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Archive for ‘SME News and updates’

Pact for Skills launched by Commissioners Schmit and Breton

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The original press release is available in the Commission Press Corner.

Commissioners Schmit and Breton officially launched the Pact for Skills on 10 November during the fifth edition of the European Vocational Skills Week 2020, organised by the European Commission in partnership with the German Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Europe’s skill needs are affected by mismatches and shortages, and it is only through relevant partnerships that substantial progress can be made. The focus on skills is essential to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and for mastering the digital and green transitions.

What is the Pact for Skills?

The Pact for Skills promotes joint action to maximise the impact of investing in improving existing skills (upskilling) and training in new skills (reskilling). It calls on industry, employers, social partners, chambers of commerce, public authorities, education and training providers and employment agencies to work together and make a clear commitment to invest in training for all working age people across the Union. It also aims to support green and digital transition and assist with local and regional growth strategies.

The Pact is a flagship initiative under the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, presented on 1 July 2020.

First European skills partnerships announced

In addition to launching the Pact, Commissioners Breton and Schmit also announced the first European skills partnerships. These partnerships focus on strategic industrial ecosystems heavily affected by the current crisis and the priority areas identified in the European Green Deal to achieve ambitious commitments. The first European skills partnerships in key industrial ecosystems are as follows:

  • Automotive: The ambition to upskill 5% of the workforce each year would result in around 700,000 people being upskilled throughout the entire ecosystem, representing a potential overall private and public investment of €7bn starting with regional pilot schemes.
  • Microelectronics: Initiatives underpinning the ambition of the partnership represent an overall public and private investment of €2bn providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities for more than 250,000 workers and students (2021-2025) in Europe’s electronics clusters.
  • Aerospace and defence: The ambition is to upskill around 6% of the workforce each year reaching 200,000 people, and to reskill 300,000 people to enter the ecosystem representing a public and private investment of €1bn over the next ten years.

Find out more about the Pact for Skills, additional questions and answers covered during the launch as well as how to join the pact on the website.

Hungarian agri-food SMEs to receive support under the Commission’s State aid Temporary Framework

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The European Commission has approved a Hungarian scheme to support the agri-food value chain in the context of the coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to mobilise at least approximately €314 million (approx. HUF 111 billion). The scheme will be open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in all sectors, but is aimed at the wider agri-food value chain. The objective of the measure is to provide those companies with financial means to cover their immediate working capital and investment needs, and help them maintain their activities during these difficult times.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This Hungarian guarantee scheme, expected to mobilise at least €314 million, will support the Hungarian agriculture and food industry, as well as the wider agriculture and bio-economy value chain. This measure will improve the liquidity of businesses and help them continue their activities in these difficult times. We continue working closely with Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place quickly and effectively, in line with EU rules.

The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020. The Temporary Framework enables Member States to combine support measures, with the exception of loans and guarantees for the same loan and exceeding the thresholds foreseen by the Temporary Framework.

The Framework allows Member States to provide the following types of aid:

  • Direct grants, equity injections, selective tax advantages and advance payments
  • State guarantees for loans taken by companies
  • Subsidised public loans to companies 
  • Safeguards for banks that channel State aid to the real economy 
  • Public short-term export credit insurance 
  • Support for coronavirus related research and development (R&D) 
  • Support for the construction and upscaling of testing facilities 
  • Support for the production of products relevant to tackle the coronavirus outbreak 
  • Targeted support in the form of deferral of tax payments and/or suspensions of social security contributions 
  • Targeted support in the form of wage subsidies for employees 

More detailed information on the Temporary Framework can be found here.

The full original press release can be found here in the Commission Press Corner.

Event spotlight: Useful advice and information for SMEs

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During these unpredictable and uncertain times we have seen an explosion in the number of events and the amount of content and advice available online. Whilst this wealth of knowledge can be valuable for businesses, the volume can sometimes be quite overwhelming and it can be difficult to find what you are looking for. At Promoting Enterprise we have collected information on a few different events covering various topics of interests for SMEs to help in your search.

Let us know your thoughts on the events and get in touch (promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu) if you want us to feature your event in an upcoming post!

Blockchain for SMEs–Hype or Opportunity?

This discussion focused on blockchain from the perspective of SMEs and featured entrepreneurs Petko Karamotchev , Jeroen Perquin and Enrico Talin, who presented their visions for the development of blockchain technologies and demonstrated their own use cases and applications. In addition, Mikuláš Peksa, Member of the European Parliament, addressed the issue of regulation surrounding blockchain. The discussion was moderated by Sebastiano Toffaletti, Secretary-General at European Digital SME Alliance.

