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SME Assembly 2022: Save the date!

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We are back with news on the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe: the SME Assembly. And what better day to announce when this key event will take place if not on the World SME Day?

We are 154 days apart from a 3-day journey on entrepreneurship, economy, policy and innovation. No need to do the math, just make sure to save the date!

This year the event will take place both in Prague, Czech Republic, between the 28th and 31st of November. Mark these days in your agenda because we will be getting back to share everything you need to know about the 2022 edition.

Organized together with the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Assembly will feature a mix of high-level panels, expert roundtables, interactive masterclasses and networking opportunities. We will also get to know who will be the winners of this year´s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), with one of the most awaited awards ceremony for the SME community taking place during the event.

If you want to quickly take a look at the highlights of the previous edition of the Assembly, feel free to relive the experience with the video below and prepare for what will come later this year!

SME Assembly 2021 Highlights

Updates about the programme and speakers will be announced on the European Commission website, here on the Promoting enterprise news portal and also via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

It’s that time of year again – Youth Essay Competition (YEC) 2022 is launching soon!

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The launch of the seventh edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is imminent. Work is continuing on the concept for this year’s competition and we will make an announcement soon – so make sure to check the Prompting Enterprise portal regularly for details. In the meantime, read on to learn about the competition and be inspired by previous winners.

Organised by the European Commission Directorate-General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, the YEC is an opportunity for 18-25-year-olds to share their ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs. More generally, the goal of the competition is to raise the profile of entrepreneurship as an attractive career choice for young Europeans. European young people have been enthusiastic in their engagement with the competition, so let’s hear from some of them.

Kristina Dimova from Bulgaria won the 2021 edition of YEC with an essay that highlighted that humanity is the key to sustainability, both when developing a business plan for a small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and when it comes to company management. We asked Kristina what it was like to be announced the winner of last year’s competition. Her response? “A moment of pure bliss!”

Kristina Dimova, winner of the 2021 SME Week Youth Essay Competition

Kristina was declared the YEC winner at the 2021 SME Week Assembly, which was held in the beautiful city of Portorož in Slovenia. Her main takeaway from the Assembly was that time is limited and that we should spend our time in a worthwhile way, making the most of life for ourselves, other people, and the world in which we live. “Every single business idea must be sustainable both for the environment and for society’s needs. In a world where people are more divided than ever on so many topics, we need to find the way to the right solutions for each of us. The SME Assembly 2021 showed me that with the right steps, finding the path towards re-establishing unity is possible,” she said.

You can read Kristina’s essay here. In her acceptance speech, Kristina said that she had been inspired to participate by the previous year’s winner – Sabine Kerssens. Sabine impressed the jury with her ideas about the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures made innovation more inclusive. Sabine won the live vote at the SME Assembly after presenting her ideas.

2020 SME Week YEC winner Sabine Kerssens

Sabine was very positive about her SME Assembly experience. “Through the Youth Essay Competition, the finalists shared the stage with some of the most fascinating speakers within and beyond the European Union. It was inspiring and uplifting to learn from the engaging sessions.” She had some words of advice for potential participants: “To all the young change makers out there: participate in events like this to make sure that you give yourself the chance to find your strengths and make your voice heard in different ways. You can do it!” You can read Sabine’s essay here.

In addition to the winners, finalists from previous years have also shared their experience of the competition with us. Victoria Krah was a finalist in 2021 and, in this interview, she talks about what motivated her to enter the competition and about her plans for the future. You can read Victoria’s essay here. Likewise, Pablo Pastor Vidal was a finalist in 2020, having impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience. You can read Pablo’s essay here.

In 2022, it could be you receiving the Youth Essay Competition prize! We will be announcing the competition details soon, so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Empowering girls and women in business

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For over a century, March 8th has been seen as a day that holds special meaning for women. On International Women’s Day, we asked ourselves a question: how can we empower girls and women, entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs to be?

This brings us back to one of the workshops that took place during SME Assembly 2021 that was built around this topic and brought to light a number of actions we all can take, no matter our role in the business community.

Here is a list of three simple actions that would help empowering girls and women in business:

I. Promote women entrepreneurs

The data from WEgate, the e-platform launched by the European Commission to support women entrepreneurs across Europe, shows that women need to see examples of other women entrepreneurs, they need to have business models and to find references in which they can recognize themselves, as Eva Merloni, Project Manager at WEgate, told us during the workshop.

