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Archive for ‘European Enterprise Promotion Awards – The Grand Jury Prize’

EEPA: The Grand Jury Prize

In addition to the winners in each of the six European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) categories – we have introduced you to all six categories in previous blogs on the portal – every year the EEPA Jury selects a project to receive the Grand Jury Prize. The winning project can be from any category and the prize is awarded to the entry considered the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

Let’s look at some Grand Jury Prize winners from previous years for inspiration.

In 2021, the Grand Jury Prize went to COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V., which was also the winner of first prize in the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category. The initiative supports migrant women with training and professional development, providing them with the skills they need to become self-employed. By providing free training, coaching and networking opportunities, both migrant women who are willing to start a business and those who are already self-employed, are enabled to put business ideas into practice and build up their own business start-ups in Berlin. The project is guided by the principle that migrant women stand up for migrant women.

The COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige team noted that winning the awards had great resonance with their participants and partner organizations. “We have received many congratulations and encouraging messages. Some magazines have reported about us. But most important is that we make the most of the awards and their prestige in order to further promote the offers of the COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige and reach even more migrant women, to foster them on their way to self-employment,” the team said.

The team heartily encourages others to participate in the competition. “The EEPA is a great chance to make your project more visible and cooperate with other organisations to spread information about your successful work. It gives you the possibility to present your project as a model, both at the national and international level and, ultimately, to reach your goals for a larger community all over Europe. Applying is definitely worth a try,” they said.

The 2020 Grand Jury Prize winner Le Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs comes from France. Le Portail du Rebond or ‘The Recovery Portal’ consists of associations that together provide a nationwide service to entrepreneurs to help them through difficult times. The associations have unique specialisations across different areas, allowing them to cover the entire value chain, from entrepreneurial failure and its prevention to entrepreneurial recovery and its promotion. The associations help entrepreneurs to navigate the measures needed for recovery and any encounters with the authorities, while removing obstacles to their recovery.

The Le Portail du Rebond team said that wining the Grand Jury prize had been an amazing experience. “Firstly it was a wonderful recognition of our 10 years of work supporting entrepreneurs in difficulty. We also feel that winning this award and having our services recognised and spoken about during this period of health and economic crisis will also help us reach additional entrepreneurs that may be in difficult situations.”

Potential participants shouldn’t think twice, the team says. “Firstly, there is absolutely nothing to lose, but so much to win. Secondly, this competition allows for the work and initiatives we work so hard on to be shared with the public as well as other actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Participating in this competition was an incredible collective adventure for the Portail du Rebond community, which helped further solidify the strong bonds that we have between the participating associations.”

In 2019 the Grand Jury Prize was awarded to GreenPAC iLab, a project from the Netherlands, competing in the Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency category (currently Supporting the sustainable transition). GreenPAC iLab supports new entrepreneurs in the plastics industry in starting their businesses and achieving sustainable and circular business models. The project functions as a community where entrepreneurs with innovative ideas receive coaching and access to a network of professionals that help with feasibility studies, research and product development.

We spoke to GreenPAC iLab Manager and Business Developer Bastian Coes to discover the story behind the winning project. “Winning the award impacted our work directly because there is outside endorsement for what we do. Awards like this help develop the GreenPAC iLab further and to sustain the work we do. We have also had a lot of questions about our programme from the international community, and the EEPA has facilitated this by giving us an international podium to share how we support sustainable start-ups. Winning the EEPA Grand Jury Prize has given us additional proof to demonstrate that the regional funding of GreenPAC iLab should be sustained,” Bastian said.

Entering EEPA is a great way to reflect on what you have done over the last couple of years and also about the way you want to move forward. EEPA gives a lot of exposure for your initiative but also makes your team and everyone involved proud to be part of a shortlisted initiative,” he said.

This year it could be your turn to join the ranks of EEPA alumni! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

If you have missed the introductions into each of the six EEPA categories, you can check them out here:

EEPA Category I – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

EEPA Category II – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

EEPA category III – Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition

EEPA Category IV – Supporting the internationalisation of business

EEPA Category V – Supporting the sustainable transition

EEPA Category VI – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

EEPA 2021 Testimonial – COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige

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We are back with another European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we brought you the story of the first category ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’ – Culinary Action! by Basque Culinary Centre from Spain.

Today we are bringing the story of Grand Jury Prize winner COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V. was also awarded first prize in Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards at the SME Assembly 2021.

COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige, which is supported by the non-profit association Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen (ISI), supports migrant women with training and professional development, providing them with the skills they need to become self-employed. By providing free training, coaching and networking opportunities, both migrant women who are willing to start a business and those who are already self-employed, are enabled to put business ideas into practice and sustainably build up their own business start-ups in Berlin. The project is guided by the principle that migrant women stand up for migrant women.

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 decided to enter the EEPA 2021 upon invitation of the RKW Kompetenzzentrum, which conducts the German preliminary round of the competition. The program’s features caught our attention immediately, and we believed it was worth applying with our project “COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige”.

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 application, which not only included the general information about our project but also hard facts about its achievements and success during the last years. For example, we have provided information about the number of women attending our qualification offers and the variety of their individual features and needs, as well as concerning the increase of their individual skills progress, in terms of technical, methodological, social and personal competence. Moreover, we supplied a detailed description of the innovative traits of the project and our plans for further development in the next future.

What was it like to win the award?

If winning the award in the category “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills” has been a big surprise on its own, the “Grand Jury Prize” came totally unexpected. It was an unbelievable, overwhelming feeling. It was such an honour to represent our team on stage and be able to dedicate the awards to all brave and amazing migrant women founders, who are the soul of our organization. We felt very proud of all of them and of our achievements. This international recognition is not only a point of arrival for us, yet most and foremost, a new starting point to grow and reach new goals.

As a project team, we are aware of carrying a big responsibility for all migrant women. As we won the award, I immediately experienced a feeling of relief. I thought, “okay, we are not alone in this. We now carry this responsibility, even at a European level, together with all stakeholders.”

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the awards had great resonance among our participants and partner organizations. We have received many congratulations and encouraging messages. Some magazines have reported about us.

But most important is that we make the most of the awards and their prestige in order to further promote the offers of the “COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige” and reach even more migrant women, to foster them on their way to self-employment. Thanks to years of fieldwork, we know exactly what the needs and wishes of our target group are and have the right know-how and solutions to support them in realizing their business ideas. The potential is huge. And our big success at the award ceremony gave us an extra boost to get the most out of our service for women entrepreneurs.

That’s why we are looking for the necessary financial and personal resources to achieve these goals. Any kind of support from concerned associations, foundations and authorities will be very valuable to us.

What are your plans for the future?

Our goal now is to make our qualification model for migrant women entrepreneurs known throughout Germany and, in the medium term, internationally. Where necessary, we also would like to improve and further develop our approach.

At this point, we primarily want to support refugee women, especially in their mother tongue, as well as migrant women in the pre-founding phase and those in the post-start-up phase. For these three target groups, we would like to implement specific demand-based concepts. Some pilot projects have already been carried out.

Fortunately, in 2022 our project will keep on receiving funds from ESF and the State of Berlin. Nevertheless, we believe that we could also consider further funding opportunities for the various concepts and different target groups. Only in the last three years, more than 600 participants have been registered in our database. These women still expect and need our help in order to have better opportunities to gain a professional foothold in Germany.

Winning the EEPA-Award allows us to hope for growth, and we want to take this opportunity now.

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

The EEPA is a great chance to make your project more visible and cooperate with other organizations to spread information about your successful work. It gives you the possibility to present your project as a model, both at the national and international level and, ultimately, to reach your goals for a larger community all over Europe. Applying is definitely worth a try.

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

European Enterprise Promotion Awards Class of 2021

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Over the past months, you have followed us as we showcased the best projects in the six European Enterprise Promotion Awards categories here on the Promoting Enterprise portal. The EEPA story of these projects reached its climax on the second day of the SME Assembly on November 16, when the winners in the six categories were announced.

We extend our warmest congratulations to our entire EEPA class of 2021 and in particular to our category champions.

Category 1 – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Spain: Culinary Action! by Basque Culinary Centre

Category 2  – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Germany: COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V.

Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment & Supporting the Digital Transition

Portugal: Digital Commerce Programme by ACEPI – Digital Economy Portugal in partnership with CCP – Portuguese Commerce and Services Confederation and with Municipal Council of Viana do Castelo

Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Spain: Iberian Centre for Research and Forest Firefighting – Firefighting Open Innovation Lab-CILIFO (FOIL-CILIFO), Fundación by Delegación Fundación Finnova

Category 5 – Supporting the Sustainable Transition

Slovenia: Green Penguin, Iskraemeco, d.d

Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Sweden: Inkludera by Inkludera

Grand Jury Prize

Germany: COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V.

