The European SME week is a pan-European campaign that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Europe by helping and supporting entrepreneurs, as well as encouraging potential entrepreneurs to start their own business.
You can find out more about SME Week here on the News Portal, and watch the highlights of the annual flagship event, the SME Assembly, on our YouTube channel:
A large component of the SME Week campaign is the events included in the European SME Week event calendar. These events take place across Europe, at regional, national and cross-border level, and cover a variety of topics around the subjects of entrepreneurship, SMEs and business.
Current upcoming events include:
- Be a ZEECO – Good practice or SME to become a ZEro Emission Company
- GIRLS IN ICT DAY 2021 Association of Business Women in Serbia
- Smarter Mobility Same distance, less gas
- 8th International Scientific Conference SWS Florence ART 2021 – THE MAGIC OF THE RENAISSANCE
- RESCUE-X – new REsource Saving aCtions Using thE GAIA-X
- 21st International Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2021
- BIN@PORTO 2021: Human-centred Innovation
The calendar is updated regularly so be sure to keep checking back on events happening near you, or even online.
The original article is available on the DG GROW website.
The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) is adapting its organisational structure to help Europe’s industrial ecosystems recover more effectively from the COVID-crisis and to achieve the EU’s digital and green goals.
A new focus on industrial ecosystems allows us to better design actions to help the European economy recover from the COVID pandemic. It also reflects the key role of networks, clusters and alliances in reinforcing our supply chains – helping us to strengthen Europe’s resilience in future crises
The new organisation reinforces our capacity to analyse the state of the economy in the single market. Europe is undergoing a digital and green transition in order to stay globally competitive. We want to make sure that both public and private investment contribute in the best way to economic recovery and this twin transition. We want to help all European businesses navigate this transition and ensure our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to opportunities across the single market. We will still prioritise innovation for our SMEs and stimulate innovation throughout all ecosystems.
We will continue to support citizens, industry, SMES and entrepreneurs to reap the benefits from a large, integrated and competitive single market. With its regulatory powers, spending programme and policy measures, DG GROW is well placed to foster opportunities and welfare for all.
The new organisational structure (PDF) is effective as of 16 March 2021.
In parallel, the executive agencies that the Commission entrusts with the implementation of spending programmes are also undergoing reform. From 1 April 2021, ‘EASME’ (The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) will become ‘EISMEA’ (European Innovation Council and SMEs) and a new agency, ‘HaDEA’ (Health and Digital) will be created.
We are back with part two of the icho systems story with CEO Steffen! If you missed part one make sure to go and read that right here on the News Portal. In our last instalment, Steffen introduced icho systems and the first impacts that him and his team felt on the business, including how their decision to re-locate their production at very short notice enabled them to continue even during the first lockdown.
Today the story continues and we find out what 2020 was like for Icho systems, how they diversified their activities and their plans for the future.
How did you diversify your business in response to COVID-19?
In 2020, ichó was introduced in the professional elderly care sector in Germany. Here, ichó makes an important contribution in supporting the social care of nursing home residents and enhances their quality of life.
As we are still very much in the early stages with our product and ichó is in its roll-out stage, diversifying quickly was a big challenge for us. We have used the time to expand our product range for the many requests from the field of disability care and support for children. We had already identified this potential for diversification a while ago, and saw this as a good opportunity to expand the product range with new apps.
We are currently in various pilot testing stages with ichó in new settings. This includes the rehabilitation of stroke patients as well as speech therapy. The first feedback from the pilot phases looks very promising, but Covid also affects these specific use cases quite significantly and all processes run much slower than usual.
At the same time, we have noticed that our online formats for courses and product demonstrations are much more in demand and much better accepted. We are very happy that we had already gained initial experience in this area in 2019 and were thus able to build on it and continue to improve in 2020.
How do you see the future of your company?
