EEPA Category 3: Improving The Business Environment and Supporting the Digital Transition

In previous posts we discussed at EEPA Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, sharing with you the entrepreneurial journeys taken by previous winners in these categories. Today, we will turn our attention to Category 3.

EEPA Category 3 is titled, Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition. This category was designed to recognise initiatives that are making Europe an attractive place to start, operate, grow and scale a business. It also rewards projects that simplify legislative and administrative procedures and support the digital transition of enterprises. We can learn a lot from the category winners in previous years, so let’s meet them…

The 2021 winner was Digital Commerce a Portuguese programme that supports the digital transformation of micro enterprises and SMEs in the commerce and services sector. In the three years of work prior to its EEPA win, the programme trained 67 digital consultants and provided expertise to 50 business and commercial associations. What’s more, 1,345 entrepreneurs graduated from its Digital Academy and the programme conducted 51 sessions and workshops as part of a National Roadshow, which involved that participation of around 3,000 entrepreneurs and traders.

BIND 4.0 – a public-private acceleration programme specialising in promoting Industry 4.0 projects, was 2020’s winner. BIND 4.0 targets technological start-ups with 4.0 solutions in advanced manufacturing, energy, health and food. The programme was set up as an open innovation platform, where start-ups from all over the world and large industrial companies established in the Basque Country could interact in an agile way to develop innovative high-impact projects. The start-ups receive intensive support aimed at accelerating their development and immersing them in the Basque industrial ecosystem.

The BIND 4.0 team was incredibly proud of their EEPA accomplishment: “This award is a source of pride, for consistently accomplishing our goal to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. Since our inception, we’ve accelerated over 100 start-ups and facilitated the development of more than 170 Industry 4.0 projects. This award provides additional validity to our international initiative so we can continue to attract talent to the Basque region and promote collaboration between young start-ups and large corporations,” they said.

When asked on what advice they would offer future EEPA participants, the BIND 4.0 team replied, “If you would like to see how your programme and efforts measure up against the other programmes being implemented throughout Europe, we recommend applying. The EEPA is a great way to stay informed about impactful programmes, ground-breaking initiatives and the benchmark models in the marketplace.”

One year earlier, in 2019, the award for improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition went to Fomento de la Contratacion Publica con Pymes, or “Public Procurement for SMEs”. This project was recognised for its work on implementing measures in the Spanish city of Valladolid to provide SMEs with opportunities in public procurement.

Their EEPA success gave the project a lot of visibility. “Winning the award has put a spotlight on our work and the change that we are trying to bring about for SME involvement in public procurement. The prize not only represents recognition of the teamwork and effort that went into the project, but also that this work has a positive effect on sustainable business development and thus on employment generation.,” the team said.

The team found preparations to apply for the EEPA to be an opportunity to bring closer local business associations. “Since 2016 our work surrounding the improvement of social efficiency in municipal public sector contracts has been under evaluation, and in response to that we put into place procedures to ensure that all awarded SMEs were up to the highest standard. This particular work helped us to prepare our EEPA application and finding the level of detail required. We also drew on past experience and collaborative work with local companies which allowed us to get the support of different local business associations for our EEPA candidacy.,” they said.

Since 2006, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards has been recognising projects that promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level. Next year it could be you! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

In our next blog, we will look at previous winners in EEPA Category 4 – Supporting the internationalisation of business, so stay tuned!

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