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EEPA 2021 Shortlist – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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You have already read about the projects shortlisted in this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA)! Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing you to each project that has been carefully evaluated and selected by our EEPA 2021 jury. Last time you read about the shortlisted projects in Category 1. Today it is the turn of the projects competing in Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills.

The three finalists this year come from Germany, Lithuania and Italy. Their projects support the professional development of migrant women, empower young people with entrepreneurial skills and promote the development of e-commerce. Let’s find out more.

We are listing the shortlisted finalists in alphabetical order, beginning with…

COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige – Germany

COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige, which is supported by the non-profit association Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen (ISI), supports migrant women with training and professional development, providing them with the skills they need to become self-employed. By providing free training, coaching and networking opportunities, both migrant women who are willing to start a business and those who are already self-employed, are enabled to put business ideas into practice and to sustainably build up their own business start-ups in Berlin. The project is guided by the principle that migrant women stand up for migrant women.

No Quarantine on the Internet – Lithuania

After quarantine was declared in Lithuania, the entrepreneurship and export development agency “Versli Lietuva” came up with the business assistance initiative “No quarantine on the Internet”. The initiative focuses on the digitisation of business and the development of e-commerce and helps small and medium-sized businesses to enter the virtual space. Over 1,500 Lithuanian e-shops have used the initiative so far, more than 70 partners have joined in, and over 150 e-commerce experts have offered mentorship. During the big national holidays in Lithuania, residents gave each other a special gift card produced by the initiative, enabling them to shop at more than 100 Lithuanian e-shops, helping to support small businesses during the lockdown.

Startup Super School – Italy

Startup Super School is a business simulation initiative that has involved more than 2,000 young people throughout Italy in training courses dedicated to learning business dynamics, increasing digital skills and achieving a heightened awareness of work dynamics. Through innovative approaches to teaching and a process of entrepreneurial empowerment, the project helps students to bridge the digital gap and enter the world of work and of new technologies.

Be sure to read about the projects listed in previous categories, and don’t forget to come back every week to meet more EEPA 2021 finalists!

EEPA 2020 Testimonial – Mobile Workshops

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We are back with another European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last week we brought you the story of our ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’ winner – Promoting Entrepreneurship from Denmark. Make sure to read their story if you haven’t yet!

This week we travel to Estonia to learn about our ‘Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills’ winner – Merkuur Mobile Workshops from Estonia. Merkuur has developed a series of mobile workshops to introduce young people to the various professions, work practices, and tools to be found in the metal and woodworking sectors. It provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in these professions, increasing young people’s career awareness and competitiveness in the fields of technology and engineering. In mobile classrooms equipped with modern technology, students can test their engineering skills, try various techniques and tools, and make exciting products. In three years, the Merkuur team has organised over 700 science, technology and engineering workshops for about 7000 young people.

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

This year, Estonia’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications organised the 14th edition of the ‘Recognise Entrepreneurship Promoters’ competition in Estonia. Many very interesting and exciting projects have been recognised every year as part of this competition.  Our team was encouraged to apply by the success stories of other Estonian business projects and out of a desire to promote the ‘Mobile Workshops’ project in Estonia and internationally.

How did you prepare your application?

Filling in the application was an interesting process which gave us the opportunity to summarise the important activities and challenges of the ‘Mobile Workshops’ project and to define future plans with the team. It was like a journey through our three years of operations; it gave us the chance to map the current situation of our company and look towards the future.

What was it like to win the award?

It was a great honour! The whole team was thrilled. Any recognition, whatever form it takes, encourages you to put in even more of an effort and to accept even greater challenges. Thank you very much for the award and the recognition!

How did winning the award impact your work?

We are happy our project was noticed in Europe and we feel that international recognition will open more doors to our team, give us support and help us find new fans outside of Estonia. We hope the ‘Mobile Workshop’ service will become an important link in the Estonian education system, making it possible to introduce new technologies and methodological approaches to technology classes.

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

Applying is a great way of introducing the general public to the best business initiatives and projects from different European countries and to gain international attention and recognition. During the application process, we advise any applying projects to note down all of the goals, challenges, results and social problems encountered by your project, along with the social problems to which solutions will be sought when implementing the activities.

What are your plans for the future?

It has been great to offer youngsters the opportunity to study in a mobile technology class and to encourage them to be creative and enterprising. Our team’s goal is to create a concept and methodological materials for future mobile classrooms for both students and teachers, in order to expand within Estonia and into the sphere of international education. We want young people to be encouraged by the opportunities in the fields of science, technology and engineering and for them to be able to create cool products and services with which they can conquer the world in the future.

