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Archive for ‘SME News and updates’

There is only a short time left to register for EEPA! Check out the national competitions that are still open!

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The EEPA national competitions are underway and are currently looking for the best projects to compete at national level. If you are from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey, we have great news for you. The national competitions are still open in your country and you still have a chance to apply to the most prestigious European competition that rewards those who promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.

If you want to participate, you can find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here. For any further questions, be sure to contact your National Coordinator or the EEPA Secretariat.

For some amazing inspiration before applying, we recommend you take a look at the EEPA Compendium that showcases all projects that were shortlisted in the competition last year. It is the best way to get some insight into the awards process right from the source.

One last tip: make sure you read our exclusive interview with jury members. Thomas Cooney, Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker, Outi Slotboom and Marian Piecha have been the first four to give us valuable insights on the three top qualities they will look for in a winning project.

France and Luxembourg will soon communicate their own national deadlines, so make sure you visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly to be up to speed. For all remaining participating countries – Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, and Romania – applications are now closed.

For more information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website and for the latest updates make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Interview with Eurochambres President, Luc Frieden

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The pandemic has left the global economy with two key points of vulnerability — high inflation and jumpy financial markets. A few months ago, entrepreneurs were optimistic about 2022, according to Eurochambres Economic Survey 2022 (EES2022), saying that it would be another tough year, but better than 2021. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February and subsequent escalation and developments have, however, led to a significant change in this outlook.

A key challenge identified by respondents to EES2022 was the price of energy and raw materials. This concern has heightened considerably as a consequence of the geopolitical tension with Russia.

We wanted to find out more about this, so we spoke to Mr. Luc Frieden, President of Eurochambres. We had an inspiring conversation with Mr. Frieden about how some of the challenges SMEs are facing have intensified from year to year, but also about the specific needs of SMEs for the navigation through the twin transition and the priorities of Eurochambres for this year.

I. What are the biggest challenges for SMEs in 2022?

Many European companies have already been impacted by the crisis, whether by closing down their production and distribution sites in Russia and Ukraine to keep their workers safe, as a result of unprecedented supply chain disruptions, or indeed further increases in already historically high energy, raw material and commodity prices.

While Eurochambres supports the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s military aggression, we cannot ignore the significant effect that they – as well as potential retaliatory measures from Russia – will have on Europe’s economy. Mitigating action is crucial to help European businesses absorb the impact. With the economy only just recovering after two years of deep recession, businesses need a favourable environment to help Europe get back on its feet.

The worsening of the overall situation of course strongly undermines business confidence, which showed a significant upturn a few months earlier in the Eurochambres Economic Survey 2022, based on responses from over 52.000 entrepreneurs in 26 European countries.

The survey showed that “affordable access to energy and raw materials” was seen as the greatest challenge for businesses this year, even before the impact of the Ukraine crisis.

The second main challenge that businesses highlight is the lack of skilled workers. The accelerating evolution of the labour market is exacerbating long-standing skills shortages in ICT and digital skills.

Labour costs rank third, followed by financing conditions, digitalisation of activities and lastly sustainability requirements. As most European Green Deal legislative proposals are still under negotiation, “sustainability requirements” are considered as a less important challenge for 2022. However, over the next few years, upcoming legislation in this crucial area – while primarily targeting big companies – will have an impact on SMEs and this needs to be measured and monitored carefully.

II. How did these challenges change in comparison to 2021?

The main challenges for European businesses identified for 2021 were labour costs, the repayment of debt accrued due to the COVID-19 crisis, and financing conditions. So energy and raw material costs as well as skills shortages are the two challenges that have heightened most year on year, while financial constraints abated somewhat compared to the height of the pandemic as businesses benefitted from a variety of instruments designed to increase their access to address liquidity shortages and stimulate investment.

These businesses challenges will unfortunately not be alleviated anytime soon. In the current circumstances, energy, raw material, commodity and product prices are increasing, and it will be critical to adequately support businesses financially, particularly in highly export-oriented sectors that need to maintain competitiveness.

The transformation to a climate-friendly and CO2-free economy requires great efforts from all companies in Europe. What do SMEs need in order to navigate through this transition?

Going green is not only a survival imperative, but also a business opportunity. For most SMEs, reaching zero or close to zero GHG emissions across the entire value chain would currently be very difficult. SMEs may not have the in-house sustainability expertise, time or resources to address their carbon footprint, and may find it difficult to measure and reduce value-chain emission reductions in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

The EU’s strategy of diversifying energy suppliers as quickly as possible, particularly with liquified natural gas deliveries from the US and the Middle East, is welcome. We must ensure that there is enough energy for consumers and businesses at reasonable prices. Failure to do so would have grave socio-economic implications across much of Europe.

