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SME Assembly 2018 Magazine

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A digital magazine of the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria. Generating 4,16 trillion EUR of value added and employing 94,8 million people in the non-financial business economy in 2017, SMEs continue to be the most important element of the EU economy. This growth is expected to continue with figures for SMEs in the EU-28 indicating that SMEs will create around 2,7 million new jobs in 2018 – 2019.

The 2018 SME Assembly brought together 600 entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers, researcher and media, to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate.’ The focus was on the continuous search for methods on how to make SME policy work for those concerned, i.e. for our entrepreneurs and their employees.

Bringing together the learning and experience of participants and speakers throughout the two days, the Assembly culminated in the creation of ‘A Manifesto for an Innovative Europe’. Put together with the help of those who matter in European SME policy, the Manifesto is intended as a contribution to reflect on and practice helping companies to bring about everyday innovation for everyday companies.

Read the full SME Assembly magazine, have a look at the visual documentation and watch the visual documentation video!

SME Assembly 2018 – Day 3

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The third and final day of the SME Assembly 2018 took place on Wednesday 22 November 2018, and featured numerous policy sessions, masterclasses, the youth essay competition final and the handover to the next EU Presidency.

Day 3 started out with the Youth Essay Competition final, during which the three finalists, Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, Marija Elena Borg and Joakim Davidsson, took to the stage to present their essays and answers to: “What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?” Each finalist was also quizzed live on stage about their essay during which the audience participated in a live vote to select the winner. Congratulations to our SME Week Youth Essay competition winner Marija Elena Borg from Malta! Have a look at Marija’s, Ngaio’s and Joakim’s presentations and don’t forget to read their essays linked above.

Wednesday featured 10 different sessions, including a variety of policy sessions, unique masterclasses and a Scale up Lab. Once delegates had connected, shared and exchanged best practices it was time to bring the SME Assembly 2018 to a close. During the conclusions session, hosted by André Meyer from DG Growth, delegates witnessed the unveiling of the tailor-made innovation manifesto, created by SMEs and for SMEs, under which European innovation can grow and thrive. It was also the time to hand over the preparation of the next SME Assembly, which will take us to Helsinki in Finland in November 2019.

That’s a wrap for the SME Assembly 2018! Thank you all for following us both here on the News Portal and across our social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr). Keep following us for more exclusive content for the SME Assembly 2018 coming very soon and don’t forget to go and have a look at the videos from the event.

SME Assembly 2018 – Day 2

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Day 1 was great, but that was just the beginning of the Assembly. Day 2 of the SME Assembly 2018 certainly had just as much to offer and took place in this year’s venue the Helmut List Halle in Graz.

This first full day of sessions, workshops and masterclasses opened with keynote speeches from Günther H. Oettinger, Member of the European Commission for Budget and Human Resources, Margarete Schramböck, Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs and Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Steiermark Regional Minister of Economy. The speakers covered the importance of supporting SMEs, building their digital capacities and the need for larger corporations and SMEs to cooperate rather than compete for the benefit of the economy.

The speeches were then followed by ‘The Big Debate’ and a mentoring workshop to encourage start-up mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs. The Big Debate saw two expert teams discuss the role of innovation in tomorrow’s sustainable business models. The experts expressed their views on needed changes to advance, including the need for an overhaul of our culture and competences, and encouraged SMEs to be bold and focus on the positives of change. The Mentoring Workshop followed previously mentored entrepreneurs, who encouraged the audience to invest in the mentoring process in order to become stronger and better entrepreneurs.

The morning continued with, ‘Building our Land of Enterprise’ and an Invest EU policy session. Building our Land of Enterprise took on the global perspective of what it means to be an entrepreneur and featured entrepreneurs from around the globe who shared their experiences of building companies within different enterprise ecosystems. The policy session explored the Invest EU initiative and featured expert speakers who encouraged Europe and its talent to not shy away from outside investment and attention. In order for European companies to thrive they need to be noticed, and not hindered by barriers.