The SME Assembly is not over yet! Make sure to join us for the final day of the Assembly to attend the streamed sessions. You can also follow the live coverage on Twitter @EEPA_EU. Haven’t registered yet? Last minute registrations are still possible but be quick! You can register here.

 

EEPA 2020 Testimonial – Le Portail du Rebond

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We are back with our final European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we introduced you to Social Enterprise NL from the Netherlands, 2020 winner in our ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ category. Make sure to read their story if you haven’t yet!

Our final testimonial tells the story of our 2020 Grand Jury Prize winner, ‘Le Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ from France. ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ or ‘The Recovery Portal’, is made up of associations that together provide a nationwide service to entrepreneurs to help them through difficult times. The associations have unique specialisations across different areas, allowing them to cover the entire value chain, from entrepreneurial failure and its prevention to entrepreneurial recovery and its promotion. The portal provides a single online point of access so that entrepreneurs can choose the association that corresponds to their entrepreneurial recovery needs. The associations help the entrepreneurs navigate necessary measures and authorities, and remove obstacles to their recovery.

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

The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ was told about the competition by BPIFRANCE. Our work to help struggling entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who find themselves in hard times bounce back, corresponded exactly to the EEPA competition criteria. After discussing further with BPIFRANCE and working with their teams, we decided to enter, which was the right decision!

How did you prepare your application?

The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ is made up of six associations which create a ‘value chain’ that allows us to accompany the entrepreneurs we work with from the beginning when they are in difficulty, all the way through to when they have bounced back. We made this aspects of our work stand out in our application as we thought it was innovative and unique in the European setting.

We also decide to include a testimonial in order to illustrate our work and show how our unique value chain works. We presented one of our entrepreneurs who had successfully made their way through the entire value chain and managed to bounce back with support from one of our associations ‘Second souffle’.

What was it like to win the award?

Wining the Grand Jury prize was amazing! Firstly it was a wonderful recognition of our 10 years of work supporting entrepreneurs in difficulty. We also feel that winning this award and having our services recognised and spoken about during this period of health and economic crisis, will also help us reach additional entrepreneurs that may be in difficult situations.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award saw all the actors within the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ wanting to highlight this great prize and recognition, and this was done by increasing our communication activities and actions with entrepreneurs and public authorities to share the news.

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

Firstly, there is absolutely nothing to lose, but so much to win. Secondly, this competition allows for the work and initiatives we work so hard on to be shared with the public as well as other actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Participating in this competition was an incredible collective adventure for the Portail du Rebond community which helped further solidify the strong bonds that we have between the participation associations!

What are your plans for the future?

We hope to further open and expand the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ to new associations that carry out meaningful work in relation to our own. We also hope to develop more events dedicated to entrepreneurs. After that, why not see if we can bring our organisation up to European level, and see if we have the support to succeed with this challenge!

Congratulations to our 2020 Grand Jury Prize Winner ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ from France! Make sure to read all the inspiring EEPA winner testimonials right here on the News Portal and re-live the Grand Jury Prize winning moment right here:

EEPA 2019 Testimonial – Grand Jury Prize

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It is our last EEPA 2019 winner testimonial! Today on the News Portal we are learning more about the project that took home the top EEPA prize at the 2019 SME Assembly. The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the project that the jury designates to be truly outstanding regardless of its category. For 2019 the jury decided to award this honour to GreenPAC iLab, a project from the Netherlands competing in the Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency category.

At GreenPAC iLab, new entrepreneurs in the plastics industry are supported to help them start their businesses and achieve sustainable and circular business models. The project functions as a community where entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for a plastic product or service are coached and given access to a network of professionals that help with feasibility studies, research and product development. Through collaboration with plastics professionals and research groups, the GreenPAC iLab is fostering a new generation of plastics entrepreneurs guided by circular and sustainable values. To date, 66 start-ups have received assistance and 84 jobs have been created.

We spoke to Bastian Coes, Manager & Business Developer for GreenPAC iLab to discover the story behind this winning project.

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

We heard about the national competition via a promotion by RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) that runs the EEPA national competition about three years ago. At the time we decided not to enter because we had just started with a new strategy and method of supporting startup businesses. Before applying we wanted to make sure that we had a lot of examples of successful startup businesses that we had supported because, successful companies are the biggest proof that our concept and strategy works. So not “fake it till you make it”, but rather “make it and then talk about it”.

How did you prepare your application?

We wrote our application for the national competition and really emphasised the link between the results of the startup businesses and the methods we use. It was important to stress that in addition to results such as revenue and employment of the startups, at GreenPAC iLab the emphasis is on the connection between research carried out by applied universities and the knowledge gap of a startup. We then add to that knowledge, for example by facilitating necessary feasibility studies.