SMEs need tailored and clear energy transition policies that incentivise investments in renewable and low carbon energy and hydrogen-based technologies. Considerable investments in research and development will be necessary – be it to align products with new requirements or new technologies – and they must come from both the private and the public sectors.

On the way to climate-neutrality, companies need planning security, a simple and clear legislative framework and minimised administrative burden, especially for SMEs.

To take the example of the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting, we believe that in the case of smaller companies, reporting should be exclusively voluntary as the scarcity of relevant information reported by smaller players is overwhelmingly linked to high costs and difficulties when it comes to illustrating ESG risks, scale breadth and complexity. Member States must adopt a bottom-up approach and uphold the use of the simplified standard across the supply chain, instead of forcing small businesses to comply with disproportional reporting requirements pushed by larger suppliers or buyers.

Moreover, competitiveness for European companies must be ensured, especially as long as other major economies have not reached and implemented equally ambitious measures in terms of climate policies.

Financing is a key prerequisite for SMEs to green their business models and drive the transition through eco-innovations; yet many small businesses lack the human and financial resources to undertake green actions.

European businesses are experiencing significant skill shortages, which will worsen as a result of the green transition. To avoid overburdening companies, which already fund most of employee training, new solutions must balance contributions while ensuring that training opportunities remain in line with labour market demands.

The green transition will be successful only if businesses receive the assistance they require to prepare their employees for new challenges and market developments.

III. What are the priorities of Eurochambres under your presidency?

Although this was not something I could have envisaged when my term started in January, our priorities right now relate to the war in Ukraine.

Most pressingly, we are working with the chamber network and humanitarian aid organisations to provide supplies to Ukraine and help displaced citizens to settle in other parts of Europe, building on chambers’ expertise in the integration of refugees in the workplace.

We are also gathering feedback from our members on how the war is affecting European businesses. This allows us to work with public authorities to mitigate the economic damage, not least at EU level.

The conflict in Ukraine is relevant also to the legislative agenda of the von der Leyen Commission. Priorities, timing and initiatives need to be reappraised and potentially recalibrated in consideration of the new economic shockwaves reverberating around Europe, just as the impact of the pandemic was abating. Eurochambres can play a key role in this process by providing information from the grass roots economy.

The crisis impacts on the pursuit of the twin digital and green transition; we fully support this, but will work with the institutions to ensure that it is pursued in a manner that takes into account the unprecedented increase in energy prices and concerns about supply chain security.

We will continue to contribute actively to the rollout of the Fit for 55 package, especially regarding the crucial availability of affordable green energy (including hydrogen) and a global level-playing field in CO2 pricing, thus defining critical legislative parameters for the energy transition and decarbonisation of the economy.

Global problems require global solutions, whether this is combatting the pandemic or addressing climate change. In this regard, Europe must work with its partners in the G20, the relevant UN bodies and the WTO to find multilateral solutions. Climate diplomacy and efforts toward a global CO2 price should be actively pursued. Eurochambres will thus continue to advocate for global economic cooperation and a proactive EU trade policy that will cement our links with key global growth centres such as the US, MERCOSUR, the ASEAN and others.

I firmly believe in the need to deepen the single market, a crucial tool in strengthening the European economy. It’s reassuring that the binary distinction between the single market and digital single market no longer prevails as these two aspects of our economy are inextricably linked. Several legislative files integral to the ‘Digital Decade’ are at different phases in their evolution; Eurochambres is working on each of these and the French and Czech Presidencies of the Council will be instrumental in their progress.

For more information on these topics, please follow the Eurochambres website. For the latest updates on SMEs, please follow the European Commission website, our Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as our social media Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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About Luc Frieden, President of Eurochambres

Luc Frieden is President of Eurochambres, the Federation of the European Chambers of commerce, industry and services. He also serves as Chairman of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.

Luc Frieden is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (BIL) S.A., Luxembourg’s oldest bank. In addition, he is a qualified lawyer (avocat à la Cour) and a partner with Elvinger Hoss, one of the largest Luxembourg law firms, where he advises on international corporate and banking matters. He further sits on the Board of Directors of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

From 2016 to 2019, he served as Chairman of the Board of the media group Saint Paul Luxembourg SA, the publisher of the leading Luxembourg newspaper. From 2014 to 2016, Luc Frieden was Vice-Chairman of Deutsche Bank Group in London and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank Luxembourg.

