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EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme – ‘Supporting the internationalisation of business’ Winner 2018

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2019, are looking for the next winners that will demonstrate the diversity of European projects working to promote enterprise, support entrepreneurs and contribute to the European ecosystem. Here on Promoting Enterprise we have been contacting past winners to share their experiences, winning projects and advice for future applicants.

Today is the turn of Kasvu Open from Finland, the winners of Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business, in the EEPA 2018 cycle. Kasvu Open offers sparring to companies interested in growth, free of charge. The goal is to promote company growth and business development, thus improving the SMEs’ chances of achieving international growth. Through sparring the companies’ growth plans are challenged, adapted and supported by experts representing several different fields. The selected companies come from all industry sectors across Finland and receive access to expert networks. The experience also includes a tailored growth path, run by several partners who facilitate free participation at events, provide funded support for the participating SME and ultimately guide the enterprise in the right direction.

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

We were already familiar with EEPA seeing as our parent company, the Central Finland Chamber of Commerce, won an EEPA prize back in 2006. We decided to enter because people within our network encouraged us to try and promote our work on a European stage.

How did you prepare your application?

The Kasvu Open method has been in use since 2011 and annual number of companies applying the coaching programme has grown from 35 to 800 during these years. Kasvu Open has sparked the flame of growth in more than 3500 companies, 1652 of which have received free sparring from experts. Based on this we already knew our project results; Kasvu Open is efficient, valuable and successful. For the application it was just a question of clearly writing down the work that we have done, documenting our activities over the years, and presenting the numbers, which speak for themselves.

What was it like to win the award?

Winning the award was a great honour on behalf of the whole growth company ecosystem in Finland. The award is dedicated to all growth companies, experts (“growth millers”), partners and everyone who has been a part of the Kasvu Open journey during the years.

Being recognised with an EEPA award confirmed that we are on the right path towards becoming the best growth company nation in the world.

How did winning the award impact your work?

This win has motivated us to keep working even harder! Now we can say that we have been recognised in Europe, meaning that our next target must be higher. It has also made us humble. We can celebrate our win, but we need to keep developing our processes to maintain our status as a frontrunner in our field.

Why should others enter EEPA 2019? What advice would you give them?

It is definitely worth trying. Submit your project and see what happens! In terms of advice, be yourself, present your project proudly, and you will be noticed. This is the approach we took.

When you are shortlisted for an EEPA prize you get to attend the SME Assembly, which is an opportunity to meet other nominees and hear their stories. This is really valuable because you can get new ideas from hearing these stories. EEPA is a great competition which allows nominees to present their work and build upon what they are doing on a European scale. The event itself is a very well organised and good place for networking, so it is a great experience for everybody.

What are your plans for the future?

We are continuing to develop Kasvu Open by exploring the possibilities of technology and Artificial Intelligence. One of our main focuses is on adapting the digital platform and marketing automation solutions for Kasvu Open processes.

Watch Kasvu Open’s winning moment below and stay tuned for their future updates! Have a look here for more information on EEPA 2019 and get applying!

 

Supporting the internationalisation of business – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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Who else is on the EEPA 2018 shortlist? We are up to Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business, which focuses on projects that encourage enterprises and SMEs to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. This year the competing projects come from Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia and Finland. Don’t forget to read about the shortlisted projects in Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills and Category 3: Improving the Business Environment.

Bulgaria: Supporting the internationalization and digitalization of SMEs in Bulgaria and Europe

This project facilitates both the internationalisation and digitisation of Bulgarian SMEs through the organisation of high profile events like a National Business Forum, a Balkan Conference and an International SME Summit, each of which typically involves over 200 SMEs from Bulgaria. The initiative also enables the participation of Bulgarian SMEs in international exhibitions and specially organised B2B matchmaking meetings, through which SMEs can meet and find clients, partners, investors and market opportunities. The project also proactively promotes the benefits of business digitisation through skills training and access to information and good practice examples.

Denmark: Lean Landing

Lean Landing have developed and implemented an innovative and lasting soft-landing network between micro SMEs, business incubators and business development organisations in six North Sea countries. The soft-landing network enables SMEs to break into international markets via direct discussions with potential customers and partners in the target country. The project focuses on micro SMEs and early internationalisation, as opposed to the traditional focus on medium sized SMEs. Traditionally SMEs rely on detailed and lengthy market studies before attempting to enter, however through Lean Landing they can learn directly the local experience and knowledge of incubators in several countries.

