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Archive for ‘European SME Week Youth Essay Competition’

YEC 2021 – Why YOU should enter!

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In July, the European Commission launched the 6th edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. If you are 18-25 years old and from an EU or COSME country, the essay competition is an opportunity for you to speak your mind and share your opinions with EU policy-makers, entrepreneurs and innovators.

The challenge this year is to write an essay about: What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? Think about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, describe three promising and sustainable start-ups in 2030.

You have until 26 September 2020 to submit your entries, so there is still some time. To give you a bit of encouragement, we asked last year’s winner and finalists if they had any advice for this year’s participants.

“The great thing about this competition is how creative and free you can be in your approach. Read some of the older entries, get inspired, then forget all of them and build your own thing! You can do it!” Sabine Kerssens, 2020 winner

“Think about what makes you angry, about what you want to change in the world. Sometimes we want to be too rational to seem technical, but in reality, when you start an enterprise, it is because there is a very simple problem. For example, if you are a baker, you are providing an essential good for the people around you: food. And sometimes people just start to work in automatic pilot and forget why they do things, or they think their work is nonsense. This is part of the reason why some enterprises die: they forget the reason why they exist, or they don’t want to ask themselves that question. The same goes for writing an essay that wants to make us reflect and see the world in another way. In short, feelings are very powerful catalysts for change.” Pablo Pastor, 2020 finalist

“Brainstorm your ideas, take a little break from it, come back and expand on all these ideas. I wrote about five essays, answering the same question in different ways, and essentially hosted an X Factor – evicting an essay from the running on each round of reviewing! This helped me because it gave me the chance to explore all the avenues I was interested in, hash them out completely, and then refine it down to the one I felt most passionate about.” Geena Whiteman, 2020 finalist

We hope that this excellent advice will get your creative juices flowing – so get writing, and good luck!

For any questions on the SME Week Youth Essay competition, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and read the 2021 competition launch post for all of the information on this year’s edition. Good luck, get writing and don’t forget to submit!

YEC 2021 – Catching up with 2020 Winner Sabine Kerssens

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with last year’s Youth Essay Competition winner, Sabine Kerssens. Last year, Sabine impressed the competition jury with her ideas about the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures makes innovation more inclusive. So, what has she been up to since her success in the competition?

What have you been doing since winning the Youth Essay Competition?

For many Dutch people, normalcy is the glue that holds the world together. We say: “Just act normal, as that’s crazy enough.” However, if you have a dream to be a change-maker, launching a start-up that is going to disrupt the world, this mindset might hold you back. Soon I will launch a report to quantify entrepreneurial culture in the Netherlands and abroad!

What was the best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition?

You might be young when you participate, but someday (now?) the future of the world will rest on your shoulders too. The Youth Essay Competition is a great start to participating in a greener and happier world. It helps you get your thoughts aligned, practice getting that message to your audience through writing, and be heard!

What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?

If no one understands you, it doesn’t really matter how brilliant your idea is. A really big part of this competition is not just being young and having an opinion, you also have to write an essay that people would like to read. This is the start of improving my writing, speaking and non-verbal communication.

Do you have any exciting projects that you would like to share?

I help Dutch start-ups and scale-ups thrive. My projects provide a data-driven journey for innovators to scale. Risk-taking change-makers should be able to rely on and accelerate through the knowledge and experience of generations, and I am here to help. So, if you have ideas or thoughts on last year’s essay, on what innovators need or on what I should be researching next: please reach out via LinkedIn!

We published an interview with Sabine on Promoting Enterprise site after she won the competition last year. You can read it here.

There is still some time left before the September 26 deadline for this year’s competition, so if you have some ideas to address this year’s challenge, why not follow in Sabine’s footsteps and submit an entry.

Follow us for competition updates on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and make sure to follow and use the hashtag #YEC2021.

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2021 Launch

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Imagine what a successful and sustainable start-up in 2030 looks like? Which crucial competences and skills do its founders and employees have? What has been the legacy of the COVID pandemic on entrepreneurship, and how have they responded? How have they been supported to meet the twin challenges of digitalisation and sustainability?

Make your voice heard!

In your essay, imagine the story of three different entrepreneurs embarking on a journey to become sustainable start-ups of the future. Describe their stories of success, their struggles, their needs and what key skills and competences they should have in order to start and grow sustainable, resilient SMEs.

The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is launching for the sixth time with a brand new question for the youth of Europe to answer:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? Think about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, describe three promising and sustainable start-ups in 2030.

