Time for the Category 3: ‘Improving the Business Environment’ introductions! The Jury has selected four projects as 2017 finalists all with different innovative ideas. This year the Category 3 projects represent the Netherlands, Austria, Italy and Spain.
Innofest  works with eight summer festivals in northern Netherlands as living labs for innovation, and provides a safe environment for entrepreneurs to test their prototypes before bringing them onto the market. Innofest sees festivals as temporary mini societies, with their own set of challenges in the areas of water, food, logistics, energy and waste, among others. As contained environments, product testing results are measurable, and can reduce innovation failure rates in an area with many SMEs but that is lagging behind the rest of the Netherlands in innovation. During the festival on-site support is offered along with networking opportunities and follow-up guidance.
‘Innovation to Company ’, the project from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna, brings together innovative and flexible start-ups with established enterprises with resources and market positioning. Through active networking and matchmaking, start-ups help with the development of innovation and solving of challenges that an established enterprise may face. In turn the established enterprises offer resources and market placement, making the cooperation mutually beneficial. To date, 16 enterprises (2015-2017) and 150 start-ups (2017 not yet included) have participated, and 2.5 million EUR in potential profit opportunities for start-ups has been generated.
Manufacturing Project – The Green Innovation Factory  is transforming the historic Rovereto factory into an industrial innovation centre. The centre covers eco-sustainable construction, renewable energy, technologies for environmental management and monitoring, natural resources, and the circular economy. Within the project exists the Pole of Mechatronics, which involves public bodies, private individuals, and trade associations. It is an innovative hub serving a widespread production chain that involves the qualified participation of companies ranging from automotive, robotics, sensors, industrial automation, up to biomedical industries. It houses productive spaces, technological workshops, and school buildings.
Reempresa  pioneers the innovative concept of a trading market for SMEs in Catalonia, which helps ‘re-entrepreneurs’ i.e. buyers take ownership of an existing SME. The business transfer scheme preserves existing businesses and jobs, thereby ensuring continuity, and promotes economic growth. It also promotes awareness about public-private collaboration and the benefits of standardising business transfer facilitation procedures. Since 2011, Reempresa has successfully transferred more than 1,230 businesses, preserved more than 3,500 direct jobs and generated more than EUR 56.8 million in investment. This one-stop-shop platform brings retiring business owners, or others who choose to sell their business on, together with young entrepreneurs that wish to acquire a business without having to start from zero. From the first meeting, through negotiation to the conclusion of the transfer, Reempresa provides mentoring and support to ensure a smooth transfer and the future viability of the business. The scheme is also an employment opportunity, providing sustainable careers for the ‘re-entrepreneurs’, 40% of which were previously unemployed. Not only is Reempresa a national success story, but it is also an example of a highly innovative and inspiring project with high replicability potential.
Who will be the Category 3 winner for 2017? Find out this November at the SME Assembly 2017  in Tallinn! Find out about the Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit  and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills  nominees, and stay tuned for Category 4 introductions next week!