Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Tag ‘Coronavirus’

Expression of interest – Interregional innovation projects to support coronavirus response and recovery

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The original press release is available in the Commission Press Corner.

On 27 July 2020 the European Commission launched a call for expressions of interest for thematic partnerships to pilot interregional innovation projects that support the response and recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

This call serves to assist regions in identifying opportunities emerging from the crisis and using them to “build on green and digital transformation for the recovery of the most affected sectors, such as health and tourism”.

Transnational and interregional partnerships between regional authorities and other stakeholders (e.g. SMEs, universities, research clusters etc.) under the following four thematic areas are eligible for support under this call:

  • Development of the medical value chain
  • Safety and management of medical waste
  • Sustainable and digital tourism
  • Development of hydrogen technologies in carbon-intensive regions

Partnerships should be willing to pilot interregional innovation aimed at “facilitating the commercialisation and scale-up of interregional innovation projects and to incentivise business investment”.

The deadline for application is 7 September 2020.

More detailed information on the call, eligibility and how to apply can be found here.

Acts of solidarity – How a Belgian seamstress started making masks

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Today on Promoting Enterprise we are bringing you the first of our ‘COVID Stories’ which will look at how companies and people have been affected by the current pandemic and how they are adapting to their new business environments.

Our first story focuses on Catherine Lorent, a Belgian micro SME owner who has used her sewing business to aid the medical sector and general public by learning how to make masks and fabricating them, as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gowns and shirts for nurses at children’s hospitals who found themselves facing shortages as the urgent demand for PPE continued to rise.

In this interview she tells about what motivated her to start her business and how she brought her plans to fruition, as well as the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on her business.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

My name is Catherine Lorent and I own a sewing business called ‘L’Or en 4’. I started my current business in 2017 after I had become unemployed. Up until that point I had been working for a company for many years, until it closed around 2016. I was 54 at the time and I realised that my re-employment opportunities were limited due to my age and that it would be potentially difficult to reintegrate into the workforce.

It was at this point that I decided to re-pursue my passion for sewing, and try and make a business out of it to be able to keep working. I’ve always enjoyed sewing and I did have a small business at one point so I decided to start it up again as I wanted to become independent and work for myself.

My sewing business covers just about everything, I’m a seamstress so I can fix clothes, furnishings (like curtains and upholstery), and I also do restoration work. In addition, I’m a creative seamstress so I help people bring their designs to life and co-create bespoke pieces for them from scratch.  

What were the initial effects of COVID-19 on you and your business?

At the beginning of the pandemic it was really stressful because my clients stopped coming to my premises to have their garments tailored due to the lockdown measures which really affected my source of income. What’s more, some of my contracts started to be put on hold or dry up, like my work with the scouts to produce their scarves, seeing as all activities were suspended. The cancellation of several events also had quite a big knock on effect. My business is also tied to a lot of shops, as I work with several of them as their main seamstress for alterations, and when they had to close due to the health measures that also halted another line of work for me.

Overall it was an incredibly stressful period, and at one point I called one of my sons who helps me with the business and told him that I thought that I was going to have to close my business and stop working. I just couldn’t see how to replace my normal work and keep my business afloat. It was a difficult moment for both of us but it made me realise just how passionate I am about what I do and that I wanted to keep going however I could.

When and how did you start making masks for the hospitals?

I started making the masks as an act of solidarity as I realised that supplies were low and there was a genuine need. There was also this general expectation that people with skills like mine should pitch in and help out the hospitals and travelling nurses where they could, so I started experimenting with patterns and construction and making my first fabric masks. There was a lot of trial and error at the beginning as there were no official guidelines, requirements or certifications in Belgium for non-medical grade masks at the time.

Even sourcing the correct fabric was difficult during lockdown and I began by using my own stocks of hard polyester. When I ran out I turned to my own network to source more in order to keep up with demand. The fabric shop owner that I work with really helped out and at one point was throwing my fabric order down to me from a window! This was the only way that we could keep our supply chain going and helping the hospitals whilst keeping ourselves safe and socially distancing. It really emphasised that sense of community and just highlighted how everyone wanted to play their part and work together.