The Youth Essay competition is organised by the European Commission Directorate-General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. It is an opportunity for 18-25-year-olds to share ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Sounds like an opportunity for you? Then, all you need to do to have a chance at winning a trip to the SME Assembly 2021 in Slovenia this November is to submit your essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 26 September 2021.

Don’t forget to read through the rules, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu if you have any questions, and SUBMIT before the deadline!

Rules

  • The competition is open to all 18 to 25-year-olds from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
  • Essays should not exceed 2 500 words in length
  • All essays must be in English
  • Only one entry per applicant
  • The deadline for submissions is 26 September 2021
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote

Prize

  • An opportunity to attend and present at the SME Assembly for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering essay live at the SME Assembly 2021
  • Promotion of essays across our communication channels
  • A trip to the 2021 SME Assembly in Slovenia

See Youth Essay Competition 2021 Terms and Conditions.

Follow us for competition updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and make sure to follow and use the hashtag #YEC2021.

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Winner Sabine Kerssens

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition opened for the fifth time in 2020 to ask the youth of Europe for their opinions and solutions to the following:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

On Promoting Enterprise, we have already had the pleasure of interviewing two of our talented finalists: Pablo Pastor Vidal and Georgina Whiteman. Make sure to read their interviews and get inspired by their submissions!

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing the 2020 winner, Sabine Kerssens, who along with the other two finalists made it all the way to the SME Assembly 2020 to present her essay and ideas to hundreds of delegates. She first impressed the jury with her ideas around the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures allows innovations to be inclusive. Sabine then went on to win the live vote at the SME Assembly after presenting her ideas.

We asked Sabine about her experience entering the competition, attending the SME Assembly 2020 and being selected as the 2020 winner.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Practicing something that you would like to be better at is always a good idea, and the great thing is: you don’t need to win to learn something. As an engineer, writing an essay for a European Commission competition was not an obvious thing to do. Nevertheless, I wanted people to hear my ideas and I knew that being eloquent could help me in this. So I set my fears aside, and I practiced a new way of making an impact, through writing and submitting my ideas. So, to all the young change makers out there: participate in events like this to make sure that you give yourself the chance to find your strengths and make your voice heard in different ways. You can do it!

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

I’m so honoured that people took the time to vote, listen and enjoy my message. In my essay I advocate for a single startup scaleup market, because I believe there’s a lot to win if innovation by startups is holistically supported on an EU level. Putting a new idea out there, an idea that requires change, is unpredictable. When my name was called and I realised that I had won and that my ideas had captured the attention of the audience, I just felt adrenaline rushing through my body. I hope that with my essay, and through this competition that my ideas can be a spark for change.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?

Through the youth essay competition, the finalists shared the stage with some of the most fascinating speakers within and beyond the European Union. It was inspiring and uplifting to learn from the engaging sessions. Though I would always wish for an in-person meeting, as I’m very keen to meet and thank all the people that were behind the screens (literally), I was incredibly impressed by the professionalism of the organisation and the overall impact of the event.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?

The youth don’t see the corona crisis as something separate from the climate crisis. Therefore, both challenges were a reoccurring theme in this year’s competition. Throughout the Assembly, I saw a want to do things differently in the future, specifically to “build back better”. By bringing the youth, innovators and global leaders on stage together you don’t have to wait for the future.

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

I work with a non-profit to help Dutch startups and scaleups rise with the best talent, markets, technology and capital by 2023. My goal is to make the journey for innovators to scale internationally data-driven. The aim is for risk-taking change makers to be able to rely on and accelerate through the knowledge and experience of generations. If you have ideas or thoughts on the single startup scaleup market, on what innovators need or on what I should be doing after 2023: please reach out via LinkedIn!

Congratulations Sabine! If you would like to watch Sabine’s winning presentation at the SME Assembly you can catch up on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to read her submission and learn about her ideas for the single startup scaleup market.

Watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Finalist Georgina Whiteman

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The fifth edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition, held in 2020, challenged applicants to present their answers and arguments for the following question:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing Georgina Whiteman, who was one of the three selected finalists that made it all the way to the SME Assembly 2020 to present her essay and ideas to hundreds of delegates. Georgina impressed the jury with her arguments on how EU policy should focus on entrepreneurship education in order to invest in a future generation of sustainable and resilient SMEs.

