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Archive for ‘European Enterprise Promotion Awards – winners’

Business Generator – Where are they now?

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) 2017 winner Business Generator, from Sweden, specifically project coordinator Annette Rhudin. The European Enterprise Promotion Awards reward those who promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.

The “Investing in entrepreneurial skills” category winner shares the future of Business Generator and what winning an EEPA prize and participating in the EEPA process meant to them.

In an ideal world all European issues would be looked at from a European perspective, like those of SMEs being considered by the European Commission. Through initiatives like the EEPA competition, SMEs have been identified and celebrated as the backbone of European economy and key sources of employment.

The EEPA competition also brings out certain issues that several SMEs face, and the support that projects, like Business Generator, are offering to entrepreneurs and enterprises across Europe. One thing that stood out for me, that has certainly been an issue for Business Generator, is disparity between regions and the need to adapt different strategies. Some regions are experiencing growth and have access to funds and resources, whereas others are struggling to grow and have little to no access to the same resources, like my own region of Värmland in Sweden. The EEPA competition is a fantastic opportunity to see what is going on in Europe, to meet others striving to help SMEs and ultimately gain visibility for the work you do.

The future of Business Generator remains uncertain, and despite coming “top of the class” in Europe, will not continue, for now. The Business Generator team had several meetings at both regional and national level, but the budgets have already been defined and there is no surplus to fund the continuation of Business Generator. Municipal budgets have also been defined, and due to how tight they are, unfortunately there is no room for Business Generator. This is not to say that there is no interest in Business Generator, but for the project to continue interest alone is not enough.

The project itself is new and innovative, and challenges old ways of thinking. Whilst this is the way forward for SMEs it is a daunting investment to make, and when budgets are tight means that it is less likely to receive support. This also represents the current situation in Sweden, where SMEs receive almost no government research and development funding, which is largely distributed to universities, large companies and the public sector.

In comments from the Swedish National Audit Office, SMEs and innovation were recognised “as keys to Sweden’s future growth”, yet the body also stated that only “a minor part of total state aid to the business sector is directed at R&D and innovations as well as at small and medium-sized enterprises”. Whilst this is somewhat disheartening I believe that the solution is to take care of SMEs, and show this through concrete actions.

I hope that there is a future for Business Generator and would be interested to know more about the situation in other countries regarding SME funding. Currently in Sweden, SME’s receive 3,7 % of the state aid, but deliver four out of five new jobs. My wish is that the funding statistics will change and that SMEs can continue to deliver jobs and receive the support they need both at national and European level.

Whilst the Business Generator journey may have temporarily come to an end, I would like to thank the European Commission, for helping to highlight the good work that is going on across Europe through the EEPA competition. Finally, my message to potential future applicants, apply for EEPA 2018, this is an important opportunity and you should take it!

Interested in finding out what happened to some of the companies helped by the Business Generator? Come back soon to find out right here on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.

Watch the ‘winning moment’ for Business Generator from EEPA 2017:

What is it like to win? EEPA 2017 winners share their experiences

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Past winners have shared their tips for how to prepare for an EEPA submission, and their application journeys and lessons. But what does it feel like to be announced the winner of an EEPA category after putting in so much hard work? How did our past winners feel when they were recognised as some of the best projects in Europe? Today our 2017 winners reflect on their winning moments and what it was like to win the award.

 “Of course it was a surprise! Within an impressive group of finalists which included investor programmes, incubators and accelerators with a long track record, we felt like the underdog. We don’t have a long track record yet, although we have enough data to have an evidence-based method to help innovators. But still we were the new kids on the block, with a crazy new kind of entrepreneurial programme, involving festivals. So for us, winning was an encouragement to keep going and support other regions to make festivals part of their innovations ecosystem.”

Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017

“It was incredible! It was an amazing recognition and such a great source of motivation for us to continue our work! I later realised that winning and being identified in front of everyone was really important, because afterwards I was approached by several people who wanted to know more about the project. It was really interesting to be able to speak about our work with so many different people.”

ADIE – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship Winner 2017

“When we take part in awards of this kind we always want to win or, at least, be a nominee. Due to the time it takes to prepare all of the necessary documentation we rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. The last time we participated in something similar was in 2012 when we participated in an EU Award after being nominated by Austria. This time around, with EEPA, it was even better as not only were we nominated but ended up winning in our category!”

