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

Today on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal we are speaking to one of the 2019 finalists of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Aureliano Ulndreaj from Albania, first impressed the jury in Round 1 with his speech as the new EU Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship.

His speech highlighted his vision for the EU institutions and Europeans to collaboratively find the solution to enable Europe to keep up and exceed global entrepreneurial standards. He also presented his ideas for an educational system that embraces entrepreneurship, the need for EU policy makers to symmetrically develop SMEs throughout different EU regions and the administrative burden faced by European SMEs.

Read Aureliano’s speech here.

In Round 2 Aureliano came back with another strong submission which highlighted his belief that “a multidimensional problem requires a combination of various recommendations and solutions in order to be resolved” and showed his strong understanding of the “Think Small First Principle” with suggestions to use it to ease SME administrative burden and reduce SME VAT rates.

Read Aureliano’s second submission here.

We asked Aureliano to gives us some insight into what it was like to participate and be a finalist in Helsinki, as well as a sneak peek at some of his future plans.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I was intrigued by the essay topic. Being a student of political science, the format of the essay (a political speech) made it a very attractive opportunity for me to test my abilities. I also saw this competition as a very interesting challenge, as I was not very familiar with the field of SMEs. However I believe that the unknown (in this case the field of SMEs) is always worth exploring.

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

Awesome! Receiving that kind of news gives you a great sense of achievement as it shows that the time and effort you spent on something has been appreciated and as such, you are given the chance to experience something new.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2019?

Prior to attending the Assembly, I thought that the people participating in this event would be focused only on the field of businesses, but to my surprise this was not the case. It was a great pleasure, because apart from discussions upon topics of an economic nature, I had the chance to discuss other subjects, such as politics and the future of EU, with other participants. These discussions brought up very interesting points of view regarding EU policy-making and were overall really insightful.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2019?

The memory of that unforgettable freezing air which would hit my face every time I stepped out on my way to the conference building! Jokes aside, I would highly recommend participating in future editions of the Youth Essay Competition, as both the professional and personal benefits are hugely valuable.

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

My main focus is now my post-graduate studies, which I plan to follow up with a Doctorate in the domain of international relations. I am also volunteering for an NGO in Albania which provides technical assistance to the state regarding the country’s EU Integration process.

Congratulations on being a 2019 finalist Aureliano! 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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SME Week Newsletter 2020: Issue #1

Welcome back to the SME Week Newsletter!

As we begin 2020, Promoting Enterprise is here to bring you the latest in entrepreneurship, ongoing project calls, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards and so much more.

In this edition we will be looking back on the highlights of 2019, including the exciting EEPA ceremony and winning moments, the SME Assembly 2019 and the SME Week Youth Essay competition. We will also be looking forward to what’s coming in 2020, including upcoming project calls, events and EEPA 2019 updates. Enjoy the newsletter and do not forget to submit your news, articles and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue.

Read more >>

SUBSCRIBE AND DON´T MISS ANY UPDATES

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EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

It is time to start meeting our European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2019 winners, starting with the winner of Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit!

The 2019 winner is the Haven project from Belgium, which supports and strengthens enterprising young people who want to develop a project. Additionally the project offers a safe testing ground to encourage creative youth entrepreneurship to grow into socially relevant companies. By offering a risk-free environment Haven encourages entrepreneurial youth to learn, experiment and fail, and thus enhance their competences for their future enterprises. As a result, these youth will be able to address our evolving societal challenges with their ideas, and have the experience to carry them out. The project has been active for three years and has 80 young affiliates that have benefited from the scheme.

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

We heard about the award in a few different ways. To begin with, one of our coaches found the award in a newsletter, and then we also received information on the EEPA from colleagues from the federal government. At first we didn’t realise just how big the award was and how extensive the EEPA network is, so we just approached it as an opportunity to do our best, show what we have done through our project and ultimately meet people from all over Europe who share the same beliefs surrounding youth and entrepreneurship.

How did you prepare your application?

We prepared the application with a small group of our members. It was interesting to write the application and define what we are doing and how we differ from others. Some of our preparation was a bit rushed and looking back we could have done more, but in the end it all worked out and the experience was worth it.

What was it like to win the award?

It was amazing and completely unexpected! We really did not expect to win, and were there because we were nominated by the Belgian delegation. We are super thankful for winning this award, and especially for giving us the chance to meet so many great people from across Europe.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award gave us an identity on European level. As a young organisation this is really important as we need to find new European level partners to work with, but has also proved valuable at local level as EEPA has created more visibility and recognition for the hard work we are doing. The biggest opportunity as a result of EEPA for us now is to work together with new partners and expand our methodology.

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

The EEPA network is an incredibly diverse and encouraging network, and shows that Europe is investing in entrepreneurship and bringing together social entrepreneurs from across Europe. We would advise future participants to join EEPA 2020 because it opens so many doors and opportunities. Just give it a try!

What are your plans for the future?

