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EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Grand Jury Prize

It is our last EEPA 2019 winner testimonial! Today on the News Portal we are learning more about the project that took home the top EEPA prize at the 2019 SME Assembly. The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the project that the jury designates to be truly outstanding regardless of its category. For 2019 the jury decided to award this honour to GreenPAC iLab, a project from the Netherlands competing in the Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency category.

At GreenPAC iLab, new entrepreneurs in the plastics industry are supported to help them start their businesses and achieve sustainable and circular business models. The project functions as a community where entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for a plastic product or service are coached and given access to a network of professionals that help with feasibility studies, research and product development. Through collaboration with plastics professionals and research groups, the GreenPAC iLab is fostering a new generation of plastics entrepreneurs guided by circular and sustainable values. To date, 66 start-ups have received assistance and 84 jobs have been created.

We spoke to Bastian Coes, Manager & Business Developer for GreenPAC iLab to discover the story behind this winning project.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We heard about the national competition via a promotion by RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) that runs the EEPA national competition about three years ago. At the time we decided not to enter because we had just started with a new strategy and method of supporting startup businesses. Before applying we wanted to make sure that we had a lot of examples of successful startup businesses that we had supported because, successful companies are the biggest proof that our concept and strategy works. So not “fake it till you make it”, but rather “make it and then talk about it”.

How did you prepare your application?

We wrote our application for the national competition and really emphasised the link between the results of the startup businesses and the methods we use. It was important to stress that in addition to results such as revenue and employment of the startups, at GreenPAC iLab the emphasis is on the connection between research carried out by applied universities and the knowledge gap of a startup. We then add to that knowledge, for example by facilitating necessary feasibility studies.

Both the startups and the universities benefit: the startups have access to knowledge and equipment which are not available in the market and the universities have access to new economic and technological developments which they otherwise have no access to. 

What was it like to win the award?

It was a great feeling and surprise to win the award. It represents a great acknowledgment for the hard work of the GreenPAC iLab team, the universities Windesheim and NHL Stenden. It was not always easy to get funding for our plans and recognition of the work that the startups and GreenPAC iLab do. Over the last couple of years we have developed a big movement and community which have had an impact on sustainability, circular business models and growth of startups. It is truly a great feeling for all of this to be recognised and valued by the EEPA jury.

How did winning the award impact your work?

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 startups. 

Receiving an EEPA also highlights and recognises the support provided by the regional government. GreenPAC iLab has strong connections with (regional) governments, and the province of Overijssel and the municipality of Zwolle are crucial for stimulating sustainable entrepreneurship in the region. Both provide support for our program and can function as a launching customer for startups. Winning the EEPA Grand Jury Prize has given us additional proof to demonstrate that the regional funding of GreenPAC iLab should be sustained.

Why should others enter EEPA 2020? What advice would you give them?

Entering EEPA 2020 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. We were already proud of being on the shortlist, so just imagine what it is like if you win the Grand Jury Prize! 

What are your plans for the future?

We want to continue our work of helping startup businesses achieve their sustainable and circular business models. We want to increase and strengthen the community of sustainable and technology based startups, and build a startup entrepreneurship hub in The Netherlands. By doing this we want to support a new generation of entrepreneurs and contribute to a sustainable SME economy.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

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EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

It is time to meet our last EEPA 2019 category winner, German project “Start-Up Your Future” the winner of the Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship category at the EEPA finals at the SME Assembly 2019 in Helsinki.

“Start-Up Your Future” is a pilot project of the Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland (WJD), funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. It aims to help 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 mentorships invite voluntary mentors to guide refugee entrepreneurs through the founding process, from brainstorming ideas to writing a business plan. Since the project began, 185 mentorships have been implemented, 207 refugees have been helped in their business ventures and 22 businesses have received support.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We heard about the national competition from Ms. Kummer from RKW Kompetenzzentrum and saw it as a good opportunity to encourage others to get involved in the field of the social and economic integration of refugees and migrants. By entering the national competition, we got the chance to present our programme and share positive success stories with a wider audience.

What was it like to win the award?