The afternoon hosted two sessions, Innovative Europe and a matchmaking session within the Invest EU framework. Innovative Europe gave delegates a change to interact with expert speakers and each other in order to build innovative solutions to encourage SMEs to flourish. Over in the matchmaking session a select group of entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to meet with experienced investors and form long lasting connections and matches for the future of their businesses.

Day 2 closed with one of the most exciting events, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA)! The EEPA 2018 recognised six different category winners, a grand jury prize winner and four special mentions. Hosted by Ina Sabitzer, the ceremony was full of excitement, emotional speeches and of course an appreciation for the hard work of all of the recognised European projects. Be sure to have a look through the EEPA 2018 photo album to experience both the ceremony and the after party, and watch the winning moments here.

Don’t forget to come back to see what happened on Day 3, and keep following us on Twitter @EEPA_EU for all the live coverage of the SME Assembly.

SME Assembly 2018 – Day 1

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The SME Assembly 2018 is officially open! Yesterday on 19 November 2018, this year’s Assembly, taking place in Graz, Austria got started with the highly anticipated business tours and the Mind the Bridge SME Matchmaking session.

Several Austrian enterprises opened their doors to the SME Assembly 2018 delegates, and welcomed them to learn about their processes, manufacturing, research, history and the products that they create. We would like to thank A&R Carton, Sappi, UP TO ELEVEN, XAL, Brauunion, Spitzer Dach, SUNNYBAG GmbH and the WKO Steiermark Talentcenter for participating in the tours and for letting the delegates experience their business environments.

During the business tours, some specially invited SMEs were given the chance to attend an exclusive matchmaking session run by Mind the Bridge. Chairman of Mind the Bridge, Alberto Onetti presented their work and the importance of creating links between SMEs, start-ups, scale-ups and existing corporations. Through these bridges, SMEs are able to progress faster and corporates can benefit from fresh ideas and impart their experience on new market entrants.

Day 1 continued into the evening with two spectacular events, the European SME Week Reception and the Schumpeter Lecture. The evening kicked off with the European SME Week Reception, which took place at the Old University of Graz. The Reception opened with speeches from Austrian dignitaries and was followed by traditional accordion music.

Later on in the evening the Schumpeter Lecture, the VIP event of the SME Assembly, took place at the Kunsthaus. The evening began with opening remarks from André Meyer from DG GROWTH, Deputy Director General for DG GROWTH Irmfried Schwimann and Dr. Margarete Schramböck, who spoke of the unique strength of Austria with its SME dominant culture, and the ever growing presence of and continued need for female entrepreneurs. After these remarks, this year’s lecturer Professor Bronwyn H. Hall opened the third Schumpter Innovation in Enterprise lecture, which centred on tax policy for innovation, including considerations for policy makers and SME actors.

Watch the Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise Lecture:

What a great start to the SME Assembly 2018, but that was just the beginning! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @EEPA_EU for all the live coverage of the SME Assembly and we look forward to bringing you all the latest from the Helmut List Halle, this year’s venue here in Graz.

Don’t forget to have a look at all of the photos from the SME Assembly 2018 here on Flickr.

SME Assembly 2018 – The countdown begins

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The SME Assembly 2018 is just around the corner! Next week we will all be in Graz, Austria for the next edition of the flagship conference of the European SME Week. Today we have some exciting news to share…the final version of the SME Assembly 2018 programme.

Have a look at the latest version for the programme here and find out about the policy sessions, masterclasses, presentations and other exciting sessions on offer.

As usual the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) will be a key part of the SME Assembly, and we are looking forward to finding out who the six category winners and the Grand Jury Prize winner are for 2018. All of the national winners will be present at the Assembly as well as the shortlisted projects who will be competing for the European prizes during the final ceremony. Just as important as the projects is the highly qualified jury that selected them, don’t forget to go through all of the EEPA 2018 Jury introductions right here on the Portal and look out for them during the SME Assembly.