I think we are have not seen the last of, nor are we over the Corona peaks, but overall these times have built up our confidence and resilience. We are very excited about the pilot stages of ichó and the upcoming results with people with disabilities and especially with children. We cannot wait to get going again, and for us that just means working with people directly.
I think that the pandemic has made one thing extremely clear: social care for people in need of assistance is not a luxury, but an essential part of life. I think many people have become aware of this through the periods of forced isolation. As humans we function in communities, we need them, for the social exchange and social environment. If we lack this, we fall apart and develop psychological health problems.
At ichó we all feel that we are on the right track to being able to make a big impact and to create an offering to improve the way we serve this demand. Things are slowly getting better thanks to vaccinations, but we are still far from getting back into a reliable planning mode. This modus may be a strength with young start-ups, but we are still very much looking forward to the first trade fairs and conventions being safely open again.
Thank you to Steffen to sharing the icho story with us! To find out more about icho and what they do, be sure to visit their website.
Do you have a story to tell? Do you know of inspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs that have pivoted and adapted? Get in touch and help us tell their stories right here on the News Portal.
Today on the News Portal we are re-introducing you to a familiar face: Steffen Preuß, CEO of icho systems GmbH. We first met Steffen when he represented Germany during Ideas from Europe in 2017, and again when he was the German representative in the Secrets of Success brochure 2018-2019 edition.
We are catching up with Steffen to see how icho systems GmbH has developed and how he and his company have been navigating the challenges and uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your company?
I am the co-founder and CEO of icho systems GmbH. Our young company develops smart therapy devices for the healthcare market, especially for people with dementia. The ichó therapy ball is our first product, the therapy ball combines different therapy methods with the advantages of digital products in one device. Equipped with state-of-the-art sensor technology, ichó detects all interactions, no matter whether it is caught, thrown, touched, shaken or just held. ichó reacts to these interactions with a colourful light, vibration, sound and music. On this basis, the ichó apps enable various individual training activities, according to the needs of the user.
What is particularly exciting here is the possibility of data logging. Since ichó can measure continuously during the application, the data obtained can provide useful insight into disease progression and developmental progress. We have already received several awards for this innovation and have been able to succeed in a wide range of competitions. ichó has therefore already been exhibited in the USA and has also been able to gain recognition in Europe through “Ideas from Europe“.
It inspires us as much as ever to see how dementia patients start singing, laughing and dancing again with ichó. It is amazing what abilities can be brought back through the right encouragement and how vitalising this is for all involved. Not only do the residents benefit from this, but also the nursing staff. Relaxed residents and a less stressful environment simplify the work in many ways and enable a fulfilling and collaborative atmosphere with each other.
What was the first impact of COVID-19 on you and your business?
The ichó therapy ball was launched at the beginning of April 2020, but we experienced the first effects of Covid much earlier. We were just in the final stages of serial production at the end of 2019 when the first suppliers began to experience difficulties with delivery, which is why we transferred all ichó production to our offices at relatively short notice. This turned out to be the right decision, as we went into the first lockdown only two weeks later.
By transferring our production, we were at least able to maintain our serial production, even if only to a limited extent, and to produce the first ichós. This helped us to successively supply all pre-order ichós over the course of the next few months, even if only in stages.
The thing we immediately experienced was, obviously, the access to the market and to the customer. All the fairs and conferences we had planned for 2020 were cancelled, but what was particularly difficult was the closed care facilities and having no access, due to people in need of care naturally being part of a particularly high risk group for infection.
This put us in a difficult and complex situation, as our product and what it offers applies not only to the end recipients but also to all volunteer caregivers or relatives. With the lockdowns the need for social care increased enormously, especially for people suffering from dementia.
These were and are still very difficult times for all those in need of care.
To find out what came next for Steffen and the ichó systems team, and to learn more about the experience make sure to come back to the News Portal for the next part of our interview with Steffen.
Have you read our other COVID Stories featuring Catherine Lorent, a Belgian seamstress who helped out by making masks and hospital gowns, or the e-heath solutions developed in the Netherlands or COVID specific hackathons in Greece and Turkey? Read more right here on the Portal.