Being awarded with an EEPA prize is a great honour for us. Winning this award shows us that our efforts to successfully establish a target group-oriented offer for refugees who want to become founders have paid off. Special thanks go to our volunteer mentors, who have contributed significantly to this success story. We would also like to thank our founders, who brought this mentoring program alive with their good ideas. Unfortunately, our team could not be present at the SME Assembly so we would also like to thank our EEPA National Coordinator Ms. Kummer from the RKW who represented us and accepted our prize on our behalf. Thank you very much!

How did winning the award impact your work?

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.

Why should others enter EEPA 2020? What advice would you give them?

We would definitely recommend participating in EEPA as it is a good opportunity to exchange experiences and views with other European organisations.

What are your plans for the future?

Start-Up Your Future has constantly learned from ongoing activities and improved its structure over the course of the last 2.5 years. We have learnt that our approach can be applied to other target groups and regions and hope to see the concept expand. The final project evaluation also underlined the strong potential to transfer the Start-Up Your Future approach elsewhere. The evaluation further highlighted that mentorships between voluntary entrepreneurs and refugees and migrants are a valid way to foster integration on a social and economic level.

The project funding will expire by March 2020, so the final phase will focus on the examination of the key learnings, which will be available and published in the first quarter of 2020.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

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Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition winner Radu

Time to meet the winner of the 2019 Youth Essay Competition…Radu Dumitrescu! Radu was chosen as the winner of the 2019 edition of the Youth Essay Competition during the finals which took place at the 2019 SME Assembly held in Helsinki, Finland.

In Radu’s speech that he submitted in Round 1, he demonstrated a keen understanding of the make-up of Europe’s economy, citing the traditional SME definition which goes up to 250 persons employed, as only being representative of 0.2% of the SMEs in Europe’s economy. He highlighted that a far greater number are micro enterprises, and thus are unable to influence through media connections or pressure governments on vital policy. Radu took a firm stance in his speech, presenting the Commissioner role as one that should support and advocate for all types of SMEs and encourage them to step outside of the box in order to foster a ‘Silicon Europe’ for 2030.

Read Radu’s speech here.

After successfully communicating his passion and drive during Round 1, the jury wanted to hear more of his ideas and chose him as one of their Top 10 submissions to compete in Round 2. In Round 2 Radu spoke of the paradox of the European Union, as both a daring project but constricted by regulation and jurisdiction. He touched upon the importance of incentives for SMEs and creating a nurturing environment for “the lungs of the European economy”, and ensuring “that they  grow, not perish”.

Read Radu’s second submission here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I entered the Youth Essay Competition in order to reignite a few ideas, namely that European business leaders deserve the respect of the Union. I wanted to advocate for a more united approach towards companies in Europe as part of my vision of a European Federation, and I wanted to make my voice heard. 

How did you feel when you found out that you were going to Helsinki?

I felt extremely excited! I had never been to Scandinavia, nor had any member of my immediate family, so my excitement was doubled by that of my parents. I have to admit that flying is a personal fear for me, but I couldn’t let that get in the way of this wonderful opportunity.

What was it like to be announced as the winner of the competition?

As I saw it, by the morning of the speech I had already won. I got to visit Finland and the magical atmosphere of Helsinki near Christmas and I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people from all around the continent, most of all my fellow finalists, with whom I made friends immediately. It was a complete surprise, and I was glad to be able to make my University, my fellow Young European Federalists and my family proud. 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

The SME Assembly was unlike anything I’ve ever attended. Maybe the only comparison I can think of is the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels, which I had the honour of attending in 2018. In Brussels and in Helsinki I felt the same energetic vibe, the same multilingual, multicultural environment that enriches Europe culturally – and economically – every day. The hotel was stunning as well, and everyone was helpful and friendly.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

My main takeaway from the Assembly was the confirmation of something I already intuitively knew – that Europe is populated by extraordinary business leaders, innovators, and that EU, through its representatives, DGs and agencies, is listening to them. It even listened to a 24-year old from Romania when it came to the future of business in Europe. It is fresh ideas – they are what businesses depend on, and the SME Assembly managed to gather so many of them.