There are many things to look forward to at the SME Assembly 2018 and one of them is the third edition of the Youth Essay Competition. The top three entrants, Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, Marija Elena Borg and Joakim Davidsson will be competing in a live final to convince the Assembly audience of their ideas and why they should be chosen as the 2018 winner. Best of luck to our top three before the Assembly and let’s see which of these outstanding candidates is named our next winner!

Be sure to follow us on all our social media platforms to get live coverage from the event, including exclusive quotes, pictures and other exciting updates!

Twitter: @EEPA_EU

Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise

Instagram: @promotingenterprise

The SME Assembly 2017 – eMagazine

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The SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, focused on starting, scaling and spreading your wings, and provided a platform for discussion, networking and knowledge sharing. The outcomes of this European flagship event are now available for you to read, and look at in graphic representations, in the eMagazine on the newly updated SME Assembly 2018 webpage.

In the magazine you will find summaries of the daily activities as well as the key messages from the various sessions, speakers and masterclasses. In addition to the key takeaways for 2017, you will also find a selection of images taken during the event, all of which are available on the Promoting Enterprise Flickr. The magazine also highlights and displays visual documentation from the CoCreative Flow team who captured everything in realtime on site.

Be sure to read through to learn about everything that happened in Tallinn and don’t forget to check the updated SME Assembly webpage for the latest news on the upcoming SME Assembly 2018 in Graz.

 

SME Assembly 2017 – Delegate Feedback

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Welcome back! We hope you have all had a lovely holiday season and are ready to start the new year with us right here on the Portal. To start 2018, we decided to bring you the results of the SME Assembly 2017 delegate survey and find out what everyone really thought about their experience in Tallinn last November. Firstly the overwhelming feedback indicated that the SME Assembly was worth attending (94% of delegates agreed) and 97% of delegates said they would be participating next year, so we hope to be seeing some familiar faces in Graz this year!

Overall feedback

Attendees really enjoyed both the networking and learning opportunities, sighting the chance to meet experts, the quality of the speakers, interaction between different actors and stakeholders and the gained insights into new projects, as positive aspects of the location. Whilst we are interested in what was good, the Promoting Enterprise team are always looking for ways to improve so as to continue delivering high quality SME Assemblies. The two main improvements on which delegates commented were: the need for more networking time (both pre-arranged and facilitated) as well as increased opportunities for audience discussion within the sessions.

Sessions and content

This year the SME Assembly continued to offer a variety of plenary and policy sessions as well as specialised masterclasses and the entrepreneur expo. In terms of relevance and usefulness, the top plenary sessions were Ideas from Europe and E-Estonia, with over 50% of delegates indicating these sessions as ‘extremely useful’. The top two policy sessions, which received 53% and 51% ‘extremely useful’ ratings, were Single Market: New Barriers? and E-commerce. The top masterclasses, which were more niche and specialised in nature also received high ratings with 86% delegates saying ‘Ideas from Europe: 2 years on’ was either relevant and useful or extremely relevant and useful, closing followed by ‘An Hour of Code’, which was also rated relevant and useful or extremely relevant and useful by 85% of delegates.

Now that 2017 is behind us the preparations for this year’s SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria are getting underway. Thank you to all the delegates who took the time to fill out the survey, your feedback is very important to us and helps to continually improve the SME Assembly!

So what is in store for this year? Follow the News Portal for the latest updates about everything to come and join us on the journey to the SME Assembly 2018…

The EIPP – Providing connection opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs

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The European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) is a virtual meeting place for project promoters and investors. This year the Portal was present at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, and came to life in the first ever EIPP matchmaking session during which investors, entrepreneurs and project promoters were able to meet in person and discuss future partnerships and investment opportunities.

But what did the participants think? Check out the videos below to see what everyone thought and be sure to go through the photo albums on Flickr to see, as Vice President Jyrki Katanien once put it, ‘the tinder of investment’ in action!

