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EEPA Category 5: Supporting the sustainable transition

We have already introduced you to the first four categories in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards. This time it is the turn of Category 5 – Supporting the sustainable transition. Projects in this category have a strong sustainability focus and propose innovative approaches to help the European economy transition to a more sustainable path.

This category recognizes initiatives that promote a circular economy approach or that have specific environmental features such as encouraging the use of recycled materials or renewable energy. This Category was renamed in 2021; it previously went under the title “Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency”.

The winner of the Supporting the sustainable transition category in 2021 was Green Penguin, an initiative that combines real data with smart digital technologies in a digital game for schoolchildren. Through the game, Green Penguin teaches schools and children environmental and digital literacy. It shows children how to achieve significant CO2 reductions, raises their awareness of environmental challenges and sustainable development and, importantly, creates future generations of environmental protectors, engaging them in the co-creation of solutions for the carbon-neutral cities of the future.

Next, to meet with the Category 5 winners in 2020, we travel to Germany to visit Greentech.Ruhr. Greentech.Ruhr is an environmental management network in the Ruhr region that aims to strengthen the region’s environmental economy, thereby supporting its transition from a mining region to a diversified economy with a high degree of specialisation in tackling ecological challenges. Greentech.Ruhr facilitates increased cooperation between all players in the Ruhr environmental economy by bringing together local companies, educational and research institutions, and public bodies to promote the Ruhr’s innovative potential in the field of environmental economics.

The Greentech.Ruhr team spoke about the positive public attention generated by their participation in EEPA. “We received many congratulations from our community. As a network for the environmental economy, it is very important for us to be known. Not only in our region but also all over the world. The EEPA will help us to enlarge our European network significantly. By winning the EEPA, we have provided further proof that the idea of a greentech network is worth sustaining and this will help us to acquire financial support later on.

The team highly recommends taking part in the competition to other potential participants: “Taking part in the competition and writing the application helps you to reflect on your project and your work. So, even if you don’t win, the time invested is not wasted. The positive effect when winning the award may differ from project to project, but it certainly brings a lot of attention and contacts. We definitely recommend taking part in EEPA.”

In 2019, the Category 5 winner was Tilos from Greece, which created an integrated energy solution with innovative features to help island regions transition to new models of production and management of electricity energy. The solution uses clean, renewable energy sources and the application of modern energy storage technologies to reduce dependency on cost-intensive and polluting oil.

SME Assembly 2019 Helsinki/ Kanizaj

Participation in the competition had a major positive impact on the initiative. “Winning this award served as motivation for the local municipality, employees and the broader Tilos community to continue their hard work and remain dedicated to the vision of energy autonomy for the island of Tilos. The EEPA 2019 award will contribute to our efforts to communicate the success stories of our island to a wider audience, making Tilos an attractive destination for all Europeans,” the team said.

The team has words of encouragement for any initiative that may be thinking about participating in EEPA. “The EEPA contest provides a unique platform for the promotion of entrepreneurship and especially SMEs. It is also an excellent opportunity to showcase the results of your work and agenda at the highest level, while getting to know the work of others in the field. Networking with policy makers, entrepreneurs, and experts from across the EU is a great way to accelerate the progress of your work, maximise your impact and start work towards replicating your results in other European markets of interest.”

Are you ready to join the European Enterprise Promotion Awards family? Since 2006, the EEPA has been recognising projects that promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level. This year it could be you! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

In our next blog, we will look at previous winners in the final EEPA Category 6 – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship, don’t miss it!

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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EEPA 2022: When is my national deadline?

The 2022 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) have been launched across the participating countries. However, different countries have different national deadlines for participation – do you know when your national deadline is? Read on to find out!

The EEPA national competitions are underway and are currently looking for the best projects to compete at national level. The participating countries are inviting projects or initiatives to apply for the national competitions in six categories.

The six categories in this year’s competition are:

1. Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
2. Investing in skills
3. Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
4. Supporting the internationalisation of business
5. Supporting the sustainable transition
6. Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

If you would like to participate, you can find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here. See the table below for your national deadline. If your national deadline is not included, make sure to come back as this this page will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. For any further questions, be sure to contact your National Coordinator or the EEPA Secretariat.