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

I am now pursuing a doctoral degree in the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bucharest. I plan to read and write as much as I can and hopefully publish papers and even books within the field. That’s my dream. 

Congratulations Radu for winning the 2019 SME Week youth Essay Competition! Don’t forget to read our interviews with Radu’s fellow finalists Aureliano, Enzo and Estelle, to follow their journeys through the 2019 competition.

EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency

What goes into a successful EEPA project? How do these projects make it to the shortlist and go on to win their categories? This week we are back with another EEPA 2019 testimonial from the winner of Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency. In 2019 the TILOS project from Greece impressed the EEPA jury with their green energy project.

The TILOS initiative created an integrated energy solution with innovative features to help island regions transition to new models of production and management of electricity energy. The solution uses clean, renewable energy sources and the application of modern energy storage technologies to reduce dependency on cost-intensive and polluting oil. The solution was successfully implemented on Tilos and a toolbox of innovative products was created to facilitate international and community adoption of smart energy practices. Tilos has been able to penetrate up to 75% of the renewable energy sources and exports additional clean energy to the island of Kos.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We were first informed about the national competition from the local Ministry of Economy and Development and more precisely from the General Secretariat for Industry. Since we believed that the project of Tilos was a good fit for the Green Markets and Resource Efficiency category, we decided to enter the competition which we thought could further support our efforts in advancing our island with regards to its energy transition.

How did you prepare your application?

The application was prepared with the invaluable support of the local Ministry of Economy and Development, which provided us with all the necessary information, and followed closely the progress of our application. We also benefitted from and really appreciated the support of the TILOS project consortium partners that in collaboration with the committed employees of Tilos Municipality prepared a strong proposal.

What was it like to win the award?

We take great pride in winning this award, which stands as another recognition for the accomplishments of our island in the clean energy and environment protection sector. Tilos and its people remain faithful to the vision of sustainable development for the island, welcoming innovation and producing inspiring results for small enterprises and for addressing the problems of the most vulnerable island regions in Europe. 

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning this award served as motivation for the local Municipality, employees and the broader Tilos community to continue their hard work and remain dedicated to the vision of energy autonomy for the island of Tilos. As with the two prestigious EUSEW 2017 Awards, the EEPA 2019 award will also contribute to our efforts to communicate the success stories of our island to a wider audience, making Tilos an attractive destination for all Europeans.

Why should others enter EEPA 2020? What advice would you give them?

The EEPA contest provides a unique platform for the promotion of entrepreneurship and especially SMEs. It is also an excellent opportunity to showcase the results of your work and agenda at the highest level, while getting to know the work of others in the field. Networking with policy makers, entrepreneurs, and experts from across the EU is a great way to accelerate the progress of your work, maximise your impact and start work towards replicating your results in other European markets of interest.

What are your plans for the future?

We aim to continue our vision of sustainable development and clean energy autonomy. Our next steps will be to deepen renewable energy integration on the island in collaboration with local prosumers and through the gradual introduction of Green Electromobility.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

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Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Estelle

We are back with another SME Week Youth Essay competition finalist! This time we spoke to Estelle Beuve from France about her experience entering and placing in the top 4 of the 2019 competition.

In her speech Estelle demonstrated her passion for speaking out about climate change and the impacts that this is having on both our planet, industry and the way we consume. She highlighted the issue with multinationals adopting the Producing more To Earn more principle and the devasting effects of planned obselenece. In response to this she proposed a new initiative under the new commission, “Companies for a sustainable future”.

Read Estelle’s speech here.

Estelle caught the jury’s attention in Round 1, landing herself on the Top 10 shortlist and a space to compete in Round 2 of the 2019 competition. In her Round 2 submission she explained the need to apply the “Think Small First Principle” when dealing with SMEs, specifically touching upon the need to remove red tape for SMEs in order to allow them to innovate. She also referenced the European private company status from 2008, calling it a step in the right direction and something to build on further.

