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Youth Essay Competiton 2018 – What will make an entry stand out?

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The 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition is looking for your answers to this question: “What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?”

 

Now that the deadline has been extended until 23 September 2018, you have an extra week to get writing and submit your essays. But how can you make sure your entry is unique and stands out from the rest?  What will make an entry a winning one? Find out what each of our jury members are looking for and don’t forget to submit!

“An entry will stand out for me if it considers both the strengths and weaknesses of our present environment, and proposes solutions that are suitable for the problem identified. It is not enough to come up with ideas and expect them to be the best solution for the perceived problem. In order for an entry to be well rounded and thought provoking, the author will need to demonstrate a deep understanding of what is being done at the moment, and propose their solution in light of that.”

  • David Gomes, JADE Network

“I think that the essay needs to inspire the jury to discuss the proposals in more depth with the author. If the author is able to make the jury want to meet them and take them to the live final to present their work, then this will be a ‘wow factor’ for me!”

  • Marie-Elisabeth Rusling, Business Angels Europe

“An entry should demonstrate innovative, progressive, analytical and practical thinking. The inclusion of personal experiences will also play a very important role for me while judging an essay. This is what will make an entry original.”

  • Oksana Vedmidska, YEC 2017 winner

“An entry will stand out if it has a strong personal touch and insights that only a young person can deliver. I am really looking forward to learning from these young people!”

  • Mervi Pänkäläinen, Mightifier

Could you be the next winner of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition? Will you be joining us at the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz as a finalist? Use the advice from our jury members to write an outstanding entry and submit before 23 September 2018 to be in with a chance of winning!

For more information on the 2018 competition look here and send any questions to smeweek@loweurope.eu

What are the YEC 2018 Jury looking for? – David Gomes

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is getting even closer…only 12 days to go until the deadline on 16 September 2018! Today on Promoting Enterprise we present David Gomes, another Youth Essay Competition jury member. David Gomes will be on the jury as the representative from the JADE Network (The European Confederation of Junior Enterprises), who are one of our competition partners.  Read on to find out what he is looking for in an entry and don’t forget to submit before the deadline!

What will you be looking for in an entry?

Innovation is the keyword – I will be looking for entries that suggest practical and concrete ways for entrepreneurs and governments to become more innovative. For me an entry needs to offer more than just sharing ideas and thinking about what we want in the future. I want the entries to really consider what we want to see in terms of innovation and how we can make this a reality. The writers should think about how we can foster an environment that promotes innovation on a constant basis. I am expecting really good answers as the question of innovation is one that we need to answer as fast as we can.

What are the top three criteria you will base your judging on?

I will judge each essay on the following three criteria: originality, feasibility, and presentation.

What will make an entry stand out for you?

An entry will stand out for me if it considers both the strengths and weaknesses of our present environment, and proposes solutions that are suitable for the problem identified. It is not enough to come up with ideas and expect them to be the best solution for the perceived problem. In order for an entry to be well rounded and thought provoking, the author will need to demonstrate a deep understanding of what is being done at the moment, and propose their solution in light of that.

What advice would you give for those still not sure about entering the competition?

Over time the younger generations are taking an ever increasing role in important societal discussions. This competition is an amazing opportunity to make an impact on what policy-makers are defining for our collective future and to make your voice heard. When we are invited to give our opinions we should embrace the challenge and speak up!

What steps do you think should be taken to foster and encourage innovation?

For me, it is much more about change management. Our society is ready for innovation, the problem simply lies with how people react to new ways of doing something or new products and services. We need to embrace innovation as a way to keep improving our lives for the better. Innovation should be a constant in our mindsets, in everything we do – both personally and professionally, and the leaders of this change should definitely be both governments and entrepreneurs.

Interested in entering this year’s competition? Find out more about the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition right here. Use the News Portal for all your competition questions and be sure to have a look at the previous winning entries for inspiration. Finally, don’t forget to submit your essays by 23 September 2018!

What are the YEC 2018 Jury looking for? – Marie-Elisabeth Rusling

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Who else is on the 2018 YEC Jury with Oksana Vedmidska and Mervi  Pänkäläinen? Today on Promoting Enterprise we would like to introduce Marie-Elisabeth Rusling, CEO of Business Angels Europe. Like her fellow jury members, Marie-Elisabeth will be sharing what she is looking for from this year’s entries and her thoughts on the 2018 question. Want your essay to stand out to Marie-Elisabeth? Read on to find out what her ideal essay looks like!