The European Commission is launching the new ‘Data 4 Healthy Recovery Hackathon’, which will be dedicated to solving the most pressing smart health challenges.
This online hackathon will focus on smart health, and encourage participants to develop solutions and ideas in response to the following challenges:
- Personalised predictive medicine
- Real-time health monitoring and remote care
- Improved diagnostics
- Data-driven insights for health
- Improvements for medical manufacturing
- Medicine demand forecasting
- Improvement of on-site medical services
- Safe use of medical data
- Innovative mental health solutions for employees
- Threat tracing
- Information filter for public health
The full scale of challenges are still being developed so make sure to follow the hackathon channels, and check the challenge webpage for updates and more detailed challenge information.
The hackathon will take place between 18-20 June 2021, and participants will take part in brainstorming and other preparatory sessions in the lead up. During these sessions participants will meet challenge partners, learn more about the presented challenges and submit the solution they will work on during the hackathon.
Applications are now open and must be submitted by 15 April 2021.
Stay up to date with the hackathon developments by following the Facebook event page and stay tuned to the hackathon channels for upcoming information.
The EU Industry days will be taking place next week from 23-26 February and be an opportunity to listen to and be involved with discussions centring around the challenges facing industry, development opportunities and policy responses.
This year’s programme will feature sessions and speakers talking about green and digital transitions and the opportunities both transitions present for EU businesses and citizens. Top speakers will include European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton.
The large variety of sessions will also feature the Pact for Skills, circular procurement, lessons learnt from the COVID crisis and several specific masterclasses and parallel sessions.
Alongside the main programme the first fully virtual EU Industry days will feature a virtual exhibition showcasing 43 EU projects. Conference participants will also have opportunities to vote for their favourite projects across categories in the #EUIndustryDays competition.
In addition to the EU Industry days, affiliated events will be taking place across Europe under the EU Industry Week.
Welcome back to the SME Week Newsletter!
As we go into February, it is time to start thinking about the 2021 edition of the European SME Week. Every year this pan-European campaign celebrates entrepreneurship and SMEs through events, initiatives, competitions and the flagship SME Assembly held towards the end of the year. In this edition we have a look at some of the different ways to get involved this year, so make sure that you don’t miss out!
We also want to hear YOUR stories, how are you navigating these challenging times? Share your news and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue or on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, just like the IPA4SME project or Uplift Albania.
Since the first call launched in May 2019, the IPA4SME programme from the European Commission has been successfully accompanying small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) on their path to intellectual property (IP) valorisation, helping them to protect their valuable IP. To date, over 1.000 SMEs from 30 countries have benefited from the programme.
IPA4SME offers SMEs that have been awarded the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Seal of Excellence a unique opportunity to acquire IP valorisation and protection by co-financing a range of IP-related services, worth up to EUR 15 000.
These services include free IP pre-diagnostics, where a verified IP expert provides the companies with a customised report on their IP business strategy and advises on how to exploit their assets efficiently and securely. Beneficiaries can also have their IP protection costs reimbursed, particularly IP attorney and European patent application fees.
Cut-off closing date approaching
The closing date for the eighth cut-off in the current call is 25 February 2021. This is an excellent chance for eligible SMEs to receive up to EUR 15,000 to support their IP strategy or patent registration. Interested SMEs can apply here.
Feedback from beneficiaries in the previous cut-offs has been very positive – they found the action to be an excellent chance to summarise, reflect on and improve their IP strategy. In general, thanks to the programme they are more aware of their IP situation and view the recommendations in the IP Diagnostic Report as critical for their long-term business strategies. You can read some of their Success stories here.
Feedback from beneficiaries shows that:
- 97% of applicants are interested in additional support;
- 87% of beneficiary SMEs have a better understanding of their IP and its value than before;
- 90% consider the IP pre-diagnostic report a useful resource; and
- 91% would recommend the IP pre-diagnostic to other innovative SMEs.