More about EEPA

EEPA participating countries invite projects and initiatives to apply for the 2022 national competitions where two national winners per category are be selected to compete at the European level. The prestigious EEPA 2022 jury will then carefully review these national winners and, from them, select the European shortlists.

All shortlisted nominees from both the national and European competition levels will receive invitations to the Awards Ceremony at the annual SME Assembly in November, this year co-hosted by the Czech Presidency of the Council and the European Commission. At the SME Assembly, the jury will also announce the winner of the Jury’s Grand Prize. The winner can be from any category and the prize goes to the entry considered to be the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

For more information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website, and for the latest updates, make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For more information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website and for the latest updates make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portalto follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Luxembourg’s General Directorate for SMEs hosts SME Envoys meeting

SME Envoys were invited to meet on 30 and 31 March in Luxembourg to discuss sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. The meeting was chaired by Hubert Gambs, Deputy Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

After a first day of various visits, including the Belval Campus of the University of Luxembourg and the city of Schengen, the 55 Representatives of the national ministries in charge of SMEs (EU and COSME countries) met on the second day in Mondorf-les-Bains.

At the meeting, Luxembourg’s Minister for Small and Medium-sized Businesses, Lex Delles, emphasised that he particularly appreciates the work of the SME Envoys Network, which intensifies exchanges and cooperation between the EU Member States. “This work is all the more crucial, as small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the Luxembourg and European economy. However, we are facing new common challenges in Europe and around the world. Global warming, the depletion of natural resources and growing inequalities are climatic and societal challenges that we must all face,” Minister Delles said.

In the context of energy crisis, reinforced by the war in Ukraine, it is essential to move towards more sustainable operating models. Corporate social responsibility plays a key role in this context and allows us to pursue intelligent and sustainable growth. The Luxembourg government is therefore actively committed to promoting CSR among small and medium-sized enterprises,” he said, adding: “Europe must do more to encourage and support small and medium-sized enterprises in their transition to sustainable growth.”

Responding to the challenges of the green and digital transition

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, participated in the meeting by video conference. “In a geopolitical context that is more volatile than ever, the resilience of the European economy depends to a large extent on the capacity of its industrial fabric, in particular SMEs, to respond to the challenges of the green and digital transition,” Commissioner Breton said.

The European Commission, through its industrial policy, its regulatory simplification actions and its investment tools, in particular InvestEU, is continuing its efforts to offer SMEs a European framework that is conducive to their competitiveness, and to channel the necessary resources towards innovative, high-tech, growth-generating projects,” he said. The Commissioner added that, in this respect, the SME Envoys Network representatives constitutes a real transmission belt between the strategic objectives of the European Union and the economic vitality of its territories.

The network of representatives of EU Member States’ ministries responsible for small and medium-sized enterprises, SME Envoys, was created in 2011 to encourage and guide the development of SME-friendly regulations and policies in the European Union. This advisory group, which meets four times a year, works to improve the consultation process for European small and medium-sized enterprises. The SME Envoys meetings are an important channel of communication between the European Commission, small and medium-sized enterprises and their representative organisations.

For more information on SMEs in Europe, visit the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

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EEPA Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business

We have already introduced you to the first three categories in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Today it is the turn of Category 4 – Supporting the internationalisation of business.

Access to international markets can play a critical role in the success of a start-up. With this in mind, Category 4 in the EEPA recognises projects that make it easier for enterprises, and particularly small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups, to get a foothold on international markets, both inside the EU and around the world, and to benefit from the internationalisation of their business.

Let’s take a look at the type of projects that have succeeded in this category in previous years. The Category 4 winner in 2021 was the Iberian Centre for Research and Forest Firefighting (CILIFO) in Spain. To expand Spain’s and Europe’s firefighting capacity, the Firefighting Open Innovation Lab-CILIFO (FOIL-CILIFO) accelerator is supporting entrepreneurs, technologies, companies and start-ups involved in forest management and forest fire prevention and fighting. The project offers companies the opportunity to test innovative technologies in a real environment, helps them find international partners to replicate their results, and provides legal advice and support in accessing European funding with the help of specialised mentors.