What will you be looking for in an entry?

In an entry I will be looking for personal views about innovation. I want to hear young voices making their case for it, addressing entrepreneurs and governments, and of course sharing ideas in their own powerful and compelling way. Fresh impetus!

What are the top three criteria you will base your judging on?

I will be judging each essay based on its Effectiveness, Uniqueness and Feasibility. In order to be effective the essay needs to articulate personal stories, experiences and the proposed steps. The essay will be unique if it demonstrates an individual approach to innovation, whether as a process or a state of mind – not just a digest of numerous definitions. Finally I will look at the feasibility of the piece. This is a tall order but the essay is about steps to be taken – I will be looking for proposals that can translate into concrete actions.

What will make an entry stand out for you?

I think that the essay needs to inspire the jury to discuss the proposals in more depth with the author. If the author is able to make the jury want to meet them and take them to the live final to present their work, then this will be a ‘wow factor’ for me!

What steps do you think should be taken to foster and encourage innovation?

Many governments now work with definitions of innovative companies, whether to define conditions of access to some support programmes or to encourage investments in these innovative ventures in a special way. Yet, there is no common agreement at European level. I would think this would be a simple way to harmonise our European market, if we could agree on one simple definition of the innovative company – keeping to simple criteria like R&I investment, prizes and awards, IPR. One big feature of the Single Market was the creation European company statute. How about the European innovative company for the Single market in the digital age?

What advice would you give for those still not sure about entering the competition?

Why miss out on an exercise so valuable for personal development, testing one’s ideas, making a powerful statement and hopefully taking it to the European stage? Make your voice heard! It would also look pretty good on your CV as well.

Interested in entering this year’s competition? Find out more about the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition right here! Keep coming back to the News Portal to find out more about the competition and all of the jury members, and don’t forget to submit your essays by 23 September 2018.

What are the YEC 2018 Jury looking for? – Oksana Vedmidska

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Less than one month to go until the deadline for the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition. There is still time to write an entry, but how can you tailor it for the jury who will be judging it? Last week we spoke to jury member Mervi Pänkäläinen and what she is looking for in an entry. This week we have asked 2018 jury member Oksana Vedmidska to share with you what will make an entry stand out for her.

Oksana is not only a 2018 jury member, but also the 2017 competition winner. Read her tips on how to write a good essay here.

What will you be looking for in an entry?

In an entry I will be looking for original ideas and concrete suggestions with regard to this year’s topic “What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?”

What are the top 3 criteria you will base your judging on?

I will judge each essay on the following three criteria: originality, feasibility and presentation. Each criterion is worth a maximum of six points.

What makes an entry stand out for you?

An entry should demonstrate innovative, progressive, analytical and practical thinking. The inclusion of personal experiences will also play a very important role for me while judging an essay. This is what will make an entry original.

What advice would you give for those still not sure about entering the competition?

My advice would be to just give it a shot! I am sure that many of us have had experiences with regards to the topic of the competition and developed ideas on making our governments and businesses more innovative and advanced. This competition is a platform and a chance to publish those ideas. It is time to share your ideas in order to encourage real change!

What steps do you think should be taken to foster and encourage innovation?

When observing our society I would say that the biggest challenge for innovation lies in people’s psychological readiness to accept change. If we want to head towards an innovative future we have to open our minds and get rid of stereotypical thinking, whilst also following the principles of common sense. Therefore the first and most crucial step, in my view, is changing curriculums in our educational institutions. They should foster individuality, creativity and critical thinking as well as develop skills which are required in today’s modern society.

Innovation comes when people think in a creative way and for them to do that they need moral and financial support. There are several more formal steps that should be taken, for example, introduction of an EU patent with validity in all Member States, implementing secure e-Government tools, simplifying registration for start-ups, appropriating funds for research exchange programs etc. I hope that the 2018 entries will discuss this topic creatively and address the fact that to foster innovation it is necessary to take steps in each sector of our society.

Interested in entering this year’s competition? Find out more about the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition right here! Keep coming back to the News Portal to find out more about the competition and all of the jury members, and don’t forget to submit your essays by 23 September 2018.