Both the startups and the universities benefit: the startups have access to knowledge and equipment which are not available in the market and the universities have access to new economic and technological developments which they otherwise have no access to. 

What was it like to win the award?

It was a great feeling and surprise to win the award. It represents a great acknowledgment for the hard work of the GreenPAC iLab team, the universities Windesheim and NHL Stenden. It was not always easy to get funding for our plans and recognition of the work that the startups and GreenPAC iLab do. Over the last couple of years we have developed a big movement and community which have had an impact on sustainability, circular business models and growth of startups. It is truly a great feeling for all of this to be recognised and valued by the EEPA jury.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award impacted our  work directly because there is outside endorsement for what we do. Awards like this help develop the GreenPAC iLab further and to sustain the work we do. We have also had a lot of questions about our programme from the international community, and the EEPA has facilitated this by giving us an international podium to share how we support sustainable startups. 

Receiving an EEPA also highlights and recognises the support provided by the regional government. GreenPAC iLab has strong connections with (regional) governments, and the province of Overijssel and the municipality of Zwolle are crucial for stimulating sustainable entrepreneurship in the region. Both provide support for our program and can function as a launching customer for startups. Winning the EEPA Grand Jury Prize has given us additional proof to demonstrate that the regional funding of GreenPAC iLab should be sustained.

Why should others enter EEPA 2020? What advice would you give them?

Entering EEPA 2020 is a great way to reflect on what you have done over the last couple of years and also about the way you want to move forward. EEPA gives a lot of exposure for your initiative but also makes your team and everyone involved proud to be part of a shortlisted initiative. We were already proud of being on the shortlist, so just imagine what it is like if you win the Grand Jury Prize! 

What are your plans for the future?

We want to continue our work of helping startup businesses achieve their sustainable and circular business models. We want to increase and strengthen the community of sustainable and technology based startups, and build a startup entrepreneurship hub in The Netherlands. By doing this we want to support a new generation of entrepreneurs and contribute to a sustainable SME economy.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2019 winner testimonials and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel:

EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Lean Landing – ‘Grand Jury Prize’ Winner 2018

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Ready for our next EEPA winner interview? Today we are proud to welcome our 2018 Grand Jury Prize Winner, Lean Landing from Denmark!

The Lean Landing network consists of a total of 19 partners, accelerators and incubators. The network has members from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom. Members of the Lean Landing network open up their facilities to the 190 participating SMEs, giving them bases in their target countries, as well as a local business support system. These local bases allow SMEs to gather first impressions of the foreign market, establish contacts, and learn important local business etiquette and practices. So far, of the 190 SMEs involved, 80 have successfully been abroad with the Lean Landing project.

The project is run by Væksthus Sjælland, a non-profit organisation established in 2007 that provides services for entrepreneurs and micro SMEs with scalability and growth potential. The organisation is also responsible for providing business support to the Zealand Region of Denmark and is one of five national units.

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

Our organisation has known about the national EEPA competition for a few years, and in the past been national winners three times as well as receiving a ‘special mention’ award. We decided to enter again because EEPA is THE place and event to be at, if you are running EU projects, and winning the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ this year is the biggest prize any EU project can receive.

How did you prepare your application?

We didn’t really prepare, but we spent quite some time on the application to make sure that we got all the right and important information filled in.

What was it like to win the award?

We were honestly just very overwhelmed and very surprised. We had hoped to win in our category ‘Supporting internationalisation for business’ but we did not expect to win the ‘Grand Jury Prize’. It has probably been the biggest recognition our organisation has ever received for any EU project.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award hasn’t really had that much of an impact on my daily work, but there has been a lot of positive attention from many people from other organisations both nationally and internationally. Furthermore our 19 partners in the project have also been very happy about the result and it has sparked a new sort of energy internally, that we have actually done something really special with our project.

The exposure from EEPA and Euronews, who worked with the EU commission since we won, has also been great. The video from when we received the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ was available the day after and the film that was shot by Euronews for ‘Euronews Business Planet’ is going to be part of our ongoing marketing material for the project.

