Archive for ‘SME Assembly’
This year’s SME Assembly focused on Togetherness + Resilience = Recovery, will bring together actors from across the European and international enterprise ecosystems, including citizens, businesses and policymakers, to build a more sustainable and resilient future together.
From 15-17 November 2021, the beautiful city of Portorož in Slovenia, and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will play host to the flagship event of the 2021 European SME Week, the SME Assembly.
What is on the programme?
The SME Assembly presents a unique opportunity to bring together the brightest minds and actors from across the enterprise ecosystem to share, discuss and work towards solutions for problems European SMEs and their networks face. After the challenges brought around by the pandemic, and the need for SMEs to be resilient and resourceful, the SME Assembly will be focusing on how community and collaborative resilience are two important elements on the road to recovery.
Through a combination of high-level panels and interviews, expert roundtables, interactive workshops, and informative masterclasses, this year’s Assembly will explore how resilient SMEs can recover by working together towards a more digital and sustainable European economy.
The full programme will be released closer to the SME Assembly but in the meantime, we can confirm that the SME Assembly 2021 will feature:
- Exciting networking opportunities;
- The SME ‘Sustainable Enterprise’ Panel;
- The fifteenth edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards; and
- The annual Schumpeter Lecture.
For full programme details, and high-level speaker announcements, including the prestigious Schumpeter lecturer, keep coming back to the News Portal, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up for the SME Week Newsletter.
What will this year’s Assembly look like?
This year, the Assembly will follow a hybrid format, with the majority of the event taking place in-person, and key sessions also being available online, for global attendees to contribute. Due to the ever-changing health situation, in-person places will be limited, and all attendees will be required to present a valid EU Digital COVID certificate demonstrating full vaccination or a negative test. Further details about the upcoming SME Assembly, including the format and highly anticipated programme, will follow soon.
For any questions on this year’s SME Assembly, please contact the SME Assembly Secretariat.
Stay up to date
Don’t miss out on any of the latest news from Promoting Enterprise and keep following us here on the News Portal, or over on Twitter via @EEPA_EU, @EU_Growth and the dedicated Facebook page. For all the latest on the SME Assembly, don’t forget to follow – #SMEAssembly2021.
The annual edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) have been kick-started. The competition supports entrepreneurship and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through awarding innovative initiatives of public bodies and public-private partnerships.
How will it work?
The participating countries invite projects or initiatives to apply for the national competitions for the 2021 edition. Each national competition will announce two national winners, who will proceed to compete at European level prior to the European deadline of 16 July 2021. The prestigious EEPA jury of 2021 will then carefully review each of the national winners, whereof 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 Slovenian Presidency of the Council and the European Commission in November.
What are the categories of 2021?
- Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
- Investing in skills
- Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
- Supporting the internationalisation of business
- Supporting the sustainable transition
- Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship
Are you interested in participating? Find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need to compete here.
Stay Updated #EEPA2021
We are back with our final European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we introduced you to Social Enterprise NL from the Netherlands, 2020 winner in our ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ category. Make sure to read their story if you haven’t yet!
Our final testimonial tells the story of our 2020 Grand Jury Prize winner, ‘Le Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ from France. ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ or ‘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.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ was told about the competition by BPIFRANCE. Our work to help struggling entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who find themselves in hard times bounce back, corresponded exactly to the EEPA competition criteria. After discussing further with BPIFRANCE and working with their teams, we decided to enter, which was the right decision!
How did you prepare your application?
The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ is made up of six associations which create a ‘value chain’ that allows us to accompany the entrepreneurs we work with from the beginning when they are in difficulty, all the way through to when they have bounced back. We made this aspects of our work stand out in our application as we thought it was innovative and unique in the European setting.
We also decide to include a testimonial in order to illustrate our work and show how our unique value chain works. We presented one of our entrepreneurs who had successfully made their way through the entire value chain and managed to bounce back with support from one of our associations ‘Second souffle’.
What was it like to win the award?
Wining the Grand Jury prize was amazing! Firstly it was a wonderful recognition of our 10 years of work supporting entrepreneurs in difficulty. We also feel that winning this award and having our services recognised and spoken about during this period of health and economic crisis, will also help us reach additional entrepreneurs that may be in difficult situations.
