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Over 1750 small businesses seek funding under the EIC SME Instrument

The European Commission received 1752 proposals for the European Innovation Council pilot’s SME Instrument Phase 2 before the latest cut-off date on 9 January 2019. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 37 countries submitted proposals. Selected projects will be announced in early March 2019 at the latest.

In this phase of the SME Instrument, each project will receive up to €2.5 million to finance innovation activities like demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up. The companies will also benefit from 12 days of free business coaching and acceleration services.

The biggest number of proposals for this batch were submitted by Spanish applicants (266), followed closely by Italian (182) and Israeli applicants (136).

Since 2018, the SME Instrument is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. A novelty under the EIC pilot is that applications are fully bottom-up. Therefore as there are no longer set topics, proposals are classified according to keywords introduced by applicants. The top keywords introduced were Health, ICT and engineering and technology.

In addition, applications are evaluated in two steps, a remote evaluation and a face-to-face interview with a Jury of business and innovation experts. These interviews will concern around 135 companies, approximately half of which will get the funding. The interviews will happen in Brussels during the week of 11-15 February 2019. For more information read the tips for applicants.

Results are expected to be announced in early March 2019 at the latest.

Read the original article on the EASME website.

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EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship – ‘Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit’ Winner 2018

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2018 may be over, but Promoting Enterprise is back with a series of winner interviews! Today we begin with Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, which was won by “Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship” from Greece.

“Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship” highlights blue entrepreneurship and economy, which cover the sustainable use of the sea and its resources for economic development. The Municipality of Piraeus has implemented several blue entrepreneurship actions including the BlueGrowth innovation competition, the BLUACT network, the Blue Development Strategy, two European programs and the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Centre for Blue Development. The goal is to create new sustainable businesses and jobs in the Blue Economy and to promote a new innovative business ecosystem. So far the project has produced 20 new startups, 45 new jobs and 55 networking events.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

The Municipality of Piraeus first heard about the EEPA national competition in February 2017 through a call launched by the Greek Ministry of Economy & Development (General Secretariat of Industry) as EEPA National Coordinator. At the time, the Piraeus Municipality chose not to compete and instead take the time to strengthen and document our candidacy in order to win the 2018 award, which is exactly what happened!

How did you prepare your application?

Every application of this kind should focus on the project’s goals, team, timing, and deliverables—and telling the story of the project correctly requires detailed planning and management. When preparing an application it is important to present the project scope and clearly define the objectives and steps, which is what we did throughout our preparation process. In addition the experienced and highly committed employees of Piraeus Municipality who planned and implemented the “blue projects” helped the candidature preparation team, which was extremely helpful and insightful.

What was it like to win the award?

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.

How did winning the award impact your work?

The most obvious part for us was the satisfaction of knowing that we are on the right path regarding our local development policy for the creation of new competitive and sustainable jobs in local level. The EEPA jury is well-known and reputable as an awarding body and thus winning an EEPA gave special credit to our efforts and recognition for the work our team have been doing. In addition, winning the award is an opportunity to take the time to look at what we have achieved, and where we want to take our blue growth policy in the future. It is a chance to take a step back and see how much we have accomplished and how we will motivate our municipality team to carry on working towards the future.

Why should others enter EEPA 2019? What advice would you give them?

Any organisation that believes its project has a beneficial impact on promoting entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional or local level should enter EEPA. It is a great opportunity to make your project known to a wider audience, to have insight into similar ones running across Europe and to be part of a pan-European business promotion environment.

EEPA 2019 candidates should extensively document their activities, carefully assess the effectiveness, sustainability and impact of their initiatives, and present concrete, measurable and usable results. The potential of transferring the project to other regions in Europe is an important asset too. Overall, do not hesitate to participate in EEPA if you have a significant entrepreneurship promotion practice to share.

What are your plans for the future?

Regarding the promotion of entrepreneurship in the blue economy there are currently two ongoing flagship projects in Piraeus Municipality’s growth planning:

The first one involves the adaptation and effective transfer (re-use) of our Blue Growth Initiative (BGI) to other economic environments and countries through URBACT Programme. BGI helps young entrepreneurs realise innovative concepts and create jobs in Blue Economy. To this end we formed the BluAct transnational Transfer Network, the added value of which is to introduce and mainstream the BGI in the policy setting context of other seven European cities. Our goal is to expand and consolidate the BluAct network in the next two years.