For most of his professional career, from 1998 to 2013, Luc Frieden was a cabinet minister in the Luxembourg Government. He served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Defence as well as Minister of Justice.

During his ministerial tenure, he was Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Justice of the European Union (2005) and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank (2013). He was a member of the Eurogroup and Ecofin Council of Ministers.
Luc Frieden was visiting professor in business law at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and has published numerous articles on legal and political topics. He is the co-author of the book Europa 5.0 on economic growth in Europe.

He sits on the board of the Luxembourg Red Cross, the Luxembourg Bankers Association and is a member of the Trilateral Commission.

Luc Frieden graduated in law from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and holds LLM degrees from the University of Cambridge and Harvard Law School. He speaks English, French, German and Luxembourgish fluently.

SME Support Instruments by the EU

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As 99,7% of the companies in Europe are SMEs, the EU has launched various instruments to help SMEs access finance, notably financial instruments (loans, guarantees and venture capital) and grants (collaborative actions and the SME instrument) in order to recover and build up the resilience after the Covid-19 crisis.

During the SME Assembly 2021, these instruments were largely discussed and a dedicated workshop took place focusing solely on this topic.

With the participation of Maarit Nyman (DG Grow Deputy Head of the SME Unit), Igor Kalinic (EISMEA) and Salvatore Amico Roxas (DG Grow Access to Finance Unit), the workshop looked at the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and opportunities for SMEs with a special focus on the Single Market Programme (SMP), The European Innovation Council and Invest EU Programme.

We invite you to watch the session and find out which instruments are most suitable for your enterprise.

Here is what we noted down during the workshop:

The Single Market Programme focuses on strengthening the governance of the internal market, supporting the competitiveness of industry and in particular of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), promoting human, animal and plant health and animal welfare and establishing the framework for financing European statistics. With €4.2 billion over the period of 2021-2027, out of which 1 billion is destined to SMEs, it provides an integrated package to support and strengthen the governance of the single market.

To be more specific, the SME pillar of the Single Market Programme will first ensure the continuity of the implementation of the most impactful actions of the COSME programme, in particular supporting a better access to markets, a more favourable business environment and promoting entrepreneurship. It aims to foster the competitiveness, capacity building and sustainability of enterprises, especially SMEs, including the tourism sector, highly affected by the pandemic.

On the other hand, the European Innovation Council (EIC), established under the EU Horizon Europe programme, has a budget of €10.1 billion to support game changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early stage research, to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale up of start-ups and SMEs.

Last, but not least, Invest EU Fund, part of Invest EU Programme, is a single fund bringing together the many different EU-level financial instrument and it aims, among other things, facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs), small mid-cap companies. This includes capital support for SMEs that were negatively affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

For more information on these topics, please follow the European Commission website, for the latest updates, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Petri Salminen, President of SMEunited, invited to hold a keynote speech at EU Industry Days

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The upcoming edition of the EU Industry Days, entitled “Unlocking the future: EU industrial ecosystems on the path to the green and digital transition”, aims to stimulate discussions across industrial ecosystems on their green and digital transition, in support of strengthening the resilience of EU companies including SMEs.

In this context, one of the most awaited moments is Petri Salminen’s, President of SMEunited, keynote speech on the 11th of February. The day will run under the Co-creating the green, digital and resilient transition theme and will include a series of meet-the-experts and stakeholder sessions.

Kuva: Markus Sommers

After his election, in December last year, Mr. Salminen stated that the focus of SMEunited would remain on the recovery of SMEs following the pandemic crisis and allowing them to make the digital and green transformation. We are sure you are as curious to find out more about this as we were, so here is what Mr. Salminen shared with us on this topic, but also about the priorities of SMEunited for 2022 and the recently launched Annual Theme “Youth and skills”:

What are the main challenges SMEs are facing at the moment that keep them from making the digital and green transformation?

Many SMEs move very actively towards digital and green transformation. They produce eco-friendly products, install charging stations for electric cars, create mobile apps, set up a webshop, etc. However, EU policy has to provide the right framework for this transition and guarantee a level playing field for all enterprises.