Internationalisation 2015 – 2020 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business Winner 2017

“It got my heart racing! We arrived in Tallinn without knowing at all what would happen and for us it was a big surprise. It is an honour to receive this award and we want to share it with everybody who made it possible!”

Reempresa – Improving the business environment Winner 2017

“We really wanted to win the European prize, but just because we thought we were the best project didn’t mean that the jury would think the same thing. When Business Generator was announced as the winner, I had a pulse of 1000! Friends who have seen the video of us winning say that I look unmoved, but really I was shocked. Just hearing Sweden mentioned with our project was incredible, I was representing our country!”

Business Generator – Investing in entrepreneurial skills Winner 2017

“When you find out that you are shortlisted of course you start to think “what if…”, but we didn’t expect to win. We were really excited when we did win because it was a complete surprise!”

Enterprise Village – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit Winner 2017

Would you like the chance to have a ‘winning moment’? Apply for EEPA 2018 before it is too late! Check your national deadlines and read more about past winners.

Watch all of the EEPA ‘winning moments’ and highlights from the SME Assembly 2017 here:

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Import Promotion Desk – Special Mention 2017

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Time for another testimonial from a 2017 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) special mention!

Today’s EEPA interview takes us to Germany to meet the recipients of an EEPA 2017 Special Mention, theImport Promotion Desk (IPD). IPD share with us their tips for making your EEPA submission stand out by drawing on their own experiences, and their plans for the future of the project. 

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

We first heard about the awards scheme from a colleague and decided to enter because of the good reputation of the award and the chance for publicity for our work.

How did you prepare your application?

We did not do any specific activities in preparation for our EEPA submission. We are convinced of what we do and therefore thought that a good, concise and accurate description of our constant activities was special enough!

What was it like to receive a special mention?

We were extremely proud to receive the special mention, and we certainly did not expect it. The recognition by a neutral authority such as the EU Commission was very important for us as it confirmed our strategic approach, thus giving our project credibility and validity. In addition, our participation in the EEPA scheme attracted considerable attention and raised the awareness level of IPD once again.

The awards ceremony was an opportunity to get to know other interesting companies and to exchange ideas and experiences with many entrepreneurs from different countries. Although we exchanged with start-ups from different sectors we are not working in, the ideas they have were very inspiring. Additionally, we got really good feedback from many different angles.

How did receiving a special mention impact your work?

The media coverage was not very extensive, but this was probably due to it being quite difficult to describe what the special mention is exactly. However, the awareness within our network was extremely positive. After all, it is also a recognition of our good cooperation with our partners as well as the IPD team.

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

Entering EEPA is a good chance to be compared with other projects, but it means that you really need to make sure that your submission and the overall uniqueness of your project stand out. As such, the award submission should be prepared very carefully, make sure your collected data and documents are well-structured and easy to follow. Furthermore, best-practice examples should be well-presented to highlight the work that you have been doing.

In our case we focused on highlighting the core competence of IPD, which is supporting exports with a focus on development. We provide exporting companies in developing and threshold countries with the knowledge and competences they need to increase their competitiveness on the international market. We also included our focus on sustainability, in terms of enabling exporters, developing better access to the EU market for external countries and selective support for the export of in-demand products.

In your application be sure to clearly indicate your strengths and competencies. For us this meant highlighting our good knowledge of the product demand due to our strong network of relevant sector associations (and through them many importers and wholesalers) in Germany (and Europe). We also continued to demonstrate our competencies by describing how we use our knowledge and network. We explained our focus on demand, and how this ensures that the enterprises achieve long-term sales on the export market. When selecting products to support, we carefully check using market studies and demand analyses which products are gaining importance on the German and European markets.

Overall, convince the national and European jury to view your project as a European best practice that deserves to be rewarded for all of the hard work that you have put in!

What are your plans for the future?

Our goal is to integrate developing countries more effectively into global trade, and thus make a substantial contribution towards sustainable economic development in these countries. Many exporters from developing countries are only denied access to the EU market because they lack knowledge of the legal standards and import regulations, the required certifications and above all the contacts with European traders. This is exactly where the IPD comes in. We offer exporters specifically selected information and training on export marketing and advise them on the whole quality management process and on certification of their products. In addition, the IPD establishes valuable business contacts between the exporters and potential customers through specialist trade fairs.

