innovative digital solution in this area, then this call could be for you! Sounds interesting? Then sign up HERE.

The initiative will be followed by two workshops to showcase the innovative solutions and facilitate their accelerated uptake on the market. The first “Get Digital: Go Green” workshop, will have a focus on digital solutions that can reduce overall energy consumption within business operations, while the second “Get Digital: Be Resilient” workshop, will zoom in on digital solutions supporting the supply chain resilience of European industry.

“We need to actively support SMEs to accelerate the digital transition. Through the “Get Digital” workshop series, we aim to ensure leading digital SMEs in Europe, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia can use the Single Market to scale digital solutions that help all our industries, including our many SMEs, become greener and more resilient. Our Single Market is the best lever to promote digitalisation and help our industries to thrive in today’s global context,” said DG GROW Director-General Kerstin Jorna.

The Commission also intends, with the help of all the participants in the initiative, to identify in very practical terms the barriers to the implementation of digital solutions and to the acceleration of digitalisation, with a view to tackling them with specific policy measures.

WHY SHOULD YOU PARTICIPATE?

Participating in the initiative would help you to:
• Promote your innovative digital business model and increase your business exposure;
• Receive information and advice on financing sources and support in accessing them; business support such as mentoring advice, IP registration and protection, sustainability advice and digitalisation support services etc. from specific European business and innovation support services;
• Receive tailored support based on your company’s needs from specific European business and innovation support services, if selected by the Jury;
• Match-make with other companies from across the continent;
• Learn about and get inspired by some of the leading solutions in the digital ecosystem;
• Mainstream and promote your digital solution to the traditional industry environment (e.g., through matchmaking);
• Find help to tackle key business obstacles and barriers when attempting to scale your digital business solution;
• Inform policymakers about your company’s specific needs.

All the digital business solutions that are submitted will be featured in an exclusive digital catalogue. A jury made up of independent investment and business managers will select the most impactful submissions who will get the opportunity to present at the workshops. These companies will receive tailored coaching from experts in SME support services, funded by relevant EU programmes based on the needs of each company’s project. There will also be webinars for all companies included in the catalogue at which the main SME support services offered by the EU will be presented.

For more information and to register, visit the initiative page on the DigitalSME site. If you have any questions, please contact: GROW-WORKSHOP@ec.europa.eu.

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Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Thomas Cooney

Every year, during the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), we introduce you to the members of our jury, who play are responsible for choosing the most innovative and exciting competition entries and selecting the winner of the Grand Jury Prize. We kick off our introductions this year with an EEPA stalwart Professor Thomas Cooney.

Thomas is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Technological University Dublin, and Academic Director of the TU Dublin Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship. He is also a director of four businesses, works in a supportive capacity with a variety of organisations and has published widely on the topic of entrepreneurship. Thomas has been an EEPA jury member for several years now, so we asked him for his advice for participants and what the jury will be looking for in 2022. Read on for his enlightening insights!

EEPA Jury Member Professor Thomas Cooney

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

What is wonderful about EEPA is that it recognizes unsung heroes and celebrates the amazing work being done by people to encourage greater levels of entrepreneurial activity at local and regional levels. These people also support the inclusion of marginalized communities whose needs are not being met by formal government interventions, and this competition enables their incredible work to be acclaimed.

Do you have any advice for EEPA participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

Successful applications have one common feature – they provide statistics and evidence of the success of their initiative. Hard data showing the number of people who have successfully completed the programme and the measurement of the impact of the programme is much more powerful than any testimonial.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are critically important in terms of addressing the current challenges facing governments and people across Europe. Therefore, I believe that showing how an initiative tackles a specific UN SDG would be helpful, but applicants need to identify which specific target they are addressing (e.g. SDG Target 10.1) rather than being quite broad with their relationship to the UN SDGs.

Which are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

The three qualities that I would like to see are: (1) level of innovation (what is the project doing that nobody else is doing?); (2) the ability for the initiative to be replicated in another country, by other people; and (3) the long-term sustainability of the initiative. Excel in these three qualities and you will be in contention for a prize!