How did winning the award impact your work?
Winning the award saw all the actors within the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ wanting to highlight this great prize and recognition, and this was done by increasing our communication activities and actions with entrepreneurs and public authorities to share the news.
Why should others enter EEPA? What advice would you give them?
Firstly, there is absolutely nothing to lose, but so much to win. Secondly, this competition allows for the work and initiatives we work so hard on to be shared with the public as well as other actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Participating in this competition was an incredible collective adventure for the Portail du Rebond community which helped further solidify the strong bonds that we have between the participation associations!
What are your plans for the future?
We hope to further open and expand the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ to new associations that carry out meaningful work in relation to our own. We also hope to develop more events dedicated to entrepreneurs. After that, why not see if we can bring our organisation up to European level, and see if we have the support to succeed with this challenge!
Congratulations to our 2020 Grand Jury Prize Winner ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ from France! Make sure to read all the inspiring EEPA winner testimonials right here on the News Portal and re-live the Grand Jury Prize winning moment right here:
In 2020 the fifth edition of the annual SME Week Youth Essay Competition was launched and asked Europe’s youth the following question:
What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?
Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing one of the 2020 finalists who made it all the way to this year’s SME Assembly 2020 and presented his essay to the hundreds of delegates. Pablo Pastor Vidal from Spain impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience, calling them the words of the next decade.
We asked Pablo about his experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.
What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
Since I was a child I have always been very interested in how to come up with solutions to the social problems we face every day and I think that is why I ended up studying Law and Political Science. I remember that the day I discovered the SME Youth Week essay competition I had just had one of these big talks with my parents about how we need to innovate more and support each other even more because everyone has problems and, near them, there will always be another person with solutions. I think that is what we should do in Europe, especially in this era of our history where everything is more complicated than ever: we need to learn from each other and listen because sometimes we are just making the same mistakes that someone has made before us.
What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2020 competition?
I am a shy person, so at first, I just told a couple of friends and my family that I was a finalist because I personally thought my ideas would not change people’s minds that much. However, as soon as I told someone about it they loved reading my essay and told me that it made them think about topics that no one had pointed out to them before, and I loved to hear that! We all have the power to influence the people we know with our ideas but I just could not believe mine would captivate the attention of a jury composed of highly respected people in the world of SMEs in Europe as well.
What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
It was probably one of the most enriching events I have attended. I know all the team was working really hard to make it possible, especially because all had to be transferred to an online platform this year. Although it was a pity that we had to go online, because I would have loved to meet each and every person face-to-face, that did not make me enjoy the overall conference and intense workshops any less. Now I am already looking forward to the next edition in Ljubljana and I plan to bring some experiences of the Spanish SME landscape with me.
What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?
First of all, needless to say, this event is a must for everyone that wants to communicate and learn about SMEs, because it is not only enriching but diverse: there were experiences from all over Europe and the world. Moreover, I think the experts confirmed very important points that Sabine, Geena and I stressed a lot in our essays: that, in a nutshell, we are going from a vertical vision to a horizontal one, with all the consequences that has, not only in the organisations themselves but in the values regarding the environment, their resilience and their capacity to look forward and think long-term. Therefore, I think we need to engage more people creating with their minds, hearts and hands and more academics to ensure we learn from the mistakes we might make along the way.
What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?
Right now I am working with a team of lawyers from all over Spain to create an innovative startup that tries to solve the everyday problems of small and medium legal firms and guide them through their digital transformation. Our mission is also to promote more economically accessible legal help to the majority of the population. I am really excited about this project and I hope to share more news about it soon.
I am also looking forward to graduating from my current studies. I know for sure I want to become a leading young voice in the promotion of small and medium enterprises, but at the same time, I do not know where my passions will take me! Until then, I hope we can make 2021 one of the best years for the growth and promotion of the SMEs.
Thanks to everyone that made this competition and experience possible!
Thank you Pablo and congratulations on being a 2020 finalist! You can read Pablo’s essay and watch him present at the SME Assembly:
Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with fellow finalist Georgina Whiteman and the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens.
Catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:
At this year’s SME Assembly 2020 we met eight entrepreneurs who have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective sectors and areas of expertise. In the Stories of Success session, they shared how they used their creativity to set up solutions for needs, pivoted their business and ultimately kept things going through the pandemic.
Make sure to watch their session to find out more and check out all of the work that they are doing!
Jan Dolezal from the Czech Republic pivoted his tourism business SmartGuide to answer the needs of digital tourism and safe travel for tourists in pandemic times. At SmartGuide they have been making it easier for tourist destinations to sign up and increase their digital offering through their ‘Smart Restart’ programme and get tourist destinations back on their feet.
Silyana Bojilova, got together with other entrepreneurial minds to start the WeCare Foundation in Bulgaria, to provide care packages and psychological support for families with children where parents have lost their main source of income due to the pandemic.
Karsten Kossatz from Germany set up his initiative Helfen.Berlin, a platform for small businesses to come together and offer vouchers for their goods and services for customers to redeem at a later date whilst they were forced to close during Germany’s lockdown. He first got his idea when he saw business owner friends worrying about how they were going to survive throughout the extended closure.
Zsigmond Kovari, from Hungarian company Linistry shared the story of their queuing app and their win at the EUvsVIRUS hackathon with their innovative idea to apply their technology to make supermarkets safer and create a virtual queuing system. Linistry has also worked in collaboration with an airline to create virtual queuing for boarding gates and help observe social distancing.
Ursula Lavrenčič, CEO of KOBI Helps Children Read, told us about making the KOBI online learning app more accessible during the pandemic and lockdown in particular to ensure that children with learning difficulties were still able to keep learning from home. To show solidarity, KOBI momentarily made their app free to help parents with dyslexic children and to support them.
Soren Lex from plasticpreneur, explained how his business that creates plastic chips and pushes using recycled plastic to create a variety of products, turned their expertise and existing specialist machines to making face masks, shields and other protective equipment during the pandemic as they can produce it much faster with their technology. They also shipped out production kits globally to help others produce large amounts of protective equipment at a rate suited to a global pandemic at local level.
Willemijn Schneyder, CEO of Dutch software company Swipeguide explained how during the pandemic they offered their pro intuitive SaaS platform services for free for up to 6 months for manufacturing companies that were ‘giving back’ by donating or producing essential products throughout the first months of the pandemic.
Marco Witzmann from ValiSpace, a cross border engineering company operating from both Germany and Portugal, spoke about how they offered their remote engineering suite to companies producing ventilators, helped the healthcare industry get their product design teams organised and supported universities and other institutions with their knowledge and resources.
Don’t forget to watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights and head on over to our YouTube channel to watch the different sessions, available now!
This year at the SME Assembly 2020 the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) joined forces with the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards to bring you a bigger awards ceremony with more outstanding projects and initiatives to highlight.
The European Small and Mid-Cap Awards aim to promote best practices and to highlight the best European Small and Mid-Sized Companies that have gained access to capital markets via an Initial Public Offering (IPO). They showcase the diversity of European markets and aim to promote stock listings, in particular targeting SMEs and growth companies.
2020 marked the eighth edition of the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards which took place alongside the EEPA online at the first virtual SME Assembly on Monday 16 November.
The winners of the 2020 edition are as follows:
International Star: Diaceutics
Rising Star: Fodelia
Star of Innovation: Frequentis
Star of 2020: Izertis
Special Mention: Lighthouse
Congratulations to the 2020 winners!
Watch the full ceremony and re-live all the winning moments right here:
For more information on the 2020 winners, please visit the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards website.
You can also follow the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards on Twitter.
The second and final day of the SME Assembly 2020 was opened by Shona Murray, who brought together all of the conclusions and thought provoking ideas from throughout Day 1 and entered into conversation with renowned economist Maja Göpel.
In her keynote speech, Maja Göpel stressed how humanity plays a huge factor in economic success and the wellbeing of our planet, and the impact that humanity has had as a changing force on the entire planetary earth system. She also highlighted the need to ‘build forward’ rather than look to ‘build back’, which will require us to re-define where we want to go and put our purpose first.