Estonia: Development of the Estonian timber sector as the biggest exporter of wooden houses in the European Union

The Estonian Wooden House Cluster has been working to become the largest wooden house exporter in the European Union, and aims to increase the both the international competitiveness and exports of Estonian wooden house producers. Actions have included target market mapping, coordinated activities to support entry into the market, organised activities to promote producer products and competence building seminars and conferences. Results have included stable growth in sector turnover and exports, as well as raised awareness and preservation of traditional Estonian building practices. The initiative has also sustained many jobs and increased the value of products produced by the sector.

Finland: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme

Kasvu Open offers sparring to companies interested in growth, free of charge. The goal is to promote company growth and business development, thus improving the SMEs’ chances of achieving international growth. Through sparring the companies’ growth plans are challenged, adapted and supported by experts representing several different fields. The selected companies come from all industry sectors across Finland and receive access to expert networks. The experience also includes a tailored growth path, run by several partners who facilitate free participation at events, provide funded support for the participating SME and ultimately guide the enterprise in the right direction.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz this November.

EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

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EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

The fourth category of the EEPA “Supporting the Internationalisation of Business” recognises initiatives that encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. This year the category has nine different projects competing to win, so who will make it onto the European shortlist? Find out at the end of September after the EEPA 2018 Jury meeting!

Bulgaria: Supporting the internationalization and digitalization of SMEs in Bulgaria and Europe

Denmark: Lean Landing

Estonia: Development of the Estonian timber sector as the biggest exporter of wooden houses in the European Union

Finland: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme

Hungary: Startup Budapest Programme

Malta: Enabling the digital transformation of Maltese SMEs

Slovenia: Innovative business model 2COUNTRY

Spain: Misión Inversa del Vino y la Alimentación

Turkey: Cyberpark Accelerator Program (CAP): An Internationalization Pathway Business

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to discover the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spiritInvesting in Entrepreneurial Skills, Improving the business environmentSupporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.

Want to know who will be judging the 2018 projects? Meet the EEPA 2018 Jury here on the Portal!

“Internationalisation 2015 – 2020” – ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ Winner 2017

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In celebration of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) returning for another edition in 2018, Promoting Enterprise is bringing you a series of testimonials from the EEPA 2017 winners. Today’s winner – Internationalisation 2015-2020 from ecoplus International, shares with us their story of how they became the 2017 winners in the category ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’.

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

We first heard of the competition via the newsletter of the liaison office of Lower Austria in Brussels as well as via the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. Entering seemed like a good way to present what we do at the regional, national and EU level, and it is always interesting to compete with others! We see competition as a sort of “benchmarking” for what we are doing.

How did you prepare your application?

We did not do anything special in preparation for EEPA, after all we are not “new” in the business – we have more than 10 years’ experience in this field. However, despite our experience we always enjoy opportunities to improve, adapt and innovate. With regards to EEPA we saw that we already had some specific support programmes that corresponded to the EEPA internationalisation category criteria quite well, so we just simply presented the work we have been doing with these programmes.

What was it like to win the award?

When we take part in awards of this kind we always want to win or, at least, be a nominee. Due to the time it takes to prepare all of the necessary documentation we rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. The last time we participated in something similar was in 2012 when we participated in an EU Award after being nominated by Austria. This time around, with EEPA, it was even better as not only were we nominated but ended up winning in our category!

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award resulted in some great media coverage, but as always you have to be proactive. Winning an EU Award can be a good story for local media, but you have to share it with them. We were and continue to be supported by all our partners, but especially by the government of Lower Austria (by the governor herself) – so our advice is to share your award with those who support you throughout all your years of hard work!

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

Firstly, it is always useful to take, from time to time, an “outside view” on what you do, based on the criteria of the EEPA.  Taking part in an EU Award means competing with a lot of other projects – so there is also the chance to learn from others.

Secondly, EEPA is a chance for recognition on an EU level. When applying it is important to ask yourself if others can replicate what you do. Success is always a combination of vision, strategy, trial and error, lessons learnt and results, so be sure to include your project story and journey.

Finally, prepare well! Be aware that it requires quite a lot of work until your documents are “final” (based on the requirements of the EEPA). Advice and help from the national body (in our case the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy) might also be very useful, so make the most of it.

To find out more about Internationalisation 2015-2020 projects, read about them in the 2017 EEPA compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

Meet the EEPA 2017 candidates for the ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ prize

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What other inspiring projects are competing for an EEPA 2017 title? Today we introduce you to the shortlisted candidates in the ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ category, which recognises initiatives that give enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, opportunities and encouragement with regards to both EU and external markets. This year’s candidates are from Austria, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

With the programme “Internationalisation 2015 – 2020”, ecoplus International supports Lower Austrian SMEs in entering foreign markets, from the initial providing of information to realising first export deals or establishing branches, with free and customised services. The aim is to support SMEs in their international business activities and to increase their success in foreign markets. In addition the “High Potential Programme” supports selected enterprises with high internationalisation potential in their development to become “Exportchampions”. This is a new approach for supporting enterprises and start-ups, in their growth strategies and their international expansion, all in keeping with the concept of “start-up to scale-up”.

