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Tag ‘Bulgaria’

Follow your ideas – become an entrepreneur

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The Entrepreneurship Conference “Follow your ideas – become an entrepreneur” will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria on 6 March 2018 under the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the European Union. The conference is organised by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Bulgaria and the European Commission.

The conference will bring together participants from all over Europe and include: young entrepreneurs, SMEs, education representatives, science organisations, NGOs and the European institutions. During the conference participants will question youth entrepreneurship in the EU and explore how best to promote entrepreneurship as a viable career option for European youth.

The conference will be divided into three main panels:

  • Entrepreneurship education and youth entrepreneurship in Europe
  • The young entrepreneurs speak
  • Best practices in promotion youth entrepreneurship in Europe

Speakers will include representatives from Bulgarian ministries, the European Commission, youth organisations, Ideas from Europe finalists and former European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitors.

For more information visit the event website.

Ideas from Europe – Wildcard candidates 2018

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Have you voted for your favourite Ideas from Europe wildcard candidate yet? Read on for a re-cap of all the wildcard candidates and be sure to make your voice heard before voting closes to get your candidate to the finals on 24 April in the Hague later this year.


Michalis Agapiou, Novelseas (Cyprus)

The Syndeseas Integrated Solution is an innovative tool, managed by a team of Shipping MRV Auditors. The tool is designed to support and facilitate the enhanced implementation of new and existing maritime regulations as well as help reduce emissions and the use of fossil fuels.

Watch the pitch here.

Mark Marinov, (Bulgaria) makes electric mobility easy to understand, desirable and accessible. They produce and distribute EV charging stations, as well as own the largest online media for electric mobility in Bulgaria. In addition they spread their message through the production of a unique TV series featuring Bulgarian celebrities.

Watch the pitch here.

Martina Cvetković, Balmaris (Croatia) 

Balmaris uses a system to filter ballast water without the use of chemicals. This reduces the damaging effects of invasive alien species introduced via ballast water that are recorded in the seas all over the world and that are having considerable economic, ecological, and environmental impacts.

Watch the pitch here.

Radek Hušek, Sens Foods (Czech Republic)

Sens Foods is looking to use insects to create a whole new range of sustainable, next-gen food products. Using cricket flour, they have developed unique protein and energy bars – gluten and lactose free, with the highest quality protein from crickets and premium natural ingredients.

Watch the pitch here.

Margus Kullerkupp, Sol Navitas (Estonia)

Sol Navitas provides living quarters with natural fresh air with the help of solar energy. As a result global air is less polluted because the technology only uses existing solar energy that does not emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

Watch the pitch here.

Hugo Mercier, Rythm (France)

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, yet most people still know relatively little about sleep and its implications for our bodies. With Dreem, the breakthrough wearable technology that improves deep sleep quality, Rythm not only studies our sleep behaviour but actively enhances our deep sleep.

Watch the pitch here.

Sotiris Bantas, Centaur (Greece)

Centaur are passionate about food safety and enabling abundance. Created by an agronomy expert and software engineer, Centaur brings intelligent technology to history’s oldest industry, by keeping crops healthy and the world happily fed.

Watch the pitch here.

Priszcilla Várnagy, Be-Novative (Hungary)

To be engaged and to be creative, people need unusual triggers to create breakthroughs. Be-Novative invites corporate and individual users to a virtual brainstorming during which participants can find solutions to the world’s big problems or for everyday life situations, using the power of creativity and community.

Watch the pitch here.

Andrea Civra, Panoxyvir (Italy)

We spend nearly five years of our lives coughing and having clogged noses. The Panoxyvir spray is based on molecules produced by our body that have the ability to modify cell membrane composition, which can be used to cure colds and prevent the onset of symptoms.

Watch the pitch here.

Anna Ramata-Stunda, Alternative Plants (Latvia)

Alternative Plants is a biotech start-up that develops plant stem cell cultures for sustainable production of botanical ingredients. Plant stem cell technology is our tool to make inaccessible ingredients from rare medicinal plants accessible to all.

Watch the pitch here.

Violeta Masteikienė, FriendsJam (Lithuania)

Friends Jam is an organisation that connects big families with gardeners or arboretum owners. Together they collect the surplus berries and fruits from the year’s harvest. These are then used to either complement the existing food budget for a large family (allowing them to save for other items), or are made into jams which the families can then sell for extra money.  

Watch the pitch here.

