Innovative business ideas can come from all sorts of people, as seen today in the next European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016 winner interview. Read about these successful project journeys, and pick up their useful tips and tricks for future applicants.
This interview looks at one of the EEPA 2016 Special Mentions, Latvian project Radam Novadam  (Create for County), represented here by project coordinator Andris Cheksters. This project, which received Erasmus+ funding that was granted by Agency of International Programms for Youth in Latvia, is a competition for students with three key objectives: To generate added economic value in Latvian regions, To discover and unleash the skills and abilities of students to help them along in their careers and finally to build a new generation of socially responsible entrepreneurs.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
I first heard about the EEPA competition when I was working on the project, and thought it looked like a good opportunity. We were planning to launch the project one more time and thought that should we be recognised with this award that it might help us obtain the necessary funding to continue providing this opportunity for students to get into the entrepreneurial mindset.
How did you go about preparing your application?
We actually applied quite late in June, and in Latvia the national winners are announced in July so we did not have much time to prepare. It was actually a surprise when we found out we were national winners because we did not hear anything for quite a while so just assumed that nothing had happened and forgot about the application.
What was it like to win the award and what kind of response did you receive?
It was definitely a surprise and it felt good to be promoted on a European level. We actually were surprised twice, first by being announced as national winners and again when we found out we were going to be a special mention at the SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava! It made our work feel appreciated and recognised, which is great for our project because the student teams in the competition can also benefit from extra exposure.
How did winning the award immediately impact your work?
It was not particularly big news on a national level, but it was a big thing both for myself and all the project partners. There were several articles written about the project, and the exposure the award gives definitely helped with our credibility. I am not sure if this is a direct result of the exposure, but around the same time we also managed to secure some funding we had applied for to help continue running the competition for students.
Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?
The award has already helped in terms of scaling up the project, which really suits my vision for this project’s future. In future hopefully this project can be replicated across different European countries so that all European students and youth can start companies and use their local advantages in order to create international teams and in turn successful businesses. The project has a different structure to other ‘business idea’ competitions with a reality show style format and a focus on actual results and created economic values, so I want to bring this innovation and entrepreneurial opportunity to other European countries.
Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?
This award provides recognition which is always good for project, especially if that recognition comes from a higher and recognised entity like the European Commission. This level of validity and credibility makes it much easier to launch a project or to look for funding, which is support we need with our innovative approach.
The project will re-launch again on 6 February to continue the search for inspiring entrepreneurs!