Read Estelle’s second submission here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I was just finishing my European voluntary service, at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Moldova, when I heard about the SME Assembly. I wanted to be a part of it and felt I had something to contribute, so I applied. I have a background in economics and accounting and want to use that to pave the way towards a greener economy. Specifically my vision of a greener economy is one that motivates companies to take the lead in reducing their carbon footprint rather than the green washing that is so common when you read any CSR report.  

How did you feel when you found out that you were going to Helsinki?

I was very surprised as the process was both very long and competitive. I didn’t expect to reach the final step – going to Finland! I was very glad to be one of the finalists of the Youth Essay Competition and I didn’t hesitate to skip classes to get there.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

The SME Assembly is all about exchanging new ideas that will shape tomorrow’s economy. We dealt with so many different topics in 3 days, among them many topical issues on which I was really eager to have a better understanding. After the Assembly I came back home to Strasbourg with a sense of achievement both personally and professionally.  

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

The most important thing that I took away was that we should not give up on containing global warming, and this can be done by helping our SMEs. It might be hard and there will be hurdles in our way but I’m sure it is feasible if we give to companies the right incentives to fight global warming at the European level. That is what the New Green Deal pledged by the European Commission is all about.

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

I’m back studying in Strasbourg for a Master’s degree in accounting and management and I’m looking forward to writing my final thesis on the Comprehensive Accounting in Respect of Ecology model. I really wish that companies could be more accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions than they have been in the past. We have already seen how ineffective CO2 quotas are and we have to urge companies to take a greener path with new mechanisms that haven’t been explored yet. 

Congratulations Estelle on being a 2019 finalist and for sharing your passion for fighting climate change with us at the SME Assembly and through your submissions. Don’t forget to read our interviews with the other two 2019 finalists Aureliano and Enzo to get an insight into the competition.

Want to hear from the 2019 winner? Come back to the News Portal next week to find out what our 2019 winner has to say…stay tuned!

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EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Another category another European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) 2019 winner! This week we are discovering the story behind HealthTech Nordic, the winner of ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business.

HealthTech Nordic is a community of over 270 Nordic startups offering digital healthcare solutions designed to empower patients and revolutionise healthcare services. The project provides knowledge and initiatives to accelerate startup development, in order to tackle healthcare shortages and unite pioneers in HealthTech and eHealth. The community creates connections between innovative solutions, healthcare and the global market by advancing ideas and pooling resources, and provided support is based on members’ immediate challenges and on state-of-the-art research in international scaling of startups. Through their work, HealthTech Nordic helps drive regional development and facilitates new job creation in HealthTech startups.

We spoke to Margareta Wallentén from the project team to discover the story behind this winning project.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
I received a general email from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, Tillväxtverket, (the Swedish EEPA coordinator) informing us about the EEPA and requesting us to apply. We had never heard about EEPA before and were not even aware that the SME Assembly or EEPA existed.

How did you prepare your application?
Just before applying for EEPA, we had been requested to apply for the RegioStar Award, so we used that application as a base and updated it with more recent information and specific aspects relevant to EEPA. Overall the application process was very smooth, and the hardest part was actually getting the recommendation letter signed by the right person at the Swedish Agency of Innovation, Vinnova.

What was it like to win the award?
Amazing! It was really nerve-wracking sitting in the audience and listen to the presentations of the three category finalists. Both we and the project from the Netherlands were convinced that the Romanian project would win, their film was so good! When we heard our project announced as the winner we couldn’t believe it!

As I was standing on the podium giving my Thank You speech I just blacked out and completely forgot the name of my project colleague standing next to me. We have worked together for almost 2 years and her name was totally gone. I almost panicked there and then, on stage, so I just admitted that I had forgotten her name! Looking back at the recording I realise that the ‘eternity’ when I blacked out was really just a second or two.

After the ceremony so many people came up to me and thanked me for being me on stage, displaying happiness, surprise and passion and for giving them a reason to laugh at this otherwise very formal event.

Overall it was an amazing evening and experience.