Our vision is to broaden our project to more developing countries and sectors so that more companies can profit from our services.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: ADIE – ‘Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship’ Winner 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonials continue! Today’s testimonial takes us to France to meet the 2017 winner of the ‘Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship’ category, ADIE (Association for Economic Rights Initiatives). ADIE is an association which helps people without access to conventional banking services start-up their business, thanks to their initiatives like Microfranchise Solidaire, the first operator of microcredit in France. Today they share with us their EEPA 2017 journey, and their advice for anyone planning to enter the 2018 edition.

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

We heard about the competition through the French Entrepreneur Agency (Agence France Entrepreneur) which talked about the national prize and also happens to be an ADIE financial partner. We also already knew about the prize having applied for it several years ago.

We decided to participate this time because we wanted to respond to our financial partner’s request, but also promote our work on a European level. The communication aspect and being on a European platform was an equally important motivating factor.

How did you prepare your application?

We first filled out the selection forms and then went on to contact project supporters. We used our contacts to develop and produce testimonials from those who had been supported by or had supported the project.

What was it like to win the award?

It was incredible! It was an amazing recognition and such a great source of motivation for us to continue our work! The speech that we gave at the SME Assembly was such an exciting and impressive moment, and I really appreciated being in front of a crowd that was so understanding as well as engaged by the work of our project.

I later realised that winning and being identified in front of everyone was really important, because afterwards I was approached by several people who wanted to know more about the project. It was really interesting to be able to speak about our work with so many different people.

How did winning the award impact your work?

ADIE’s victory in the ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ category had two main impacts. Firstly, it created a great sense of pride for all of the involved teams as the large amount of work that we all put in is not always recognised, so it felt good to receive recognition for it.

Secondly, our win had an impact in terms of communication as we shared our win all over social media. This led to a good presence on social media and helped contribute to raising awareness of what we do. However the communication on other platforms, for example those run by French media, was a little limited and we would have liked to have a bit more.

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

My advice for future applicants would be to work a little more upstream, and to focus on having good national mobilisation around your project and work. Once this is established this can then be complemented by working with the public entities that transmit the EEPA message and that organise the awards.

What are your plans for the future?

Our objective is to reinforce the project so as to help create new micro franchises, and with them create 3 000 medium term jobs. Our plans also include the securitisation of an economic model which will allow new entrepreneurs to become a part of the project.

To find out more about ADIE, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here and of course, don’t forget to check out their website!

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

“Internationalisation 2015 – 2020” – ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ Winner 2017

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In celebration of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) returning for another edition in 2018, Promoting Enterprise is bringing you a series of testimonials from the EEPA 2017 winners. Today’s winner – Internationalisation 2015-2020 from ecoplus International, shares with us their story of how they became the 2017 winners in the category ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’.

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

We first heard of the competition via the newsletter of the liaison office of Lower Austria in Brussels as well as via the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. Entering seemed like a good way to present what we do at the regional, national and EU level, and it is always interesting to compete with others! We see competition as a sort of “benchmarking” for what we are doing.

How did you prepare your application?

We did not do anything special in preparation for EEPA, after all we are not “new” in the business – we have more than 10 years’ experience in this field. However, despite our experience we always enjoy opportunities to improve, adapt and innovate. With regards to EEPA we saw that we already had some specific support programmes that corresponded to the EEPA internationalisation category criteria quite well, so we just simply presented the work we have been doing with these programmes.

What was it like to win the award?

When we take part in awards of this kind we always want to win or, at least, be a nominee. Due to the time it takes to prepare all of the necessary documentation we rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. The last time we participated in something similar was in 2012 when we participated in an EU Award after being nominated by Austria. This time around, with EEPA, it was even better as not only were we nominated but ended up winning in our category!

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award resulted in some great media coverage, but as always you have to be proactive. Winning an EU Award can be a good story for local media, but you have to share it with them. We were and continue to be supported by all our partners, but especially by the government of Lower Austria (by the governor herself) – so our advice is to share your award with those who support you throughout all your years of hard work!

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

Firstly, it is always useful to take, from time to time, an “outside view” on what you do, based on the criteria of the EEPA.  Taking part in an EU Award means competing with a lot of other projects – so there is also the chance to learn from others.

Secondly, EEPA is a chance for recognition on an EU level. When applying it is important to ask yourself if others can replicate what you do. Success is always a combination of vision, strategy, trial and error, lessons learnt and results, so be sure to include your project story and journey.