Blue Growth Digital Innovation HUB (BG-DIH) aims to provide information, education and training services through the use of advanced technological equipment. It also seeks to promote experimentation in the production of innovative products and services by pupils, students and young people – potential entrepreneurs in the Blue Economy sector. BG-DIH is in the preparation phase and will be fully operational in spring 2019.

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START2ACT Energy Saving Challenge

New year, new resolutions, even for your office! By entering the START2ACT Energy Saving Challenge, you could reduce energy use in your office by up to 20% by using the simple and low cost measures recommended by START2ACT.

Entering the challenge only takes a couple of minutes and could result in not only important energy savings, but several exclusive prizes.

How to enter?

Step 1: Take a photo or film a video clip of how your company saves energy

Step 2: Write a description of the action(s) – just a sentence or a short paragraph

Step 3: Email step 1 and step 2 to info@start2act.eu or send it to @START2ACT using #S2Achallenge on Twitter or Facebook

The competition is open now and will close on Friday 15 February 2019. The earlier you enter, the more chances you have to win through the monthly prize draw.

For more information about the challenge, read the original article here.

About START2ACT

START2ACT is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and aims to support young SMEs and startups to save energy and cut costs at their workplace. The objective is to provide young SMEs and startups with the tools and knowledge to become more energy efficient and cost effective through free mentoring programmes, online support and training activities across nine European countries.

For more information on START2ACT have a look at their website.

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The European Gateway for Women’s Entrepreneurship – Share your opinion

The European Gateway for Women’s Entrepreneurship (WEgate) is an e-platform launched by the European Commission to support the female entrepreneur community. This e-platform allows female entrepreneurs to connect online, support each other and learn from their collective experience.

Despite making up 52% of the total European population, women only account for 34.4% of self-employed citizens and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs in the EU. The European Commission recognises that these figures are low, and launched WEgate to facilitate much needed discussion, and to put tools at the disposal of female entrepreneurs. On WEgate female entrepreneurs, women considering entrepreneurship as a career and others working to support female entrepreneurship, are able to network, exchange information and become more visible. In addition to being a form of search engine for information and contacts, the platform also encourages publication of updates, company stories, events and news in English, German and French.

The platform will be undergoing some changes and modernisation, and the European Commission would like to know what WEgate users think. In order to participate and give your opinion, make sure to fill out the feedback survey available here.

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Youth of Europe – Meet YEC 2018 winner Marija Elena Borg

It is time to meet the winner of the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition…Marija Elena Borg! Marija impressed first the jury with her essay on the links between innovation and the holistic growth of organisations, and then went on to win the audience vote when she presented her essay at the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz.

Marija is from Malta and is currently the EU Funding Executive of the Malta Business Bureau, which is the EU Advisory Office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. Since 2015, she has managed multiple EU-funded projects and events largely linked to education and skills development. Her frequent participation in workshops and training courses has allowed her to work in multicultural settings and develop a great interest in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2017, Marija Elena also graduated with a Master’s Degree in European Politics, Economics and Law at the University of Malta.

Read on to find out more about her competition experience and what she thought of the SME Assembly 2018.  

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I have always believed that innovation – in its holistic sense – is the gateway to creating a smart and sustainable future. Therefore, when I came across the competition advert on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, I decided to put pen to paper and give this opportunity my best shot!

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2018?

This year’s edition of the SME Assembly provided an excellent learning and networking platform for European entrepreneurs and policy-makers. The organisation of a variety of activities, including business tours, matchmaking sessions, debates and participatory workshops, sparked the interest of attendees and prompted their active participation.

My highlight of the SME Assembly was the Mentoring Workshop, during which experienced entrepreneurs spoke about promoting start-up mentoring. Considering that in comparison to other continents such as North America, entrepreneurs in Europe seem to be more reluctant to enter into a mentor-mentee relationship, this workshop showcased real success stories, proving that mentoring can be equally rewarding for both parties.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate’, what does that mean to you?