At this stage I was being paid by the national government via a dedicated scheme (Droit passerelle pour indépendants / Overbruggingsrecht voor zelfstandigen) for the self-employed that needed temporary financial support due to COVID-19. Through the scheme I was paid for my time and contribution so I was able to keep the business afloat, but I was still quite worried about how to keep my business going in the future.

What about the hospital gowns and shirts, when did you start making those?

Once I had already started making masks I saw an appeal on Facebook that was launched to find seamstresses willing to help children’s hospitals. The nurses that were working in these hospitals were running out of protective clothing as the main hospitals treating COVID-19 patients used up most of the supplies. The appeal asked for help in producing this protective clothing but also for the seamstresses to try and source ‘fun’ fabrics, as these nurses were treating young patients. I responded to the appeal and managed to make shirts for the nurses out of recycled fabric that I already had.

That is something else that I really stand for, the idea of recycling fabric or using what you have. Where possible I want to respond to the need for new products but not contribute to waste or harm the environment. If I can, I re-use or recycle fabrics or upcycle existing products into something completely new.

What was it like diversifying your activities to include masks and protective clothing? Was it difficult to keep up with demand?

At first it was a slower uptake but then it got to a point where I was not able to do it all on my own. I was very lucky to have neighbours giving me their time and helping out, as well as my sons. I taught them to sew when they were young so they helped me on the weekends to keep up with the orders and make sure we got everything out on time.

How did Catherine continue to diversify her business? How is she doing now and where does she see the future of her industry? Find out all of this and more in our next interview right here on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal. You can follow L’Or en 4 on Instagram and Facebook.

Have you got a COVID Story like Catherine’s to tell? Do you know an SME owner that has adapted to COVID-19 and wants to share their story? We would love to hear about it and feature it right here on the News Portal. Contact us at: promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu

European Commission consults Member States on proposal to expand State aid Temporary Framework

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The original press release is available in the Commission Press Corner.

On Friday 12 June, the European Commission sent Member States for consultation and comment a draft proposal to further extend the scope of the State aid Temporary Framework adopted on 19 March 2020 to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The Temporary Framework was first amended on 3 April 2020 to increase possibilities for public support to research, testing and production of products relevant to fight the coronavirus outbreak, to protect jobs and to further support the economy. On 8 May 2020, the Commission adopted a second amendment extending the scope of the Temporary Framework to recapitalisation and subordinated debt measures.

The Commission is now proposing to further extend the scope of the Temporary Framework by enabling Member States to:

  • Support certain micro and small enterprises, including start-ups that were already in difficulty before 31 December 2019, and
  • Provide incentives for private investors to participate in coronavirus-related recapitalisation measures.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said “Micro, small and start-up companies face specific challenges as a result of the coronavirus crisis. They are crucial for the economic recovery of the Union. That’s why we propose to extend the Temporary Framework to enable Member States to give further support to micro and small companies, including start-up companies. Furthermore, we propose to introduce conditions that provide incentives for private investors to participate alongside the State in recapitalisations. This is welcome as it reduces the need for State aid and the risk of distortions to competition. We continue to work closely with Member States to ensure that European businesses have access to urgently needed liquidity, to contribute to the economic revival post-coronavirus.”

Micro and small companies have been particularly affected by the liquidity shortage caused by the economic impact of the current coronavirus outbreak, exacerbating their existing difficulties to access financing compared to medium-sized and large enterprises. If left unaddressed, these difficulties could lead to a large number of bankruptcies of micro and small companies, causing serious disturbances for the entire EU economy. The new proposal would allow Member States to extend aid to SMEs that qualify as being in financial difficulty on 31 December 2019 and increase the possibilities for small and start-up companies to receive support.

The new proposal also includes adaptations that incentivise private investors to contribute alongside the State, and thus limiting the risk of competition distortions and preserving effective competition in the Single Market.

Check out other COVID-19 related news and updates here on the News Portal.

Coronavirus: EU grants €314 million to innovative companies to combat the virus and support recovery

Tags: , , , , ,

The original press release is available in the Commission Press Corner.