Finally, prepare well! Be aware that it requires quite a lot of work until your documents are “final” (based on the requirements of the EEPA). Advice and help from the national body (in our case the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy) might also be very useful, so make the most of it.

To find out more about Internationalisation 2015-2020 projects, read about them in the 2017 EEPA compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: “Reempresa” – ‘Improving the business environment’ Winner 2017

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Promoting Enterprise is back with yet another EEPA 2017 winner testimonial for you to be inspired by. Today is the turn of Reempresa, winner of the ‘Improving the business environment’ category with their project for ‘re-entrepreneurs’, represented by director Albert Colomer.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We have participated in the SME Assembly conference for many years and have always been interested in the EEPA awards ceremony because it is a very important event where interesting initiatives for all Europeans are showcased. 

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

Reempresa was started in 2011 and throughout the years we have worked to implement the market for business transfers in Catalonia. Now that we have finished the development phase with great results, we thought that presenting our candidature to the EEPA awards was an opportunity to share our results with all the participating countries and to raise awareness about the importance of facilitating business transfers to support SMEs and to prevent the loss of jobs.

How did you prepare your application?

Reempresa works with a wide network of collaborators. We involved them and asked them to gather all their results and stories to explain them to the rest of Europe. Once we won the Spanish award, we launched a special website and social media campaign to share the award with all our partners, the team and, of course, with all our users who were able to sell and buy their businesses thanks to Reempresa.

What was it like to win the award?

It got my heart racing! We arrived in Tallinn without knowing at all what would happen and for us it was a big surprise. It is an honour to receive this award and we want to share it with everybody who made it possible!

How did winning the award impact your work?

For Reempresa, this award marks a before and after in the organisation! To appear on the EEPA blog and social networks, and the coverage given to us by EuroNews has been very important because it has allowed us to reach all of Europe and has allowed many people and organisations to get to know us. It has definitely helped us to be very motivated and keep working hard in the future!

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

I would recommend working on the tangible results of your projects. Showing that the submitted project has a positive impact on their territory and that it can help other European countries and citizens!

What are your plans for the future?

We are currently having talks with many countries to implement this initiative that has worked so well in Catalonia. Together, we hope to build a European business transfer market with the aim of helping European SMEs.

To find out more about Reempresa, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Business Generator – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Winner 2017

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The 2018 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) is under way and the search for innovative European projects in the fields of enterprise and entrepreneurship has begun. Continuing the series of testimonials from EEPA 2017, Promoting Enterprise presents the 2017 winner in the category ‘Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills’ – Business Generator from Sweden, represented by Anette Rhudin.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

It was the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth that called and asked us to apply.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

Our main motivation for entering was that we wanted more people at the national level to know how we could make difference, and we wanted the national media to write about it. We decided to enter because Business Generator identified a gap in the strategic management process for SME companies, as well as a way to reach SMEs and provide them with useful skills for their daily lives as entrepreneurs. Our intention was to communicate this “gap”, not just in our region, but throughout Sweden. We thought that being National Winners could be a “shortcut” for us, meaning that the Swedish media would address the issue of SMEs and the potential they have in Sweden.

How did you prepare your application?

We spent a lot of time compiling and identifying the reasons behind our project. We wanted to make it easy to understand the complexity of what we do and, of course, to find out what exactly makes us successful.

One of our goals with this project was to actively communicate our results, so preparing the EEPA application was actually very useful and a good way to combine both our communication goal and competition preparation. We interviewed the participating companies and gathered their comments and thoughts about their experience in the project, which was of great help.

What was it like to win the award?

When we found out that we were the national winners we hosted a midsummer party, to inform everyone about the prize that we were competing for and to celebrate our national win. It´s in Swedish, but you can see how emotional everyone was, both laughing and crying. It was a great party! 

We really wanted to win the European prize, but just because we thought we were the best project didn’t mean that the jury would think the same thing. When Business Generator was announced as the winner, I had a pulse of 1000! Friends who have seen the video of us winning say that I look unmoved, but really I was shocked. Just hearing Sweden mentioned with our project was incredible, I was representing our country!

My own experience of the SME Assembly was overwhelming. There were so many people with the same interests, which gave us a lot of input and a chance to see the differences between countries. This experience gave me a lot to think about and made me realise that Sweden still has a lot of work to do. One evening we talked to representatives from Britain who told us about their own situation and how young entrepreneurs are leaving the UK. This conversation in particular really helped us to understand what the work being done by the EU can mean for all the people in Europe.