My interpretation of this year’s theme is rather simple: The best way to enable innovation (be it within a private or public organisation) is through promoting interaction between peers that will in turn facilitate the exchange of ideas, thoughts and experiences.

As I explained in my own essay, people are the primary cause of innovation. It is therefore the ‘duty’ of business owners or officials in management positions to ensure that their organisation maintains an appropriate work environment which directly empowers employees and motivates them to work and increase the rate of product or process innovation in the workplace.

What did it feel like to win the competition?

Surreal! Considering the work that was put into compiling the essay and pitching it to the SME Assembly participants, it felt incredible and fulfilling to be recognised as the winner of this year’s competition. I was also amazed by the feedback received following the announcement of the final result – numerous entrepreneurs applauded my proposed practical approach to innovation.

I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Joakim Davidsson and Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, who also delivered excellent presentations in Graz!

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

So many things to do, so little time! My current plan is to keep learning as much as possible and developing my areas of interest, which include skills development, youth activism, public speaking and project writing/management.

Naturally, I also look forward to being part of next year’s edition of the SME Assembly in Finland!

Read Marija’s essay and have a look at the presentation  she made at the SME Assembly 2018.

Don’t forget to read our interviews with 2018 finalists Joakim Davidsson and Ngaio Olsen-Stahl here on the News Portal.

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SME Assembly 2018 Magazine

A digital magazine of the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria. Generating 4,16 trillion EUR of value added and employing 94,8 million people in the non-financial business economy in 2017, SMEs continue to be the most important element of the EU economy. This growth is expected to continue with figures for SMEs in the EU-28 indicating that SMEs will create around 2,7 million new jobs in 2018 – 2019.

The 2018 SME Assembly brought together 600 entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers, researcher and media, to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate.’ The focus was on the continuous search for methods on how to make SME policy work for those concerned, i.e. for our entrepreneurs and their employees.

Bringing together the learning and experience of participants and speakers throughout the two days, the Assembly culminated in the creation of ‘A Manifesto for an Innovative Europe’. Put together with the help of those who matter in European SME policy, the Manifesto is intended as a contribution to reflect on and practice helping companies to bring about everyday innovation for everyday companies.

Read the full SME Assembly magazine, have a look at the visual documentation and watch the visual documentation video!

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Youth of Europe – Meet finalist Ngaio Olsen-Stahl

Ready to get to know another finalist of this year’s SME Youth Essay Competition? Let’s meet Ngaio!

Ngaio Olsen-Stahl is a passionate Social Science student at the University of Strasbourg, who developed an interest in international relations and comparative politics due to her own mixed cultural heritage from France and New Zealand. She hopes to pursue a career in public policy, and after taking part in a Model European Union event, was all the more inspired to do so within the EU.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I just happened to be surfing the web and looking at upcoming events in Europe, and came across the essay competition information by chance. At the time it was the middle of August and I was enjoying a break from my studies, but after reading the question I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I am very passionate about the EU and its values, and I wanted to discover what I thought about innovation. Truthfully, it was not something I had thought about a lot, but after my research it has really grown on me, and I’m now very interested in how I can create and find innovation in my career path.

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2018?

The SME Assembly was a fantastic event, with people from all over Europe (and indeed, the world) coming together for the purpose of supporting business, ideas, and innovation in Europe. People from all industries, and all different career levels, shared their stories with me, and it was a very humbling experience to be able to gain so much knowledge just by simply getting to know people. I made some great friends too! The speeches, debates, and policy sessions were varied and incredibly useful, my favourites were The Big Debate and Bridging the Skills Gap. The App made sure I knew exactly where to go and when to be there, and Graz was such a beautiful city to explore during my free time. Overall it was a life-changing experience that has inspired me to work on an entrepreneurial venture.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate’, what does that mean to you?