Watch the webinar here.

Project meetings online

On 12 May at 10:00 (CET) Interreg Europe project partners will share their experience in using online meetings in their project work as well as their tips and tricks for navigating different tools. Find out more and register here. You can also access their previous webinar and summary on online meetings here.

Digitalising the commercial lending process in times of crisis

On 19 May at 15:00 (BST) expert speakers will discuss the digitalisation of commercial lending and how it could help small businesses during the current pandemic. This webinar will cover useful topics such as: ‘How e-signatures can help meet the urgent need for small business loans’ and ‘How ID document verification can help prevent fraud in the digital channel’, as well as security and authentication tips.

Register and find out more here.

Mind the Bridge Influence Virtual Summit

Looking for information on how to optimise your accounting? Perhaps you want to find out more about responsibly incorporating AI into your accounting? At the Mind the Bridge Influence Virtual Summit accounting professionals will have opportunities to exchange, learn best practices and listen to knowledgeable speakers on how to adapt and move forward with finance.

Visit the event website for more information.

Reviewing and re-setting your marketing strategy during the COVID-19 outbreak

The AD:VENTURE programme, supported by the 2014 – 2020 European Regional Development Fund, has invited guest speaker Jonny Ross (founder and digital marketing specialist at Fleek Marketing) to provide insight and share advice and techniques on all forms of marketing, including planning and strategy for these difficult times.

Find out more and register here.

Running an online event you think we should feature? Or perhaps you have seen another event you think should be on this list? Then please leave a comment or get in touch with us: promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu

PARSEC Accelerator launches Open Call 2 for SMEs innovating in food, energy or environment

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The PARSEC Accelerator invites SMEs and start-ups to meet the 100 winners of Open Call 1 to jointly develop Earth Observation-based business solutions for the food, energy or environment sectors and apply to the Open Call 2.

The PARSEC Open Call 2 will distribute €1.5 million equity-free funding to 15 winning consortia and provide access to business support services (investment readiness program, export promotion and coaching) and the PARSEC Business Catalysts in order to help their solutions enter the global market.

The PARSEC Accelerator is uniquely positioned to help SMEs and start-ups benefit from the rapid evolution of the Earth Observation sector, enabled by new, maturing and converging technologies such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence. The PARSEC Business Catalysts, three tools supporting big data processing, in situ data access and access to an Earth Observation marketplace, represent an exceptional opportunity for start-ups and innovative SMEs looking for efficient ways to launch their innovations.

In order to apply for the second Open Call, external SMEs or start-ups have to team up with one of the winners from Open Call 1 and form a cross-sectoral and/or cross-border consortium of 2-4 organisations. The PARSEC Accelerator will facilitate networking for interested SMEs and startups via the online PARSEC matchmaking platform. To join the matchmaking register for free here. You will receive an invitation to join within 48 hours of registering.

The deadline to apply is 20 June 2020 at 17:00 CET. Eligible consortia will be invited to pitch their business ideas in front of a jury of experts at the PARSEC Demo Days on 2-3 July 2020.

For more information visit the PARSEC website, watch the Info Webinar and for any questions get in touch with the Accelerator here.

COSME: Improving skills and employment opportunities in the EU

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On 15 July 2019 it was World Youth Skills Day! Let’s mark the day by taking a look at how the EU’s Programme for the Competitiveness of SMEs (COSME) is helping young people improve their skills and become more competitive on the job market. 

Skills in space

Reach the stars with Copernicus and explore opportunities in the space sector! In 2019 and 2020, the EU’s Earth Observation Programme is organising the ‘Eyes on Earth’ Roadshow across five countries. The events are open to all people interested in a career in the space sector, or who simply want to learn about how space data affects their everyday lives!

Skills in entrepreneurship

Are you working in woman entrepreneurship? Join peer-learning activities in women entrepreneurship. Through a series of workshops, this initiative identifies regional and national strategies that support female businesses. In particular, they explore entrepreneurship education and opportunities for lifelong entrepreneurial education. 

Skills in tourism entrepreneurship

Dive into a VOYAGE experience and discover entrepreneurial travel. This unique travelling experience is also opportunity for young entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas in a relaxed and stimulating environment. For high school and university students, there is the EUMillennialsTOUR. This initiative offers an immersive learning experience through targeted school trips and a mobile application.

Skills in tourism

Are you looking for a career in tourism off the beaten track? Discover the stories of the real people in these careers in theJobs in Tourismtestimonials. You will open your horizons to the sea of employment opportunities offered by this bustling sector!

