Here on Promoting Enterprise we are thrilled to bring you the first of our European Enterprise Promotion Award winner testimonials! Throughout this series we will be interviewing the EEPA Class of 2020 to find out more about these outstanding projects, what they do, what winning the awards means to them, their journey to the finals and more.
Let us kick things off with the winner of our first category ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’. The 2020 winner is “Open Entrepreneurship” from Denmark, who won with their project that connects researchers, investors and entrepreneurs to develop collaborations between them and improve the role of research in startup creation.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
We were introduced to the EEPA 2020 award via the Danish Chamber of Commerce and decided to enter. They then went on to nominate us for the award at European level.
How did you prepare your application?
The process of preparing the application was an important and sound exercise. We used the application to reflect on our activities, as well as refresh our minds on what the impact and purpose of our project is. These are the elements that we made sure to communicate in our original application.
What was it like to win the award?
It was a great honour to receive this award. We are very proud on behalf of the whole team that includes seven university partners in Denmark.
In the Open Entrepreneurship programme, we work together to help successful entrepreneurs from Denmark and across the globe to come and have a conversation with our researchers – and together we see that this conversation leads to the co-creation and development of some amazing spinouts. We see that this is a great combination as it allows the researchers to focus on what they are good at, namely their research – and at the same time they get resources and the experience from the external entrepreneurs and their network – we see that they inspire each other in both domains.
We are very grateful for the support from our sponsor the Danish Industry Foundation who helped us launch this programme. We also want to thank the Danish Chamber of Commerce for nominating us for this prestigious award.
How did winning the award impact your work and what are your plans for the future?
Open Entrepreneurship winning the award has already gained political attention in Denmark, and we are confident that this alone will support our collaboration across universities and our long-term financial anchoring of the project. Being recognised by EEPA and the European Commission has also strengthened our presence in the Danish innovation ecosystem.
It is of great importance to us, that a project that celebrates the collaboration between seven Danish universities, wins a European level award.
Congratulations to Open Entrepreneurship! Re-live their winning moment below and find out more about their work in the EEPA 2020 Compendium.
You can also catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:
At this year’s SME Assembly 2020 we met eight entrepreneurs who have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective sectors and areas of expertise. In the Stories of Success session, they shared how they used their creativity to set up solutions for needs, pivoted their business and ultimately kept things going through the pandemic.
Make sure to watch their session to find out more and check out all of the work that they are doing!
Jan Dolezal from the Czech Republic pivoted his tourism business SmartGuide to answer the needs of digital tourism and safe travel for tourists in pandemic times. At SmartGuide they have been making it easier for tourist destinations to sign up and increase their digital offering through their ‘Smart Restart’ programme and get tourist destinations back on their feet.
Silyana Bojilova, got together with other entrepreneurial minds to start the WeCare Foundation in Bulgaria, to provide care packages and psychological support for families with children where parents have lost their main source of income due to the pandemic.
Karsten Kossatz from Germany set up his initiative Helfen.Berlin, a platform for small businesses to come together and offer vouchers for their goods and services for customers to redeem at a later date whilst they were forced to close during Germany’s lockdown. He first got his idea when he saw business owner friends worrying about how they were going to survive throughout the extended closure.
Zsigmond Kovari, from Hungarian company Linistry shared the story of their queuing app and their win at the EUvsVIRUS hackathon with their innovative idea to apply their technology to make supermarkets safer and create a virtual queuing system. Linistry has also worked in collaboration with an airline to create virtual queuing for boarding gates and help observe social distancing.
Ursula Lavrenčič, CEO of KOBI Helps Children Read, told us about making the KOBI online learning app more accessible during the pandemic and lockdown in particular to ensure that children with learning difficulties were still able to keep learning from home. To show solidarity, KOBI momentarily made their app free to help parents with dyslexic children and to support them.
Soren Lex from plasticpreneur, explained how his business that creates plastic chips and pushes using recycled plastic to create a variety of products, turned their expertise and existing specialist machines to making face masks, shields and other protective equipment during the pandemic as they can produce it much faster with their technology. They also shipped out production kits globally to help others produce large amounts of protective equipment at a rate suited to a global pandemic at local level.