We will introduce you to the other five members of the 2022 EEPA jury soon – so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

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It’s that time of year again – Youth Essay Competition (YEC) 2022 is launching soon!

The launch of the seventh edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is imminent. Work is continuing on the concept for this year’s competition and we will make an announcement soon – so make sure to check the Prompting Enterprise portal regularly for details. In the meantime, read on to learn about the competition and be inspired by previous winners.

Organised by the European Commission Directorate-General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, the YEC is an opportunity for 18-25-year-olds to share their ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs. More generally, the goal of the competition is to raise the profile of entrepreneurship as an attractive career choice for young Europeans. European young people have been enthusiastic in their engagement with the competition, so let’s hear from some of them.

Kristina Dimova from Bulgaria won the 2021 edition of YEC with an essay that highlighted that humanity is the key to sustainability, both when developing a business plan for a small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and when it comes to company management. We asked Kristina what it was like to be announced the winner of last year’s competition. Her response? “A moment of pure bliss!”

Kristina Dimova, winner of the 2021 SME Week Youth Essay Competition

Kristina was declared the YEC winner at the 2021 SME Week Assembly, which was held in the beautiful city of Portorož in Slovenia. Her main takeaway from the Assembly was that time is limited and that we should spend our time in a worthwhile way, making the most of life for ourselves, other people, and the world in which we live. “Every single business idea must be sustainable both for the environment and for society’s needs. In a world where people are more divided than ever on so many topics, we need to find the way to the right solutions for each of us. The SME Assembly 2021 showed me that with the right steps, finding the path towards re-establishing unity is possible,” she said.

You can read Kristina’s essay here. In her acceptance speech, Kristina said that she had been inspired to participate by the previous year’s winner – Sabine Kerssens. Sabine impressed the jury with her ideas about the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures made innovation more inclusive. Sabine won the live vote at the SME Assembly after presenting her ideas.

2020 SME Week YEC winner Sabine Kerssens

Sabine was very positive about her SME Assembly experience. “Through the Youth Essay Competition, the finalists shared the stage with some of the most fascinating speakers within and beyond the European Union. It was inspiring and uplifting to learn from the engaging sessions.” She had some words of advice for potential participants: “To all the young change makers out there: participate in events like this to make sure that you give yourself the chance to find your strengths and make your voice heard in different ways. You can do it!” You can read Sabine’s essay here.

In addition to the winners, finalists from previous years have also shared their experience of the competition with us. Victoria Krah was a finalist in 2021 and, in this interview, she talks about what motivated her to enter the competition and about her plans for the future. You can read Victoria’s essay here. Likewise, Pablo Pastor Vidal was a finalist in 2020, having impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience. You can read Pablo’s essay here.

In 2022, it could be you receiving the Youth Essay Competition prize! We will be announcing the competition details soon, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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EEPA Compendium now available!

In 2021, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) celebrated its 15th edition and continued to award projects that demonstrate the pinnacle of innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe. Despite the continued influence of the global pandemic, with COVID-19 still having an impact on the SMEs and the European economy as a whole, EEPA made sure that the latest innovative enterprise concepts were showcased in the European arena. These innovative concepts have now been gathered in one place – the EEPA Compendium.

Every year the EEPA Compendium showcases all of the projects that were shortlisted in the competition, to celebrate their achievements, while at the same time providing some insight into the Awards process. This year is no different, and the Compendium contains a wealth of information on all of 2021’s shortlisted projects.

In total, there were 204 national projects in the 2021 edition of the competition, from which a shortlist of 47 projects was selected, representing the strongest ideas from across the EU and COSME countries. At the SME Assembly, six projects were awarded as winners in the six competition categories:

  1. Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
  2. Investing in entrepreneurial skills
  3. Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
  4. Supporting the internationalisation of business
  5. Supporting the sustainable transition
  6. Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

In addition, there was also the Grand Jury Prize along with many interesting runners-up and two special mentions: you can find more information about all of these in the Compendium, where you can also learn more about each of our EEPA jury members as well as the EEPA judging process that goes on behind the scenes.