Skills in digital & high-tech

How does the EU support the development of skills in the high-tech and digital industries? The report Skills for smart industrial specialisation and digital transformation offers an overview of the policies offered at national level across the EU. The final Skills for Industry project conference, held in June, highlighted two major needs in the European skills sector:

  • education programmes that support and foster lifelong skills development
  • more learning opportunities at national and regional level 
Skills in fashion

For the young creatives, the Skills in Textiles, Clothing, Leather and Footwear  (TCLF) project explores opportunities within these four sectors. Stay tuned as this COSME initiative is about to publish a report on the current state of play of careers in this sector and put the spotlight on some little known career opportunities.

For more information
  • Discover the COSME Data Hub (tip: apply the filter for the industry of interest)
  • Follow the hashtag #COSME_EU on social media and stay up to date with the latest learning opportunities!

Read the full article on the EASME website.

European Startup Monitor 2019

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Calling all startup founders across Europe! Want to help shape EU policy? Looking for an opportunity to share your valuable insight as a founder? This is the opportunity for you!

The European Startup Network is conducting the 2019 European Startup Monitor, and they need the expert insight of startup founders from all across Europe. As such, you are invited to share your insights in a 10 minute survey.

Why participate?

Participating in this survey will help EU policy makers to better understand the startup ecosystem and to meet your needs. Your voices will be reflected in the policy recommendations given to the European Commission in the final 2019 European Startup Monitor Report. The data from each country should be as representative and comprehensive as possible, so that policy makers can really gain the correct insights into the European start-up ecosystem and work to boost its potential. So the more participants – the better!

Furthermore, as a startup you will be able to directly compare some of your answers regarding employment, financing, and international growth with the answers from of hundreds of startups from the 2018 survey. You may also win a ticket to the SLUSH event from November 21-22, 2019 in Helsinki!

So what are you waiting for? Fill out the survey now: s.europeanstartupnetwork.eu/s/startupmonitor

For more information on past results:

  • Download the 2018 monitor here
  • Download the 2016 monitor here
  • Download the 2015 monitor here

EIC funded urban farming company Infarm raises € 88 million in series B

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EIC pilot-funded Infarm has raised €88 million from Atomico in a series B funding round. The company makes vertical urban farms where plants are grown efficiently and sustainably, directly at the point of sale. The vertical farms are modulable and contain a whole ecosystem for specific plants (water, temperature and lighting). Thanks to sensors, the performance of the farms are remotely controlled for optimal quality. Infamr received close to €2 million from the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot and raised €20 million in a series A round from Balderton. 

Infarm offers supermarkets monthly subscriptions to rent an indoor farming system alongside their optimising growing services, such as algorithms that determine the most efficient use of light, water and nutrients. They also use specific wavelengths to enhance the flavour of the plants they grow.

Infarm produce has already been used by Michelin star chefs in Germany, while their indoor systems have been installed in other restaurants and a Berlin supermarket, which allows the retailer to sell the produce grown directly to its customers.

At the same time, it eliminates the costs of importing salads or herbs from other parts of the world, greatly reducing the environmental impact.

Infarm’s technology is now being used in over 50 Berlin supermarkets and they are planning to expand to Paris, France, in August and then to London, UK, soon after. Their first farm in a French supermarket will also be their biggest one yet. Covering 100m2, it will produce five tonnes of herbs, allowing the retailer to become self-sufficient for this commodity.

Watch the video of Martin Weber, chief financial officer at Infarm explaining how SME Instrument was the launch of their success:

Read the original article on the EASME website.

INNOSUP-1: providing innovation support for SMEs

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‘INNOSUP-1’ is the Horizon 2020 funding programme of cluster-facilitated projects for new industrial value chains. The programme supports SMEs to develop new value chains that cross business sectors. It boosts innovation by combining expertise from different domains.

13 INNOSUP-1 projects have been supporting SMEs to date and five more were launched in May 2019.

What does innovation support do for SMEs?

SMEs have great potential to create new products and services. However, they often face challenges that could be solved thanks to cross-sector cooperation.

INNOSUP-1 gives SMEs the support they need to join the dots and create disruptive innovations. It connects SMEs with other SMEs or larger organisations across many sectors to create new value chains. By doing so, the programme enables SMEs to transfer technologies, strategies and approaches.

There are many positive impacts. SMEs from all sectors develop their business via these innovative value chains. European citizens benefit from improved products, reduced environmental impact, growth and new job opportunities.

53 clusters delivering the projects

The INNOSUP-1 projects are delivered by consortia of experts coming from SMEs, consultancies and research organisations.