Klaus Conrad, Easy Peasy Coding (Malta)

Easy Peasy Coding uses technology to make children think. Their programs include after-school and joint parent/child classes. The initiative also trains teachers, and provides schools with classroom-ready resources like student workbooks, as well as guidance on how to link coding to core curriculum subjects.

Watch the pitch here.

Artur Racicki, SEEDia (Poland)

SEEDiA creates products that gather solar energy. Their solar benches, stands and other products utilise the energy they gather to charge mobile devices (both with USB ports and wireless chargers), Wi-Fi hotspots, heated seats, radio, LEDs and screens.

Watch the pitch here.

Flavia Oprea, ENTy (Romania)

ENTy aims to empower Ear-Nose-Throat-doctors to issue data-based assessments. The solution consists in a lighter, portable, lower cost device that generates numerical indicators which are easy to interpret.

Watch the pitch here.

Tomáš Brngál, Virtual Medicine (Slovakia)

Every student of medicine has to pass an anatomy exam, which is considered to be one of the toughest. Virtual Medicine has the following mission: simplified and effective learning of anatomy. This was the reason for which they created the first virtual anatomical classroom, in which students are learning about anatomy using virtual reality.

Watch the pitch here.

Jernej Vidmar, AgiliCity (Slovenia)

Urban planning methods are completely obsolete and are practically the same as they were 100 years ago. That’s why AgiliCity is developing an innovative solution that moves urban planning to industry 4.0 standards, making it a lot smarter, more flexible and transparent.

Watch the pitch here.

Alejandro Badolato, Auto Drive Solutions (Spain)

Auto Drive Solutions (ADS) is specialised in the precise guidance and positioning of trains, automobiles and other vehicles. ADS develops innovative and disruptive positioning systems and developed a first prototype that has been successfully tested on the Madrid Metro.

Watch the pitch here.

Jonathan Burr, Howz (United Kingdom)

In the UK, 3 million people juggle paid work with caring responsibilities for the elderly. Howz brings peace of mind, by monitoring the elderly’s use of everyday objects, learning what’s normal and alerting the family when things look out of the ordinary.

Watch the pitch here.

Best of luck to all of the wildcard candidates with all of their innovative solutions and we look forward to finding out who will fill the last spot on stage at the Ideas from Europe finals in The Hague on 24 April 2018…

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

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Have we met all of the projects competing for a place on the EEPA 2017 European shortlist? Almost! Today Promoting Enterprise presents the final category of national winners, Category 6: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship. This category recognises initiatives that promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, legal migrants, disabled, or people from ethnic minorities.

In 2016 the prize was won by The Rotterdam Business Case from the Netherlands, for their project that strives to help innovative individuals and entrepreneurs who have failed with a venture or are in financial difficulties.

10 projects will be considered for a European title in this category. Well done to all the national winners and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Bulgaria: Listen Up Online Platform for Equal Access

France: Adie Microfranchise Solidaire (AMS)

France: Start’Up Lycée

Iceland: Social and green impact of an electronic drug administration system in an Icelandic nursing home for the elderly

Malta: Setting up our Social Enterprise

Netherlands: IMC Weekendschool

Poland: Karlino na drodze rozwoju

Portugal: MUNDAR: Change your world – young entrepreneurship contest


Slovakia: DATAROOM

Sweden: STAR (Social Innovation och Tillväxt för Alla i Regionen)

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Investing in entrepreneurial skills

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Time to meet the next category of European projects competing to be on the EEPA 2017 shortlist! Look here if you missed Category 1, but today it is the turn of Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills.

This category recognises initiatives that improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills. In 2016 the prize was won by Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom, for their project working to embed entrepreneurship into education curriculums.

This year there are 9 outstanding European projects competing in this category. Best of luck to all the projects and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Belgium: VentureLab – Student Entrepreneurship for Change

Bulgaria: Implement a Strategy for local development in the municipality of Ardino and implementation process of the Strategy for Community-led local development in the municipalities of Ardino and Djebel

Cyprus: Sound Labor Relations, Contemporary Enterprises  

Estonia: Tech Sisters & Digigirls

Ireland: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Creating an Entrepreneurial Mindset Amongst Engineers: The DkIT BSc (Hons) in Engineering Entrepreneurship

Latvia: University of Latvia Student Business Incubator

Lithuania: Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program – ATVERK

Malta: The Maltese Business Story Initiative

Sweden: Business Generator

#InvestEU – The innovation of Europe

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#InvestEU represents some of the incredible initiatives and innovative projects that the European Union (EU) is supporting. To find out about what #InvestEU is and what kinds of projects it covers, read the previous Promoting Enterprise articleBut what about some concrete examples about where this funding is going? What kind of innovation is going on in Europe? Promoting Enterprise has selected a few projects to highlight from across different sectors:

Support for research start-ups, France

Quadrivium 1 is a €56.1 million seed fund launched in 2013 by French venture capital firm Seventure Partners. It supports high-potential start-ups in the life science – including bio, health and clean technology – and digital and robotic technology sectors. The aim of this project is to give startups extra support in the early stages so that their potential innovations are not lost due to financial issues, it also helps these startups gain recognition which is very useful when they are starting out.