The Compendium also features feedback from last year’s winners about what winning the prize has meant to them and in addition information on the Grand Jury Prize winners from the last four years.

To find out more about the EEPA, visit the EEPA website and look through the previous compendia from 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017.

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Introducing the 2022 EEPA Jury

Today on the Promoting Enterprise news portal, we are excited to introduce you to the seven 2022 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury members. The EEPA jury is made up of representatives from the European Commission, business associations, academia, the current European presidencies, and the last Grand Jury Prize winner.

Let´s give a warm welcome to Thomas Wobben, Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker, Thomas Cooney, Outi Slotboom, Christel Delberghe, Caroline Mischler and Marian Piecha.

There are seven jury members in total. We begin our introduction with Thomas Wobben, who is representing the Committee of the Regions. After studying Economics and Politics, Thomas worked for voluntary sector organisations and, in 1993, joined the European policy services of Saxony-Anhalt. In 1995, he began working in the Liaison Office of Saxony-Anhalt in Brussels, taking over as Director in 2000. Since March 2012, he has been Director for Horizontal Policies and Networks and later for legislative works at the Committee of the Regions.

Jury member Thomas Wobben

Every year the EEPA competition offers me a sample of a European diversity. Looking at the EEPA projects, I try to assess their impact and added value in a specific territorial context, in particular shortlisting those that inspire and provide at least some transferability potential to other territories with similar characteristics,” Thomas said.

Representing last year’s Grand Jury prize-winner is Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker. Selma is Programme Director of “COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige” at ISI (Initiative of Self-Employed Migrant Women), a non-profit association in Berlin, Germany which, for more than 30 years, has been empowering and qualifying women with a migration background, preparing them for professional self-employment.

Jury member Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

Representing academia is Professor Thomas Cooney, who has been a jury member for several years and brings significant experience to the role. Thomas is Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Academic Director of the TU Dublin Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship.

Jury member Thomas Cooney

Next, we introduce you to Outi Slotboom. Outi is Director for Strategy and Economic Analysis at the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission. Her Directorate is in charge of the strategy for EU industrial policy and the Single Market, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship, the international aspects of industrial policy, and the economic analysis underpinning these policies.

Jury member Outi Slotboom

Next, we meet Christel Delberghe, providing expertise from a business association perspective. Christel has been Director General of EuroCommerce since November 2021, where she acts as the chief advocate for the retail and wholesale sector with the EU institutions, stakeholders and the media. Previously, she was EuroCommerce’s Executive Director for Competitiveness and Communications, leading action on commercial relations and competition issues, as well as the interests of wholesalers and SMEs.

Jury member Christel Delberghe

Next, we would like to introduce you to Caroline Mischler, who is representing the French EU presidency. Caroline is the Director of the European and International Department of the Directorate General for Enterprises, at the French Ministry of Economy and Finance. Caroline joined the Directorate General in 2005 and has held various positions, designing public policies to support competitiveness, innovation and industry. She was appointed Director of the European and International Department in 2019.

Jury member Caroline Mischler

Finally, we would like to introduce you to Marian Piecha, who represents the Czech EU presidency on this year’s jury. In 2008, Marian was appointed the Director of the Department of Business and Investment at the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. From 2013 to 2014, he was the CEO of the business and investment support agency CzechInvest. Since 2014, he was the Director of the MIT ́s SME Support Department. He was appointed Deputy Minister of the EU Funds and Digital Economy Section on February 1, 2018.

Jury member Marian Piecha

About #EEPA2022

The EEPA competition has two stages. Applicants must first compete at national level to be eligible to compete at European level. For the national competition, each country nominates up to two entries for the European competition in six categories:

Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
Investing in skills
Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
Supporting the internationalisation of business
Supporting the sustainable transition
Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

The #EEPA2022 jury then chooses a shortlist of nominees to compete at the final awards ceremony, which recognises the winners for their efforts and gives them the opportunity to present themselves in a pan-European environment.