IPA4SME also provides detailed information on the different IP valorisation services that are available, in addition to what actions selected beneficiaries should take to access these services. To view the webinars, click here.
We are back with our final European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we introduced you to Social Enterprise NL from the Netherlands, 2020 winner in our ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ category. Make sure to read their story if you haven’t yet!
Our final testimonial tells the story of our 2020 Grand Jury Prize winner, ‘Le Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ from France. ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ or ‘The Recovery Portal’, is made up 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 portal provides a single online point of access so that entrepreneurs can choose the association that corresponds to their entrepreneurial recovery needs. The associations help the entrepreneurs navigate necessary measures and authorities, and remove obstacles to their recovery.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ was told about the competition by BPIFRANCE. Our work to help struggling entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who find themselves in hard times bounce back, corresponded exactly to the EEPA competition criteria. After discussing further with BPIFRANCE and working with their teams, we decided to enter, which was the right decision!
How did you prepare your application?
The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ is made up of six associations which create a ‘value chain’ that allows us to accompany the entrepreneurs we work with from the beginning when they are in difficulty, all the way through to when they have bounced back. We made this aspects of our work stand out in our application as we thought it was innovative and unique in the European setting.
We also decide to include a testimonial in order to illustrate our work and show how our unique value chain works. We presented one of our entrepreneurs who had successfully made their way through the entire value chain and managed to bounce back with support from one of our associations ‘Second souffle’.
What was it like to win the award?
Wining the Grand Jury prize was amazing! 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.
How did winning the award impact your work?
Winning the award saw all the actors within the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ wanting to highlight this great prize and recognition, and this was done by increasing our communication activities and actions with entrepreneurs and public authorities to share the news.
Why should others enter EEPA? What advice would you give them?
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 participation associations!
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to further open and expand the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ to new associations that carry out meaningful work in relation to our own. We also hope to develop more events dedicated to entrepreneurs. After that, why not see if we can bring our organisation up to European level, and see if we have the support to succeed with this challenge!
Congratulations to our 2020 Grand Jury Prize Winner ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ from France! Make sure to read all the inspiring EEPA winner testimonials right here on the News Portal and re-live the Grand Jury Prize winning moment right here:
Uplift Albania is an early-stage startup accelerator programme focused on growing business and increasing valuation. Founded by ICTSmedia publishing house in cooperation with SOVVA and SlovakAid, Uplift Albania is a golden opportunity for Albanian startups but also a regional innovation ecosystem and attracted startups and young entrepreneurs from nine different industries and six regional countries.
On Friday 29 January 2021, Uplift Albania hosted ‘Demo Day’ during which the latest winners from their programme were announced after 4 months of training and mentoring. The second batch winners were Crossplag, Hermex and Udhë.
Demo Day is the final step in the Uplift Albania acceleration programme and features an Investor Connect session where startups meet a panel of investors, as well as startup pitches to an audience of investors, partners, and experts from Israel, Slovakia, Germany, the US and startup communities in Albania. Within the acceleration programme startups are mentored and trained and learn how to attract investors, to protect their intellectual property, to improve their business models, and to build a better future by transforming themselves to successful businesses.
Read more about the Uplift Albania event here.
Uplift Albania comes as a close cooperation of a broad network of partners and supporters led by ICTSmedia, SOVVA and SlovakAid with the support of Vodafone, Raiffeisen Bank, Huawei, Albvision, EU for Innovation, Municipality of Tirana, Swissep, ICTSlab, PCWorld Albanian, CIO, SCAN TV and Geek Room.
ICTSmedia co-founder founder, Kushtrim Shala was featured in the 2018-2019 European Commission Secrets of Success brochure. Make sure to follow his entrepreneurial journey and learn about the birth of ICTSmedia and his story of success.
Would you like to feature on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal or in the SME Week newsletter? Get in touch at email@example.com we would love to hear your stories!