Villach vocational school, Austria

Villach vocational school in Carinthia, Austria gives professional support to young people who have finished school but aren’t ready to take the next step. The aim of the school is to give youth aged from 21-24 additional support to develop core skills needed for the labour market. From traditional training in writing and arithmetic, to building of new media skills, the school provides opportunities to pursue a variety of vocational paths. Since early 2011, more than 220 people have completed its comprehensive support programme. The school is backed by the EU and Carinthia’s Social Ministry Service.

Jennewein: a biotech leader, Germany

12 years after founding Jennewein Biotechnologie in Rheinbreitbach, Germany, Managing Director Stefan Jennewein has reached a defining moment. His company is a leader in its field and with help from an EU-backed loan, it is expanding production, allowing it to safeguard jobs. This once small start-up aims to make the production of  monosaccharides and oligosaccharides, in particular sugar molecules, easy and cost effective. This in turn will allow for further research into the health benefits of these sugars and potential product development.

Smart beekeeping systems, Bulgaria

Bees play a huge role in maintaining the balance of nature. Food production, biodiversity and environmental sustainability all depend on them. EU funding has helped Bulgarian company Bee Smart Technologies to develop a remote digital diagnostic and monitoring system for beekeeping. This enables beekeepers to breed more and healthier bees.

Follow the links to find out more about these projects and be sure to visit the Follow the links to find out more about these projects and be sure to visit the #InvestEU page and browse through all the other projects!

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

This week, Ivaylo Grancharov from the award-winning Brandiko project in Bulgaria reflects on the impact of winning an EEPA two years on…

Ivaylo Grancharov, Brandiko project at the Ministry of Economy in Bulgaria

Name Ivaylo Grancharov
Organisation Brandiko project at the Ministry of Economy in Bulgaria
Country Bulgaria
Award won Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Year 2014

Brandiko (3)What was it like to win the award?

I accepted this award as the Oscar in our field of work. Given at the EU level, EEPA is the highest award in the field of entrepreneurship promotion. I didn’t expect it as it was the only time Bulgaria has ever been nominated for an EEPA. It was a big surprise – first ever nomination, first ever win – and the only one for us so far. This makes it even more precious for me and my country.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The media attention was great. The Euronews programme, Business Planet, hosted by the great Serge Rombi, made a wonderful video about Brandiko. Some national magazines also showed interest. It was very flattering, and encouraging.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

My colleagues were very happy for me. We were grateful!

What has been the long-term impact?

After getting the award, Brandiko had its best ever season – record-breaking participation from school kids who wanted to be part of the project.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

As Bulgaria had never been shortlisted at the European level before, my motivation was that this project was good enough to portray the country as a place where projects for entrepreneurial support can happen and possess European-level quality.

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?

I was very careful by presenting all the important details, and providing statistics to prove the project’s impact. It was important to provide accurate and to-the-point data and illustrate it in the most appropriate way.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

If you believe you’ve done a great job with your project, don’t hesitate to show it to the world! Good luck, everybody! The EU is the greatest place in the world!

To find out more about Brandiko, visit the website at or watch the video.  

Ideas From Europe

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Ideas from Europe logo

In under a month’s time, the nine most inspiring ideas from entrepreneurs with the potential to change the world will be chosen from across Europe’s 28 Member States at the Ideas from Europe Finals at the SME Assembly in Luxembourg on 20 November.

The initiative, which started in spring, aims to show that Europe’s future is in the hands of today’s entrepreneurs as they are the creators of businesses and jobs. By sharing their ideas they will inspire and encourage people to use their entrepreneurial spirit and, in turn, become the lifeblood of Europe’s economy.

Following the selection at the SME Assembly in Luxembourg and the online vote, the top ten ideas will then go through to a final judging session at The Hall of Knights on 31 March 2016 in The Hague.