For instance, to support small and medium enterprises to become greener, the next EU Environmental Action Program should include support for eco-innovation and for finance of upfront investments. Another example: the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organisational Environmental Footprint (OEF) with mandatory information about the lifecycle of products would disproportionally increase red tape and costs for small and medium companies. Therefore, I believe that it must remain voluntary, at least for SMEs and the Commission must bring to life its idea to provide SMEs with an easy-to-use and cost-efficient tool.

The same goes for digital innovation: SMEunited asks the Commission to ensure that all new measures and services allow small and medium businesses to grasp the opportunities of digitalisation. Yes, some SMEs are champions in developing new technologies. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs and workers do not always possess the necessary digital skills, and some companies, especially in rural areas, struggle with access to and/or speed of the Internet. Thus, SMEunited demands that EU policy takes the SME perspective into account. This means that access to data must be ensured, digital training is provided for and standards include SME perspective to guarantee interoperability. Programs like Digital Europe and Horizon Europe must include a percentage of SMEs.

What does a supportive business environment look like in this context?

Apart from a level playing field for all companies, the EU should raise awareness about sustainability to reach all stakeholders, including public authorities, citizens, and SMEs. For example, to encourage repairing goods the VAT Directive recently was amended to allow for reduced VAT rates for repair work. Now, Member States should use this opportunity to make this “incentive” a reality.

93% of all companies in Europe have less than 10 employees. So, I think it is fair that regulations have to comply with the Think Small First principle, thus, limiting burdens and developing legislation based on the capacity of the smallest ones.

Red tape and compliance costs remain huge problems for SMEs. They do not have specialists in their staff for HR and other legal services like big companies do. Entrepreneurs take on these obligations next to their core task, which is running their business. Focus must be on providing quality products and services to their customers, otherwise, they won’t earn any money. The fact is that only businesses that are profitable can invest in renewal and development. Thus, we at SMEunited emphasize that small and medium enterprises demand less bureaucracy and more legal clarity for the green and digital transition. The clock is ticking, so let’s do it asap.

What are the priorities of SMEUnited for 2022 regarding the twin transition?

In the next year, SMEunited will focus on the recovery of small and medium businesses from the pandemic crisis and their twin transition, supported by the funds out of NextGeneration EU. We must build an environment where SMEs can innovate, invest, flourish, and create jobs. European Crafts and SMEs are crucial to succeed with the Green Deal. This means we will be vigilant in the discussions on the Fit for 55 package, the proposals on the sustainable product initiative and right to repair, for instance.

SMEunited will also fight for fair and transparent rules for access to data and SMEs’ activity on digital platforms. SME friendly standards will also have a key role in a smooth transition.

SMEunited just launched the new Annual Theme “Youth and skills”. What made you focus on youth entrepreneurship this year and what is the aim of this new theme?

We decided that it would be a good idea to focus on ‘Youth and skilled workforce’ and thus to work in unison with the European Commission that made 2022 the European Year of Youth. SMEunited will showcase the significant role played by Crafts and SMEs in Vocational Education and Training to equip young people with the right skills to thrive in the labour market. If young people receive apprenticeships in Crafts and SMEs, they experience a smoother transition from school to work. Small and medium companies can also cooperate with vocational schools and training centres to inform them what skills are needed for Crafts and SMEs. We will continue to promote youth entrepreneurship to incentivise young women and men to create their own businesses or continue the work of another entrepreneur after a business transfer.

We invite you to attend Mr. Salminen’s inspiring keynote speech on the 11th of February starting 9:45 CET by registering here. The 2022 edition of the EU Industry Days takes place in hybrid format and it gives you the possibility to join the conference online, from anywhere in the world. The full programme of Eu Industry days 2022 is available here.

Don’t miss anything out and follow all news on European’s Commission website, but also on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you follow and use the official hashtag #EUIndustryDays.

EEPA 2021 Testimonial – Inkludera by Inkludera

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We continue our conversations with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2021 winners. Last time we brought you the story of Grand Jury Prize winner COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V., who was also awarded first prize in Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards at the SME Assembly 2021.

Today we meet the Responsible and Incusive Entrepreneurship category winner, Inkludera by Inkludera.

Inkludera is supporting social entrepreneurs with unique solutions in order to scale them and make them financially sustainable. To accomplish this, Inkludera supports the entrepreneurs in building partnerships with the public sector. Since 2013 the entrepreneurs Inkludera supports have entered into over 900 partnerships with 108 of Sweden’s municipalities. These partnerships enabled the entrepreneurs to continuously work with 27 200 people in 2020 – addressing several different social issues.