Congratulations to the Mobile Workshops project! Keep coming back to the News Portal for more EEPA winner testimonials and re-live Merkuur’s winning moment right here:

You can also catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

EEPA 2020 Shortlist – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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We are back with the next category of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2020 shortlist. Over the next few weeks we will be introducing you to each project that has been carefully evaluated and selected by our EEPA 2020 jury.

Today we are meeting the projects competing in Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills. This year our finalists come from Ireland, Belgium, Estonia and France. These shortlisted projects focus on providing specific training for local SMEs to promote innovation, raising awareness of stimulating business to work on their online activities, providing opportunities for young people to have hands-on experience in the metal and woodworking sectors, and providing a nationwide service to help entrepreneurs through difficult times.

Ireland: Engenuity Engineering Cluster Midlands

The Engenuity Engineering Cluster Midlands pilot provides local engineering businesses with sector specific professional training, tailored mentoring and action planning, and networking and collaboration opportunities. The Engenuity Programme is an integral part of a structured effort to promote market-led innovation, stakeholder collaboration, best practice transfer, and product and trade development among engineering companies in the region. In total, 20 engineering companies directly benefited from the pilot, which helped them achieve their growth objectives – with 70% of the companies creating new jobs and witnessing an increase in turnover and 15% growth in exports.

Belgium: Het internet. Ook uw zaak., Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship

“Het internet. Ook uw zaak” is working to raise awareness of online marketing and e-commerce for businesses and aims to stimulate businesses to work on their online activities. It shows them what they can achieve in the online arena and offers concrete tools and practical tips and information to help them reach their goals. It also provides a forum for peer exchange, allowing businesses to get inspiration from each other. Businesses are seeing a positive effect on turnover as a result – not only online, but in their physical premises also.

Estonia: Mobile Workshops

Merkuur has developed a series of mobile workshops to introduce young people to the various professions, work practices, and tools to be found in the metal and woodworking sectors. It provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in these professions, increasing young people’s career awareness and competitiveness in the fields of technology and engineering. In mobile classrooms equipped with modern technology, students can test their engineering skills, try various techniques and tools, and make exciting products. In three years, the Merkuur team has organised over 700 science, technology and engineering workshops for about 7000 young people.

France: Le PORTAIL DU REBOND

The Recovery Portal is made up of associations that together provide a nationwide service to entrepreneurs to help them through difficult times. The associations have unique specialisations across different areas, allowing them to cover the entire value chain, from entrepreneurial failure and its prevention to entrepreneurial recovery and its promotion. The portal provides a single online point of access so that entrepreneurs can choose the association that corresponds to their entrepreneurial recovery needs. The associations help the entrepreneurs navigate necessary measures and authorities, and remove obstacles to their recovery.

Be sure to read about the EEPA 2020 Special Mentions and the finalists for Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, and don’t forget to come back every week to meet more EEPA 2020 finalists!

Want to watch the EEPA 2020 finals? Register for the SME Assembly 2020 and secure your place.

EEPA 2020 National Winners – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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Time to meet some more EEPA national winners! Today on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal we will be introducing the top national projects competing in “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills”. This category recognises initiatives that improve entrepreneurial, managerial and employee skills.

Congratulations to the national winners of “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills”!

Come back to the News Portal each week to find out which projects won their national competitions and are being considered for the European shortlist by our prestigious EEPA 2020 jury.

EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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Ready to meet our next European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2019 winner? Meet IDEA Innovation Centre & Incubator – Accelerator for Start-ups from Cyprus, the winner of Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills!

IDEA is an innovation centre and incubator and acts as an accelerator for startups. In order to invest in entrepreneurial skills, IDEA undertakes a cluster of activities that focus on providing an entire spectrum of business support, positively altering perceptions of entrepreneurship, facilitating cross-sector cooperation, promoting Cyprus as an innovation hub, developing investment networks, promoting volunteering, and ensuring entrepreneurship is open to all regardless of gender, age or ability. Social inclusion is put into practice through inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically opening doors to entrepreneurs with special needs. To date, IDEA has developed 48 New Businesses and created over 70 new jobs.

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

In 2018 our Cypriot Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Energy informed all of our national institutions about the competition. We applied back in 2018 and went on to become two of the national winners and participate in the SME Assembly in Graz. We were so impressed by the magnitude of the organisation, the valuable knowledge gained and the very focused networking opportunities, that we decided to apply again in 2019, and really showcase how our project could bring valuable, win-win relationships for both us and our European partners.

