EEPA Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

Since 2006, over 4,000 projects have entered the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). EEPA is a competition that rewards organisations promoting entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.

This article is the first of six that we will be sharing with you as we work our way through the EEPA categories. Each article will elaborate on the objectives of the chosen category as well as presenting previous winners, their stories, businesses and key pieces of advice they wish to impart to other entrepreneurs.

Category 1 is directed at Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit. This category recognizes initiatives that promote an entrepreneurial mindset, especially among young people and women.

Let’s take a look at the spectacular past winners in this category!

In 2016 the category winner was Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat (Lyon City of Entrepreneurship) from France. This initiative is a network of 46 organizations and 200 experts from across the region working to promote an entrepreneurial spirit in order to increase the number of businesses created in the region 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” which provide information and guidance.

The initiative is built on the belief that it is important to encourage and an entrepreneurial spirit, and that entrepreneurs should share their experiences so that others can learn and benefit from them. EEPA provides an incredible opportunity to do exactly this, as was highlighted by Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat’s advice to orgnaisations considering participation:

Apply and share as much as possible! Participating in a competition is a real opportunity to meet and share with initiatives and people, learning from their experiences is very enriching. Of course, if winning the prize is at the end of your competition journey; then it just makes it even better.

Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship, a project in the blue entrepreneurship and economy sector which covers the sustainable use of the sea and its resources for economic development was crowned the category winner in 2018. The Municipality of Piraeus has implemented several blue entrepreneurship programmes including the BlueGrowth innovation competition, the BLUACT network, the Blue Development Strategy, two European programmes and the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Centre for Blue Development.

When asked what it was like to win the award, they responded that: “It was an incredible honour to be awarded an EEPA prize. We also felt that our carefully planned efforts over the last few years to bring out Piraeus as one of the first cities promoting new and sustainable jobs through investing in the blue economy has now been widely acknowledged. This acknowledgment has made us even more confident and increased our dedication to continue our blue growth development strategy.

The most recent EEPA Category I was an initiative that provides training and supports the professionalization of the gastronomy sector. Culinary Action! (CA!), implemented by the Basque Culinary Centre in Spain, contributes to innovation and growth in the gastronomy sector through its involvement in the Faculty of Gastronomic Sciences at Mondragon University and the unique Centre for Research and Innovation in Food and Gastronomy, where the project is helping to shape the chefs and food scientists of the future.

What’s more, through other projects, such as Building a Green Gastronomic City, CA! is helping to find circular economy solutions to food sustainability challenges and create an environment where experts, suppliers, producers, chefs, and consumers can co-create solutions to reactivate local gastronomy and educate citizens on sustainability. The project’s overarching goal is to instill the values of passion, excellence, and social commitment into gastronomy research and innovation.

Speaking of the impact that this award has had on them and their work they said: “Winning the award has put into perspective not only the work that we have done at Culinary Action! for the last few years (before food tech became the trending topic concept that is today) but it is also an important validation at a paramount time for startups on food and gastronomy innovation. Food is after all, along with energy generation and mobility one of the three main drivers of climate change and as such it requires to reinforce and take “to the next level” those tools that help the entrepreneurs in the field, such as Culinary Action!.

The final winning initiative we will introduce to you are the 2019 winners, the Belgium Haven team. Who emphasised the benefits of participating in EEPA such as the network it connects you to: “The EEPA network is an incredibly diverse and encouraging network, and shows that Europe is investing in entrepreneurship and bringing together social entrepreneurs from across Europe. Just give it a try!

Their winning project involved creating a risk-free environment within which entrepreneurial youth were encouraged to learn, experiment and fail, and thus enhance their competences for their future enterprises. As a result, these youth will be better equipped to address evolving societal challenges. The project has been active for three years and 80 young affiliates have benefited from the scheme.

These are just a few examples of the impressive winning projects from previous years. If you would like to participate in the competition you can find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here and perhaps next year we will be talking about you and your project…

Initiatives from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine, Iceland and the United Kingdom, as well as all EU countries are welcome to apply for this year’s edition of the awards series. For further information on eligibility you can check the criteria here.

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*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.