What are the YEC 2018 Jury looking for? – Mervi Pankalainen

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The 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition deadline is getting closer and we are still looking for more entries. But how can you be sure that the competition jury will like your entry? Promoting Enterprise is here to help! Today on the News Portal SME Week Youth Essay Competition jury member Mervi Pänkäläinen, Ideas from Europe 2017-2018 finalist, is sharing what she will be looking for in an entry, how she will judge an entry and very importantly what will make an entry stand out for her.

Want your essay to catch Mervi’s eye? Read what she has to say below:

What will you be looking for in an entry?

I am especially looking forward to hearing the person’s own voice. Through their essay, I want to learn about their own experiences, observations and learnings and how those have been combined into the bigger picture.

What are the top 3 criteria you will base your judging on?

When judging the entries I will be looking for the three following elements:

  • Personal insights and stories;
  • An understanding of the big picture; and
  • Passion and purpose, I want to know why this matters to you.

What will make an entry stand out for you?

An entry will stand out if it had a strong personal touch and insights that only a young person can deliver. I am really looking forward to learning from these young people!

What advice would you give for those still not sure about entering the competition?

Organising your thoughts and putting them down in words is always a great exercise for the mind. There is no “wrong” way of doing this. We want to know how you see the world, what you think about it and how it could work better. It’s your thinking and ideas that matter and we are eager to hear those! Avoid trying to sound like an experienced government official, let your own words be heard.

What steps do you think should be taken to foster and encourage innovation?

True innovation can only happen in a safe environment. “Psychological safety” is a term and state of mind that I pay a lot attention to. We can design an endless number of processes to boost innovation, but unless the culture actually makes people feel good and relaxed about themselves and others in the team, the processes are wasted. We need informal opportunities to bring different people and perspectives together, offer clearly framed challenges to work on and leadership – not management – to make it all happen. Humour is an asset that is rarely intentionally used, but that can be key to creating psychological safety.

Interested in entering this year’s competition? Find out more about the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition right here! Keep coming back to the News Portal to find out more about the competition and all of the jury members, and don’t forget to submit your essays by 23 September 2018.

Youth Essay Competition – Advice from 2017 winner Oksana Vedmidska

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Oksana Vedmidska, most recent winner of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition in 2017, is back on the Portal! Last week she shared what she has been doing since winning the competition, the best part about entering and her advice on how to answer the 2018 question. Haven’t read it yet? Have a look here.

Today Oksana shares with us her advice for the 2018 competitors, what she learnt from her competition experience last year and finally her projects for the future.

Do you have any advice for the 2018 competitors?

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”. I would use this motto in a practical way in order to dwell upon the topic of this year’s competition.

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!

What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?

The essays I read raise very important issues concerning the promotion of entrepreneurship, for example, questions about ethical norms or the way businesses and European officials communicate with youth. These ideas spoke to me and I will keep them in mind in order to use and implement them in terms of my future career and volunteering activities.

Furthermore, while at the SME Assembly 2017 I learnt a lot about the needs, problems and wishes of small and medium-sized enterprises and their suppliers. In addition, thanks to the diversity of the topics discussed I received information that helped me to identify issues that may become problematic and worth discussing in future.

In addition, I must admit that I miss the discussions that I had during the SME Assembly 2017 with the other finalists of the Youth Essay Competition 2017 Evlampia Karavangeli and Pavle Kostić.

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

For the time being my greatest project is to graduate on time and to carefully study the new EU General Data Protection Regulation about which everyone, and especially entrepreneurs, is anxious. I am also interested in seeing how relations between the EU and Latin American countries develop. My interest comes from both having friends in Latin America and my personal conviction that the development of relationships will only benefit both sides and especially youth from countries with emerging economies.

Interested in the 2018 competition? Find out more right here and read the 2018 advice from 2016 winner Andri Pandoura for more inspiration. Don’t forget to read Oksana’s first post here and don’t forget to keep coming back to the Portal for more exciting content on this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition.

Oksana Vedmidska – What is the 2017 Youth Essay Competition winner up to now?

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Youth of Europe, we are looking for your opinions! The SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2018 is underway and looking for inspiring and creative answers to:

Not sure how to tackle the question? Deciding whether to enter or not? In order to help anybody thinking about entering the 2018 competition Promoting Enterprise spoke to 2017 winner Oksana Vedmidska about her experience and her advice for the 2018 applicants. Read on to find out what she has been up to since winning the competition, what it was like to compete last year and finally her tips and tricks for answering the 2018 question. 

