Matthias Tschirf is the SME Envoy for Austria and heads the Directorate General for Enterprise Policy in the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs.
As SME Envoy of Austria, Matthias Tschirf is focused on the SMEs which form the backbone of the Austrian economy. His field of activity embraces the quality of Vocational Education and Training, especially by the ongoing modernisation of the Austrian landscape of occupational profiles for the apprenticeship system, as well as technical standardisation and the development of the Trade Act.
In addition to heading the national EEPA jury in Austria, which put forward two Austrian projects, Matthias Tschirf is also a member of the 2018 EEPA Jury at the European level of the competition. Today, he shares his thoughts about the EEPA with us.
What will make an EEPA project stand out for you? What will make it special?
An outstanding project combines innovation and cooperation and supports enterprises throughout their life cycle. It has visible and presentable results and helps to improve the role of entrepreneurs in society or to start up a business.
What top 3 qualities should a project have to make it onto the 2018 shortlist?
A top project is oriented towards results and solutions and provides inspiration to companies, authorities and stakeholders.
What makes a project worthy of the Grand Jury Prize?
An initiative which is worth the Grand Jury Prize  should have an outstanding impact on companies‘ regional or local ecosystem. It should be especially inspiring and have tangible results.
Which is your favourite category and why?
I think that all categories are important and complement each other. My favourite is category 2 – Investing in entrepreneurial skills , because I think that skills and training are key to the prosperous development of enterprises. Entrepreneurial skills may particularly contribute to the creation of more and more competitive companies in Europe.
What are you looking forward to at the SME Assembly 2018?
I have been involved in the preparation of this year’s SME Assembly and the motto “Connect. Share. Innovate.“ comprises the main elements of a future-oriented SME policy. I hope that the SME Assembly  2018 will give inspiration and new ideas to participants and bring forward SMEs and SME policy in Europe and beyond.
Is there anything you want to say to the applicants waiting for the shortlist announcement?
Good luck! I wish all applicants good luck in the second round of selection – to participate in the European competition is already a success. Take this as a reinforcement of the value of your projects and continue to develop and concretise your ideas.
Who else is on the EEPA 2018 jury ? Come back to the News Portal every week to meet a new member and don’t forget to read about existing jury members Thomas M. Cooney  (Professor in Entrepreneurship, Dublin Institute of Technology), Thomas Wobben (Committee of the Regions), Lisa Steigertahl  (Entrepreneurship Consultant) and Kristin Schreiber  (DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) right here on the Portal!