In the session on intellectual property rights (IPR), our speakers made IPR accessible to all, explaining that IP is much more than just protecting but also about creating opportunities for innovation and growth. The theme of innovation was continued during the ‘Stories of Success’, a showcase of entrepreneurial individuals who use their expertise and companies to innovate during the crisis and provide useful products and services.
A high-level roundtable of experts, including DG GROW’s Kristin Schreiber, came together to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and specifically challenges and opportunities for SMEs, as well as what the future of policy making should focus on. Speakers touched on the importance of solo entrepreneurs, their contribution to societal cohesion and the need to sustain entrepreneurial diversity, as well as the importance of SMEs and how their survival determines Europe’s survival during this crisis. Other conclusions included the need to overhaul current thinking and a system that does not necessarily honour honest people.
Concerns about the current the current liquidity crisis being a pre-cursor for a solvency crisis for SMEs were shared during the presentation from the OECD and the European Commission. Among the main challenges for businesses going forward are labour costs, debt accrued during the peak of the crisis, and financing conditions in general, which all have a sizeable impact on the expectations for the year ahead.
Expert discussions around re-thinking value chains revealed that what SMEs need during the COVID crisis is reliability and transparency, and that the key focus areas when re-designing these chains should be: connected, automatic and electric vehicles, hydrogen technology, smart health, low carbon industry, industrial IoT and cybersecurity.
Our youth finalists for this year’s essay competition, Georgina Whiteman, Pablo Pastor Vidal and Sabine Kerssens took the floor with their ideas, whilst delegates listened to their speeches and voted. Young innovative engineer Sabine was crowned this year’s winner, as her ideas on cross-border collaboration and inclusive innovation spoke most to the delegates who selected her in the live vote. Well done Sabine!
So where do we go from here? The closing session highlighted the importance of continuing forward and not searching to simply return to the status quo. Closing speakers also impressed the need to recognise and support the strong societal role that our SMEs play and to start taking concrete steps. It is time for us to hand the SME Assembly torch to Slovenia, where hopefully next year we will be able to have the SME Assembly 2021 in person, and continue discussions on building a sustainable and resilient future together.
Catch up on moments and highlights from the SME Assembly 2020 on our YouTube channel:
The first day of the SME Assembly 2020 opened with an address from Minister Peter Altmaier, who reflected on the problems SMEs have faced during the COVID pandemic and emphasised that liquidity assistance has been provided efficiently so far but needs to continue. He also discussed the recovery plan for Europe and discussed the German government’s position, which supports investment related to climate neutrality and digitalisation.
The Assembly then gave the floor to Commissioner Thierry Breton who stressed the importance of SMEs in driving a sustainable and digital European recovery. He spoke about the SME Strategy and its significance as a tool in helping the EU achieve autonomy in strategic sectors. Commissioner Breton also spoke about the importance of fighting against late payments and the need to work on helping our SMEs become more resilient. In addition he touched on the importance of our Single Market, calling it one of our biggest assets and the need to keep our borderless markets open.
As part of the opening plenary our SME Assembly host Shona Murray interviewed Fiona Candon, Deputy President of Chambers Ireland and Matilda Mielind, Board Member of SMEunited.
Throughout the morning sessions, delegates learnt about the SME Envoy Network, about what it does and the crucial role it plays in making sure that the voices of small businesses are heard at national and EU level. The session on digital sovereignty highlighted the importance of developing collaborative attitudes and leaving behind the silo mentality. Over in the session on keeping businesses afloat during times of crisis, speakers stressed the need to focus on SME resilience and to focus the creation of recovery instruments on existing practice.
Opening the afternoon was the highly anticipated awards ceremony featuring the winners of the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). The highly coveted EEPA Grand Jury Prize was awarded to French Project Le Portail du Rebond, which has created a unique online platform for entrepreneurs to access all the different national services and bodies to help them get back on their feet and bounce back. Watch the EEPA winning moments of all of the deserving winners right here and consult the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards press release for more information.
After the excitement of the awards Nobel prize laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz, gave this year’s Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise Lecture. Professor Stiglitz spoke about the problems caused by the emphasis on markets without sufficient government regulation markets; the economic effects of the COVID pandemic and the effect of cutbacks in science budgets; the rise of the tech giants; the role of innovation in transforming our economic system from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables; and his hopes for the new US administration. More information about the 2020 Schumpeter lecture can be found here.