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

Back when I won the Youth Essay Competition, I had started pursuing my second degree in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Applied Science in Darmstadt, Germany, which I am still doing. In addition, I am currently one of the volunteer translators in an international non-profit organisation “Global Voices”. This NGO is an international community of writers, bloggers and digital activists, whose aim is to translate and objectively report on what is being said in citizen media worldwide.

I am also continuing to improve my French and in March 2018 I began learning Portuguese. I actually had to put my knowledge to the test shortly after having started Portuguese. I was approached by Isabel Recavarren, an editor of an informative Euro-Latin American platform “Panorámica”, who invited me to participate in the seminar “Challenges of Euro-Latin American Women: Digital Agenda and Access to Markets”. The seminar was organised by the Women’s Forum of the Euro-Latin-American Parliamentary Assembly in the premises of the European Parliament, where I had an opportunity to listen to very interesting and informative presentations, but without much interpretative help. During the seminar I spoke in Spanish about the European youth’s visioning for digital economy.

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

The best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition was that I could present and share all my ideas that I had obtained from my observations. Moreover, I was able to read the ideas and visions of other young people and find out more about the way they think.

Do you have any advice on how to approach the 2018 question?

In my opinion, first of all, governments and associations of entrepreneurs have to agree to organise a round table let’s say every six months, so that governments can take into consideration issues that are important for entrepreneurs. For example, in December 2017 I visited one local seminar in Darmstadt which discussed topics such as: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Science. Participants included entrepreneurs, scientists, students, a local politician and those who were just interested in the discussion. During this seminar local start-uppers complained that because of a long and complicated bureaucratic process it is difficult for them to obtain a state subsidy for their innovative projects. I think that politicians should take this criticism seriously and develop ways to solve the problem mentioned. It is obvious that in the modern developed world we need regulations and a red-tape in order to guarantee that taxpayers’ money is put to good use and to control levels of corruption. However, politicians could reconsider, for instance, the necessity and effectiveness of certain bureaucratic steps, whether these steps be done online and perhaps whether more staff should be hired in order to process applications more quickly.

Secondly, the future of our economy lies in digital markets, so that governments need to make sure that the majority of their population has access to the Internet and is able to pass through the red-tape via secure Internet channels. Small and medium-sized enterprises, on the other hand, have to pay attention to their presence on the Internet and social media platforms. At the same time SMEs should carefully use the personal data of their customers, employees, suppliers, partners and make sure that their innovative ideas are not misused.

Thirdly, I believe that both parties have to open more opportunities for youth. For example, by providing more scholarships, cooperating with local educational institutions, creating new internship positions or mentoring programs.

Interested in the 2018 competition? Find out more right here and read the 2018 advice from 2016 winner Andri Pandoura for more inspiration. Don’t forget to come back to the Portal next week to read more about 2017 winner Oksana and her advice for the 2018 competitors!

 

MSME Day 2018 – The Youth Dimension

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This year the annual MSME (Micro, Small-Medium Enterprises) Day was celebrated on 27 June and was dedicated to youth. This year the main event focused on youth entrepreneurship and youth employment, and aimed to advocate for the importance of MSMEs in youth employment, raise awareness around the skills needed by youth to acquire decent jobs and finally raise awareness around youth entrepreneurship.

The MSME Day may have passed but the campaign is still going and the need to advocate for youth employment and youth entrepreneurship continues. But why the particular focus on youth for 2018? This year the MSME Day campaign communicated about the difficulties that youth face in securing steady jobs and the hurdles faced when entering the workforce. This in itself is a large contributor to the rate of youth unemployment, which currently stands at 15.6% in the EU according to Statista.

In addition to the challenges, MSME DAY 2018 highlights the reasons why a focus on youth would be ultimately beneficial for industry including the fact that young entrepreneurs are more active in high-growth sectors and are more likely to hire other young employees and pay higher wages than ‘older’ firms. Youth-led enterprises can also trigger youth-led job creation, with start-ups accounting for up to 50% of new jobs, and finally young people show higher levels of entrepreneurial initiative than adults do.

Visit the MSME Day 2018 website to find out more and support this campaign to support youth in industry.

The European Commission is also interested in supporting youth and particularly in hearing their voices, which is why the SME Week European Youth Essay Competition was created back in 2016. Two years and two winners later, the competition is back for a third edition and with another question:

“What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?”