II. Support girls and women to enhance their digital and entrepreneurial competences

This will boost their confidence to use those competencies in STEM areas by spotting opportunities, innovating and creating value for society. This will bring a positive impact on the economy by enabling the application of these transversal competences to societal challenges and different economic sectors.

III. Access to finance

Quoting Virginia Woolf who said that in order to become a writer a woman needs a room of her own and 500 pounds, Margherita Bacigalupo, Scientific Officer at Joint Research Centre (JRC) at European Commission’s Science Service, highlighted that women need access to finance and that economic independence is key in the evolution of women entrepreneurs.

This is just a small part of what was discussed during the workshop we mentioned at the beginning of this article, so we invite you to watch the entire session below:

For more information on this topic, please follow the European Commission website, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal, as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Key takeaways from EU Industry Days 2022

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This year’s edition of EU Industry Days brought together a multitude of sessions on industry challenges, opportunities and policy responses with a wide range of stakeholders. With a strong focus on SMEs, this edition opened discussions on their needs, the role of the cluster network, social entrepreneurship and the new SMEs fund, to name a few.

The event also focused on the role of young people in line with the Commission’s 2022 European Year of Youth in a series of uplifting conversations about social equality, youth unemployment and the precarious nature of work and the urgent call for sustainable and socially responsible business models.

The opening day of the event featured different sessions dedicated to the EU industrial ecosystems, the presentation of the Transition Pathway for EU Tourism, and much more. During an inspiring talk about SMEs participating in the transition, Sotiris Kopatsaris, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Future Hotels Sotiris declared that SMEs in tourism should commit to this transition in order to survive as a sector pointing out that a strategy and a change of culture in SMEs to commit overtime to this journey is much needed.

The second day of the event included different parallel sessions of the EU Industrial Forum and a range of exciting sessions organized by the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, and the European Economic and Social Committee.

Among them, „Driving the sustainability transition for European SMEs: support to change and innovate”, a session moderated by Crispin Waymouth, Deputy Head of Unit, DG GROW, European Commission caught our attention. This session explored the main actions and instruments that should be deployed for the acceleration of the sustainability transition of SMEs.

Iraklis Agiovlasitis, Coordinator of Innovation Services, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)/FFG Austrian Research Promotion Agency perfectly summarized the needs of SMEs during the twin transition: “What is of utmost importance in this sustainability transition for SMEs is access to know-how, access to finance, access to technology, relevant skills and, on top of that, international cooperation.

The third day of the EU Industry Days was the highlight of the event, with high-level plenary sessions and keynote speeches, and was the day we especially waited for as Kristina Dimova, our Youth Essay Competition 2021 winner, was invited to join an inspiring conversation with young entrepreneurs.

Just like in her winning essay, Kristina made a strong statement about the need to treat young employees as humans and not as tools that help companies gain profit. „In order to make a young talent stay in the company, the employers should understand that they should treat them as humans, not so much as employers who are only there to gain them profit.

The closing day of the event opened with a much awaited keynote speech from Petri Salmimen, President of SMEunited. SMEunited latest survey shows that about 50 % of SMEs report a decrease in turnover due to containment measures, lack of workforce or sick staff and shortage of material. SMEs have been hit hardest by the Covid crisis and it is time now to help them to recover and to master the green and digital transition. “We have to guarantee access to finance for the high upfront investments, technical assistance to understand what to change and how, support for eco-innovation without forgetting the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce to new competences”, underlined Mr Petri Salminen.

We also had an interview with Mr Petri Salminen earlier this month. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here.

For more information on this topic, please follow the EU Industry Days website, as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

SME Support Instruments by the EU

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As 99,7% of the companies in Europe are SMEs, the EU has launched various instruments to help SMEs access finance, notably financial instruments (loans, guarantees and venture capital) and grants (collaborative actions and the SME instrument) in order to recover and build up the resilience after the Covid-19 crisis.

During the SME Assembly 2021, these instruments were largely discussed and a dedicated workshop took place focusing solely on this topic.

With the participation of Maarit Nyman (DG Grow Deputy Head of the SME Unit), Igor Kalinic (EISMEA) and Salvatore Amico Roxas (DG Grow Access to Finance Unit), the workshop looked at the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and opportunities for SMEs with a special focus on the Single Market Programme (SMP), The European Innovation Council and Invest EU Programme.