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

Other organisations and projects should enter EEPA because it is a great way to get recognised for the work that each of us put in daily and it is truly a great experience to participate in the ceremony. Furthermore, it is great way to meet like-minded people and expand your network.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are to continue to develop new and value-creating projects like Lean Landing, with the purpose of helping SMEs to grow locally, nationally and internationally.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are back for 2018, and Promoting Enterprise has the honour of presenting the first EEPA 2017 winner testimonial from Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017. The Innofest project will be sharing their EEPA story as well as their advice for other planning to submit their projects and embark on the EEPA journey.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

The Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs contacted us to ask us if we were interested in joining the competition. We didn’t hesitate and joined straight away.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

That’s twofold. First we were having some plans to expand within the rest of the Netherlands, but also to other regions in Europe. The EEPA provided us with the opportunity to get to know other regions, but also to get in touch with policymakers and entrepreneurs throughout Europe. Secondly, we felt that after two years of learning and pioneering it was time to share the first successes with The Netherlands. We felt that EEPA and the publicity around EEPA were a great way to do that.

How did you prepare your application?

Part of our preparation involved speeding up some of the research we were doing, to make sure that we could provide the jury with accurate numbers on Innofest. We also made sure that we were ready to talk to other European regions, entrepreneurs and festivals and prepared our international strategy. Getting ready for this was very helpful, because quite a few regions contacted us in order to work with us after the EEPA. We were happy that we were well prepared and knew what we could offer them.  

What was it like to win the award?

Of course it was a surprise! Within an impressive group of finalists which included investors programs, incubators and accelerators with a long track record, we felt like the underdog. We don’t have a long track record yet, although we have enough data to have an evidence-based method to help innovators. But still we were the new kids on the block, with a crazy new kind of entrepreneurial program, involving festivals. So for us, winning was an encouragement to keep going and support other regions to make festivals part of their innovations ecosystem.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning had a big impact on Innofest. The media coverage was great, both locally and internationally. But the impact on our network was more important. Our funders were recognised for supporting Innofest, and many new partners wanted to connect to Innofest. At our latest festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag in January, a delegation from Finland came to learn from Innofest and is aiming to set up their own Innofest model. We have also been contacted by other festivals and regions to join the Innofest program. The number of applicants has also increased in comparison to previous years, so it is possible that the award may have helped with that as well.

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

EEPA has helped us to gain more brand awareness and it contributed a lot to our position in the Dutch and European start-up ecosystem. But even if we had not won, it was very helpful to get pitching experience and advice on our Innofest-proposition. One of the main reasons behind our win was that we presented a new proposition (i.e. festivals as testing grounds for innovators) to add to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Based on this, our advice for future applicants is to make sure that you highlight why your initiative isboth effective and unique.

What are your plans for the future?

This year we are researching how we can connect festivals on a national level to Innofest and we hope to scale up in 2019. We are also working on an international proposition to help other regions and festivals in the world set up their own Innofest model. In the future we hope to have white-label Innofests throughout the world!

To find out more about Innofest, read about them right here in the 2017 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.

‘Winning has given us room to manoeuvre’ – EEPA2016 increases project credibility

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daniela_olmunger_photo_by_anders_feldtThe European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016 category winner interviews are here! Find out about the story behind these successful projects, and even pick up some of their useful tips and tricks for future applicants. Today is the turn of the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’. The winning project for 2016 was Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden, originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship and represented by Daniela Ölmunger in this interview, 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.

Today’s interview gives insight into how this project became an EEPA 2016 winner, what happened next and where we can expect to see them in the future. This is just the first of several interviews so stick around to find out more about the EEPA 2016 winners in the coming weeks!

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We first heard about the national competition from the Swedish Agency for Economical and Regional Growth, Tillväxtverket. They called us and advised us to compete seeing as we were already competing for the ‘regional stars’, due to the results and lessons in the project Entrepreneurial West Hisingen.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

First of all I love to compete and write, I am also a project developer so I am used to working with deadlines and conducting analyses and I thought why not. It was also an honour to be asked to compete at European level, where you don’t always know what other people are doing, only that they are great projects.

How did you go about preparing your application?

Well we didn’t actually know that we were nominated until quite late, but once we did we conducted a workshop to discuss the application questions, look at different aspects of the project and consult our stakeholders to gather their opinions. Competing also gives you a chance to reflect, and we knew we had really good results but this reflective period was still very useful.

one_stop_future_shop_ali_tabrizi_jasmine_soufi_photo_by_anders_feldtstart-up-fasttrack-1-photo-by-jennie-olsson

What was it like to win the award?