We want to make entrepreneurship a viable and realistic choice next to studying and working as an employee. Young people with ideas need to easily find their way to entrepreneurship. In order to make this a reality, we want to work with our government towards a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship and make laws ‘entrepreneurship friendly’, particularly for young entrepreneurs.

At Haven we create a safe space for youth to build upon and make their dreams a reality. We want what we do at Haven to become mainstream and ‘normal’ in Belgian society. We meet youth who have ‘missed’ their chance, whether it be in education or the labour market, and through our work we want to ensure that we can create opportunities for them and give them the support they need.

EEPA gave us the opportunity to meet other people that believe just as strongly in both youth and entrepreneurship which was incredibly inspiring and a true motivation to continue our work and keep providing opportunities and support for youth entrepreneurs.

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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ELIIT Project – Call for applications

The European light industries innovation and technology project (ELIIT Project) seeks to support textile, clothing, leather and footwear (TCLF) SMEs in enhancing their competitiveness while helping them integrate new technologies in innovative or high added-value products, processes or services.

ELIIT will support TCLF SMEs in implementing the excellent research results achieved in many technological areas by providers and owners of novel innovative and disruptive technologies such as Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), digital technologies, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), etc.

These partnerships will pair technology owners/providers and TCLF SMEs for a period of 12-18 months during which each partnership will receive:

  • €70,000 in financial support to develop products or prototypes with high added-value and profitability
  • tailor-made coaching and advice to improve project relevancy and increase capabilities
  • networking activities and participation in workshops/conferences and exhibitions to aid market-positioning as well as build business relationships
  • SME tailored support to strengthen intellectual property rights protection

So how can you apply for ELIIT support? Applicants will need to register and apply before 17 March 2020.

Visit the ELIIT page for more information.

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The 2019 Round Up – See you in 2020!

It is the last day of 2019 and what a year it has been for Promoting Enterprise! Here on the News Portal we have been very lucky to meet some inspiring individuals in the world of entrepreneurship, who have taken the time to share their valuable insights and experiences with us. As this year draws to an end we have taken some time to look back on some of the highlights from 2019.

The year started off with a bang with the launch of the highly anticipated European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), which went into their 13th edition. This year saw some fierce competition with the announcement of a stellar EEPA shortlist, that went on to compete to become the EEPA Class of 2019 at the SME Assembly in Finland. You can find out more about all the projects in the EEPA 2019 Compendium.  

The Youth Essay Competition ran again for the fourth consecutive year and shook things up with two challenging questions for participants to answer, and asking for their speech as the next Commissioner. The standard of entries was very high, and the jury struggled to narrow the entries down to the top four finalists Radu Dumitrescu, Enzo Ercole Ribagnac, Estelle Beuve and Aureliano Ulndreaj. Our top four took on their final challenge, presenting and speaking at the SME Assembly 2019, where our delegates chose Radu Dumitrescu as this year’s winner. Congratulations Radu!

2019 also saw the launch of the next edition of the Secrets of Success brochure, “Entrepreneurs of Europe – Connecting, Sharing and Innovating”, featuring previous Ideas from Europe winners with cutting edge innovative ideas and businesses.

The SME Assembly 2019 was the flagship event of the year and took place in Helsinki, Finland under the Finnish Presidency of the European Commission. This year’s Assembly featured many inspiring and well-known speakers, including famed economist Mariana Mazzucato, the 2019 Schumpeter Lecturer, Professor Daniel Isenberg, the 2019 keynote speaker, Alberto Onetti, Chairman and Founder of Mind the Bridge and Petri Peltonen, Finland’s Under-secretary of state. If you missed out on our live coverage of the Assembly you can still read the Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 summary posts right here on the News Portal. You can also continue the conversation in the Online SME Assembly LinkedIn group and get involved in the ongoing SME Strategy Exchange.

We hope that you have enjoyed following us in 2019 and see you in 2020!

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Keep the conversation going – Join “Online SME Assembly”

The new SME strategy needs you and your input!

At the SME Assembly 2019 we collected and harvested ideas and topics raised throughout the sessions that address the 3 main challenges:

  • Sustainability for SMEs in the context of the Green Deal and climate change
  • Digitisation for SMEs
  • SME broad-based growth

We are also looking for topics that you feel are important and that go beyond the 3 challenges. The Assembly harvest has been shared in the Online SME Assembly LinkedIn group so do not hesitate to join and invite others with interesting ideas and thoughts to share!

By joining the Online SME Assembly LinkedIn group you will have the chance to be part of the SME Strategy Exchange, during which follow up questions are being shared and where your ideas matter and are needed to spark further discussion.

Interested? Want to know more? Request your membership today and keep the conversation going!

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INNOSUP Innovation Associate programme: making SMEs thrive

SMEs encounter multiple challenges over their life cycle. They are often unable to access skills and knowledge and they experience more obstacles when having to recruit specialised professionals. 