For more information, visit the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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Initiatives support refugees fleeing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine

Europe has seen millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine following Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against its neighbour. According to the United Nations, more than 12 million people are believed to have fled their homes in Ukraine since the conflict began, with 7.1 million Ukrainians displaced internally and 5.2 million fleeing to neighbouring countries and beyond. Here on the Promoting Enterprise portal, we reached out to SME Week National Coordinators for information on initiatives being implemented across the EU to support Ukrainian refugees and help them integrate. Read on to find out more!

Source: EU countries preparing to welcome those fleeing Ukraine | European Commission (europa.eu)

English schools across Malta have offered sponsorships for English language courses to Ukrainians arriving in Malta having been forced out of their homes as a result of Russia’s war of aggression. The announcement came after FELTOM, (the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations in Malta) reached out to the Ukrainian Honorary Consulate to offer support to help displaced Ukrainians integrate into Maltese society once they have reached safety in the country.

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Malta can also turn to the country’s Foundation for Social Welfare Services for support. The foundation provides an array of 70 services ranging from domestic violence, human trafficking, child protection, alternative care, substance misuse, psychological services, to mention just a few. Everyone resident in Malta, including migrants, refugees and their children, can avail of the services it offers. In fact, FSWS is in contact with the Ukrainian community in Malta to offer its assistance as the need arises.

Meanwhile in Portugal, Portugal for Ukraine is a platform that acts as a one-stop-shop for information on actions being taken by the Portuguese government related to Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine. The platform contains information on international action, humanitarian aid and the integration and hosting of displaced persons in Portugal.

Finally, in the Netherlands, the programme “Docentvluchteling voor de klas”, which roughly translates as “Teacher-refugees back in the classroom”, is being implemented by the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences together with a foundation that works with refugees, schools and other stakeholders. Originally set up to help teachers who fled Turkey for political reasons to get back in front of the classroom in the Netherlands, word is that it will be reshaped to also incorporate Ukrainian refugees. Lessons are aimed at teaching the Dutch language and Dutch teaching methods and systems.

As we receive more information on further initiatives being implemented across Europe to support Ukrainian refugees and integrate them into EU society, we will let you know about them here on the Promoting Enterprise portal, so make sure to check in regularly!

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IP a critical issue for SMEs

April 26, 2022 is World Intellectual Property Day and, to mark the occasion, we would like to focus on the importance of intellectual property (IP) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and highlight the support that is available to enable SMEs to manage and valorise their IP.

IP is a business tool that allows SMEs to protect their investment in innovation and creativity. It can improve an SME’s competitiveness and provide a potential source of revenue. In fact, SMEs that own intellectual property rights generate 68% more revenue per employee than those who don’t, and are 33% more likely to become high growth firms. However, SMEs often lack the time, resources, or knowledge to address IP issues – but don’t worry, help is at hand!

Support is available

On the Promoting Enterprise portal, we have previously highlighted support available to SMEs in the area of IP protection. In particular, the IPA4SME programme from the European Commission which, since its launch in 2019, has been successfully accompanying SMEs on their path to IP valorisation, helping them to protect their valuable IP. To date, over 1,000 SMEs from 30 countries have benefited from the programme.

Support is also available free-of-charge through the European IP Helpdesk, which helps European SMEs to manage, disseminate and valorise their IP and supports IP capacity building – from awareness to strategic use and successful exploitation. For more targeted support and advice in relation to operations in China, South-East Asia, Latin America or India – see the International IP Helpdesks.

SMEs can also take advantage of co-funding for trade mark or design applications from the Ideas Powered for Business SME Fund – a European Commission grant scheme implemented by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) that supports SMEs with their IP. EUIPO also offers free personalised IP support to SMEs.