The selection process is still ongoing, but below are some of the candidates involved so far…

Belgium: Laurent Eschenauer, Fleye 

Fleye is the brainchild of Dimitri Arendt and Laurent Eschenauer, two experienced engineers passionate about drones. It all started as a prototype hacked over numerous week-ends in Laurent’s attic, and is now a funded venture company, founded in December 2014 and supported by The Faktory, a private Tech Startup Accelerator and Seed Investment Fund from Belgium.

Bulgaria: Rennie Popcheva-Capri, Embrioo 

Rennie is the founder of – an Open Innovation platform recognized by the International Jury at Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen (Special Prize Winner, 2013); Winner at Innovation challenge by IF Sheffield University (2012), TEDx speaker, featured in Forbes.

Cyrpus: Arestis Vrontis, Helikas Robotics

Arestis Vrontis , founder and Technical Director of Helikas Robotics (2010). After a number of years spent studying Marine Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Arestis went on to be production manager to “EPISKEVI” Machine Shop. Arestis has a lifelong fascination with robots and has tinkered with them for years designing and building multicopters and fixed wing aircrafts. He is also a member of Technical Chamber of Cyprus. Recently he has developed a vertical wind turbine for urban areas.

Finland: Pirkka Palomäki, Enevo

Pirkka Palomäki is the COO & CTO at Enevo, a privately held company providing smart logistics optimization solutions for the waste management and recycling industry. Prior to joining Enevo he has worked at F-Secure Corporation in several executive management positions including the head of strategy, CTO and Interim CEO. Earlier in his career, he has been with Telecom Finland (currently TeliaSonera) in business development and product marketing roles. Palomäki was recognized as the CTO of the year in 2011 by the Technology Academy of Finland.

Germany: Gerhard Dust, PolyCare.

Dr. Gerhard Dust started his career in the construction business. After service in the Luftwaffe and graduation from university he followed his family tradition of working in the book industry. Being COO of Libri 1991-2008, he earned an international reputation for the analysis, design and implementation of high level automated storage and distribution systems. In 2010, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, he founded PolyCare.

Ireland: Nora Khaldi, Nuritas

Dr. Nora Khaldi is a mathmetician with a PhD in Molecular Evolution and the founder of Nuritas, a company that has revolutionised the discovery of health-benefitting molecules using artificial intelligence and machine-learning. Throughout her career, Nora’s ambition has been to disrupt the status quo and introduce new ways of thinking to address many of the health and sustainability issues facing the world today.


Where are they now?

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The winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are shining examples of the promotion of entrepreneurship.


This month, we spoke to the 2014 winner in the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills winner, Ivaylo Grancharov, from Brandiko – Training in Building a Brand and Protecting it with a Community Trade Mark, which educates students on how to build a brand and register the brand as a Community Trade Mark.

Students establish training companies and are mentored on how to build and manage their own brand, market the brand and use it to increase sales. Pupils also learn about the importance of intellectual property protection. More than 1,700 students have completed the Brandiko programme.

1. What did you learn from your experience with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards?

First of all, EEPA is a great initiative and I hope it will continue to grow. The European Commission deserves to receive our gratitude for standing behind it and maintaining it. I would like to also thank everyone who is involved in making the Awards happen. It was a fantastic night!

The EEPA ceremony is a culmination of many months of preparation and anticipation. But it’s also the climax of many years of work. I call think of the EEPAs as the Oscars for SME policy in Europe. It is the most prestigious recognition a policy maker, or another public organisation can get in the EU. It’s amazing!

In my opinion, our advantage was that we connected Brandiko with the Community Trade Mark – a very important element in doing business in the Single Market that not many people take advantage of.

Overall, the lessons we learned included finding a universal problem to solve, finding a solution to it, working on it effectively and presenting it in a way that is easy to understand.

2. What did winning a European Enterprise Promotion Award at the 2014 SME Assembly in Naples mean to you?

After facing some challenges in 2013 and 2014, we decided to apply for the EEPAs. We were very excited to find out that Brandiko got a nomination and then when we received the category award for Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, we were suddenly media stars.

Euronews’ Business Planet also did a fantastic piece on Brandiko and we are very grateful for the support of the presenter, Serge Rombi. After all of this hard work, we saw the pay off in the form of great media coverage.

We now feel an even bigger responsibility to make Brandiko a continued success. Now, we have to deliver even more and should be followed by many other successful projects.

Accepting the award was a moment of a lifetime. And as I said at the ceremony – “Napoli, sempre nei nostri cuori!”

3. How has your organisation grown since winning the Grand Jury Prize?

Brandiko is now working with a new partner who are helping us reach a new system of entrepreneurial education at schools in Bulgaria.