This is where the INNOSUP Innovation Associate programme comes into play. The programme provides grants at European level to SMEs to employ a highly-skilled researcher – the ‘innovation associate’ – for a continuous period of one year. The associate’s task will be to turn the SME’s innovative idea into an innovation project.

Gaining such expertise can have many advantages. In the case of Intrapore GmbH, a German SME working on groundwater decontamination, the innovation associate brought knowledge from previous international research projects. The associate’s work enabled the company to modernise its remediation planning approach completely and helped unlock the potential of Intrapore business plan.

According to AMIGO, an Italian SME working on climate system analysis, its innovative project could not have proceeded without the innovation associate. Firstly, the SME was able to acquire her scientific background and expertise in extreme events identification and attribution. Secondly the associate supported the consolidation of an existing climate service prototype.

In the case of TubaScan, a Dutch SME dealing with molecular diagnostics, the associate managed to broaden the network of the SME thanks to new partnerships and collaborations. 

All three researchers received a longer contract in the SME at the end of the one year. Furthermore, they were able to gain new expertise through training courses organised by the programme.

In fact, during the 12 months of employment covered by the grant, as a part of the funding scheme, every associate participates in a training programme on industrial innovation and business management. At the same time, SMEs get financial support to implement a training and development plan tailored to the needs of the associate and the enterprise. 

Personnel costs, relocation costs, and travel and subsistence costs: everything is covered by the grant. 

The new call for the INNOSUP Innovation associate programme is now open until 15 January 2020. Do not miss this opportunity. Submit your application!

Read the original article on the EASME website.

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EEPA 2019 Compendium

During the SME Assembly 2019 the 13th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) took place. The EEPA recognise the best of the best, with six individual category awards, 1 Grand Jury Prize and Special Mentions.

Want to learn more about the 2019 winners? Now you can! The 2019 EEPA compendium is now available for you to read and explore here.

The EEPA Compendium is an annual publication that compiles all of the shortlisted projects to celebrate their achievements and provide an insight into the Awards process. This year’s Compendium features introductions to all of the shortlisted projects, as well as additional information on the Grand Jury Prize winner.

In addition you will find out more about this year’s prestigious jury, their experience being behind the scenes of EEPA, testimonials from previous winners about what it means to win an EEPA and previous Grand Jury Prize winners.  

To find out more about the EEPA, visit the EEPA website, and look through the previous compendiums from 20182017 2016201520142013, and 2012.

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    • EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills January 16, 2020
      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 […]
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    • Young voices, innovative ideas – Meet Youth Essay Competition finalist Aureliano January 14, 2020
      Today on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal we are speaking to one of the 2019 finalists of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Aureliano Ulndreaj from Albania, first impressed the jury in Round 1 with his speech as the new EU Commissioner for SMEs and Entrepreneurship. His speech highlighted his vision for the EU institutions […]
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      Welcome back to the SME Week Newsletter! As we begin 2020, Promoting Enterprise is here to bring you the latest in entrepreneurship, ongoing project calls, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards and so much more. In this edition we will be looking back on the highlights of 2019, including the exciting EEPA ceremony and winning moments, […]
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    • EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit January 9, 2020
      It is time to start meeting our European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2019 winners, starting with the winner of Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit! The 2019 winner is the Haven project from Belgium, which supports and strengthens enterprising young people who want to develop a project. Additionally the project offers a safe testing ground to encourage […]
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    • ELIIT Project – Call for applications January 7, 2020
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    • The 2019 Round Up – See you in 2020! December 31, 2019
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    • Keep the conversation going – Join “Online SME Assembly” December 19, 2019
      The new SME strategy needs you and your input! At the SME Assembly 2019 we collected and harvested ideas and topics raised throughout the sessions that address the 3 main challenges: Sustainability for SMEs in the context of the Green Deal and climate change Digitisation for SMEs SME broad-based growth We are also looking for […]
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    • INNOSUP Innovation Associate programme: making SMEs thrive December 17, 2019
      SMEs encounter multiple challenges over their life cycle. They are often unable to access skills and knowledge and they experience more obstacles when having to recruit specialised professionals.  This is where the INNOSUP Innovation Associate programme comes into play. The programme provides grants at European level to SMEs to employ a highly-skilled researcher – the […]
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    • EEPA 2019 Compendium December 12, 2019
      During the SME Assembly 2019 the 13th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) took place. The EEPA recognise the best of the best, with six individual category awards, 1 Grand Jury Prize and Special Mentions. Want to learn more about the 2019 winners? Now you can! The 2019 EEPA compendium is now available […]
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    • SME Week Newsletter 2019: Issue #8 December 10, 2019
      The SME Assembly 2019 might be over, but the conversation is still going! This year the SME Assembly 2019 was an important contribution to the upcoming SME Strategy from the European Commission. During the Assembly delegates experienced the enterprising nature of Finland with a visit to Team Finland, and an entrepreneur expo throughout the event. […]
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