We asked Georgina about her experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
I’ve been entering the competition for the past few years now as I really love the idea of getting young people to discuss the future of entrepreneurship – I got a special commendation two years ago for one of my essays! I really loved the topic this year, and it was incredibly relevant to the next stage in my career journey – pursuing my PhD looking at how young people transition into entrepreneurship. The idea of developing a youth-centric entrepreneurship policy, and looking at entrepreneurship education as a core function of this, was too irresistible to resist writing on! 

What was it like to be announced as a finalist for the 2020 Competition?
Really incredible – in my last year of being considered a ‘youth’ as well, it was nice to make the final on my final chance to enter! 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
I really enjoyed it – I particularly loved the Joseph Stiglitz talk – he’s an inspiration of mine. I loved getting to know the other finalists as well, everyone was rooting for each other and it was such a positive environment to be a part of. 

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?
I love the idea of thinking local – concentrating on local impact rather than global impact, and it’s something I am taking forward with me in the work I am doing in the upcoming years surrounding youth social entrepreneurship education. 

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?
I’m in the first few months of my PhD that is centred around youth entrepreneurship and how youth become entrepreneurs – so there’s that. I’m also working on a few social entrepreneurship related youth projects across Europe, so I’m looking forward to 2021 and getting started on all of these plans. 

Congratulations to Georgina on being one of the 2020 finalists! Did you miss Georgina’s presentation? Don’t worry you can catch up or watch it again:

You can also read through Georgina’s essay here.

Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens, and don’t forget to check out our interview with fellow finalist Pablo Pastor Vidal.

Watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Finalist Pablo Pastor Vidal

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In 2020 the fifth edition of the annual SME Week Youth Essay Competition was launched and asked Europe’s youth the following question:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing one of the 2020 finalists who made it all the way to this year’s SME Assembly 2020 and presented his essay to the hundreds of delegates. Pablo Pastor Vidal from Spain impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience, calling them the words of the next decade.

We asked Pablo about his experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
Since I was a child I have always been very interested in how to come up with solutions to the social problems we face every day and I think that is why I ended up studying Law and Political Science. I remember that the day I discovered the SME Youth Week essay competition I had just had one of these big talks with my parents about how we need to innovate more and support each other even more because everyone has problems and, near them, there will always be another person with solutions. I think that is what we should do in Europe, especially in this era of our history where everything is more complicated than ever: we need to learn from each other and listen because sometimes we are just making the same mistakes that someone has made before us. 

What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2020 competition? 
I am a shy person, so at first, I just told a couple of friends and my family that I was a finalist because I personally thought my ideas would not change people’s minds that much. However, as soon as I told someone about it they loved reading my essay and told me that it made them think about topics that no one had pointed out to them before, and I loved to hear that! We all have the power to influence the people we know with our ideas but I just could not believe mine would captivate the attention of a jury composed of highly respected people in the world of SMEs in Europe as well. 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
It was probably one of the most enriching events I have attended. I know all the team was working really hard to make it possible, especially because all had to be transferred to an online platform this year. Although it was a pity that we had to go online, because I would have loved to meet each and every person face-to-face, that did not make me enjoy the overall conference and intense workshops any less. Now I am already looking forward to the next edition in Ljubljana and I plan to bring some experiences of the Spanish SME landscape with me.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020? 
First of all, needless to say, this event is a must for everyone that wants to communicate and learn about SMEs, because it is not only enriching but diverse: there were experiences from all over Europe and the world. Moreover, I think the experts confirmed very important points that Sabine, Geena and I stressed a lot in our essays: that, in a nutshell, we are going from a vertical vision to a horizontal one, with all the consequences that has, not only in the organisations themselves but in the values regarding the environment, their resilience and their capacity to look forward and think long-term. Therefore, I think we need to engage more people creating with their minds, hearts and hands and more academics to ensure we learn from the mistakes we might make along the way. 

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share? 
Right now I am working with a team of lawyers from all over Spain to create an innovative startup that tries to solve the everyday problems of small and medium legal firms and guide them through their digital transformation. Our mission is also to promote more economically accessible legal help to the majority of the population. I am really excited about this project and I hope to share more news about it soon.

I am also looking forward to graduating from my current studies. I know for sure I want to become a leading young voice in the promotion of small and medium enterprises, but at the same time, I do not know where my passions will take me! Until then, I hope we can make 2021 one of the best years for the growth and promotion of the SMEs. 

Thanks to everyone that made this competition and experience possible! 

Thank you Pablo and congratulations on being a 2020 finalist! You can read Pablo’s essay and watch him present at the SME Assembly:

Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with fellow finalist Georgina Whiteman and the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens.

Catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Youth Essay Competition 2020 – Who is going to the final?

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Are you ready to find out who will be competing in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition final? After narrowing down the entries to the top 8 our jury met and discussed their selections for the top 3 candidates who will present during this year’s SME Assembly.

After much discussion our jury are proud to announce their selection for this year’s Youth Essay Competition final:

Congratulations to our finalists!

Make sure to read through what Georgina, Pablo and Sabine have written and don’t forget to join us at the SME Assembly 2020 to participate in the live vote to choose which one of them will be the 2020 winner! Make sure to register for the online SME Assembly 2020 right here and we will see you there.

More about the SME Assembly 2020

The SME Assembly 2020 will feature a combination of high-level panels and interviews, expert roundtables, interactive workshops, informative masterclasses, and innovative networking opportunities to help answer the difficult questions facing our community post-COVID. Top speakers include Nobel Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz Commissioner Thierry Breton, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, and the distinguished economist Dr. Maja Göpel.

Register for the SME Assembly 2020 here.

YEC 2020 – How to write a winning entry

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There is still time to submit your essay to this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Still a bit stuck? Need some advice? Look no further! Here on the News Portal we have brought together valuable advice from past winners to help you write the best entry you can.

So have a read, think about their advice and don’t forget to submit!

There’s a trick I use whenever I have to write something. I leave my phone and laptop behind and go to the park with a pen and a small notebook. Ideas come when I don’t allow myself to be distracted by other things, and putting pen to paper is an essential first step. Even if you scribble over twenty ideas, or an idea doesn’t work at first, write it all down. Underline each idea, develop it, put it into clearer words. Soon enough, you’ll have a winning essay.

  • Radu Dumitrescu, 2019 winner

My advice is pretty simple: plan ahead! Do not wait till the last days of submission to draft your entry. Remember that the earlier you start planning for and writing your essay, the more time you have to research the topic, structure your thoughts and review the final product. Also, I highly recommend that you give your essay a personal touch – it is ultimately the key to ensuring that your entry stands out above the rest.

  • Marija Elena Borg, 2018 winner

I am convinced that our thoughts influence our actions in a material manner. That is why my advice would be to think practically. Let me demonstrate this. There is a young Ukrainian performing artist that uses the motto “Brave, Love, Freedom”, which I would use in a practical way to prepare my entry.

Let’s take firstly the point “Love” I would interpret it in the following way: look around you, define the persons you care about, think about their needs and what innovative steps are required to improve the lives of your loved ones. Now let us look at “Freedom”: get rid of prejudice; let your critical mind absorb and analyse information around you; be open to any topic no matter if you agree with it or not, because firstly you have to listen to opposing opinions, then gather data and facts about the argument and finally build your own opinion. Finally, “Brave”: do not be afraid to talk with experts about topics like: Innovation, Political and Social strategies, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, do not be intimidated by their experience and look for seminars and conferences at which these topics are discussed. Finally, do not doubt yourself, sit down and write down all of your own ideas, because these ideas will one way or another influence the behaviour and way of thinking of those who will read or listen to them!

  • Oksana Vedminska, 2017 winner

Read more about the 2020 competition here and send any questions about the competition to smeweek@loweurope.eu

YEC 2020 – Top tips with 2019 winner Radu Dumitrescu

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We are back with the winner of the 2019 Youth Essay Competition, Radu Dumitrescu. Here on the News Portal we recently asked Radu how he was doing and what he had been up to since winning. Today we are asking him to tell us what any potential applicant needs to know…what makes a good essay and how to begin to answer the 2020 question.

Who better to ask than someone who has gone through the competition…and won! Radu shared with us how he would approach this year’s tough question and provided some helpful advice for anyone thinking about applying.

How would you approach the 2020 question?

This year, contestants have to answer two questions with which governments all over the world are struggling – how can SMEs succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic and how can the EU help entrepreneurs? The answers to these questions will be of interest to presidents, prime-ministers and business leaders alike. People in these positions already think in a certain way, and this is precisely why it is good to get the fresh perspective of a young European on these issues. We are in an entirely new situation globally, and now is the time for thinking outside the box. I would approach the 2020 question daringly, by trying to look at new ways in which businesses could operate using technology, for example.

Do you have any advice for the 2020 competitors?