The European Commission has awarded nearly €166 million, via the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot, to 36 companies to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, over €148 million will be granted to another 36 companies to contribute to the recovery plan for Europe, bringing the total investment from Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, to €314 million in this round.

The selected 36 companies will work on pioneering projects, such as on expanding the production of bio-decontamination wipes, developing ventilation monitoring systems that provide first aiders with real-time feedback on the quality of the ventilation given to the patient, developing an antibody platform to treat severe cases of infection, and many more. Furthermore, 139 companies tackling the coronavirus that could not receive funding in this round due to budget limitations have received the newly introduced COVID-19 Seal of Excellence, in recognition of the value of their proposal and in order to help them attract support from other funding sources.

The additional 36 companies, set to support the recovery plan for Europe, will work across a multitude of sectors and projects, which include for example the development of stronger and taller wind turbine towers made from wood modules, with the potential to massively reduce wind energy costs, an organic fertiliser production system, and a blockchain-based solution for sustainable recycling practices of manufacturers. An additional 679 high quality proposals passed the EIC funding criteria and were awarded Seals of Excellence, but unfortunately could not be funded due to limited budget.

A record number of almost 4000 start-ups and small and medium businesses (SMEs) applied to the EIC Accelerator pilot in March, and over 1400 of the proposed innovations were relevant to the coronavirus outbreak. In light of this an extra €150 million was recently allocated to this funding round, bringing the combined total to over €314 million.

Check out other COVID-19 related news and updates here on the News Portal.

European Commission mobilises additional €122 million from H2020 programme

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The original press release is available in the Commission Press Corner.

The Commission has mobilised another €122 million from its research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, for urgently needed research into the coronavirus. This new call falls under the Coronavirus Global Response initiative, launched by President Ursula von der Leyen on 4 May 2020.

The new call will cover five areas with the following indicative budgets:

  1. Repurposing of manufacturing for vital medical supplies and equipment (€23 million)
  2. Medical technologies, Digital tools and Artificial Intelligence analytics to improve surveillance and care at high Technology Readiness Levels (€56 million)
  3. Behavioural, social and economic impacts of the outbreak responses (€20 million)
  4. Pan-European COVID-19 cohorts (€20 million)
  5. Collaboration of existing EU and international cohorts of relevance to COVID-19 (€3 million)

The deadline for submissions is 11 June 2020.

The projects funded under this call should repurpose manufacturing for rapid production of vital medical supplies and equipment needed for testing, treatment and prevention, as well as develop medical technologies and digital tools to improve detection, surveillance and patients care. New research will learn from large groups of patients (cohorts) across Europe and better understanding of the behavioural and socio-economic impacts of the coronavirus epidemic could help improve treatment and prevention strategies.

For more information on Special Horizon 2020 request for expressions of interest look here.

Hungarian agri-food SMEs to receive support under the Commission’s State aid Temporary Framework

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The European Commission has approved a Hungarian scheme to support the agri-food value chain in the context of the coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to mobilise at least approximately €314 million (approx. HUF 111 billion). The scheme will be open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in all sectors, but is aimed at the wider agri-food value chain. The objective of the measure is to provide those companies with financial means to cover their immediate working capital and investment needs, and help them maintain their activities during these difficult times.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This Hungarian guarantee scheme, expected to mobilise at least €314 million, will support the Hungarian agriculture and food industry, as well as the wider agriculture and bio-economy value chain. This measure will improve the liquidity of businesses and help them continue their activities in these difficult times. We continue working closely with Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place quickly and effectively, in line with EU rules.

The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020. The Temporary Framework enables Member States to combine support measures, with the exception of loans and guarantees for the same loan and exceeding the thresholds foreseen by the Temporary Framework.

The Framework allows Member States to provide the following types of aid:

  • Direct grants, equity injections, selective tax advantages and advance payments
  • State guarantees for loans taken by companies
  • Subsidised public loans to companies 
  • Safeguards for banks that channel State aid to the real economy 
  • Public short-term export credit insurance 
  • Support for coronavirus related research and development (R&D) 
  • Support for the construction and upscaling of testing facilities 
  • Support for the production of products relevant to tackle the coronavirus outbreak 
  • Targeted support in the form of deferral of tax payments and/or suspensions of social security contributions 
  • Targeted support in the form of wage subsidies for employees 

More detailed information on the Temporary Framework can be found here.