To visit the Supporting the Internationalisation of Business winners in 2020, we need to get on our bikes and head to Portugal, to meet with Portugal Bike Value, which is working to support and promote the potential of the Portuguese bicycle industry, establishing it as a player in the European supply chain. Portugal Bike Value is also promoting Portugal as a destination for foreign investment in the area of soft mobility. By investing in cleaner technologies that have a reduced environmental footprint, the project is also helping to support the European Green Deal.

Participation in the EEPA had a major impact on Portugal Bike Value. “First of all, it gave us a real perspective on the value of the project. Then, this victory gave us a major boost in terms of communication, both in Portugal and abroad. The EEPA awards are highly visible and boost the image of the participants.

So, what advice do the Portugal Bike Value team have for projects that might be considering taking part in this year’s competition? “In our experience, the best advice is – participate. As long as you have a solid, well-developed project, you can only win. The gains that you will receive in terms of experience and contacts with other projects are overwhelming. If you can reach the final, you will gain additional visibility and in the event of victory, then the return is massive.

From Portugal, we head northwards to meet with the Category 4 winners from 2019. HealthTech Nordic is a community of over 230 Nordic start-ups offering digital healthcare solutions designed to empower patients and revolutionise healthcare services. The HealthTech community creates connections between innovative solutions, healthcare and the global market by advancing ideas and pooling resources.

Asked about their EEPA experience, HealthTech were enthusiastic. “Amazing! It was really nerve-wracking sitting in the audience and listening to the presentations of the three category finalists. Both we and the project from the Netherlands were convinced that the Romanian project would win, their film was so good! When we heard our project announced as the winner we couldn’t believe it! Overall it was an amazing evening and experience.”

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Winning the EEPA award had a major impact on the project. “I posted about the win on LinkedIn and Facebook and have never before gotten so many comments and congratulations! The project’s lead partner organization Innovation Skåne also published several very engaging posts in social media as well as sent out a widely read press release. We also watched as HealthTech Nordic got increased social media attention after the awards, so that growth has been quite exciting to watch.

Your project could also benefit from EEPA publicity. If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

In our next blog, we will look at previous winners in EEPA Category 5 – Supporting the sustainable transition. In the meantime, if you would like some more information, visit the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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Interview with Eurochambres President, Luc Frieden

The pandemic has left the global economy with two key points of vulnerability — high inflation and jumpy financial markets. A few months ago, entrepreneurs were optimistic about 2022, according to Eurochambres Economic Survey 2022 (EES2022), saying that it would be another tough year, but better than 2021. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February and subsequent escalation and developments have, however, led to a significant change in this outlook.

A key challenge identified by respondents to EES2022 was the price of energy and raw materials. This concern has heightened considerably as a consequence of the geopolitical tension with Russia.

We wanted to find out more about this, so we spoke to Mr. Luc Frieden, President of Eurochambres. We had an inspiring conversation with Mr. Frieden about how some of the challenges SMEs are facing have intensified from year to year, but also about the specific needs of SMEs for the navigation through the twin transition and the priorities of Eurochambres for this year.

I. What are the biggest challenges for SMEs in 2022?

Many European companies have already been impacted by the crisis, whether by closing down their production and distribution sites in Russia and Ukraine to keep their workers safe, as a result of unprecedented supply chain disruptions, or indeed further increases in already historically high energy, raw material and commodity prices.

While Eurochambres supports the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s military aggression, we cannot ignore the significant effect that they – as well as potential retaliatory measures from Russia – will have on Europe’s economy. Mitigating action is crucial to help European businesses absorb the impact. With the economy only just recovering after two years of deep recession, businesses need a favourable environment to help Europe get back on its feet.

The worsening of the overall situation of course strongly undermines business confidence, which showed a significant upturn a few months earlier in the Eurochambres Economic Survey 2022, based on responses from over 52.000 entrepreneurs in 26 European countries.

The survey showed that “affordable access to energy and raw materials” was seen as the greatest challenge for businesses this year, even before the impact of the Ukraine crisis.

