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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:

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

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

How did you first hear about the national competition?

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

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

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

How did you prepare your application?

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

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

What was it like to win the award?

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

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

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

How did winning the award impact your work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your plans for the future?

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

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

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

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

The EEPA 2017 shortlist continues – Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills

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The EEPA 2017 shortlist introductions continue! Today is the turn of Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills. This year candidates in this category come from Sweden, Estonia and Latvia, and the projects focus on supporting entrepreneurs, helping them start out and making technology and the digital world accessible to all.

The Business Generator focuses on bringing in external expert support systems for SMEs to add value to their business concepts. Few such support systems currently exist for SMEs as many consider bringing in external expertise as too time-consuming. Each Business Generator is staffed with four individuals: two men and two women, each with different profiles and skills, who have all experienced growth. Each team covers: analytical capability, financial expertise, empathy, customer benefits, development process management, creativity and innovation. Acting as coaches, Generator staff ask the challenging questions from an outsider perspective that result in new decisions and tangible change.

Tech Sisters is an Estonian non-profit run by women working in IT and/or studying IT with the mission to increase women’s digital literacy and interest in IT. This is done through organising meetups for women in tech and running entry-level coding and tech workshops for women. Workshops specifically for teenagers promoting IT activities are also organised with the participation of inspirational IT female role models. By inspiring, encouraging and educating women/girls about IT, Tech Sisters aims to bring more women into IT and create a more diverse environment in the tech field.

The University of Latvia (UL) Student Business Incubator has assisted students of the UL and other higher education establishments of Latvia to start and develop an enterprise during their studies. The business incubator provides free premises and office equipment, offers free counselling sessions, help from mentors and industry professionals in business development as well as individual and group coaching sessions in cooperation with the Coaching School of Riga. The incubator also organises entrepreneurship events to encourage youth entrepreneurship, during which participants go through an accelerated incubation process, meet active professionals and receive feedback on their ideas.

So who will win this year? All will be revealed at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn this November! Find out about the Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit nominees here, and stay tuned for Category 3 introductions next week!

 

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Investing in entrepreneurial skills

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Time to meet the next category of European projects competing to be on the EEPA 2017 shortlist! Look here if you missed Category 1, but today it is the turn of Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills.

This category recognises initiatives that improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills. In 2016 the prize was won by Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom, for their project working to embed entrepreneurship into education curriculums.

This year there are 9 outstanding European projects competing in this category. Best of luck to all the projects and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Belgium: VentureLab – Student Entrepreneurship for Change

Bulgaria: Implement a Strategy for local development in the municipality of Ardino and implementation process of the Strategy for Community-led local development in the municipalities of Ardino and Djebel

Cyprus: Sound Labor Relations, Contemporary Enterprises  

Estonia: Tech Sisters & Digigirls

Ireland: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Creating an Entrepreneurial Mindset Amongst Engineers: The DkIT BSc (Hons) in Engineering Entrepreneurship

Latvia: University of Latvia Student Business Incubator

Lithuania: Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program – ATVERK

Malta: The Maltese Business Story Initiative

Sweden: Business Generator

Entrepreneurship in curriculums, the future of education? – Innovative education wins at EEPA 2016

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sme_instagram_09_03_2017Entrepreneurship as a key part of education curriculums is a real possibility thanks to this educational initiative from Liverpool, United Kingdom. The Enterprise Educators Academe has trained and supported over 300 staff of all disciplines to embed Enterprise Skills into the entire University curriculum for maximum impact, reaching 21 000 students in the first 2 years. How did this project win Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, at the 2016 European Enterprise Promotion Awards? Read on to find out the story behind their success.

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

I heard about the competition through a review of the Enterprising Britain site which runs the National EEPA site. In my view the national award is a very prestigious one because it focuses on civic impact. I felt it was an excellent fit for a Liverpool university. I was also excited by the opportunity that the two best national award winning entries would be entered in the European Economic Community wide competition.

How did you go about preparing your application?

In preparing the application I was focused on showing the exact methodology and reviewed my impact data. The criteria were very clear and the staff that ran the competition were very helpful and inspirational, in particular Derek Kozel, our national coordinator.

What was it like to win the award?

It was the best experience of my life. I was treated so well as a finalist. The opportunity to make a speech when you win an award is very important and does not happen very often. The assembly and the awards ceremony were the best I have ever been to and I have won many awards.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?

To win a European competition has had a huge impact. I have had many offers of collaboration and it led to my educator group winning a global award in the USA. It also motivated my group of over 600 educators, so overall the response has been amazing.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

EEPA has created a long term impact and the chance to help European and other international educators implement the model we have worked so hard on.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

They should enter because they will receive so much help before during and after the application process…it is the most rigorous and professionally run enterprise award in the world!

What are your plans for the future?

We are now training many educators in China and plan to work with many European countries to help them embed entrepreneurship in the curriculum for maximum economic impact.

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