How did winning the award impact your work?
I posted about the win on LinkedIn and Facebook and have never before gotten so many comments and congratulations! The project’s lead partner organization Innovation Skåne also published several very engaging posts in social media as well as sent out a widely read press release. We also watched as HealthTech Nordic got increased social media attention after the awards, so that growth has been quite exciting to watch.

It has also helped on a practical level with our new funding application to Interreg ÖKS, who also congratulated us on our win.

Why should others enter EEPA 2020? What advice would you give them?
Our advice is to just apply! Applying gives good visibility to your project, from clients, financiers, politicians and other stakeholders. It also made our six project partners come together and focus on this goal, the application, and realising how much we have achieved so far. What the EEPA prize will bring in the long run we don’t know yet, we will have to wait and see.

What are your plans for the future?
HealthTech Nordic applied for continued financing from the Interreg ÖKS budget in the category Job Creation, and we recently found out that we have been successful and received the financing to continue our work with our growing community. With the funding we are able to continue as planned, supporting our members so they can grow and thereby create new jobs – all while also facilitating better health worldwide.

We have a community of more than 270 startups in the healthtech sector and will continue to support them as much as we can as the disruptive change of the digitalisation of healthcare has just begun.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

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Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Enzo

We are back with another SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 finalist! Today we are speaking to Enzo Ercole Ribagnac from France, who made himself stand out to the jury with his 1st submission that detailed the speech he would give as the new EU Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship.

In his speech Enzo drew on his own experience growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, and likened founders to founding members, and business shareholders to the European Member States. He spoke of the need to take risks and collaborate to bring initiatives to life, and the European challenge of supporting small and medium sized enterprises. He also emphasised and proposed actions surrounding: Developing entrepreneurship spirit and skills across the Union, Supporting innovations to play a leading role on the global market and Facilitating internationalization and access to markets.

Read Enzo’s speech here.

After impressing the jury in Round 1, Enzo made it to the Top 10 shortlist, where he impressed the jury once again with his second submission that focused on the need to incorporate the “Think Small First Principle” with regards to SMEs, the need to equip SMEs to fight against unfair advantages of big foreign tech companies and to create opportunities for SMEs to communicate with the European institutions.

Read Enzo’s second submission here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Several factors influenced my entry in the competition. When I first saw the advert, I was an intern in a European project funded by the DG Grow and related to SMEs. This experience helped me to accumulate a lot of knowledge concerning European SMEs struggles in Europe and abroad. After the internship I moved to Italy during the summer to study Italian. This gave me plenty of time to think about my essay, use the knowledge I had accumulated but also try to include my personal experience. Both my parents are small entrepreneurs in the French West Indies and their business is often part of our family’s discussions. All things considered, I think I entered the competition because I had a lot to say and time to work on a submission that I was proud of and that reflected my opinion and ideas.

How did you feel when you found out that you were going to Helsinki?

I actually couldn’t believe it! I have participated in a lot of public speaking competitions before, but it was the very first time that my writing skills were recognised. I remember being on public transport when I received the “congrats email”, and I literally stopped at the next station to call a friend and tell them the news. I guess you could say I was a little bit overexcited at first.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

It was a unique event, and a great opportunity. When you think about it, our market is so large with various countries and languages, and our SMEs are so diverse and numerous. So, to build an event that brings together representatives from all sectors, from all types of companies that can discuss all issues is kind of an impossible recipe. Yet somehow it is made possible, and each year is a success!

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

I think all informal meetings and advice I took from professionals attending are my main takeaway. When I was at the event, I was a soon-to-be-graduated student looking for an end-of-studies career opportunity. Thus, I had a lot of questions about the sector, the challenges and future of European policies and also about the “European bubble”. All the people I met were very kind and took time to answer my questions and discuss further things with me. This did not stop after the Assembly and I am still in contact with most of them.

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

Well, I will be a Bluebook trainee at the European Commission in the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW), the same that organised the SME Assembly. It will be my first experience in Brussels and it’s exactly what I wanted to do. I have to say the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition helped me to reach this goal!

Congratulations Enzo on being a 2019 finalist and good luck with your traineeship! Want to hear from another 2019 finalist? Come back to the News Portal next week to find out who we will talk to next…stay tuned!