The second main challenge that businesses highlight is the lack of skilled workers. The accelerating evolution of the labour market is exacerbating long-standing skills shortages in ICT and digital skills.

Labour costs rank third, followed by financing conditions, digitalisation of activities and lastly sustainability requirements. As most European Green Deal legislative proposals are still under negotiation, “sustainability requirements” are considered as a less important challenge for 2022. However, over the next few years, upcoming legislation in this crucial area – while primarily targeting big companies – will have an impact on SMEs and this needs to be measured and monitored carefully.

II. How did these challenges change in comparison to 2021?

The main challenges for European businesses identified for 2021 were labour costs, the repayment of debt accrued due to the COVID-19 crisis, and financing conditions. So energy and raw material costs as well as skills shortages are the two challenges that have heightened most year on year, while financial constraints abated somewhat compared to the height of the pandemic as businesses benefitted from a variety of instruments designed to increase their access to address liquidity shortages and stimulate investment.

These businesses challenges will unfortunately not be alleviated anytime soon. In the current circumstances, energy, raw material, commodity and product prices are increasing, and it will be critical to adequately support businesses financially, particularly in highly export-oriented sectors that need to maintain competitiveness.

The transformation to a climate-friendly and CO2-free economy requires great efforts from all companies in Europe. What do SMEs need in order to navigate through this transition?

Going green is not only a survival imperative, but also a business opportunity. For most SMEs, reaching zero or close to zero GHG emissions across the entire value chain would currently be very difficult. SMEs may not have the in-house sustainability expertise, time or resources to address their carbon footprint, and may find it difficult to measure and reduce value-chain emission reductions in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

The EU’s strategy of diversifying energy suppliers as quickly as possible, particularly with liquified natural gas deliveries from the US and the Middle East, is welcome. We must ensure that there is enough energy for consumers and businesses at reasonable prices. Failure to do so would have grave socio-economic implications across much of Europe.

SMEs need tailored and clear energy transition policies that incentivise investments in renewable and low carbon energy and hydrogen-based technologies. Considerable investments in research and development will be necessary – be it to align products with new requirements or new technologies – and they must come from both the private and the public sectors.

On the way to climate-neutrality, companies need planning security, a simple and clear legislative framework and minimised administrative burden, especially for SMEs.

To take the example of the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting, we believe that in the case of smaller companies, reporting should be exclusively voluntary as the scarcity of relevant information reported by smaller players is overwhelmingly linked to high costs and difficulties when it comes to illustrating ESG risks, scale breadth and complexity. Member States must adopt a bottom-up approach and uphold the use of the simplified standard across the supply chain, instead of forcing small businesses to comply with disproportional reporting requirements pushed by larger suppliers or buyers.

Moreover, competitiveness for European companies must be ensured, especially as long as other major economies have not reached and implemented equally ambitious measures in terms of climate policies.

Financing is a key prerequisite for SMEs to green their business models and drive the transition through eco-innovations; yet many small businesses lack the human and financial resources to undertake green actions.

European businesses are experiencing significant skill shortages, which will worsen as a result of the green transition. To avoid overburdening companies, which already fund most of employee training, new solutions must balance contributions while ensuring that training opportunities remain in line with labour market demands.

The green transition will be successful only if businesses receive the assistance they require to prepare their employees for new challenges and market developments.

III. What are the priorities of Eurochambres under your presidency?

Although this was not something I could have envisaged when my term started in January, our priorities right now relate to the war in Ukraine.

Most pressingly, we are working with the chamber network and humanitarian aid organisations to provide supplies to Ukraine and help displaced citizens to settle in other parts of Europe, building on chambers’ expertise in the integration of refugees in the workplace.

We are also gathering feedback from our members on how the war is affecting European businesses. This allows us to work with public authorities to mitigate the economic damage, not least at EU level.

The conflict in Ukraine is relevant also to the legislative agenda of the von der Leyen Commission. Priorities, timing and initiatives need to be reappraised and potentially recalibrated in consideration of the new economic shockwaves reverberating around Europe, just as the impact of the pandemic was abating. Eurochambres can play a key role in this process by providing information from the grass roots economy.