The all-female team at MADEIRA VINTNERS have spent the last 5 years working to establish their Madeira wine brand, after the last firm which was founded over 80 years ago. The all-female team is not only nationally innovative, but unusual across the sector. The first harvest in 2012 helped with Madeiran grape distribution, producing added value for Madeiran grape producers and vineyards. As an isolated EU territory, the success of this venture, which saw more than 100% increase in sales in 2016-2017, is important for the island’s agribusiness sector, which is a key source of revenue after tourism.

The International Trade Centre at Business West has transformed international trade services, combining regional, national and international expertise, funding and resources. It aligns its Chamber of Commerce objectives with UK and Pan European policy, combining private sector expertise from third party providers and the Banking Sector to benefit businesses and boost export sales in the South West of England. The centre now employs over 100 trade advisers and provides a range of digital solutions and support. To date it has engaged with 5,800 exporters, assisted 2010 companies with overseas sales to the value of £430 million and created 3,800 jobs.

Which project will win the 2017 title? Find out at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn this November! Find out about the Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills and Category 3: Improving the Business Environment nominees on the Portal, and come back next week to read about Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship…

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Supporting the internationalisation of business

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We have already met the national EEPA winners from Categories 1, 2 and 3…time for Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business! This category recognises initiatives that encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. In 2016 the prize was won by Human Security Finland for their project that tackles a key issue high on the global agenda, human suffering.

10 projects will be considered for a European title in this category. Well done to all the national winners and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Austria: Program Internationalization 2015 – 2020

Croatia: Pun ceker – kupujmo lokalno

Germany: Import Promotion Desk (IPD)

Greece: Greek Breakfast

Hungary: InnoTrade Program

Poland: Biznes Lubelskie

Portugal: MADEIRA VINTNERS

Serbia: Private sector Development Project- PSD

Slovenia: SKIS – Smart Key Information Support

Spain: ICEX Next

UK: Business West International Trade Centre

Human Security Finland – Humanitarian issues take EEPA 2016 stage

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Human Security Finland, Category 4 winner of EEPA (European Enterprise Promotion Awards) 2016 entered with a project that tackles a key issue high on the global agenda, human suffering. Through international partnerships and high profile events such as The United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, this EEPA winner is making an impact, and using its expertise to identify needs and trends in developing countries.

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

We first heard about the competition on the the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment website. Entering the competition was a chance to make our work known, something we really wanted to do because we believe that our work and project are interesting for Europe.

How did you go about preparing your application?

Part of the preparation of our application involved participating in The United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, which took place in Istanbul in May 2016. We attended as one of the 9,000 participants from around the world to tackle the ever growing issue of human suffering and to support the new shared Agenda for Humanity.

What was it like to win the award and how did winning immediately impact your work?

Of course we hoped to win but it was still a surprise! The award helped us to gain media visibility and also led to us gaining new partners. In the long term winning has increased the acceptance of our work as now people can easily identify us, and has also made it significantly easier to expand our existing network.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

Participating in EEPA makes it easier to share your work with new audiences. The diverse audience of EEPA makes it the perfect opportunity for exposure and really gives you an opportunity to connect with people through your work and that of the other European projects competing.

What are your plans for the future?

EEPA has given us some perspective and we now have an idea about when we want to expand our network in .

Read more about Human Security Finland and follow them on Facebook for their latest updates!

EEPA – The winners of the 2016 edition

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The SME Assembly 2016 may be over, but the conversation continues! Today is an opportunity for us to present to you the European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners from the 2016 edition. You met them here on the blog when they were shortlisted, but here is an overview of the projects that came out on top…


The
Category 1- Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, the winner was Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat (Lyon City of Entrepreneurship) from France. This initiative is a network of 46 organisations and 200 experts from across the region, working to promote the entrepreneurial spirit more widely, increase the number of businesses created and improve the robustness of new businesses. Each year, the network provides support to between 10,000 and 12,000 businesses and entrepreneurs, with 17 “access points” providing assistance, information and guidance. Experts provide support on the creation, takeover and handover of businesses and on aspects including how to grow or fund a business, start up and training.

In Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, the prize went to Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom. This project has created the world’s first internal, accredited, enterprise educator training programme. The training and support of over 600 staff of all disciplines to embed enterprise skills across the university curriculum has been at the heart of the programme. In the first two years alone 21 000 students were reached and over 2 000 freelance businesses created. Business and public sector projects projects benefited from student support resulting in an economic impact valued at over EUR 4.4 million (GBP £4 million).

In Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment, the category winner was Portuguese project Leader SME programme. This entry annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015!


In
Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business, it was Human Security Finland that came away the winner. This entry is a national international development and crisis management business network. It assists with the building of partnerships between Finnish companies and experts aimed at assisting developing countries and crisis-hit regions with solutions to support sustainable development. The network combines business, education and research for human security. 100 organisations are now involved in the concept known as ‘crisis business’, which is based on commercialising human security expertise.


In
Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency, the Lime Trees & Honey Bees for Sustainable Development of the Danube Microregion project from Serbia took the category prize. It strengthens the competitiveness of beekeeping in the Fruška Gora region and motivates young people to start beekeeping businesses. The project aims to increase the market share of Fruška Gora lime honey by investing in human resources and skills development, improved knowledge through scientific research, education and the introduction of new technologies. In addition, it ran a high-profile promotional campaign to raise public interest and created a marketing plan that changed the ad hoc approach of 8 beekeeper associations to a value-added, branded product, with export potential.  


In
Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Dutch project The Rotterdam Business Case (De Rotterdamse Zaak), a work training company where students in higher vocational education and experienced business coaches help support entrepreneurs to improve their business practices and entrepreneurial skills, was the Jury’s winning choice. The project focuses on entrepreneurs who operate below the poverty line and are not financially able to find a solution to their problems. More than 600 entrepreneurs have already been helped through the combined efforts of experienced senior coaches, who act as a sounding board for entrepreneurs, and junior coaches who offer more practical support.


Finally, the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’, was awarded to Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden! Originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, this project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It covers three projects: Entrepreneurship in education, Start your business, and Develop your business, which provide different styles of support to various groups ranging from schoolchildren, all the way to seasoned business people. 

EEPA – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

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banner-eepa-blogThe European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist showcase continues! This week we are introducing you to the national winners competing in Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business. These projects have been shortlisted because of their initiatives that encourage enterprises, particularly SMEs, at national, regional and local level to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union. The projects come from across Europe, representing Finland, Lithuania and Spain, and cover the themes of: facilitation of business partnerships, improving national competitiveness and practical training and advice for SMEs to thrive in foreign markets.

human_security_finland-zambiaHuman Security Finland (Business opportunities from the Human Security expertise) is a national international development and crisis management business network. It assists with the building of partnerships between Finnish companies and experts aimed at assisting developing countries and crisis-hit regions with solutions to support sustainable development. The network combines business, education and research for human security. 100 organisations are now involved in the concept known as ‘crisis business’, which is based on commercialising human security expertise.

wings_chocolate_naiveYoung export leaders program – WINGS is the first scheme in Lithuania to unite the public and private sectors towards the achievement of one common goal: to promote the country’s  competitiveness through the development of skilled export managers by applying a hands-on approach to meet current market demands. Sixteen graduates were trained in business and export development and management, marketing, business   promotion   and   other   relevant   modern techniques, and gained practical experience through working with SMEs. 23 social initiatives were launched during the programme which generated a value of €650 000. Watch their video here!

balebila-06Balebila Project – International & Digital Communications for SMEs (Spain) is a practical training and advice programme for innovative SMEs to help them take their businesses to foreign markets. The project provides businesses with tools and advice on communication and public relations strategies through hands-on training. Current successes include; companies that have successfully presented their product to Sir Richard Branson, to those that are now the leading Basque developers for Sony Playstation UK, USA and Asia. Watch these videos to learn about some of the SMEs, like Muka Design Lab & Enigmedia, that the Balebila project has helped. 

The final winner of the category, chosen by  the EEPA Jury, will be revealed in less than four weeks at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced. Let the countdown begin!

An overview of the previous three categories presented:

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

This week, Kadri Ugand from the award-winning GameFounders reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA one year on….

Kadri Ugand, GameFounders

Name Kadri Ugand
Organisation GameFounders
Country Estonia
Website gamefounders.com
Award won Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Year 2015

Kadri-150x150What was it like to win the award?

We were familiar with some of the projects that were nominated and know the hard working teams behind them. It was an honour just to be on the list, but to win makes us very proud to be noticed.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

When we won the award, we were in the middle of our applications process and the media coverage gave us a nice boost resulting in some interest from around Europe.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

GameFounders is really a group effort. We have mentors and partners from all over the world who power the program, and the international games media and events industry were really rooting for our team. The game industry doesn’t win a lot of these awards, so everyone was extremely happy that our joint efforts were recognised.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

Being recognised at the European level can really boost your operations and result in new partnerships. I would highly recommend taking this opportunity to enter!

GameFounders Asia

GameFounders Asia launch, June 2015

To find out more about GameFounders, visit the website at gamefounders.com.  

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