Willemijn Schneyder, CEO of Dutch software company Swipeguide explained how during the pandemic they offered their pro intuitive SaaS platform services for free for up to 6 months for manufacturing companies that were ‘giving back’ by donating or producing essential products throughout the first months of the pandemic.
Marco Witzmann from ValiSpace, a cross border engineering company operating from both Germany and Portugal, spoke about how they offered their remote engineering suite to companies producing ventilators, helped the healthcare industry get their product design teams organised and supported universities and other institutions with their knowledge and resources.
Don’t forget to watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights and head on over to our YouTube channel to watch the different sessions, available now!
SME Assembly 2020 – Time to catch-up
This month was very exciting with the very first virtual online SME Assembly taking place on 16-17 November. Co-hosted with the German Presidency, the Assembly was opened by German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier and European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who prepared everyone for the exciting programme ahead.
If you missed out on the Assembly don’t worry – we have got you covered! Keep reading for some of the highlights and information on where to find exclusive photos, videos and other SME Assembly 2020 content.
We also want to hear YOUR stories, how are you overcoming these challenging times? Share your news and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue or on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.
One of the highlights of this year’s SME Assembly 2020 was the finals of the 14th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) which took place on Monday 16 November.
The EEPA recognise the best of the best, with six individual category awards, 1 Grand Jury Prize and Special Mentions. We got see all of the winning moments on screen but it is now time to learn a little more about these winning projects and why the EEPA jury selected them!
The 2020 EEPA compendium is now available for you to read and explore here.
The EEPA Compendium is an annual publication that compiles all of the shortlisted projects to celebrate their achievements and provide an insight into the Awards process. This year’s Compendium features introductions to all of the shortlisted projects, as well as additional information on the Grand Jury Prize winner.
Learn more about each of our EEPA jury members as well as the EEPA judging process that goes on behind the scenes. This year’s compendium also contains
In addition you will find out more about this year’s prestigious jury, their experience being behind the scenes of EEPA, testimonials from previous winners and a focus on how SMEs are leading the recovery.
This year at the SME Assembly 2020 the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) joined forces with the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards to bring you a bigger awards ceremony with more outstanding projects and initiatives to highlight.
The European Small and Mid-Cap Awards aim to promote best practices and to highlight the best European Small and Mid-Sized Companies that have gained access to capital markets via an Initial Public Offering (IPO). They showcase the diversity of European markets and aim to promote stock listings, in particular targeting SMEs and growth companies.
2020 marked the eighth edition of the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards which took place alongside the EEPA online at the first virtual SME Assembly on Monday 16 November.
The winners of the 2020 edition are as follows:
International Star: Diaceutics
Rising Star: Fodelia
Star of Innovation: Frequentis
Star of 2020: Izertis
Special Mention: Lighthouse
Congratulations to the 2020 winners!
Watch the full ceremony and re-live all the winning moments right here:
For more information on the 2020 winners, please visit the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards website.
You can also follow the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards on Twitter.
The second and final day of the SME Assembly 2020 was opened by Shona Murray, who brought together all of the conclusions and thought provoking ideas from throughout Day 1 and entered into conversation with renowned economist Maja Göpel.
In her keynote speech, Maja Göpel stressed how humanity plays a huge factor in economic success and the wellbeing of our planet, and the impact that humanity has had as a changing force on the entire planetary earth system. She also highlighted the need to ‘build forward’ rather than look to ‘build back’, which will require us to re-define where we want to go and put our purpose first.
In the session on intellectual property rights (IPR), our speakers made IPR accessible to all, explaining that IP is much more than just protecting but also about creating opportunities for innovation and growth. The theme of innovation was continued during the ‘Stories of Success’, a showcase of entrepreneurial individuals who use their expertise and companies to innovate during the crisis and provide useful products and services.
A high-level roundtable of experts, including DG GROW’s Kristin Schreiber, came together to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and specifically challenges and opportunities for SMEs, as well as what the future of policy making should focus on. Speakers touched on the importance of solo entrepreneurs, their contribution to societal cohesion and the need to sustain entrepreneurial diversity, as well as the importance of SMEs and how their survival determines Europe’s survival during this crisis. Other conclusions included the need to overhaul current thinking and a system that does not necessarily honour honest people.