The crisis impacts on the pursuit of the twin digital and green transition; we fully support this, but will work with the institutions to ensure that it is pursued in a manner that takes into account the unprecedented increase in energy prices and concerns about supply chain security.

We will continue to contribute actively to the rollout of the Fit for 55 package, especially regarding the crucial availability of affordable green energy (including hydrogen) and a global level-playing field in CO2 pricing, thus defining critical legislative parameters for the energy transition and decarbonisation of the economy.

Global problems require global solutions, whether this is combatting the pandemic or addressing climate change. In this regard, Europe must work with its partners in the G20, the relevant UN bodies and the WTO to find multilateral solutions. Climate diplomacy and efforts toward a global CO2 price should be actively pursued. Eurochambres will thus continue to advocate for global economic cooperation and a proactive EU trade policy that will cement our links with key global growth centres such as the US, MERCOSUR, the ASEAN and others.

I firmly believe in the need to deepen the single market, a crucial tool in strengthening the European economy. It’s reassuring that the binary distinction between the single market and digital single market no longer prevails as these two aspects of our economy are inextricably linked. Several legislative files integral to the ‘Digital Decade’ are at different phases in their evolution; Eurochambres is working on each of these and the French and Czech Presidencies of the Council will be instrumental in their progress.

For more information on these topics, please follow the Eurochambres website. For the latest updates on SMEs, please follow the European Commission website, our Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as our social media Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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About Luc Frieden, President of Eurochambres

Luc Frieden is President of Eurochambres, the Federation of the European Chambers of commerce, industry and services. He also serves as Chairman of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.

Luc Frieden is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (BIL) S.A., Luxembourg’s oldest bank. In addition, he is a qualified lawyer (avocat à la Cour) and a partner with Elvinger Hoss, one of the largest Luxembourg law firms, where he advises on international corporate and banking matters. He further sits on the Board of Directors of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

From 2016 to 2019, he served as Chairman of the Board of the media group Saint Paul Luxembourg SA, the publisher of the leading Luxembourg newspaper. From 2014 to 2016, Luc Frieden was Vice-Chairman of Deutsche Bank Group in London and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank Luxembourg.

For most of his professional career, from 1998 to 2013, Luc Frieden was a cabinet minister in the Luxembourg Government. He served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Defence as well as Minister of Justice.

During his ministerial tenure, he was Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Justice of the European Union (2005) and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank (2013). He was a member of the Eurogroup and Ecofin Council of Ministers.
Luc Frieden was visiting professor in business law at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and has published numerous articles on legal and political topics. He is the co-author of the book Europa 5.0 on economic growth in Europe.

He sits on the board of the Luxembourg Red Cross, the Luxembourg Bankers Association and is a member of the Trilateral Commission.

Luc Frieden graduated in law from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and holds LLM degrees from the University of Cambridge and Harvard Law School. He speaks English, French, German and Luxembourgish fluently.

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EEPA Category 3: Improving The Business Environment and Supporting the Digital Transition

In previous posts we discussed at EEPA Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, sharing with you the entrepreneurial journeys taken by previous winners in these categories. Today, we will turn our attention to Category 3.

EEPA Category 3 is titled, Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition. This category was designed to recognise initiatives that are making Europe an attractive place to start, operate, grow and scale a business. It also rewards projects that simplify legislative and administrative procedures and support the digital transition of enterprises. We can learn a lot from the category winners in previous years, so let’s meet them…

The 2021 winner was Digital Commerce a Portuguese programme that supports the digital transformation of micro enterprises and SMEs in the commerce and services sector. In the three years of work prior to its EEPA win, the programme trained 67 digital consultants and provided expertise to 50 business and commercial associations. What’s more, 1,345 entrepreneurs graduated from its Digital Academy and the programme conducted 51 sessions and workshops as part of a National Roadshow, which involved that participation of around 3,000 entrepreneurs and traders.

