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Archive for ‘SME News and updates’

DG GROW adapts to better support EU economy to recovery and beyond

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The original article is available on the DG GROW website.

The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) is adapting its organisational structure to help Europe’s industrial ecosystems recover more effectively from the COVID-crisis and to achieve the EU’s digital and green goals.

A new focus on industrial ecosystems allows us to better design actions to help the European economy recover from the COVID pandemic. It also reflects the key role of networks, clusters and alliances in reinforcing our supply chains – helping us to strengthen Europe’s resilience in future crises

The new organisation reinforces our capacity to analyse the state of the economy in the single market. Europe is undergoing a digital and green transition in order to stay globally competitive. We want to make sure that both public and private investment contribute in the best way to economic recovery and this twin transition. We want to help all European businesses navigate this transition and ensure our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have access to opportunities across the single market. We will still prioritise innovation for our SMEs and stimulate innovation throughout all ecosystems.

We will continue to support citizens, industry, SMES and entrepreneurs to reap the benefits from a large, integrated and competitive single market. With its regulatory powers, spending programme and policy measures, DG GROW is well placed to foster opportunities and welfare for all.

The new organisational structure (PDF) is effective as of 16 March 2021.

In parallel, the executive agencies that the Commission entrusts with the implementation of spending programmes are also undergoing reform. From 1 April 2021, ‘EASME’ (The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) will become ‘EISMEA’ (European Innovation Council and SMEs) and a new agency, ‘HaDEA’ (Health and Digital) will be created.

For more information visit the DG GROW website and follow DG GROW on Twitter and Facebook.

IPA4SME – successfully protecting intellectual property at small businesses

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Since the first call launched in May 2019, the IPA4SME programme from the European Commission has been successfully accompanying small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) on their path to intellectual property (IP) valorisation, helping them to protect their valuable IP. To date, over 1.000 SMEs from 30 countries have benefited from the programme.

IPA4SME offers SMEs that have been awarded the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Seal of Excellence a unique opportunity to acquire IP valorisation and protection by co-financing a range of IP-related services, worth up to EUR 15 000.

These services include free IP pre-diagnostics, where a verified IP expert provides the companies with a customised report on their IP business strategy and advises on how to exploit their assets efficiently and securely. Beneficiaries can also have their IP protection costs reimbursed, particularly IP attorney and European patent application fees.

Cut-off closing date approaching

The closing date for the eighth cut-off in the current call is 25 February 2021. This is an excellent chance for eligible SMEs to receive up to EUR 15,000 to support their IP strategy or patent registration. Interested SMEs can apply here.

Feedback from beneficiaries in the previous cut-offs has been very positive – they found the action to be an excellent chance to summarise, reflect on and improve their IP strategy. In general, thanks to the programme they are more aware of their IP situation and view the recommendations in the IP Diagnostic Report as critical for their long-term business strategies. You can read some of their Success stories here.

Feedback from beneficiaries shows that:

  • 97% of applicants are interested in additional support;
  • 87% of beneficiary SMEs have a better understanding of their IP and its value than before;
  • 90% consider the IP pre-diagnostic report a useful resource; and
  • 91% would recommend the IP pre-diagnostic to other innovative SMEs.

Information available

IPA4SME also provides detailed information on the different IP valorisation services that are available, in addition to what actions selected beneficiaries should take to access these services. To view the webinars, click here.

For more information on IPA4SME and its services, visit the website. To keep up to date on IPA4SME actions and events, make sure to follow the programme on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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.

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