Concerns about the current the current liquidity crisis being a pre-cursor for a solvency crisis for SMEs were shared during the presentation from the OECD and the European Commission. Among the main challenges for businesses going forward are labour costs, debt accrued during the peak of the crisis, and financing conditions in general, which all have a sizeable impact on the expectations for the year ahead.
Expert discussions around re-thinking value chains revealed that what SMEs need during the COVID crisis is reliability and transparency, and that the key focus areas when re-designing these chains should be: connected, automatic and electric vehicles, hydrogen technology, smart health, low carbon industry, industrial IoT and cybersecurity.
Our youth finalists for this year’s essay competition, Georgina Whiteman, Pablo Pastor Vidal and Sabine Kerssens took the floor with their ideas, whilst delegates listened to their speeches and voted. Young innovative engineer Sabine was crowned this year’s winner, as her ideas on cross-border collaboration and inclusive innovation spoke most to the delegates who selected her in the live vote. Well done Sabine!
So where do we go from here? The closing session highlighted the importance of continuing forward and not searching to simply return to the status quo. Closing speakers also impressed the need to recognise and support the strong societal role that our SMEs play and to start taking concrete steps. It is time for us to hand the SME Assembly torch to Slovenia, where hopefully next year we will be able to have the SME Assembly 2021 in person, and continue discussions on building a sustainable and resilient future together.
Catch up on moments and highlights from the SME Assembly 2020 on our YouTube channel:
The first day of the SME Assembly 2020 opened with an address from Minister Peter Altmaier, who reflected on the problems SMEs have faced during the COVID pandemic and emphasised that liquidity assistance has been provided efficiently so far but needs to continue. He also discussed the recovery plan for Europe and discussed the German government’s position, which supports investment related to climate neutrality and digitalisation.
The Assembly then gave the floor to Commissioner Thierry Breton who stressed the importance of SMEs in driving a sustainable and digital European recovery. He spoke about the SME Strategy and its significance as a tool in helping the EU achieve autonomy in strategic sectors. Commissioner Breton also spoke about the importance of fighting against late payments and the need to work on helping our SMEs become more resilient. In addition he touched on the importance of our Single Market, calling it one of our biggest assets and the need to keep our borderless markets open.
As part of the opening plenary our SME Assembly host Shona Murray interviewed Fiona Candon, Deputy President of Chambers Ireland and Matilda Mielind, Board Member of SMEunited.
Throughout the morning sessions, delegates learnt about the SME Envoy Network, about what it does and the crucial role it plays in making sure that the voices of small businesses are heard at national and EU level. The session on digital sovereignty highlighted the importance of developing collaborative attitudes and leaving behind the silo mentality. Over in the session on keeping businesses afloat during times of crisis, speakers stressed the need to focus on SME resilience and to focus the creation of recovery instruments on existing practice.
Opening the afternoon was the highly anticipated awards ceremony featuring the winners of the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). The highly coveted EEPA Grand Jury Prize was awarded to French Project Le Portail du Rebond, which has created a unique online platform for entrepreneurs to access all the different national services and bodies to help them get back on their feet and bounce back. Watch the EEPA winning moments of all of the deserving winners right here and consult the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards press release for more information.
After the excitement of the awards Nobel prize laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz, gave this year’s Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise Lecture. Professor Stiglitz spoke about the problems caused by the emphasis on markets without sufficient government regulation markets; the economic effects of the COVID pandemic and the effect of cutbacks in science budgets; the rise of the tech giants; the role of innovation in transforming our economic system from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables; and his hopes for the new US administration. More information about the 2020 Schumpeter lecture can be found here.
If you missed Professor Stiglitz at the Assembly you can now watch his lecture online:
Optimism characterised afternoon sessions on disruptive technology, circular economy and leadership. Innovators are often driven to create by the worst situations, technology and eco-friendly innovation are the way to environmental harmony, and leaders should not be afraid to be human to connect with their workforces.
Closing sessions offered insights into female entrepreneurship during the crisis, access to finance for SMEs and plans for support and what is in store for the future of the workplace. Themes of collaboration and ‘seeing a silver lining’ came through. Encouragement to see the pandemic as an opportunity to explore new working models, increasing access to resources for female entrepreneurs to help entrepreneurs overall and bringing EU tools to SMEs to help them prioritise digital transformation.
