EEPA 2018 – Learning from Portuguese National Coordinator Helena Moura

EEPA continues and so does the work of all of the National Coordinators. Today on Promoting Enterprise we are joined by Portuguese coordinator Helena Moura, who has been involved with EEPA since the inception of the scheme in 2005. Continue reading to learn from her experiences and to find out what goes into the Portuguese EEPA campaign.

How have you been preparing EEPA 2018 so far?

IAPMEI, the Portuguese body responsible for EEPA coordination, did a preliminary benchmark comparing the actions carried out during the previous EEPA editions versus related results. This allowed us to define an integrated action plan based on:

  • a core message combining “motivation” with the benefits of participation in EEPA, an EU initiative carried out in more than 30 countries
  • sharing information on awarded projects
  • personalised mailing, by post, from the President of IAPMEI addressed to a wide range of entities (over 800), including ministries, and a personalised email to over 1 300 other entities
  • strengthening the collaboration with national and regional stakeholders
  • highlighting EEPA on the IAPMEI website and on the portal of the Portuguese Enterprise Europe Network consortium
  • reinforcing the dissemination of EEPA material via IAPMEI social networks and newsletters
  • researching online and through media for eligible initiatives

This was combined with a regular assessment so as to allow for a reformulation of the action plan where needed.

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for reaching out to potential applicants?

Based on experience, my top 3 pieces of advice would be to do your research, establish close cooperation with stakeholders and create those direct contacts and finally, put in the hard work! Several of the Portuguese projects awarded in previous editions, including on EU level, come from research carried out by IAPMEI. Once you have identified the potential candidate, it is also very important to identify the right person to be your contact. This will allow to better introduce the EEPA scheme, motivate them to participate and to give all the necessary support and follow-up.

IAPMEI developed a committed task force which is dedicated to motivating participants and supporting the preparation of entries, something which has definitely been s key for reaching out to potential applicants.

What will be the main aspects of your EEPA 2018 campaign?

For the current campaign IAPMEI has widened the scope of the target audience, and enlarged the dedicated task force for direct contacting of potential applicants. There has also been additional training for the task force members, so as to have more assertive and effective communication with potential applicants.

What advice would you give to projects applying in the newly re-instated category ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’?

It is a challenging category, but not impossible to apply for! Portugal was awarded in this category in the first year, and the winner was found through careful IAPMEI research. My advice would be to take the time to identify and contact the entities with the potential to apply for this category, and most importantly don’t give up!

What is the most important thing you have learnt during your experience as National Coordinator?

Having worked in EEPA from the very beginning (2005), I would say that it is a challenge to promote enterprises and entrepreneurship and, mostly, to encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. However, despite the difficulties the visibility and impact that the projects and related promoters achieve with EEPA participation is important and should definitely be highlighted when recruiting potential projects. When you are promoting the EEPA think about what opportunities could come as a result of participation, and share that with your potential applicants.

Since 2006, Portugal has achieved more than 14% of the total of the EEPA national entries, which demonstrates the commitment of the Portuguese promoters participating in the initiative. These results are in line with the high entrepreneurship performance in Portugal and demonstrate the dynamism and effort that the country has been carrying out to promote the business activity in the Europe.

Any other National Coordinator experiences that you would like to share?

I have witnessed the enormous commitment from all the involved parties, from the huge dissemination carried out by the European Commission and, at national level by IAPMEI, the great commitment of the President of IAPMEI and of course that of the National Jury. Without their commitment and dedication, the EEPA would not be what they are in Portugal today. We are also lucky enough to be able to organise a national ceremony with the participation of a member of government, and featuring the testimonials of previously awarded Portuguese projects.

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes of EEPA? Read the latest national coordinator interview here with Estonian coordinator Kaupo Sempelson and keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for all the latest EEPA news.

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