If you missed Professor Stiglitz at the Assembly you can now watch his lecture online:
Optimism characterised afternoon sessions on disruptive technology, circular economy and leadership. Innovators are often driven to create by the worst situations, technology and eco-friendly innovation are the way to environmental harmony, and leaders should not be afraid to be human to connect with their workforces.
Closing sessions offered insights into female entrepreneurship during the crisis, access to finance for SMEs and plans for support and what is in store for the future of the workplace. Themes of collaboration and ‘seeing a silver lining’ came through. Encouragement to see the pandemic as an opportunity to explore new working models, increasing access to resources for female entrepreneurs to help entrepreneurs overall and bringing EU tools to SMEs to help them prioritise digital transformation.
Day 1 of the Assembly was full, but it’s not over yet! Make sure to join us for Day 2 and follow the live coverage over on Twitter @EEPA_EU and don’t forget to use #SMEAssembly2020 for a chance to be featured on the event feed.
Haven’t registered yet? Last minute registrations are still possible but be quick! You can register here.
Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz says, “We need to transform our economic system from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables and to do that we need rapid innovation” and calls for a new partnership between the public and the private sector.
This year’s Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture was given by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Winner and Professor at Columbia University.
Professor Stiglitz’s lecture covered topics such as the problems caused by the emphasis on markets without sufficient government regulation markets; the economic effects of the COVID pandemic and the effect of cutbacks in science budgets; the rise of the tech giants; the role of innovation in transforming our economic system from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables; and his hopes for the new US administration.
Speaking on the balance of markets and government, Professor Stiglitz stated that “in recent decades we’ve lost that balance under neoliberalism under the ideas of Thatcher and Reagan, we put all the emphasis on markets but without government, without government investment, without government regulation, markets don’t work well. In fact, we saw in the 2008 crisis how poorly they worked. The financial sector even though it was absorbing 8% GDP up from 2.5% of GDP, wasn’t allocating resources more efficiently, it wasn’t creating higher growth, it was creating more instability and so it was the absence of government regulating the market that led to the disastrous outcomes we saw.”
Professor Stiglitz also addressed the COVID pandemic, describing it as a ‘natural experiment’ of ‘historical proportions’. Speaking about the pandemic he went on to say that “it’s becoming a field for social scientists, for economists, for epidemiologists, as they study what kinds of actions led to controlling the pandemic and controlling the economic aftermath of the pandemic.”
He closed the lecture by speaking about Schumpeter and his vision of what a dynamic market economy was like.
“Thank you for inviting me to address you in this Schumpeter lecture, Schumpeter had a vision of what a dynamic market economy was like, it was a good vision, that dynamism leads to the flourishing of the human spirit.
That entrepreneurial spirit has the potential, as it has in the past raising standard standards of living for all, but we won’t live up to that potential unless we have the right balance between the government, market and civil society. A new social contract which embraces public investments, strong regulations, including on the environment, and the right rules. We are at a critical point in time, we are recovering hopefully from the pandemic or we will be in the not too distant future, we should have learned a lot of lessons and among the lessons are the importance of science, the importance of good institutions, the importance of global cooperation, the importance of innovation and as I emphasized those things which made for success in addressing the challenge of the pandemic I believe will also make for success in achieving long-term shared prosperity. “
Watch the Schumpeter Lecture in full:
Only a few more days until the SME Assembly 2020!
Don’t forget to register for the event in advance and get ready to enjoy the online event on Monday 16 November and Tuesday 17 November.
The SME Assembly always brings a variety of workshops, masterclasses, expert panels and roundtables as well as focused sessions with industry experts. In addition there will be an exciting awards ceremony where we will find out who the winners across the six categories of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards are, as well as the winners across the four categories in the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards.
In addition to what is on the programme delegates have the opportunity to register for ‘Virtual Worlds’ sessions featuring virtual reality used to create an immersive and inovative networking experience. These sessions have limited places and are filling up fast so make sure to register your interest with the SME Assembly Secretariat as soon as possible.