We invite you to watch the session and find out which instruments are most suitable for your enterprise.

Here is what we noted down during the workshop:

The Single Market Programme focuses on strengthening the governance of the internal market, supporting the competitiveness of industry and in particular of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), promoting human, animal and plant health and animal welfare and establishing the framework for financing European statistics. With €4.2 billion over the period of 2021-2027, out of which 1 billion is destined to SMEs, it provides an integrated package to support and strengthen the governance of the single market.

To be more specific, the SME pillar of the Single Market Programme will first ensure the continuity of the implementation of the most impactful actions of the COSME programme, in particular supporting a better access to markets, a more favourable business environment and promoting entrepreneurship. It aims to foster the competitiveness, capacity building and sustainability of enterprises, especially SMEs, including the tourism sector, highly affected by the pandemic.

On the other hand, the European Innovation Council (EIC), established under the EU Horizon Europe programme, has a budget of €10.1 billion to support game changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early stage research, to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale up of start-ups and SMEs.

Last, but not least, Invest EU Fund, part of Invest EU Programme, is a single fund bringing together the many different EU-level financial instrument and it aims, among other things, facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), small mid-cap companies. This includes capital support for SMEs that were negatively affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

For more information on these topics, please follow the European Commission website, for the latest updates, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

3+ reasons to enter EEPA 2022 Competition

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The 2022 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) has kick-started. The competition supports entrepreneurship and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through awarding innovative initiatives of public bodies and public-private partnerships.

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards aim not only at identifying and recognizing successful activities and initiatives undertaken to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship, but also at showcasing and sharing examples of best entrepreneurship policies and practices. The EEPA create a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in society and encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs.

Culinary Action! by Basque Culinary Centre from Spain, winner of Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit category said:

It will validate your work at an international level. Just by being selected as a finalist, you will get European wide recognition and the opportunity to interact and network with a variety of European actors.”

Grand Jury Prize 2021 winner COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V. from Germany, and also first prize winner in Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category, thinks that:

The EEPA is a great chance to make your project more visible and cooperate with other organizations to spread information about your successful work. It gives you the possibility to present your project as a model – both at a national and international level – and, ultimately, to reach your goals for a larger community all over Europe. Applying is definitely worth a try.”

The winner of Category 6, Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Inkludera by Inkludera from Sweden, found inspiration at the 2021 SME Assembly and told us:

“We believe it’s a great forum for being inspired by other organizations.”

SME Assembly 2021 was for sure an inspiring and empowering event. Let’s watch some of the key moments from last year and relive the experience!

If we have convinced you to join EEPA 2022, see below how it works:

The participating countries invite projects or initiatives to apply for the national competitions for the 2022 edition. Each national competition will announce two national winners, who will proceed to compete at the European level prior to the European deadline of 25 July 2022. The prestigious EEPA jury of 2022 will then carefully review each of the national winners, where the top projects will make the European shortlist.

All shortlisted nominees from both the national and European competition levels will receive invitations to the Awards Ceremony at the annual SME Assembly co-hosted by the Czech Presidency of the Council and the European Commission in November.

Want to participate? Find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

Inspiring Kristina Dimova invited to speak at the EU Industry Days

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Kristina Dimova, the SME Week 2021 Young Essay Competition winner, continues her journey in the entrepreneurial world and will be present at the upcoming edition of the EU Industry Days.

As you know, the 2022 edition that is entitled “Unlocking the future: EU industrial ecosystems on the path to the green and digital transition”, will take place from 08th to the 11th of February and aims to stimulate discussions across industrial ecosystems on their green and digital transition, in support of strengthening the resilience of EU companies including SMEs.

This year’s edition will also hold discussions on how the young generation can shape the future of EU industry in line with the Commission proposal to make 2022 the European Year of Youth.

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Kristina Dimova, who is 22 and an inspiring representative of her generation, is one of the speakers in the Plenary Session: Inspiring Dialogue with Young Europeans that will take place on 10 February starting 15:30.

Moderated by Olena Sullivan-Prykhodko, 2021 Junior Chamber International Vice President, Co-Founder and Director of Modelex Education Monaco and the British School of Monaco, the session gathers creative young business owners that will share their vision on the future of entrepreneurship.