How did winning the award impact your work?

When we became National Winners there were big articles in our local newspapers, but the national papers wrote nothing. After speaking to national radio I learnt that EU issues are rarely covered in Swedish media due to their complexity. This is a shame because our region of Värmland is classified as one of the poorer growth regions in Sweden, meaning it needs some praise and attention in the Swedish media.

When we won EEPA, social media exploded. It was shared and there was so much gratitude and so many congratulatory messages that we were unable to follow all the threads! In addition, all co-financing municipalities and banks wrote about the win on their websites and social media. Wherever we were, there was always someone telling us how proud they were of our achievement. Even though the Swedish media did not pick up on it as much as we would have hoped, at least people in our sphere seem to really like it and appreciate our efforts.

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

The prize itself is valuable, but so is the opportunity to see how projects in other countries deal with the same issues and questions. You can see differences in financial solutions, project launches and how each country has their own solutions and plans, all of which are the best across Europe.

Another thing to think about is communication. I was so impressed with the communication throughout the SME Assembly! It was really professional and each country was provided with perfect PR. However, there must be media in the home country that receives it, and that is where you need to plan before you go the SME Assembly. We experienced something very extraordinary and I am so grateful. All the people we met, all the information we got, all the big ideas we heard about were so interesting. But if I could do it again, I would have planned more beforehand and talked more to those people that could be useful in the future.

If you like to see how it is possible to change things in a society, then EEPA is a perfect event! I can´t see any better way to be exposed to these kinds of solutions and questions than the EEPA competition.

What are your plans for the future?

The project Business Generator ended in December 2017 and unfortunately the owner of the project, Inova, ended at the same time. Business Generator was completed as a project, but was far from ready to “fly” on its own. There is still a lot of work to be done in packing, launching and finding public funds in combination with the participating company’s own financing, in order to create a viable Business Generator. We have other programmes in our region, like mentor programmes which are based on people giving their time for free. Our project charged a very low fee for those involved in the Business Generator, meaning that we became a threat rather than an opportunity.

We were hoping that another organisation would take the concept further, but this has not happened yet. In Värmland there are around 7,540 SMEs, all of which need more support and resources, so even though the future of Business Generator is uncertain I hope there will be a way for our project to come back.

To find out more about Business Generator, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: “Enterprise Village” – ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’ Winner 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are back again for 2018, and ready to discover more outstanding European projects in the fields of enterprise and entrepreneurship. In order to help potential applicants, Promoting Enterprise has asked EEPA 2017 winners to share their success stories give advice on how to submit and present an EEPA winning project. Today’s winner  is Enterprise Village from Estonia, the 2017 winners in the category ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’.

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

We first found out about the national competition from a colleague that saw it advertised on social media and in a local mailing list.

Seeing as we had just had a successful season and started to build a local track-record, we decided to give it a try. We did not have very high expectations, but we thought that even getting a little positive feedback on our mission would already be a success. Once we made it to the national finals, we started to think about how EEPA could help us with our marketing and also help motivate our team, especially our volunteers.

How did you prepare your application?

We didn’t launch anything special for EEPA, but we did make our video before we sent the application. It was something that had already been planned a long time before, but the EEPA application was definitely good motivation to finally do it!

What was it like to win the award?

When you find out that you are shortlisted of course you start to think “what if…”, but we didn’t expect to win. We were really excited when we did win because it was a complete surprise!

How did winning the award impact your work?

An important outcome from winning the award was that it gave us positive attention and resulted in us making some international contacts at the EEPA event. As a result of the international contacts we are actually working on one possible co-project with Cyprus.

The media coverage after the EEPA event was actually pretty low and we were a bit disappointed with the Estonian media. However, Euronews published a story about us before the EEPA event so we got our publicity anyway. Interestingly, we got more overall attention (including media) from abroad rather than from local sources.

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

Do not hesitate, apply! If you are doing the right thing, eventually someone will notice, and sometimes it’s the EEPA jury. 🙂

What are your plans for the future?

Our new programmes, meant for schools, are almost ready to ship to our first users. This means that in addition to visiting our learning center, teachers can also use our programmes at their own schools. In the near future we are also planning to translate our materials into English so as to introduce and expand our method to other countries. In the long term we hope to have several Enterprise Village style learning centers and schools as partners so that our programmes can be used in different European countries.