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EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Improving the Business Environment

Onto the next category! Today we are meeting the 2019 European Enterprise Promotion Award winner of the “Improving the Business Environment” category, Fomento de la Contratacion Publica con Pymes from Spain. The project was recognised for its work in the Spanish city of Valladolid focusing on giving SMEs opportunities in public procurement.

Since 2015, the City of Valladolid has adopted specific measures to promote and facilitate the participation of SMEs in public sector contracts. The city adapted contracts to the capacity of SMEs, allowing them to acquire valuable experience and credibility that could be re-used when competing in other tenders from other awarding authorities. According to municipal data, the awarding of contracts to SMEs is twice the national and European average, reaching 75% of contracts awarded in 2016 and 2017, and even 81% in 2018, with 51% of the total amount of the municipal expense managed through contracts awarded to SMEs.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

Our desire to facilitate SME participation in public procurement led us to carry out several activities with the General Subdirectory of SMEs of the Ministry of Industry of the Government of Spain. As such, they informed us about the EEPA competition and encouraged us to participate.

How did you prepare your application?

Since 2016 our work surrounding the improvement of social efficiency in municipal public sector contracts has been under evaluation, and in response to that we put into place procedures to ensure that all awarded SMEs were up to the highest standard. This particular work helped us to prepare our EEPA application and finding the level of detail required. We also drew on past experience and collaborative work with local companies which allowed us to get the support of different local business associations for our EEPA candidacy.

What was it like to win the award?

It was tremendously exciting, as we did not expect it! It was already a huge achievement for us to have passed the national phase and be nominated for the EEPA jury shortlist. We knew that our project was different from past category winners, which tended to be specifically aimed at the creation or development of new companies as opposed to our project which involves indirect support to existing companies. But luckily for us the Jury recognised the impact of our public procurement system on companies and how it allows them to develop their potential as a public supplier, be more competitive and innovative, and receive fair and fast payment for their work.

Winning an EEPA showed us that our path is the right one and implements one of the objectives of public procurement in Europe, as stated by the Commission and the European Parliament in the three Contracting Directives of 2014.  We hope that our win can also serve as an example to others with similar projects to keep going and inspire contracting authorities in particular to undertake similar SME-friendly measures.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award has put a spotlight on our work and the change that we are trying to bring about for SME involvement in public procurement. The prize not only represents recognition of the teamwork and effort that went into the project, but also that this work has a positive effect on sustainable business development and thus on employment generation.

We have received congratulations and encouragement from fellow colleagues, family and friends, and have also been mentioned in the local media which is quite exciting. It is also nice to see the City Council being recognised as an organisation and being praised for some of the valuable work it does.

It is a shame that the national media has hardly mentioned the award, which has limited its effect in bringing the issue of SME involvement in public procurement to the authorities that need to be made aware.

Why should others enter EEPA 2020? What advice would you give them?

Getting European-level recognition for your work is hugely satisfying, both professionally and personally. But above all it allows the organization in which you work to become more visible in the business and social sphere, with an image of commitment to innovation and sustainable development.

The SME Assembly experience is another great part of EEPA, and allows you to meets other projects and people from across the European Union. It opens your mind to new opportunities and ideas, all within a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

What are your plans for the future?

Internally, we will continue to improve the system based on experience and evaluation, as well as on the ideas and experiences of other entities. Externally, we will try to spread our work and methodology throughout the European Union. We have prepared guides to help other contracting authorities easily incorporate SME involvement in public procurement and to spread awareness about how important it is for SMEs to have opportunities to work with the public sector through contracts. This will allow SMEs to become more competitive and innovative, without incurring more public spending, which highlights our slogan for SMEs: “Don’t subsidise me, buy me”.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

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Organise an Energy Day at the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW)

The EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW), the biggest event dedicated to renewables and efficient energy, is inviting you to organise local sustainable energy events  Energy Days!

If you are organising an event in May or June 2020, EUSEW awaits your visionary ideas on clean and efficient energy in a format of your choice. Anything goes from a guided tour to a workshop, picnic, an exhibition or online game.

