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!
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.