Finally, the Horizon IP Scan is a tailored IP support service provided by the European Commission specifically designed to help European start-ups and other SMEs involved in EU-funded collaborative research projects to efficiently manage and valorise IP in collaborative R&I efforts.

Learning about IP and its associated rights is important, so if you are an SME that would like to protect your investment in innovation and know-how make sure you’re aware of the support available and benefitting from it! Learn more about European IP support for SMEs and discover further resources here.

IP in EEPA

If you are a project that offers IP support to SMEs along with other support, you might be eligible to take part in this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). The six categories in this year’s competition are:

  1. Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
  2. Investing in skills
  3. Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
  4. Supporting the internationalisation of business
  5. Supporting the sustainable transition
  6. Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

For mFor more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

EEPA: The Grand Jury Prize

In addition to the winners in each of the six European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) categories – we have introduced you to all six categories in previous blogs on the portal – every year the EEPA Jury selects a project to receive the Grand Jury Prize. The winning project can be from any category and the prize is awarded to the entry considered the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

Let’s look at some Grand Jury Prize winners from previous years for inspiration.

In 2021, the Grand Jury Prize went to COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V., which was also the winner of first prize in the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category. The initiative supports migrant women with training and professional development, providing them with the skills they need to become self-employed. By providing free training, coaching and networking opportunities, both migrant women who are willing to start a business and those who are already self-employed, are enabled to put business ideas into practice and build up their own business start-ups in Berlin. The project is guided by the principle that migrant women stand up for migrant women.

The COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige team noted that winning the awards had great resonance with their participants and partner organizations. “We have received many congratulations and encouraging messages. Some magazines have reported about us. But most important is that we make the most of the awards and their prestige in order to further promote the offers of the COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige and reach even more migrant women, to foster them on their way to self-employment,” the team said.

The team heartily encourages others to participate in the competition. “The EEPA is a great chance to make your project more visible and cooperate with other organisations to spread information about your successful work. It gives you the possibility to present your project as a model, both at the national and international level and, ultimately, to reach your goals for a larger community all over Europe. Applying is definitely worth a try,” they said.

The 2020 Grand Jury Prize winner Le Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs comes from France. Le Portail du Rebond or ‘The Recovery Portal’ consists of associations that together provide a nationwide service to entrepreneurs to help them through difficult times. The associations have unique specialisations across different areas, allowing them to cover the entire value chain, from entrepreneurial failure and its prevention to entrepreneurial recovery and its promotion. The associations help entrepreneurs to navigate the measures needed for recovery and any encounters with the authorities, while removing obstacles to their recovery.

The Le Portail du Rebond team said that wining the Grand Jury prize had been an amazing experience. “Firstly it was a wonderful recognition of our 10 years of work supporting entrepreneurs in difficulty. We also feel that winning this award and having our services recognised and spoken about during this period of health and economic crisis will also help us reach additional entrepreneurs that may be in difficult situations.”

Potential participants shouldn’t think twice, the team says. “Firstly, there is absolutely nothing to lose, but so much to win. Secondly, this competition allows for the work and initiatives we work so hard on to be shared with the public as well as other actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Participating in this competition was an incredible collective adventure for the Portail du Rebond community, which helped further solidify the strong bonds that we have between the participating associations.”

In 2019 the Grand Jury Prize was awarded to GreenPAC iLab, a project from the Netherlands, competing in the Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency category (currently Supporting the sustainable transition). GreenPAC iLab supports new entrepreneurs in the plastics industry in starting their businesses and achieving sustainable and circular business models. The project functions as a community where entrepreneurs with innovative ideas receive coaching and access to a network of professionals that help with feasibility studies, research and product development.

We spoke to GreenPAC iLab Manager and Business Developer Bastian Coes to discover the story behind the winning project. “Winning the award impacted our work directly because there is outside endorsement for what we do. Awards like this help develop the GreenPAC iLab further and to sustain the work we do. We have also had a lot of questions about our programme from the international community, and the EEPA has facilitated this by giving us an international podium to share how we support sustainable start-ups. Winning the EEPA Grand Jury Prize has given us additional proof to demonstrate that the regional funding of GreenPAC iLab should be sustained,” Bastian said.