To find out more about Enterprise Village, read about them in the 2017 EEPA compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are back for 2018, and Promoting Enterprise has the honour of presenting the first EEPA 2017 winner testimonial from Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017. The Innofest project will be sharing their EEPA story as well as their advice for other planning to submit their projects and embark on the EEPA journey.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

The Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs contacted us to ask us if we were interested in joining the competition. We didn’t hesitate and joined straight away.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

That’s twofold. First we were having some plans to expand within the rest of the Netherlands, but also to other regions in Europe. The EEPA provided us with the opportunity to get to know other regions, but also to get in touch with policymakers and entrepreneurs throughout Europe. Secondly, we felt that after two years of learning and pioneering it was time to share the first successes with The Netherlands. We felt that EEPA and the publicity around EEPA were a great way to do that.

How did you prepare your application?

Part of our preparation involved speeding up some of the research we were doing, to make sure that we could provide the jury with accurate numbers on Innofest. We also made sure that we were ready to talk to other European regions, entrepreneurs and festivals and prepared our international strategy. Getting ready for this was very helpful, because quite a few regions contacted us in order to work with us after the EEPA. We were happy that we were well prepared and knew what we could offer them.  

What was it like to win the award?

Of course it was a surprise! Within an impressive group of finalists which included investors programs, incubators and accelerators with a long track record, we felt like the underdog. We don’t have a long track record yet, although we have enough data to have an evidence-based method to help innovators. But still we were the new kids on the block, with a crazy new kind of entrepreneurial program, involving festivals. So for us, winning was an encouragement to keep going and support other regions to make festivals part of their innovations ecosystem.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning had a big impact on Innofest. The media coverage was great, both locally and internationally. But the impact on our network was more important. Our funders were recognised for supporting Innofest, and many new partners wanted to connect to Innofest. At our latest festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag in January, a delegation from Finland came to learn from Innofest and is aiming to set up their own Innofest model. We have also been contacted by other festivals and regions to join the Innofest program. The number of applicants has also increased in comparison to previous years, so it is possible that the award may have helped with that as well.

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

EEPA has helped us to gain more brand awareness and it contributed a lot to our position in the Dutch and European start-up ecosystem. But even if we had not won, it was very helpful to get pitching experience and advice on our Innofest-proposition. One of the main reasons behind our win was that we presented a new proposition (i.e. festivals as testing grounds for innovators) to add to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Based on this, our advice for future applicants is to make sure that you highlight why your initiative isboth effective and unique.

What are your plans for the future?

This year we are researching how we can connect festivals on a national level to Innofest and we hope to scale up in 2019. We are also working on an international proposition to help other regions and festivals in the world set up their own Innofest model. In the future we hope to have white-label Innofests throughout the world!

To find out more about Innofest, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards – ‘Class of 2017’

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017 have come to an end, but what a journey it has been! From the opening of national competitions in early 2017, the announcement of all national winners, the long awaited publication of the shortlist and now finally the winner’s ceremony we have witnessed all of the hard work and dedication that goes into the outstanding projects submitted each year.

It is with great pride that Promoting Enterprise can now present to you the EEPA ‘class of 2017’, the projects that were crowned European winners at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia (click on the picture to see their video presentation).

What was their first reaction?

Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit: Enterprise Village, Estonia

Mehis Parn: “Now we know we do the right thing!”

Investing in entrepreneurial skills:
The Business Generator, Sweden

Anette Rhudin: “Hard working entrepreneurs need nutrition and that is what we do for them. Thank you!

Improving the business environment: Reempresa, Spain

Albert Colomer: “We are just happy! Thank you for this fantastic award!

Supporting the Internationalisation of Business:
“Internationalisation 2015 – 2020”, Austria

Johanna Mikl-Letiner (Governor of Lower Austria): “We now see that our strategy to internationalize is successful!

Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship:
Adie (Association for Economic Rights Initiatives), France

Marine Viala: “It´s our birthday this year! Aide has a big potential and this prize “salut!” to our work!

Grand Jury Prize: Innofest, The Netherlands

Anna van Nunen: “We thought you forgot us. But this, of course,  is now a great surprise!

Please find here the 2017 Compendium of winners: EEPA 2017 Compendium Brochure (in English).

Congratulations to this year’s winners and we hoped you enjoyed the ceremony (photos)! Be sure to keep following us here on the portal for winner interviews and updates to find out more about this year’s projects.

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