There’s a trick I use whenever I have to write something. I leave my phone and laptop behind and go to the park with a pen and a small notebook. Ideas come when I don’t allow myself to be distracted by other things, and putting pen to paper is an essential first step. Even if you scribble over twenty ideas, or an idea doesn’t work at first, write it all down. Underline each idea, develop it, put it into clearer words. Soon enough, you’ll have a winning essay.

So what are you waiting for? Follow Radu’s advice, put pen to paper and don’t forget to submit. You can find all of the details of the 2020 competition here and send any additional questions you might have to smeweek@loweurope.eu or leave us a comment on any of the Youth Essay Competition posts.

YEC 2020 – Catching up with 2019 winner Radu Dumitrescu

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with last year’s Youth Essay Competition winner, Radu Dumitrescu. Since winning last year’s competition with his speech on the paradox of the European Union, as both a daring project but constricted by regulation and jurisdiction, he has been working on his doctorate degree, working for his university’s academic journal and working on some other very exciting projects.

What have you been doing since winning the Youth Essay Competition?

Since I won the Youth Essay Competition in Helsinki in November, I’ve continued to work in two domains close to my heart – civil society and academia. I’ve taken up a role as Editorial Assistant for my university’s academic journal, Studia Politica, and I’ve kept up my job of monitoring the statements of Romanian politicians, and fact-checking them together with my colleagues at Funky Citizens. Right now Romania is struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis while also heading into local elections, followed by parliamentary elections, so it’s an active time for NGOs that work in the field of politics.

What was the best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition?

I’m not usually the heart of any social event and I can’t say that travelling is my passion – I know, sounds like blasphemy from the part of a European in his 20s. However, the best part about entering the competition was that I got to meet so many wonderful people and to travel to a country like Finland, taking in another magical part of Europe. The weather might have been cold, but the warmth that I received from the team of organisers, from my fellow contestants, and from everyone that I met during the SME Week. It was truly a heart-warming experience. 

What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?

Probably the main takeaway from my experience as a participant in the competition was that I have the ability to make my voice heard. It’s really no small thing to step outside one’s comfort zone and say something, write something, stand for something or to express an opinion, especially when the subject is one that affects so many people, such as markets and entrepreneurship in Europe. My essay did not have a grand, revolutionary idea and it didn’t propose major changes. Instead, I wrote about the gratitude that we all owe to Europe’s small business owners and how we should help them not only survive, but thrive. I had many doubts after I submitted my essay and you can feel really small before you take that first step, but after that it gets easier. You learn a lot about yourself when you step on a stage in front of a crowd.

Last time we spoke you told us about your doctoral degree at the University of Bucharest, how is it going?

Writing my doctoral dissertation has been like trying to find my way from point A to point B in a giant metropolis by relying on maps written by others and by asking around a lot, and then towards the end it seems that no one knows what the right path is. I should say that I’m studying the discourse of populist politicians in the United States and Europe and how they interact. No doctoral student will say that pursuing their degree is easy, but I still get excited like a child when I discover something. I can’t wait to have something new to say, to break theoretical ground in one direction and be able to explain a fraction of contemporary European politics.

Do you have any other exciting projects that you would like to share?

Stuck in the house, I’ve been reading and writing a lot. I had amassed quite a lot of books that I intended to read prior to this period, so I’ve taken my time with them in quarantine, reviewing many of them on my IG page. When it comes to writing, it is my doctoral dissertation that takes up most of my time, of course. Right now I’m looking at how the discursive practices of British politicians led to them influencing one another, particularly focusing on the figure of Nigel Farage.

My other project is where I am having more fun, however. Simply put, I’m trying to write a book about one of my Erasmus+ experiences, what I learned, what I felt and how it changed my world. A book for young Europeans, encouraging them to participate in Erasmus projects. Writing a book is a dream of mine and hopefully one day I’ll see my name in a library somewhere.

Congratulations Radu on everything you have achieved so far and good luck with your dissertation and book!

Could you be like Radu? Could you win the next Youth Essay Competition? Don’t forget to apply for this year’s competition and stay tuned to the News Portal for some tips and tricks from Radu on how to write a winning entry…

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      In July, the European Commission launched the 6th edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. If you are 18-25 years old and from an EU or COSME country, the essay competition is an opportunity for you to speak your mind and share your opinions with EU policy-makers, entrepreneurs and innovators. The challenge this year […]
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      Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with last year’s Youth Essay Competition winner, Sabine Kerssens. Last year, Sabine impressed the competition jury with her ideas about the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures makes innovation more inclusive. So, what has she been up to since her success in the […]
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