BIND 4.0 – a public-private acceleration programme specialising in promoting Industry 4.0 projects, was 2020’s winner. BIND 4.0 targets technological start-ups with 4.0 solutions in advanced manufacturing, energy, health and food. The programme was set up as an open innovation platform, where start-ups from all over the world and large industrial companies established in the Basque Country could interact in an agile way to develop innovative high-impact projects. The start-ups receive intensive support aimed at accelerating their development and immersing them in the Basque industrial ecosystem.

The BIND 4.0 team was incredibly proud of their EEPA accomplishment: “This award is a source of pride, for consistently accomplishing our goal to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. Since our inception, we’ve accelerated over 100 start-ups and facilitated the development of more than 170 Industry 4.0 projects. This award provides additional validity to our international initiative so we can continue to attract talent to the Basque region and promote collaboration between young start-ups and large corporations,” they said.

When asked on what advice they would offer future EEPA participants, the BIND 4.0 team replied, “If you would like to see how your programme and efforts measure up against the other programmes being implemented throughout Europe, we recommend applying. The EEPA is a great way to stay informed about impactful programmes, ground-breaking initiatives and the benchmark models in the marketplace.”

One year earlier, in 2019, the award for improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition went to Fomento de la Contratacion Publica con Pymes, or “Public Procurement for SMEs”. This project was recognised for its work on implementing measures in the Spanish city of Valladolid to provide SMEs with opportunities in public procurement.

Their EEPA success gave the project a lot of visibility. “Winning the award has put a spotlight on our work and the change that we are trying to bring about for SME involvement in public procurement. The prize not only represents recognition of the teamwork and effort that went into the project, but also that this work has a positive effect on sustainable business development and thus on employment generation.,” the team said.

The team found preparations to apply for the EEPA to be an opportunity to bring closer local business associations. “Since 2016 our work surrounding the improvement of social efficiency in municipal public sector contracts has been under evaluation, and in response to that we put into place procedures to ensure that all awarded SMEs were up to the highest standard. This particular work helped us to prepare our EEPA application and finding the level of detail required. We also drew on past experience and collaborative work with local companies which allowed us to get the support of different local business associations for our EEPA candidacy.,” they said.

Since 2006, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards has been recognising projects that promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level. Next year it could be you! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

In our next blog, we will look at previous winners in EEPA Category 4 – Supporting the internationalisation of business, so stay tuned!

For more information, visit the European Commission website and get the latest uFor more information on these topics, please follow the European Commission website, for the latest updates, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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EEPA Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Join us as we continue our deep dive into the six European Promotion Enterprise Awards’ categories!

Last week, we took a look at the first category: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit. This week, we are turning our attention to the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category, which celebrates initiatives that help enhance the skills of entrepreneurs, managers and employees.

2021’s Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills prize was awarded to COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige (CfS), an initiative started by the German nonprofit, Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen (ISI). Through CfS, ISI promotes entrepreneurship amongst immigrant women in Berlin by providing free training and access to networking events. What’s more, ISI — which is itself managed by immigrant women — not only supports women looking to become entrepreneurs, but also those who are already entrepreneurs and are looking to expand their businesses.

Our aim is to be a meeting point where immigrant women can implement their ideas and realise their own professional projects in a new country’, said ISI’s Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker during the 2021 EEPA ceremony. ‘This international recognition confirms that we are on the right [track] and encourages us to keep on going. We dedicate this award [to] all these brave and amazing women…

Throughout the past decade, EEPA has celebrated numerous projects of this high caliber. We believe it is incredibly important that these initiatives receive the recognition that their work deserves.

In 2019, Cyprus’ IDEA Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre was the recipient of this category. To help develop Cyprus into a hub of innovation IDEA works to give Cypriots of all ages and genders entrepreneurial opportunities. The project places particular emphasis on making these opportunities accessible to people with special needs. Alongside this it also develops investment networks, encourages volunteer work, facilitates cooperation between businesses in different industries, and strives to shift perceptions of entrepreneurship in the country. As of 2019, forty-eight new businesses have been developed and seventy new jobs created as a direct result of IDEA’s work.

IDEA“, said manager Angela Panayiotou in 2019, “made a gigantic effort to create a culture and form a cluster of activities that boost innovation and entrepreneurship in our small country through partnerships and hard work … We [have committed] ourselves for more.”