How did you prepare your application?

The ‘preparation’ for the application was our intense activity over the past four years. We needed to organise all the information and experience that we had gathered to demonstrate the extent of our activity, our commitment and the EEPA values that it represents. At this point, we were amazed by the willingness of our community (government partners, startups, associates, collaborators and friends) to support our candidacy and provide their own testimony for our work.  

Writing the application was a team activity that had its own ‘local’ results as well! It brought our team closer and boosted our confidence. It also brought our collaborators closer to us and their support was incredible!

What was it like to win the award?

The award made the whole of Cyprus proud! It proved that it is not the size of the country that matters, but the ambition, vision and extent of collaboration that count. Through our win we inspired confidence and showed the rest of Cyprus that we can achieve great things in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. We proved that by applying the values of sharing, giving-back and creating opportunities, the benefit comes back to all of us involved. Winning this Award is a noble endorsement from our European Family.   

Being in Helsinki and experiencing the moment was amazing, and even though not all of our team could make it to Helsinki we were all there together in spirit. This illustrates another beautiful side of Europe: In the same way that it brings businesses together, it brings people together, and we are grateful for this.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning an EEPA has given us a lot of publicity in national press, across both printed and digital channels. We have also received congratulations from the government, business associations and from so many people. Most importantly, we made our partners and supporters proud, and we would like to especially mention the visionaries at the Bank of Cyprus, that believed and supported IDEA since its inception.

For us, the IDEA team, who invest a significant amount of personal time and voluntary work into the IDEA project, being the winners of a prestigious EEPA is a powerful motivation to continue our work and keep aiming higher.

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

At IDEA, we believe that setting very ambitious targets is motivating, drives us to achieve more and brings out the best in us. Winning an EEPA is a very ambitious target therefore; we encourage institutions with intense, comprehensive and passionate activity to chase it! When you prepare for an EEPA it is a chance to demonstrate the true extent of your efforts and activity, as well as a valuable opportunity for international collaboration.

What are your plans for the future?

IDEA really strives to create an innovative culture and form a cluster of activities to boost innovation and entrepreneurship in our small country through partnerships and hard work. We have just opened our 5th cycle for new startups and will continue towards the creation of viable businesses with higher focus on their extroversion.

At the same time, we aim to strengthen the business innovation bond between Cyprus and our European partners, and exploit the unique position of Cyprus at the cross-roads of three continents. We are proud to belong to the European family and are determined to transform Cyprus into a regional innovation hub, and a bridge between Asia, Africa and Europe.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills – EEPA 2019 Shortlist

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Ready to meet more of this year’s shortlisted projects? Over the next few weeks each of the projects that the EEPA 2019 Jury have chosen will be presented in the category in which they will be competing in the EEPA 2019 finals at the SME Assembly in Helsinki this November.

This week we continue introductions with the three shortlisted projects competing for the prize in Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills.

IDEA Innovation Centre & Incubator – Accelerator for Start-up, Cyprus

IDEA is an innovation centre and incubator and acts as an accelerator for startups. In order to invest in entrepreneurial skills, IDEA undertakes a cluster of activities that focus on providing an entire spectrum of business support, positively altering perceptions of entrepreneurship, facilitating cross-sector cooperation, promoting Cyprus as an innovation hub, developing investment networks, promoting volunteering, and ensuring entrepreneurship is open to all regardless of gender, age or ability. Social inclusion is put into practice through inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically opening doors to entrepreneurs with special needs. To date, IDEA has developed 48 New Businesses and created over 70 new jobs.

FactorYmpresa Turismo, Italy

FactorYmpresa Tourism is the Invitalia business acceleration programme for aspiring tourism entrepreneurs. The programme supports the best company ideas in order to encourage tourism innovation in Italy, placing an innovative mix of mentoring services, financial contributions and local and national networking opportunities at the disposal of aspiring entrepreneurs. The programme organises Accelerathons, a fully immersive 36 hours for start-uppers to work on their business ideas together with specialist tutors and mentors. Since 2017, the programme has generated 829 innovative business ideas originating from across Italy, and awarded €715,000.00 worth of financial aid.

Programa INOV CONTACTO – Programa de Estágios Internacionais de Jovens Quadros, Portugal

INOV Contacto is an innovative International Professional Apprenticeships program for young people with training and entities who wish to reinforce their teams with Portuguese talent. The aim is to support the overseas qualification of young professionals or corporate work forces in key areas of know-how, providing them with effective skills in the field of innovation, so as to stimulate and reinforce corporate competitiveness as well as the international image of Portugal. To date 5,624 young people have been involved, 1,235 entities (60% Portuguese) have participated across 82 different countries, resulting in over 1,500 job offers to participants.

