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Archive for ‘SME News and updates’

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.

EU Social Innovation Competition 2019 – Meet the semi-finalists

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The 2019 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition, launched by the European Commission on 28 February 2019, at an event in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is well underway and has selected 30 semi-finalists.

These 30 semi-finalists from across Europe have undergone mentoring with local coaches, and will attend the Social Innovation Academy in Turin, Italy from 16-18 July. During the 3-day residential training academy they will receive further expert support for the development of their ideas, as well as valuable connections to a community of other European social innovators.

The semi-finalists will then have until 16 August to prepare their development plans outlining their ideas for successfully launching and scaling their ideas.

Discover the 30 semi-finalists here and stay up to date on the competition here.

2019 innovation scoreboards: The innovation performance of the EU and its regions is increasing

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Europe needs to deepen its innovation capability to compete on global markets and maintain and improve the European way of life, as called for by the European Council as recently as June 2018 and March 2019. That is why the Juncker Commission has set a new level of ambition for the EU and its Eu countries and regions, and proposed horizon Europe, the most ambitious research and innovation programme ever. This will keep the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation.

The European Commission’s 2019 European innovation scoreboard and Regional innovation scoreboard published today show that the EU’s innovation performance has been improving for four years in a row. For the first time ever, Europe’s innovation outperforms that of the United States. However, the EU continues to lose some ground to Japan and South Korea, and China is catching up fast. The data complements the Commission’s recent country-specific recommendations (CSRs) in the framework of the European semester, which highlight the role of research and innovation and include recommendations to enhance productivity growth and competitiveness.

The 2019 European innovation scoreboard: key findings

  • Based on their scores, EU countries fall into four performance groups: innovation leaders, strong innovators, moderate innovators and modest innovators. Sweden is the 2019 EU innovation leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom and Luxembourg dropped from the top rank of innovation leader status to the strong innovators group, while Estonia joins the strong innovators group for the first time.
  • On average, the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 8.8% since 2011. Since 2011, the innovation performance increased in 25 EU countries. Performance has increased the most in Lithuania, Greece, Latvia, Malta, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and the Netherlands, and decreased the most in Romania and Slovenia.
  • At the global level, the EU has surpassed the United States. The EU’s performance lead over Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa remains considerable. However, China is catching up three times as fast as the EU’s innovation performance is growing. Relative to Japan and South Korea, the EU has been losing ground.
  • In selected areas of innovation, the best performing EU countries are: Denmark – human resources and innovation-friendly environment; Luxembourg – attractive research      systems; France – finance and support; Germany – firm investment; Portugal – SME innovators;Austria – linkages; Malta – intellectual assets; Ireland – employment impacts and sales impacts.

The 2019 regional innovation scoreboard: key findings

The 2019 scoreboard is accompanied by the regional innovation scoreboard. It provides a comparative assessment of performance of innovation systems across 238 regions of 23 EU countries, while Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Malta are included at the country level. In addition, the regional innovation Scoreboard also covers regions from Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland.

The most innovative regions in the EU are Helsinki-Uusimaa, Finland followed by Stockholm, Sweden and Hovedstaden, Denmark. For 159 regions, performance has increased in the 9-year observation period. This year’s regional innovation scoreboard demonstrates a strong convergence in regional performance with decreasing performance differences between regions.

Read the full article on the EASME website.

European cluster conference: Connecting Ecosystems

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The 6th edition of the European cluster conference took place during 14-16 May 2019 in the palace of Parliament in Bucharest, hosted by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event theme was ‘Connecting ecosystems: bridge. inspire. change.’

The conference was organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs in cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Economy. It gathered 450 national and regional cluster policy-makers and practitioners from industry, research and academia.

Director Slawomir Tokarski at the Directorate-General for Industry opened the conference by highlighting that “clusters can provide solutions to the challenges we face: changing economies, changing climate and changing attitudes” which corresponded to the 3 breakout session topics: Digitalisation and skills gap, Circular Europe and Shared value and social impact.

The Secretary of State at the Romanian Ministry of Economy, Călin Bodea, gave a welcome speech. After which, a high-level policy roundtable with ministry representatives from 6 EU countries (Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain) stressed the link of clusters with strategic value chains, supporting the scaling-up SMEs and investing in skills, while highlighting the need for trust-building to make connections work.

The conference featured 2 keynote speeches

  • Bianca Dragomir, European cluster manager of the year 2016 presented 7 stepping stones for ‘clusters of change’ so they can catalyse change at speed and scale
  • Markku Markkula, First Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions, emphasised the need to look at regional vale chains and innovation ecosystems and to focus on the sustainable development goals

During the 3-day event, participants also had a chance to

  • listen to a panel discussion on how to stimulate strategic interregional collaboration
  • take part in interactive group discussions, addressing their key needs, emerging hot topics, as well as how to master digital transformation and sustainability and to create shared value
  • get an overview of the different cluster-related EU initiatives and their linkages from a session with the participation of 7 Commission directorate-generals and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology
  • connect with each other during a pre-conference EU cluster matchmaking event that attracted 149 clusters and generated 369 face-to-face meetings

Following a pitching session, participants also elected Bianca Muntean from the Transilvania IT cluster as the new European Cluster manager of the year 2019. The awards for the European cluster partnerships of the year went to impact connected car (INNOSUP-1) represented by David Seoane from Fundingbox, adpack² (ESCP-4i) represented by Lubos Komarek from Nanoprogress and the European automotive cluster network (ESCP-S3) represented by Clotilde Nade from Vehicle du Futur.

European cluster conference 2019 award winners

Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Industry closed the event. She stressed that cluster policy is about synergies and not an isolated policy and that the conference title was fitting for the event. A brief conference videobrought the event to a close.

The last day featured a series of side events including:

  • events organised by clustero (Romanian cluster association), resulting in the Bucharest declaration
  • 3 partnering meetings of European cluster partnerships, organised in collaboration with EASME)
  • a meeting of the Enterprise Europe Network thematic group on clusters
  • a meeting of the working group on social economy and clusters of the GECES expert group

The next European cluster conference will take place in November 2020 in Berlin under the German Presidency of the Council of the EU, which will be another chance for connecting ecosystems.

Scaling up innovative circular solutions for plastics

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The Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) is organising a side session during the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) in Helsinki, Finland, on 3 June 2019: ‘Scaling up innovative circular solutions for plastics’.

The participants will address the key aspects for scaling up innovative circular solutions for plastics and the main future opportunities and orientations for the circular economy in the plastics sector. They will also have the opportunity to learn how projects funded by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, address these and other challenges to boost circular economy solutions for plastics. 

The Side session “Scaling up innovative circular solutions for plastics” aims at bringing together innovators, researchers, companies, public authorities and policy makers to promote circular economy in the plastic sector. 

An interactive workshop with projects pitches, live pools, discussion tables, along with other activities will be organised to facilitate exchanges of views between participants.

Registration

To participate in the Side session “Scaling up innovative circular solutions for plastics” on 3 June contact Marco Ranieri and Stefania Rocca from EASME. The number of places is limited and they will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Read the original article on the EASME website.

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