Speaking about the preparation process for the application, the team admitted that while it was a challenging activity, it brought the team and collaborators closer and the support they received was incredible:

We needed to organise all the evidence of our activities to demonstrate the extent of them and our commitment to the EEPA values. We were amazed by the willingness of our community (government partners, startups, associates, collaborators and friends) to support our candidacy and provide testimonies to our work. Writing the application was a team activity that had its own ‘local’ results as well! It brought our team and collaborators closer and boosted our confidence.

Sweden’s Business Generator was the category II prize winner in 2017. With expertise in analytics, finance, customer relationship management, business development, and innovation, amongst other fields, Business Generator’s various teams provide external support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that would not otherwise have the resources to afford it. In addition to the extensive and wide-ranging expertise of Business Generator’s teams, their third-party perspective enables them to objectively analyze the challenges faced by SMEs and more effectively disrupt the status quo.

There is great potential for improvement when it comes to developing knowledge about creating economic growth’, said Business Generator’s Anette Rhudin in 2017. ‘Fortunately, the debate is changing — slowly [but] surely — [and the] EEPA and [a] growing awareness [of] SMEs have arrived at the right time! It’s very inspiring…

About the European Enterprise Promotion Award

The EEPA rewards those promoting entrepreneurship and the development of small businesses locally, nationally, and regionally.

Initiatives in any EU Member State; Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Kosovo; Montenegro; North Macedonia; Serbia; Turkey; Armenia; Moldova; Ukraine; Iceland; and the United Kingdom are eligible to be nominated for prizes, as are local, national, and regional public-private partnerships in any EU Member States; Iceland; Montenegro; Serbia; Turkey; and Ukraine.

More information regarding eligibility criteria can be found on the European Commission website.

For the latest EEPA-related news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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.

For more information on these topics, please follow the European Commission website, for the latest updates, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

*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.

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SME Week Newsletter 2022: time to catch up!

Welcome to the first edition of the SME Week Newsletter for 2022! 

It is only the beginning of the year, and we are just about ready to start thinking about the 2022 edition of the European SME Week.

Through events, competitions and initiatives, this pan-European campaign helps existing entrepreneurs to find support and also encourages people to set up their own businesses. The SME Assembly, our flagship event, will take place towards the end of the year in a location we hope to share shortly.

As always, we would like to hear any stories regarding your start of the year and invite you to share any news with us for the Promoting Enterprise News Portal. 

We would also like to introduce you to the new Your Europe page avalaible in Ukranian in this link, and encourage you to share it on your social media account.

Read more >>

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER AND DON’T MISS ANY UPDATES

Make sure that you are also following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop!

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Empowering girls and women in business

For over a century, March 8th has been seen as a day that holds special meaning for women. On International Women’s Day, we asked ourselves a question: how can we empower girls and women, entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs to be?

This brings us back to one of the workshops that took place during SME Assembly 2021 that was built around this topic and brought to light a number of actions we all can take, no matter our role in the business community.

Here is a list of three simple actions that would help empowering girls and women in business:

I. Promote women entrepreneurs

The data from WEgate, the e-platform launched by the European Commission to support women entrepreneurs across Europe, shows that women need to see examples of other women entrepreneurs, they need to have business models and to find references in which they can recognize themselves, as Eva Merloni, Project Manager at WEgate, told us during the workshop.

II. Support girls and women to enhance their digital and entrepreneurial competences

This will boost their confidence to use those competencies in STEM areas by spotting opportunities, innovating and creating value for society. This will bring a positive impact on the economy by enabling the application of these transversal competences to societal challenges and different economic sectors.

III. Access to finance

Quoting Virginia Woolf who said that in order to become a writer a woman needs a room of her own and 500 pounds, Margherita Bacigalupo, Scientific Officer at Joint Research Centre (JRC) at European Commission’s Science Service, highlighted that women need access to finance and that economic independence is key in the evolution of women entrepreneurs.

This is just a small part of what was discussed during the workshop we mentioned at the beginning of this article, so we invite you to watch the entire session below:

For more information on this topic, please follow the European Commission website, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal, as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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