To me, this embodies the spirit of collective power. Acknowledging the strength of Europe as a Union and business as a team, our world is moving towards being ever-more globalised, interdependent and invested in a number of different economies. This diversity and growth will be the fuel for new ideas in the future.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

I’m currently in the exciting/terrifying transition between my Bachelors and the unknown. I will be applying to Master courses in Public Policy, different research projects in social development, and some graduate opportunities in government ministries. So, my exciting plans are all hypothetical at the moment but I’ll leave you with a graceful ‘watch this space’!

Read Ngaio’s essay and have a look at the presentation she made at the SME Assembly 2018.

Don’t forget to have a look at fellow competition finalist Joakim Davidsson!

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Youth of Europe – Meet finalist Joakim Davidsson

Promoting Enterprise is back with exciting interviews from the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition finalists and winner. Today we are getting to know Joakim Davidsson, who wrote a compelling essay on Cooperation and Competition: Steps towards sustainable innovation, in answer to this year’s question: “What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?”

Joakim is from Sweden, and grew up on the Swedish west coast in the small town of Kungshamn. After studying social sciences at school, he developed an interest in social questions and the world at large, which is what led him to pursue further studies at The University of Warwick in England, where he currently studies Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

The topic was very interesting, and one that I had thought a lot about beforehand. Therefore, I felt very inspired to write a contribution to the competition. It was a good opportunity to address questions about sustainable and environmental innovation, which are quite dear to me, and the chance to attend the SME Assembly was one that I also did not want to miss.

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2018?

It was a fantastic opportunity to listen to many interesting debates and speakers, and to network with policymakers, SME leaders, and other interesting people. I left the event filled with inspiration and ideas which made it such a wonderful trip. Moreover, I had never been to Austria before so I was also glad to have the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Graz!

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate’, what does that mean to you?

To move forward and innovate upon the existing paradigm, we must connect with each other and share. This is vital on both interpersonal and global levels, which is why I found the theme to be more than adept considering current climates.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

Whilst there are many exciting plans in the pipeline, I cannot announce anything concrete right now…

What I can say however is that both my studies and extracurricular activities mean my schedule is quite busy. As a second year student doing Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, this year’s grades will count towards my final degree; meaning that it is imperative to not lose focus! In the future I believe I would like to acquire a master’s degree in economics, and maybe even a doctorate, but that is thinking far ahead…

Read Joakim’s essay and have a look at the presentation he made at the SME Assembly 2018.

Don’t forget to come back next week to meet fellow competition finalist Ngaio Olsen-Stahl!

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SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #8

SME Assembly 2018 – The highlights

That’s a wrap…for the SME Assembly 2018! Last week, from 19-21 November, the SME Assembly 2018 took place in Graz, Austria under the Austrian presidency of the EU. The theme for this year’s Assembly was ‘Connect.Share.Innovate’ and saw delegates, SMEs, startups and key policy makers bridging gaps, sharing skills and laying the foundations for future innovation.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the SME Week newsletter where we give you a snapshot of this year’s Assembly, including highlights such as the European Enterprise Promotion Awards final ceremony, and the SME Week Youth Essay Competition.

Read more >>

<< Previous Issue #23

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EEPA 2018 Compendium

The 12th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) celebrated 6 individual category winners, 1 Grand Jury Prize winner and 4 Special Mentions.  All of these highly deserving projects are now available for you to read about in the 2018 EEPA Compendium in English available here.

The EEPA compendium

Every year, the EEPA compendium is produced to celebrate the achievements of the shortlisted projects on European level. The compendium provides an insight into the Awards process including: what is means to become an EEPA winner, the Jury, the judging process and how the EEPA are promoted.

As well as an insight into the process, the compendium is a chance for each of the six category winners, and respective runners up, to be showcased and put in the spotlight. It also provides additional and more extensive coverage of the Grand Jury Prize winner, in accordance with the accolade that this award represents.

In addition to all EEPA results and information, the compendium also contains a foreword from the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, in which she details her commitment to European SMEs and her opinions on the latest EEPA edition. This is followed by a section on the status of SMEs in Europe, including an introduction to the Small Business Act for Europe and the role of the national SME Envoys.

To find out more about the EEPA, visit the EEPA website, and look through the previous compendiums from 2017 2016201520142013, and 2012.

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