Find out more about the competition and how to enter here on the News Portal.

Catching up with Andri Pandoura – Youth Essay Competition

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with 2016 Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura! At the age of 16 Andri won the competition two years ago during the first edition with her answer to “What can the EU do to encourage more young people to become entrepreneurs?”. Read on to find out what she has been up to since winning, her take on what it’s like being a part of the competition and her advice for the 2018 competitors.

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

Well, I am still in high school with one more year to go, so lots of stressing about homework, as well as preparations for my university applications. Apart from that, I am still trying to be active in different programs. For instance, I am currently a Youth Ambassador for Structured Dialogue in Cyprus, as well as the Youth Delegate for Cyprus at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Basically, I’m trying to keep myself busy.

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

A project that I am really excited and honoured to be a part of is “Children as Actors for Transforming Society” (CATS) that takes place in Caux, Switzerland. Every year children, NGOs, schools, youth groups and many more individuals with different levels of experience regarding child participation meet at Caux, stressing the key role of children as not only the future, but also the present. Specifically, all these people with vastly different backgrounds will come together under the umbrella theme of combatting violence in all forms, affecting children and working towards a safer world. It truly is an incredible project, promoting child rights and child participation at its best, in a similar way that the Youth Essay Competition promotes youth participation and allows young people to voice their views about topics that matter to them.

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

The chance to sit down and actually break down a topic such as Youth Entrepreneurship that at first glance appears to be a massive maze with no way out. The Competition gives all the participants, myself included, the chance to voice our opinions about a topic that is rarely discussed in the formal education system, but is of great importance. So really the best part of the competition was its role as an ‘amplifier’ that helps young people in being heard.  Having the chance to participate and speak at the SME Assembly in 2016 allowed me to meet so many incredible individuals, hear different perspectives and opinions on youth entrepreneurship that I never really considered and truly opened new doors for me back home.

What did you learn from the Youth Essay Competition experience?

Most importantly, I learned how significant it is to make an effort and submit an essay, despite any doubts; I never would have imagined that my essay would win and this attitude of ‘try, even if you might not succeed’ has stuck with me ever since. I overcame my stage fright and learned from first-hand experience that there are people who want to hear your opinions and, even if they don’t initiate a conversation, you can always approach them yourself.

Do you have any advice on how to approach this year’s question?

I think that the best advice I could offer is to take it easy. It is a very interesting question, but it can also be quite daunting. I would suggest treating it as if you were having a discussion with a close friend or relative. Don’t get caught up in the technicalities, just write as if you are talking to someone. We often say “If I were in charge, I would…” and I believe this is the mind-set that will really help in brainstorming. When you get your main points down you can work with that and edit accordingly.

Do you have any advice for the 2018 competitors?

To write from experience is very important in my opinion. I remember feeling uncertain about participating since I was only 16 at the time and obviously lacked the experience and expertise of a university graduate, for instance. My advice is, don’t let any feelings of ‘inferiority’ get you down. The topic of innovation in entrepreneurship and government is not something limited to young entrepreneurs and politicians, and it is not expected of the competitors to fake a certain perspective. Write sincerely and this will shine through.

Youth Essay Competition 2018 – Time to get writing!

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Calling all 18-25 year olds, the European Commission wants to hear your voice!  

The Youth Essay competition, organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, is launching for the third time and is looking for answers to the following question:

“What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?”

By taking part in the Youth Essay Competition you have a chance to share your thoughts and opinions with key policymakers and entrepreneurs on a European platform. Sound interesting? In order to win the prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 SME Assembly in Graz, submit an essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 23 September 2018.

Don’t know what to write? Not sure where to start? Have a look at previous winning entries:

You can also have a look at the entries from the finalists:

To get started, read through the rules below, get writing and SUBMIT!

If you have any questions please contact smeweek@loweurope.eu.

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 23 September 2018
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale in Graz as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote

Prize

  • An all-expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly in Graz, Austria for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering essay live on stage at the SME Assembly 2018
  • Promotion of essays across SME Week social media channels

See Youth Essay Competition 2018 Terms and Conditions.

Follow us for competition updates on Twitter (@EEPA_EU and @EuropeanSMEWeek), Facebook and Instagram and be sure to follow and use the hashtag #SMEWeekYouth

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2018 partners:

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