We are now in our fifth season of Brandiko and this year we expect to see more than 60 training companies join Brandiko – a new record for us.

4. What advice can you give to other organisations wanting to take part in the Awards?

I would recommend that applicants remember that you can be successful with the EEPAs. Do not let challenges get in the way! It is also important to be creative and never set a limit on success. It is also important to be clear in your application and demonstrate the value of the project through statistics.

Secret of Success – Hristo Tenchev (XS Software JSC)

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Hristo Tenchev - XS Software JSC

I had the chance to convert my greatest hobby, computer games, into a business. With five friends, we created the first web browser based game in Bulgaria (Bulfleet) that rapidly became very popular and we grew very fast. Eight years later we have more than 35 million registered players in over 80 countries worldwide. We started lean but venture capital was key to helping us break into new markets and develop new platforms.

The best way to help start ups and SMEs like me grow would be to develop more incubator and accelerator funds and programmes; and to ensure that education is of highest quality for all, especially in IT.

“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we kick-start new ideas, services, products and make our lives better.”

Hero(es): Computer games

Start up capital: Own

Growth rate p.a: 10%

Mentor(s): Yes, including my partner Svetlin Nakov

Can you code? Yes

Employees: 130

Education / Training: Computing

Product / Service:  Gaming

European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2014: Winners announced

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The seven winners of the eighth annual European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced in Naples at the SME Assembly, which is the cornerstone of European SME Week.

The Grand Jury Prize was awarded to Encouraging Business Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children, a Hungarian project that seeks to help mothers develop the skills and mind-set to launch and run successful businesses. It offers online resources and training programmes. The project also holds the Entrepreneurial Women’s Roundtable to help mothers navigate the world of business and build relationships with one another.

Winners in the six official categories included organisations from Lithuania, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. These and many other initiatives encompassed areas as diverse as technology, sustainability and textile and proposed innovative solutions to a range of issues from pollution to lack of corporate social responsibility.

Below is the breakdown of winners and runners-up in each of the six competing categories.


Category 1: Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit


Lithuania – Mobile Apps Laboratories

Responsible organisation: App Camp, JSC


Runners up:

Austria  AplusB build!

Responsible organisation: build! Gründerzentrum Kärn GmbH

Netherlands – 20-80 Learning

Responsible organisation: Willem van Oranje College


Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills


Bulgaria  Brandiko

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Economy & Energy


Runners up:

Germany – Brennerei Next Generation Lab

Responsible organisation:  Wirtschaftsförderung Bremen GmbH

Serbia – Western Balkans Business Challenge

Responsible organisation: Junior Achievement Serbia


Category 3: Improving the Business Environment


Spain – Start-up in 3

Responsible organisation: Ministry of Finance and Public Administration (MINHAP)


Runners up: 

Italy – Grow and Compete with Business Network  Contracts

Responsible organisationUnioncamere Emilia-Romagna

United Kingdom  The Sharp Project

Responsible organisation: The Sharp Project


Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business


Italy – Mirabilia: European Network of UNESCO Sites

Responsible organisation: Matera Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture


Runners up:

Netherlands – Get in the Ring

Responsible organisation: Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship

France –The Living Heritage Company Label

Responsible organisation: Directorate for Competitiveness, Industry and Services


Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency


Portugal – AMS – Thinking Ahead

Responsible organisation: Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal, Public Enterprise (“AICEP”) in partnership with AMS-BR STAR PAPER, S.A. (“AMS”).


Runners up:

Malta – EU LIFE+ Investing in Water

Responsible organisation: Malta Business Bureau

Turkey – Developing a Widely Applicable, Low-Cost Model for Clean Production in the Textile Finishing Industry

Responsible organisation: Uludağ Textile Exporters Association (UTEA)


Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship


Germany –Wiesbaden Engaged

Responsible organisation: Municipality of the City of Wiesbaden – Agency for Social Work


Runners up:

Poland – Consortium of the design “Construction and equipment of the Intramunicipal Vocational Rehabilitation Centre”

Responsible organisation: Polish Association for Persons with Mental Handicap, Szczecin Branch

France – The Entrepreneurs Team

Responsible organisation: National Association of Designer Groups (ANGC)


Special mentions:

United Kingdom  Primary to Professional

Responsible organisation: Gower College Swansea

Austria – Sources of Strength

Responsible organisation: Industrie- und Wirtschaftsentwicklung Murtal GmbH

Portugal – DO IT – Ideas of Portuguese Origin

Responsible organisation: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


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