Entering EEPA is a great way to reflect on what you have done over the last couple of years and also about the way you want to move forward. EEPA gives a lot of exposure for your initiative but also makes your team and everyone involved proud to be part of a shortlisted initiative,” he said.

This year it could be your turn to join the ranks of EEPA alumni! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

If you have missed the introductions into each of the six EEPA categories, you can check them out here:

EEPA Category I – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

EEPA Category II – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

EEPA category III – Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition

EEPA Category IV – Supporting the internationalisation of business

EEPA Category V – Supporting the sustainable transition

EEPA Category VI – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

EEPA Category 6: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

We have already introduced you to the first five categories in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Today, it is the turn of the sixth and final category – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship. This category aims to reward projects that offer new and innovative solutions and approaches to promote socially and environmentally responsible business. This could include encouraging disadvantaged groups to take part in entrepreneurship initiatives, or promoting corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises with a view to creating a more inclusive society.

Let’s take a look at some winners from previous years to get an idea of the type of project that is successful in this category.

The 2021 Category 6 winner was Inkludera from Sweden. Inkludera is supporting social entrepreneurs with unique solutions to scale them and make them financially sustainable. With this in mind, Inkludera supports the entrepreneurs in building partnerships with the public sector. Since 2013, the entrepreneurs Inkludera supports have entered into over 900 partnerships with 108 of Sweden’s municipalities. These partnerships enabled the entrepreneurs to continuously work with 27 200 people in 2020 – addressing various social issues.

The EEPA award is a great testament to the work we have been dedicated to during the past decade and of course a motivation going forward,” the team said, adding: “We believe it’s a great forum for being inspired by other organisations. It’s important to be true to your cause and focused on impact – in your everyday work and in your application.

From Sweden we travel southwest to the Netherlands to introduce you to Social Enterprise NL, the Category 6 winner in 2020. Social Enterprise NL is a national network and a key driver in the growing movement towards social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands. The network currently has over 400 members, all of whom benefit from various workshops and growth programmes aimed at strengthening their business. Members also receive support from network coaches and experts and gain online visibility and publicity.

EEPA participation gave the project a lot of positive attention. “After winning the award, we received many compliments from an astonishing number of people and organisations all over the world! It led to so much engagement online. This is giving a great boost to the social enterprise movement in the Netherlands and to everyone involved with Social Enterprise NL,” the team said.

Give the publicity that they received, it is no surprise that the Social Enterprise NL team strongly encourage others to participate. “EEPA is a great opportunity to showcase your work and its results and to present them at the highest level. It puts a spotlight on your business and on the work that you do, and it helps you to become more visible. We definitely recommend others to apply!

From the Netherlands, we travel east to Germany to visit the 2019 Category 6 winner Start-Up Your Future. Start-Up Your Future is helping refugees in Berlin-Brandenburg to set up their own businesses by giving them support and offering them the option of self-employment through mentoring partnerships with Gründerpaten. The partnerships invite voluntary mentors to guide refugee entrepreneurs through the start-up process, from brainstorming ideas to writing a business plan.

We regard the nomination for the EEPA Award 2019 as a recognition and appreciation of the work and impact “Start-Up Your Future” has achieved over the last two and a half years in Berlin. Special thanks go to our nearly 200 business mentors, who have contributed so much on a voluntary basis. With their support, SUYF was able to foster entrepreneurial spirits and contribute to the integration of refugees at an economic and social level,” the team said.

It is really motivating to have your work recognised at European level. The award is very important for both national and international visibility for the project and represents an opportunity to disseminate the project and increase its replication potential,” they said, adding, “We would definitely recommend participating in EEPA as it is a good opportunity to exchange experiences and views with other European organisations.”

Judging by the experience of the EEPA alumni, the benefits of participating in the competition are clear. So why not try it yourself? This year it could be your turn to join the EEPA family! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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