Many of these project partners are cluster organisations. Clusters are groups of enterprises that collaborate closely with each other. The 13 projects that have been active so far were delivered by 139 partners. Two out of 5 of these partners were cluster organisations and between them they counted 6,500 SMEs among their members.

More than 3,200 SMEs reached

The INNOSUP-1 projects have established contact with at least 3,200 SMEs to date. This number will increase as the new projects launch their calls for support. The new projects aim to reach almost 1,500 SMEs in total and to give innovation support to over 600 of them.

Over 1,600 SMEs supported

To date, INNOSUP-1 projects have provided innovation support services for over 1,600 SMEs. These SMEs are located across Europe and beyond. They were present in 27 of the EU Member States and nine of the 16 Horizon 2020 associated countries.

€26 million spent on innovation support for SMEs so far, which will rise to a total of €63 million  

All INNOSUP-1 projects are required to spend at least 75% of their budgets on innovation support services for SMEs. Innovation support services can take the form of funding, vouchers for specialised services, workshops, mentoring, and online platforms.

SMEs have to date received over €26 million in innovation support services from INNOSUP-1. As the new and ongoing projects continue, this figure will rise to over €63 million.

For more details on the projects and the support they receive read the programme impact report and read the full article on the EASME website.

EIC funding for another 374 innovative companies

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83 top-class innovators selected for funding to reach the market faster under the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot’s EIC Accelerator, previously known as SME Instrument Phase 2 and 291 companies will get funding under the Phase 1 of the programme. Companies under both phases will receive free coaching and business acceleration services to make the most of their funding.

Find out more about all the companies in the EASME datahub.

The European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot will support 83 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 17 countries under the EIC Accelerator, previously known as SME Instrument Phase 2.

The total amount to be distributed between the SMEs working on 78 projects is € 148.7 million from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Each project will receive up to €2.5 million to finance innovation activities like demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up.  

The companies will also benefit from 12 days of free business coaching and acceleration services.

The projects selected include a new generation safe and environmentally-friendly light aircraft, an anti-bacterial textile for hospitals, a 3D audio software, motion planning technology for autonomous driving and a superbot for audio calls.

291 innovators selected for funding under EIC’s SME Instrument Phase1

The European Commission received 1765 proposals in total. Further to an evaluation on paper, 174 candidates pitched their innovations to a Jury of professional investors, entrepreneurs and business experts that evaluated the solidity of their project and selected the 78 innovations for funding.

Spanish SMEs were the most successful with 12 companies selected for funding. They were followed by 9 companies from Switzerland and 7 businesses from Ireland. Most selected companies are active in the field of health, ICT and engineering. 

A total of 291 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form 24 countries have been selected for funding under the latest round of the SME Instrument, in the so-called Phase 1 of the programme.

The companies will receive a total amount of €13.7 million to share between their projects to get their innovations faster on the market.

In this phase of the SME Instrument each project, 288 in total, will receive €50.000 to draft a business plan. Several companies can team up to propose one project. The companies will also get free coaching and business acceleration services.

Most companies selected for funding are in the field of information and communication technology (ICT), health and engineering. Most companies are based in Spain  with 42 companies selected for funding. THey were followed by 33 companies from Italy and 22 from Switzerland.

The European Commission received 2784 proposals for the 7 May cut-off. 

Read the original article on the EASME website.

Single Market Scoreboard released

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Today the European Commission published the 2019 edition of the Single Market Scoreboard.

The scoreboard provides a detailed overview of how EU single market rules were applied in the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2018; how open and integrated certain markets are; and how much EU countries contributed to a number of EU tools to make the single market function better.

Depending on their performance in 2018, EU countries were given 153 green137 yellow and 59 red cards indicating excellent (green), average (yellow) or below average (red) performance.

The overview shows that, despite further expansion of trade in goods and services, the situation has worsened in certain policy areas since 2017. EU countries improved the functioning of some single market tools, such as the Your Europe portal and the Internal Market Information System (IMI). However, countries received more red cards on a number of policy areas than last year. For instance, on the fairness of public procurement systems and the recognition of professional qualifications. The same happened with regard to the cooperation in EU pilots.

In general, the best performing countries were Portugal, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and Lithuania, while the most red and yellow cards were given to Spain, Italy, Greece and Luxembourg.

Read the full article on the DG GROW website.

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    • Pact for Skills launched by Commissioners Schmit and Breton November 11, 2020
      The original press release is available in the Commission Press Corner. Commissioners Schmit and Breton officially launched the Pact for Skills on 10 November during the fifth edition of the European Vocational Skills Week 2020, organised by the European Commission in partnership with the German Presidency of the Council of the EU. Europe’s skill needs are affected […]
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