Day 1 of the Assembly was full, but it’s not over yet! Make sure to join us for Day 2 and follow the live coverage over on Twitter @EEPA_EU and don’t forget to use #SMEAssembly2020 for a chance to be featured on the event feed.
Haven’t registered yet? Last minute registrations are still possible but be quick! You can register here.
Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz says, “We need to transform our economic system from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables and to do that we need rapid innovation” and calls for a new partnership between the public and the private sector.
This year’s Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture was given by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize Winner and Professor at Columbia University.
Professor Stiglitz’s lecture covered topics such as the problems caused by the emphasis on markets without sufficient government regulation markets; the economic effects of the COVID pandemic and the effect of cutbacks in science budgets; the rise of the tech giants; the role of innovation in transforming our economic system from dependence on fossil fuels to renewables; and his hopes for the new US administration.
Speaking on the balance of markets and government, Professor Stiglitz stated that “in recent decades we’ve lost that balance under neoliberalism under the ideas of Thatcher and Reagan, we put all the emphasis on markets but without government, without government investment, without government regulation, markets don’t work well. In fact, we saw in the 2008 crisis how poorly they worked. The financial sector even though it was absorbing 8% GDP up from 2.5% of GDP, wasn’t allocating resources more efficiently, it wasn’t creating higher growth, it was creating more instability and so it was the absence of government regulating the market that led to the disastrous outcomes we saw.”
Professor Stiglitz also addressed the COVID pandemic, describing it as a ‘natural experiment’ of ‘historical proportions’. Speaking about the pandemic he went on to say that “it’s becoming a field for social scientists, for economists, for epidemiologists, as they study what kinds of actions led to controlling the pandemic and controlling the economic aftermath of the pandemic.”
He closed the lecture by speaking about Schumpeter and his vision of what a dynamic market economy was like.
“Thank you for inviting me to address you in this Schumpeter lecture, Schumpeter had a vision of what a dynamic market economy was like, it was a good vision, that dynamism leads to the flourishing of the human spirit.
That entrepreneurial spirit has the potential, as it has in the past raising standard standards of living for all, but we won’t live up to that potential unless we have the right balance between the government, market and civil society. A new social contract which embraces public investments, strong regulations, including on the environment, and the right rules. We are at a critical point in time, we are recovering hopefully from the pandemic or we will be in the not too distant future, we should have learned a lot of lessons and among the lessons are the importance of science, the importance of good institutions, the importance of global cooperation, the importance of innovation and as I emphasized those things which made for success in addressing the challenge of the pandemic I believe will also make for success in achieving long-term shared prosperity. “
Watch the Schumpeter Lecture in full:
Today during the yearly SME Assembly, the most important event for small and medium enterprises in Europe, the European Commission announced the winners of the 2020 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). The initiative rewards entities promoting entrepreneurship and small businesses at national, regional and local level.
The 2020 winners are as follows:
The Grand Jury Prize: France: Le PORTAIL DU REBOND
CATEGORY 1 – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Denmark: Open Entrepreneurship
CATEGORY 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Estonia: Mobile Workshops, Merkuur OY
CATEGORY 3 – Improving the Business Environment
CATEGORY 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Portugal: Portugal Bike Value
CATEGORY 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency
CATEGORY 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Netherlands: Social Enterprise NL
Congratulations to our class of 2020! Re-live their winning moments by watching their videos and stay tuned for the winner testimonials.
Only a few more days until the SME Assembly 2020!
Don’t forget to register for the event in advance and get ready to enjoy the online event on Monday 16 November and Tuesday 17 November.
The SME Assembly always brings a variety of workshops, masterclasses, expert panels and roundtables as well as focused sessions with industry experts. In addition there will be an exciting awards ceremony where we will find out who the winners across the six categories of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards are, as well as the winners across the four categories in the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards.
In addition to what is on the programme delegates have the opportunity to register for ‘Virtual Worlds’ sessions featuring virtual reality used to create an immersive and inovative networking experience. These sessions have limited places and are filling up fast so make sure to register your interest with the SME Assembly Secretariat as soon as possible.