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Archive for ‘SME News and updates’

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.

European Youth Media Days will celebrate the 10th anniversary

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Invest Week 2017

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What skills do youth need for the future? – Youth empowerment specialist, Daisy da Veiga

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With the recent launch of the European SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2017, Promoting Enterprise interviewed youth empowerment specialist and guest contributor Daisy da Veiga to ask about her opinion on what skills she believes youth need to develop for the future. She also shared with us her latest work with Youth not in employment, education or training (NEET), including a vlog from her latest trip to an exchange program in Lisbon  about NEET youth work across Europe.

What skills do you believe that youth need for the future?

There are a variety of skills that youth must develop, however I think that soft skills come first and foremost. Firstly, you need to be able to love yourself and have self-confidence, from there you can build on other useful skills. Through self-confidence you will develop another critical skill for success, persistence, it is important to not give up, even when it gets difficult. Working on yourself is important, but it is also necessary to develop your social skills. The ability to connect with people will not only allow for the forging of relationships, but also the opportunity to learn and exchange with others, which is how we grow.

Soft skills should also be complemented with ‘hard skills’ such as creativity and audacity. I believe that youth are very creative, but they don’t always know how to express that creativity. This links to another important skill which may sometimes be overlooked: the ability to ask for help. Learn from and exchange with others, and don’t be afraid to be audacious. Dare to do, speak and change, dare to leave your comfort zone! Whilst it is important to ask for help, I also want youth to remember their ability to listen to their inner voice and go with their gut feeling. We can be easily affected and distracted by all the things that go on around us and the people in our network, but sometimes you need to distance yourself from that and think and act with a clear mind.

Based on your experiences with youth, both within and outside of education systems, do you think that the current education systems need to change? Should their focus be realigned to help develop the skills you have mentioned?

I recently attended a conference on how to re-organise education in Rotterdam where the participants were talking about the intention of education and the systems we have built to deliver it. Personally, I believe that education should prioritise ‘soft skills’ more than it does at present, and then complement that with the current ‘hard skills’ it teaches i.e. maths, science, foreign languages etc.

The intention of education is to help youth find their way in society, and develop them firstly as individuals and secondly as professionals. However, it seems that we have forgotten the intention and are now stuck in a system. The system which was created to help realise the intention, has now become the intention, in short we have forgotten what the system was for.

On the subject of youth, what other work have you been involved in recently with European youth?

One of the European ventures I am currently involved in, is the international exchange of the project Boulevard of Dreams, by the foundation Manage Your Talent. The foundation is based in Rotterdam and I am one of the youth empowerment trainers. This European project has participants from across five countries including, The NetherlandsUnited KingdomSwedenRomania and Portugal. The aim of the project is to exchange ideas, methods and information about working with and for NEET youth, and to offer them the best tailored training possible.

Boulevard of Dreams has three phases in its youth empowerment initiative. The first is to empower the participating youth and give them the ability to find out who they are, identify their talents, discover their dreams and ultimately give them some direction. Once the participants have a clear idea of what they want, they can choose to progress to the second phase where they are paired with a peer educator or ‘buddy’ who is a professional in the field they aspire to join and between the ages of 25-35. Depending on the buddy and the dream in question, this stage involves different activities, but the minimum is that the buddy offers information and guidance from their experience. In the final stage, the participants are offered the opportunity to present their ideas in front of a jury and win financial support for their idea or for education if that is what they wish to pursue.

As part of this project I recently attended a conference in Lisbon on how to work with NEET youth, which included the sharing of experiences from fellow trainers across Europe. As I enjoy vlogging I have included my journey in Lisbon for you right here so that you can experience my journey with me. I hope you enjoy it!

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      The European Enterprise promotion Awards (EEPA) have received all of the 2019 entries for this year’s European level of the competition. On 3 July 2019, the EEPA Secretariat received contributions from across Europe for the prestigious EEPA 2019 jury to consider for the European shortlist. This year a total of 51 national winners were presented […]
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    • EIC funded urban farming company Infarm raises € 88 million in series B July 16, 2019
      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 […]
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    • EIC funding for another 374 innovative companies July 9, 2019
      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. […]
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    • EU Social Innovation Competition 2019 – Meet the semi-finalists June 27, 2019
      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 […]
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    • European cluster conference: Connecting Ecosystems June 13, 2019
      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, […]
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