EEPA Category 5: Supporting the sustainable transition

We have already introduced you to the first four categories in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards. This time it is the turn of Category 5 – Supporting the sustainable transition. Projects in this category have a strong sustainability focus and propose innovative approaches to help the European economy transition to a more sustainable path.

This category recognizes initiatives that promote a circular economy approach or that have specific environmental features such as encouraging the use of recycled materials or renewable energy. This Category was renamed in 2021; it previously went under the title “Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency”.

The winner of the Supporting the sustainable transition category in 2021 was Green Penguin, an initiative that combines real data with smart digital technologies in a digital game for schoolchildren. Through the game, Green Penguin teaches schools and children environmental and digital literacy. It shows children how to achieve significant CO2 reductions, raises their awareness of environmental challenges and sustainable development and, importantly, creates future generations of environmental protectors, engaging them in the co-creation of solutions for the carbon-neutral cities of the future.

Next, to meet with the Category 5 winners in 2020, we travel to Germany to visit Greentech.Ruhr. Greentech.Ruhr is an environmental management network in the Ruhr region that aims to strengthen the region’s environmental economy, thereby supporting its transition from a mining region to a diversified economy with a high degree of specialisation in tackling ecological challenges. Greentech.Ruhr facilitates increased cooperation between all players in the Ruhr environmental economy by bringing together local companies, educational and research institutions, and public bodies to promote the Ruhr’s innovative potential in the field of environmental economics.

The Greentech.Ruhr team spoke about the positive public attention generated by their participation in EEPA. “We received many congratulations from our community. As a network for the environmental economy, it is very important for us to be known. Not only in our region but also all over the world. The EEPA will help us to enlarge our European network significantly. By winning the EEPA, we have provided further proof that the idea of a greentech network is worth sustaining and this will help us to acquire financial support later on.

The team highly recommends taking part in the competition to other potential participants: “Taking part in the competition and writing the application helps you to reflect on your project and your work. So, even if you don’t win, the time invested is not wasted. The positive effect when winning the award may differ from project to project, but it certainly brings a lot of attention and contacts. We definitely recommend taking part in EEPA.”

In 2019, the Category 5 winner was Tilos from Greece, which created an integrated energy solution with innovative features to help island regions transition to new models of production and management of electricity energy. The solution uses clean, renewable energy sources and the application of modern energy storage technologies to reduce dependency on cost-intensive and polluting oil.

SME Assembly 2019 Helsinki/ Kanizaj

Participation in the competition had a major positive impact on the initiative. “Winning this award served as motivation for the local municipality, employees and the broader Tilos community to continue their hard work and remain dedicated to the vision of energy autonomy for the island of Tilos. The EEPA 2019 award will contribute to our efforts to communicate the success stories of our island to a wider audience, making Tilos an attractive destination for all Europeans,” the team said.

The team has words of encouragement for any initiative that may be thinking about participating in EEPA. “The EEPA contest provides a unique platform for the promotion of entrepreneurship and especially SMEs. It is also an excellent opportunity to showcase the results of your work and agenda at the highest level, while getting to know the work of others in the field. Networking with policy makers, entrepreneurs, and experts from across the EU is a great way to accelerate the progress of your work, maximise your impact and start work towards replicating your results in other European markets of interest.”

Are you ready to join the European Enterprise Promotion Awards family? Since 2006, the EEPA has been recognising projects that promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level. This 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 the final EEPA Category 6 – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship, don’t miss it!

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