It was so crazy! We actually thought that we had been forgotten at first because our movie was not presented when our category was announced and then we thought that perhaps there had been an administrative mistake and that we were not actually national winners. When the Grand Jury Prize was announced I had not even thought about that category as we had all been so focused on the original category we entered, as our achievements were being read out we started to think that someone might have stolen our ideas! Once we were announced as the winners everything was a bit chaotic, I had nothing prepared for when we went up on stage, but overall it was very surprising and exciting to win.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The main difference we saw was definitely in terms of political impact. Upon our return, we began receiving several visits from different parties and politicians, including the minister of finance and her team, who came for some insight and points from our project after we were first nominated. This increased political interest has led to us being more respected, and being invited to various city council groups which in turn has increased our local impact and overall our role in national political development.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

Winning this prize has helped us build our credibility and earned the respect of those around us in various circles. We are slightly unconventional in Swedish terms, but people now take notice of us and trust our opinions and views. Being winners has given us room to manoeuvre and the lasting impact will be that we can now stand up for and defend that room. This is important as we already have launched a new entrepreneurial project in Gothenburg – the EU-project One Stop Future Shop.

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

I think that entering EEPA gives you a chance to reflect on what you have done with your project, which is work worth doing and not something we get much of an opportunity to do. You can’t always focus on what you did well yesterday, but the analysis is important and it gives you a chance to make your learning journey visible so that others can learn from it. You should not be scared to point out things that you learnt from and definitely take help from others, don’t do it all on your own. In our case we asked for the opinions of our stakeholders and learnt a lot from them during this fun and honouring process.

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What are your plans for the future?

Currently we are working on One Stop Future Shop, which is based on the learnings and results from Entrepreneurial West Hisingen. In this project we are already seeing substantial results. This has a lot to do with the experiences from the previous project where we have been able to sort out what the needs are and how to contribute to making a more entrepreneurial region. In the future we hope to contribute to local growth and the creation of local companies, as well as motivate people to see that they can do anything they want to in life. Future plans depend on a lot of things, I have a lot of ideas, but maybe some of them are too innovative!

Watch the EEPA 2016 Grand Jury Prize Winner video here.

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. 

SME Assembly 2016 – Day 2

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After a packed programme on Wednesday, delegates were at Incheba Expo on Thursday morning for the official opening of the SME Assembly 2016 by Commissioner Bienkowska, Slovakia State Secretary Rastislav Chovanec and Estonia SME Envoy Viljar Lubi.

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The State Secretary highlighted in his keynote speech the importance of SMEs as ‘key pillars in the economy’ as well as the need for international markets in order to fully exploit the potential of SMEs. Commissioner Bienkowska delivered a strong speech, encouraging startups to look for ‘the silicon valleys of Europe’ instead of taking their ideas and innovation outside of Europe. She acknowledged the need to facilitate startups and scaleups and impressed us all with her  vision for an SME friendly Europe. The dynamic spirit continued when Mr Viljar Lubi challenged both speakers with insightful questions in preparation for Estonia’s hosting of the SME Assembly 2017.

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It was then the turn of Mr Hendrik Halbe, co-founder of startup pitching competition ‘Get in the Ring’, to introduce the entrepreneurs battling it out to go to the international final in Singapore. After two battles, and an extremely close final, it was Dutch startup Pearltect who came out on top with a unique bracelet designed to protect wearers from sexual violence.

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30855601410_910b412684_zAfter the excitement of Get in the Ring it was time to talk policy and stimulate debate around entrepreneurship. The high level roundtable on entrepreneurship education allowed SME Envoys and experts in the field to come together and discuss the issues faced with implementation, incentives and training for entrepreneurship education. Over in the plenary room the panel on International Ecosystems hosted an international array of speakers, with special international guest Ms Jenny Fulton from the USA (CEO of Miss Jenny’s pickles) who shared her inspirational story about what it means to follow your passion. Delegates were then challenged to help write the agenda for the Open Space session on ‘Startup to Scale Up’, where topics were taken from the floor and discussions got underway. With topics ranging from solutions for startups that fail, to changing the perception of internationalisation for SMEs, the discussions were fruitful and culminated in a quick fire pitching round. This round kept pitches short, limiting topic holders to 45 seconds in order to summarise their discussions.

The day closed with the gala dinner, followed by the long awaited EEPA 2016 awards. If you want to find out more about the winners, read the 2016 EEPA winners´ post. Also be sure to check out @EEPA_EU on Twitter and on Facebook and stayed tuned for upcoming posts in which we get to know these prize-winning projects from across Europe.

30401966284_1d0226c3f7_zThe day was long and full of events, from inspirational talks to battling entrepreneurs. What will the third and final day have in store? You will have to wait and see our next post! In the meantime, visit the photo gallery on Flickr.

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