Keep coming back to the News Portal every week to meet the 2019 shortlisted projects!

Don’t forget to have a look at all of the EEPA 2019 national winners that represent the top projects across all of the participating countries right here.

EEPA 2019 – Meet the National Winners: Investing in entrepreneurial skills

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The European Enterprise promotion Awards (EEPA) are an opportunity for outstanding projects from across the European Union and COSME countries to be recognised for their work in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Austria: Corporate development programme (UEP)

Bulgaria: Innovation Academy

Croatia: Education for Success

Cyprus: IDEA Innovation Centre & Incubator – Accelerator for Start-up

Finland: MindBusiness – Promoting Higher Education Students’ Entrepreneurial Mindset and Agency

Hungary: Junior Achievement Foundation Hungary (JAM) – Entrepreneurial Volunteer Program

Italy: FactorYmpresa Turismo

Poland: FABLAB MAŁOPOLSKA

Portugal: Programa INOV CONTACTO – Programa de Estágios Internacionais de Jovens Quadros

Serbia: GIFT – Generate Ideas For Transfer

This year this category received 10 entries from a variety of programmes, including investing in youth entrepreneurship and developing entrepreneurial skills of existing business owners to allow their enterprises to thrive.

Keep coming back to the News Portal each week to discover the national winners in each category for EEPA 2019!

About the EEPA selection process

The competition has two stages. Applicants must first compete at national level to be eligible to compete at European level. For the national competition, each country selects up to two entries to be nominated for the European competition.

A shortlist of nominees will be chosen by a European jury. All nominees from the national and European competitions will be invited to attend the final awards ceremony. The ceremony recognises the winners for their efforts and gives them the opportunity to present themselves in a pan-European environment.

Investing in entrepreneurial skills – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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The countdown to the finals of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2018 continues! Last week we met the shortlisted projects from Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit. This week it is time to meet the projects competing in Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, which come from Austria, Ireland and Lithuania.

Austria: i2c STARTacademy

The i²c STARTacademy is an innovative research commercialisation format for TUW scientists who want to transfer their technology and research results into successful products or services. It provides them with a personalised framework to plan their market entry by bringing them together with domain-specific national and international mentors, coaches, investors and industry representatives to work together on the commercial potential of their conducted research. Three years after it was launched the project has provided training and coaching to 91 researchers (40 teams), which has resulted in the generation of 23 start-ups and 85 jobs.

Ireland: ACORNS – Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups             

ACORNS is a peer to peer support programme in which successful business women (Lead Entrepreneurs) voluntarily facilitate groups of early stage female entrepreneurs. The groups serve to establish good foundations in the new early stage businesses and equip the entrepreneurs with necessary skills to develop and grow sustainable businesses. Both Lead Entrepreneurs and participants are located in rural Ireland and the aim of the programme is to create sustainable businesses throughout rural Ireland to create more jobs over time. To date over 150 early stage female entrepreneurs have been supported with a range of demonstrable results including new jobs created.

Lithuania: Entrepreneurship Academy

Entrepreneurship Academy is a tool and education platform for the development of entrepreneurial competences and skills based on active experiential methods. It brings together a network of over 70 partners including youth groups, education institutions, business and city authorities, and other partners. Participating youth have a year to learn about local businesses and entities, and to utilise the three academy modules: Development of entrepreneurial competences, Entrepreneurship labs and Personal development programmes. Since 2015 more than 800 students and 300 schoolchildren have participated and over 260 creative workshops, seven public events and seven experiential camps have been organised within the project.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz this November.

EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

The second category of the EEPA, “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills” recognises initiatives that improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills. This year the entries come from across eight different countries and will be competing for spots on the final European shortlist determined by the EEPA 2018 Jury in late September.

Austria: i2c STARTacademy

Croatia: BUDI UZOR®/BE THE ROLE MODEL™

Cyprus: Bi-Communal Innovation Camp

Germany: Nachfolge in Deutschland (Succession in Germany)

Hungary: Team Academy Budapest

Ireland: ACORNS – Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups

Lithuania: VERSLUMO AKADEMIJA

Slovenia: Practical entrepreneurial education in High schools

Sweden: Timbanken

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to discover the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spiritImproving the business environmentSupporting the internationalisation of businessSupporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.

Want to know who will be judging the 2018 projects? Meet the EEPA 2018 Jury here on the Portal!

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:

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