Ichó, Steffen Preuss, DE

Slow Mills, Erwin Meijboom, NL

Virtual Medicine, Tomáš Brngál, SK

EIPP Session highlights

Lights, camera, action…Conclusions from the 2017 SME Assembly

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CoCreativeFlow.com, Sabine Soeder and Johanna Ballmann

The 2017 SME Assembly has come and gone, but it certainly has not left us indifferent. It has been clear from this year’s edition that the focus has been much more on action and on the implementation of the SME-related policies developed in previous years. But what results are these policies producing? Here are some of the main conclusions from the event:

  • Let’s aim to solve problems rather than buy products in public procurement: different stakeholders worked together to generate innovative ideas responding to a real-life policy challenges at the Policy Hack It is a common practice in the EU that governments tend to buy highly specified products rather than solutions to their problems. This needs to change towards more participatory, solution-oriented approach, adding a new perspective to the public procurement process.
  • Public procurement is a key opportunity for SMEs: EUR 2 trillion is spent annually in the EU on public procurement. The EU Public Procurement Package of Measures is a step in the right direction, however, more work needs to be done in certain sectors to improve access to information, guarantee more transparency and use better fitting selection criteria.
  • A positive outlook for European SMEs in most countries: both the number of SMEs and their added value above the 2008 levels (pre-crisis) levels, though there is a clear north-south division with southern countries still struggling. Steady growth is expected for 2017 and 2018 according to the SME Performance Review 2016/2017, where a focus on self-employment will become ever-increasingly important.
  • Some tangible results of EC actions, but still a way to go: the Small Business Act has already generated tangible results. However, more has to be done in crucial areas for the future of SMEs, such as innovation.
  • Greater visibility of European investment opportunities: the EC is carrying out a number of actions to increase the visibility of investment projects with a focus on SMEs. Examples include the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) and the European Investment Fund. However, whether these initiatives will meet the real finance needs of European SMEs still remains to be seen. Decreasing a minimal ticket to 1 mln EUR is a move in the right direction, however, understanding how venture funds approach deals would be welcomed.
  • Access to finance is still one of the highlighted issues for SMEs in Europe: a fragmented legal and tax system in Europe are the main barriers to access finance. The development of regional co-investment funds, harmonisation of the regional cooperative framework and mutual recognition of existing fiscal incentives for business angels are some of the potential solutions to overcome these barriers.
  • Preparation for the future: SMEs have to prepare themselves for the market conditions of the future. 21st century enterprises should be experience-focused, outcome-based, agile & lean, service-oriented and ecosystem-driven.
  • Evidence of successful on the ground initiatives: such as the eResidency Programme in Estonia allowed entrepreneurs outside of the EU to start a business no matter where they reside.

The event may be over, but the online discussion continues here.

Written by Jon Switters and Katarzyna Jakimowicz

Schumpeter lecture 2017 – Professor Jan Fagerberg

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The Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture is one of the highlights of the SME Assembly and is given by a different guest lecturer each year. This year Professor Jan Fagerberg, from the University of Oslo gave a lecture on the current status of European innovation and how this is closely related to the issues of economic transformation and climate change.

CoCreativeFlow.com, Sabine Soeder

According to Professor Fagerberg, Europe is stuck in a partially self-inflicted stagnation and needs to transform accordingly. The European stagnation can be explained by globalisation, and the differing responses of European states, leading to a lack of homogeneity. The Euro in particular, meant that there was no specific need for policy coordination, which led to increased unemployment and different austerity policies. These outcomes mean that something must change, in order to rise out of stagnation, the economy must radically transform.

The need to transform the economy is particularly linked to climate change. European emissions are still at high levels, and must decline much faster than their current rates. This is where the link to renewable technology becomes relevant, both environmentally and economically speaking. Not only is it the answer to cutting down on emissions but due to: rapidly declining costs, unlimited availability, broad applicability and pervasive effects, it could arguably transform the current economy into a more sustainable model.

As both challenges are heavily influenced by each other, they require a coordinated policy response which should specifically have innovation policy at its heart. This entails innovation policy working across fields to promote, explore and provide opportunities in fields related to renewables. Through ICT and renewable technology there is a chance to not only transform the economy, but do so without causing further harm to the climate and possibly even remedy the current effects.

For photos from the lecture, please see the Flickr album.

For more information on his work and publications, please visit his website.

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