“Change is inevitable. That’s why businesses must adapt or perish. The way they could adapt is by being as human as possible. The main thesis of my essay is that humanity is the key to sustainability not only for the business plan of the company but in the context of management. However, humanity should be combined with key factors such as digital transformation, ecology, and economic growth.” This is what Kristina highlighted when talking about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, during SME Assembly 2021.

She also added that “Every single business idea must be sustainable both for the environment and for society’s needs.”

With this in mind, we remind you that there it is still time to register and take part in the discussion on turning industrial challenges into opportunities for Europe.

Check out the full programme here and see what sessions are of interest to you!

Stay updated by following all news on European’s Commission website, but also on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you follow and use the official hashtag #EUIndustryDays.

Interested in the green and digital transitions in the EU industry? We have NEWS!

The 2022 edition of the EU Industry Days is close! Europe’s flagship event on industry will take place from 08th to the 11th of February in hybrid format, giving you the possibility to join the conference online.
Registrations are already open!

Entitled “Unlocking the future: EU industrial ecosystems on the path to the green and digital transition”, this year’s edition aspires to stimulate discussions across industrial ecosystems on their green and digital transition, in order to further support and strengthen the resilience of EU industries and SMEs.

Since the first edition in 2017, the EU Industry Days were established and recognised as the European Commission’s main platform for an open stakeholder dialogue and discussion on industry.

The programme this year will be divided into 4 thematic days, giving you plenty of reasons to join the conference and take part in the discussion on turning industrial challenges into opportunities for Europe as well as to learn about the latest practical information on how to benefit from the new generation of EU programmes and initiatives supporting industrial transformation.

Here are some sessions you should keep an eye on:

• 9 February – Panel discussion on the unitary patent system and SME instruments in the area of intellectual property (15:15 – 16:00)
• 9 February – Standardization in support of the twin transition of industrial SMEs (16:15 – 17:00)
• 11 February – New SME Fund: Intellectual Property voucher for post-covid recovery and green and digital transitions (12:45 – 13:30)

Plus… the intervention of Kristina Dimova, SME Week 2021 Youth Essay Competition winner, on 10 February during the Plenary Session: Inspiring Dialogue with Young Europeans. We will tell you more about Kristina’s participation soon.

You can check out the full programme here.

Stay updated by following all news on European’s Commission website, but also on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you follow and use the official hashtag #EUIndustryDays.

Discovering Kristina Dimova, the winner of SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2021

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Bulgarian Kristina Dimova won the SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2021 with an essay that highlighted that humanity is the key to sustainability not only for the business plan of the company, but in the context of management. We invite you discover what was the motivation behind Kristina’s participation in the Competition, but also what was her main takeaway from last year’s SME Assembly.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Ever since I started my higher education, I have been working and looking for ways to develop myself. From editorials, to academies, agencies – for the last four years I had the chance to see how the work process is constantly changing. Not only mine, but one of the biggest problems of other young proactive people I’ve been talking to, is the management system and the fact that, no matter how much it has changed regarding flexibility, home office, etc, it’s still strictly hierarchical and because of that it’s draining the creative force of youth and its talents. This is why, when I saw the theme of the SME Youth Essay Competition, I wanted to show that, no matter how genius and innovative a business idea can be, it is nothing without the people working for its happening.

Moreover, as I said in my gratitude speech, Sabine Kressens – 2020’s winner essay and how intriguing and complex her text was, inspired me even more to participate. I wanted to see if I can do what she did so gracefully – present such an innovative idea in a way everyone can understand it.

What was it like to be announced as a winner of the 2021 competition?

A moment of pure bliss. I have read the essays of the other finalists and until the announcement, I still was not quite sure if anyone will recognize my idea as a crucial one for the survival of the development of future SMEs’. This is mainly because management has always been looked over when people are talking about successful entrepreneurial projects. However, after my name was announced, I reassured myself that everyone who has voted for me has been feeling there is a crucial need for change in that field. Afterwards many representatives of various institutions and companies who were in the audience during the competition congratulated me on this thesis. The fact that they have appreciated the youth perspective is what truly made me happy and is the biggest success.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2021?