Read the guidelines and fill in the registration form to make sure that your event receives EU-wide attention on the Energy Days interactive map.

apply for the EUSEW Award(call open until 27 January 2020) or sign up for an activity at the Networking Village.

Join EUSEW2020 on social media by using @euenergyweek and #EUSEW2020 or sign up to become a member of the EUSEW Community.

Read the original article on the EASME website.

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EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Ready to meet our next European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2019 winner? Meet IDEA Innovation Centre & Incubator – Accelerator for Start-ups from Cyprus, the winner of Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills!

IDEA is an innovation centre and incubator and acts as an accelerator for startups. In order to invest in entrepreneurial skills, IDEA undertakes a cluster of activities that focus on providing an entire spectrum of business support, positively altering perceptions of entrepreneurship, facilitating cross-sector cooperation, promoting Cyprus as an innovation hub, developing investment networks, promoting volunteering, and ensuring entrepreneurship is open to all regardless of gender, age or ability. Social inclusion is put into practice through inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically opening doors to entrepreneurs with special needs. To date, IDEA has developed 48 New Businesses and created over 70 new jobs.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

In 2018 our Cypriot Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Energy informed all of our national institutions about the competition. We applied back in 2018 and went on to become two of the national winners and participate in the SME Assembly in Graz. We were so impressed by the magnitude of the organisation, the valuable knowledge gained and the very focused networking opportunities, that we decided to apply again in 2019, and really showcase how our project could bring valuable, win-win relationships for both us and our European partners.

How did you prepare your application?

The ‘preparation’ for the application was our intense activity over the past four years. We needed to organise all the information and experience that we had gathered to demonstrate the extent of our activity, our commitment and the EEPA values that it represents. At this point, we were amazed by the willingness of our community (government partners, startups, associates, collaborators and friends) to support our candidacy and provide their own testimony for our work.  

Writing the application was a team activity that had its own ‘local’ results as well! It brought our team closer and boosted our confidence. It also brought our collaborators closer to us and their support was incredible!

What was it like to win the award?

The award made the whole of Cyprus proud! It proved that it is not the size of the country that matters, but the ambition, vision and extent of collaboration that count. Through our win we inspired confidence and showed the rest of Cyprus that we can achieve great things in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. We proved that by applying the values of sharing, giving-back and creating opportunities, the benefit comes back to all of us involved. Winning this Award is a noble endorsement from our European Family.   

Being in Helsinki and experiencing the moment was amazing, and even though not all of our team could make it to Helsinki we were all there together in spirit. This illustrates another beautiful side of Europe: In the same way that it brings businesses together, it brings people together, and we are grateful for this.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning an EEPA has given us a lot of publicity in national press, across both printed and digital channels. We have also received congratulations from the government, business associations and from so many people. Most importantly, we made our partners and supporters proud, and we would like to especially mention the visionaries at the Bank of Cyprus, that believed and supported IDEA since its inception.

For us, the IDEA team, who invest a significant amount of personal time and voluntary work into the IDEA project, being the winners of a prestigious EEPA is a powerful motivation to continue our work and keep aiming higher.

Why should others enter EEPA 2020? What advice would you give them?

At IDEA, we believe that setting very ambitious targets is motivating, drives us to achieve more and brings out the best in us. Winning an EEPA is a very ambitious target therefore; we encourage institutions with intense, comprehensive and passionate activity to chase it! When you prepare for an EEPA it is a chance to demonstrate the true extent of your efforts and activity, as well as a valuable opportunity for international collaboration.

What are your plans for the future?

IDEA really strives to create an innovative culture and form a cluster of activities to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in our small country through partnerships and hard work. We have just opened our 5th cycle for new startups and will continue towards the creation of viable businesses with higher focus on their extroversion.

At the same time, we aim to strengthen the business innovation bond between Cyprus and our European partners, and exploit the unique position of Cyprus at the cross-roads of three continents. We are proud to belong to the European family and are determined to transform Cyprus into a regional innovation hub, and a bridge between Asia, Africa and Europe.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

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