Here is what they shared with us about their experience at the European Promoting Enterprise Awards 2021.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We are grateful that the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth nominated us, and we chose to enter to honor their trust and belief in us.

How did you prepare your application?

Two persons were involved in drawing up the application, which took 3-4 days in total. We prepared a tailor-made For us, the entrepreneurs that we support are always front and center. We wanted our application to be about them, and to share their stories.

What was it like to win the award?

We were honored and happy and we thank you for the recognition!

How did winning the award impact your work?

The award is a great testament to the work we have been dedicated to during the past decade and of course a motivation going forward.

What are your plans for the future?

Apart from continuous support of our entrepreneurs, we plan to spread our accumulated knowledge and experience of scaling social entrepreneurship to further strengthen the field in Sweden.

Why should others enter EEPA 2022? What advice would you give them?

We believe it’s a great forum for being inspired by other organisations. It’s important to be true to your cause and focused on impact – in your everyday work and in your application.

Do you want to watch other key moments from SME Assembly 2021? Relive the experience below!

SME Week Newsletter 2021: Issue #10

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Welcome back to the SME Week Newsletter!

It’s also time to welcome back the SME Assembly, which will be held live this year on 15-17 November, in Portorož, Slovenia. As the culmination of SME Week, the SME Assembly will see entrepreneurs, policymakers, and innovators gather in Slovenia to put sustainability at the centre of Europe’s recovery.

In this edition, we also talk to some previous winners of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition, who have excellent advice for anyone thinking of participating in this year’s competition. If you haven’t started your essay yet, there is still time to get creative, so read on!

We also look at European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2021 to meet the European shortlist.

Finally, don’t forget to share with us YOUR stories; how are you navigating these challenging times? Share your news and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue or on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.

Read the full edition of our newsletter more >>

SUBSCRIBE AND DON’T MISS ANY UPDATES

Don’t forget to check our YouTube channel for the latest videos on the SME Assembly, the European Promotion Enterprise awards and the SME Week.

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.

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    • The voice of experience: some advice from 2021 YEC winner Kristina Dimova September 14, 2022
      The deadline for participating in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition is almost upon us. But don’t worry – you can still enter, so get writing and make sure to submit your entry by September 26. To inspire you, the YEC winners from 2018, 2019 and 2020 have already shared their top tips and […]
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    • EEPA 2022 National Winners – Categories 4 & 5 September 13, 2022
      We have already introduced you to the national winners in this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) that have made it to the next stage of the competition in EEPA Category 1, Category 2 and Category 3. Today, we are happy to announce the national winners in Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business […]
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    • The voice of experience: 2019 YEC winner Radu Dumitrescu has some advice September 7, 2022
      As the September 26 deadline approaches for submitting an entry in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition, on the Promoting Enterprise portal we have been speaking to previous winners to see what advice they have for this year’s participants. We have already heard from 2018 winner Marija Borg. This time it is the turn […]
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    • The voice of experience: some wise words from 2020 YEC winner Sabine Kerssens September 1, 2022
      We have already had some top tips from the winners of the 2018 editions of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Today, 2020 YEC winner Sabine Kerssens shares her wisdom, enabling this year’s entrants to benefit from her experience. If you are considering entering this year’s competition, perhaps Sabine can give you some inspiration, but […]
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    • Galatea, this summer’s chance for EU funding for smart ships, smart ports, smart shipyards and maritime surveillance September 1, 2022
      Galatea, which stands for “Grow and AcceLerate your smArt projecTs in nEw value chAins of the European Blue Economy” has launched a call for services related to blue growth, specifically for smart ships, smart ports, smart shipyards and maritime surveillance. Thanks to this project, which brings together the expertise of 7 ICT, Aerospace and Maritime clusters […]
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    • EEPA 2022 National Winners – Improving the Business Environment and Supporting the Digital Transition August 30, 2022
      We have already had a look at the shortlisted projects in Category 1 and Category 2 of this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Today we introduce you to the EEPA national winners in Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment and Supporting the Digital Transition. From the total 176 projects that entered the national […]
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    • The voice of experience: some top tips from 2018 YEC winner Marija Borg August 26, 2022
      As the 26 September deadline for this year’s European SME Week Youth Essay Competition approaches, we asked 2018 winner Marija Elena Borg to share her advice with this year’s cohort and to give them the opportunity to benefit from her experience. You can also read about Marija’s own experience of the YEC here. Marija impressed […]
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