In person contact is irreplaceable. Because of the fact that the SME Assembly 2021 gave me the chance to meet people not only through a zoom square, the feeling of excitement was with me throughout the whole event. I’m still talking not only to friends of mine, but to colleagues about how eye-opening and inspiring the Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise Lecture which Professor Lučka Kajfež Bogataj held. Of course, all of the fantastic and bright people I have met at the SME Assembly 2021 are making my memories of it even more unforgettable.

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What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2021?

Time is limited. Therefore, we must not only make the most of it, but make it worthy for us and the world we live in. Every single business idea must be sustainable both for the environment and for society’s needs. In a world where people are more divided than ever on so many topics, we need to find the way to the right solutions for each of us. The SME Assembly 2021 showed me that with the right steps, the path towards re-establishing unity is possible to be walked.

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

Currently, I am writing my Bachelor’s thesis and, fingers crossed I will be graduating in 2022. Afterward, as they say, hopefully, the future will become clearer and even brighter. 🙂 Besides that, the business academy I am part of – 9Academy is currently running its 9th season. The 9 circles of business we are looking through in the educational process (which is very practical on its own) are making the academy a unique piece of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bulgaria. In addition, who knows, maybe one day in Europe as well?).

You can find out more about Kristina from one of our previous materials and you can read Kristina’s essay here.

The other finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition were Victoria Krah, half Spanish, half German, and Rui Teixeira from Portugal.

Check out the latest news on the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition by regularly visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog. Subscribe to the SME Week Newsletter to stay up to date!

Discovering YEC 2021 Finalist Victoria Krah

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“Over the past 1.5 years, the resilience of Europe’s SMEs has been challenged like never
before in recent European history.” This is how the essay that brought Victoria Krah among the finalists in the SME Youth Essay Competition starts.

Today we are finding out more about what motivated Victoria Krah to enter the SME Youth Essay Competition, but also what are her plans for this year. You can read Victoria’s essay here.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Honestly, the way I stumbled upon the YEC was more or less a coincidence: I was googling for something productive to do, as, due to the pandemic, many of my plans and professional opportunities had been cancelled and I was at that point in time in the process of figuring out what to do. I do enjoy writing and solving and reflecting upon problems, so when I saw the announcement, I though I would give it a try as I had nothing to loose. For this, I would encourage everyone to just give it a try!

What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2021 competition?

When I received the email from the SME office in autumn, I thought it was a thank-you-for-your-participation kind of email. It took me actually a couple of hours to reread it and become aware that I was one of the finalists. At first, I was somehow overwhelmed by it, but then it made me very happy obviously. I told my family about it and later on mentioned it to a couple of friends.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2021?

Sadly, I was only able to attend the SME Assembly in an online format. However, I was very impressed by the organisation and the way the platform worked, which made it very easy to feel included. One can see that the team worked very hard to make it possible- although, unfortunately, I did not get to know fellow finalists Rui and Kristina in person.
If I had to choose one of the many workshops, masterclasses and lectures of this year’s assembly I enjoyed the most, it would probably be the Annual Schumpeter innovation lecture, as it provided a good framework and background knowledge for the rest of the event.

Victoria Krah YEC 2021 Finalist_3

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2021?

I liked this year’s emphasis on “togetherness”: That, simply put, if we – the EU member states – do not work together, we work against each other. Collaboration is key when tackling bigger hurdles, such as mitigating the economic and social impact of the pandemic and make European economies and societies more resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions particularly.

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

As I actually really enjoy studying and learning, I am currently planning on pursuing a PhD in the field of social sciences, if possible. In particular, I would like to investigate, through a case study, non linear or hybrid wars and the new kinds of (political) weapons being used by some governments in order to disrupt and influence the geopolitical scenario.

See who were her competitors, the other two finalists of this year’s SME Week Youth Essay competition.

Check out the latest news on the SME Assembly and the Youth Essay Competition by regularly visiting the Promoting Enterprise blog. Subscribe to the SME Week Newsletter to stay up to date!

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      We are back with news on the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe: the SME Assembly. And what better day to announce when this key event will take place if not on the World SME Day? We are 154 days apart from a 3-day journey on entrepreneurship, economy, policy and innovation. […]
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    • It’s that time of year again – Youth Essay Competition (YEC) 2022 is launching soon! May 17, 2022
      The launch of the seventh edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is imminent. Work is continuing on the concept for this year’s competition and we will make an announcement soon – so make sure to check the Prompting Enterprise portal regularly for details. In the meantime, read on to learn about the competition […]
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