The full original press release can be found here in the Commission Press Corner.

Coronavirus Global Response: EU launches pledging effort

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the European Union (EU) has joined together with global partners to organise a worldwide pledging marathon, set to begin on Monday 4 May. The marathon is part of the Coronavirus Global Response, which is the response to the call to action launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other global health actors on 24 April to “Accelerate the Development, Production and Equitable Access to New COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines”.

Read the call to action here.

To support this call to action the EU and its partners aim to raise €7.5 billion in initial funding via the worldwide pledging marathon starting on Monday 4 May 2020.  During the marathon countries and organisations around the world will be invited to pledge funds and support for the call to action.

European Commission President von der Leyen said: “We need to bring the world, its leaders and people together against coronavirus. We will launch a global pledging effort. A real marathon. Because beating coronavirus requires a global response and sustained actions on many fronts. We need to develop a vaccine, to produce it and deploy it to every corner of the world. And we need to make it available at affordable prices.”

The 4 May 2020 will mark the start of the marathon and pledges, and also see the European Commission announce the next milestones of a global campaign.

The collected funds will be allocated to three main strands:

  • Diagnostics
  • Treatments
  • Vaccines

Find out more about the effort and how to get involved on the Coronavirus Global Response website: europa.eu/global-response

Follow #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus across social media for updates and help raise awareness by sharing information and announcements surrounding the pledging marathon.

Read the original press release in the Commission press corner.

Industrial clusters – Together against coronavirus

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The original article can be found on the EASME website.

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP), a COSME project, has just launched the Covid-19 Industrial Clusters Response Portal to respond to and address challenges during the time of COVID-19.

What is available via the new portal?

This new ECCP portal will allow the existing industrial cluster community to come together and exchange quickly and directly. Via the portal, ECCP members will be able to share solutions, connect with others and support each other in response to COVID-19 challenges.

What are the objectives of this new portal?

This new ECCP portal provides a single point of access to information for industry on actions and decisions taken by the European Commission and the EU Member States impacting on the Internal Market. The portal also aims to facilitate an open discussion forum where actors can share their experiences, solutions, requests and questions.

What has been done so far?

  • A recent call to increase production of medical supplies resulted in 1 100 offers from companies across Europe. 
  • Public authority demands have been included on the portal including:

How can you get involved?

You can join the community right here, and ask for help, advice or browse posted solutions on the reaction webpage. You can also join in order to offer expertise, services or advice to those in need. Join the ECCP community today!

To create an account and/or register for the updates newsletter look here.

Browse through the COVID-19 related content on the News Portal here and leave us a comment or get in touch if there are other topics you would like us to cover.

  • Useful links

  • Tags

  • RSS Promoting Enterprise

    • Youth Essay Competition 2020 – Who is going to the final? October 29, 2020
      Are you ready to find out who will be competing in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition final? After narrowing down the entries to the top 8 our jury met and discussed their selections for the top 3 candidates who will present during this year’s SME Assembly. After much discussion our jury are proud […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2020 Shortlist – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship October 27, 2020
      Time for our final round of introductions to this year’s shortlisted projects! Don’t forget to follow the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) finals ceremony at the upcoming SME Assembly 2020 and follow #SMEAssembly2020 to be amongst the first to find out the category winners and the Grand Jury Prize Winner of the 2020 competition. Today […]
      promotingenterprise
    • Top billing at this year’s SME Assembly – introducing Joseph Stiglitz October 22, 2020
      As you are probably already aware, U.S. economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz will be delivering the Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ lecture at the SME Assembly 2020, to be held online on 16 and 17 November during European SME Week. This promises to be a riveting address, so if you haven’t already saved the date, […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2020 Shortlist – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency October 20, 2020
      We are almost at the end of our shortlist introductions and getting closer to this year’s European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) finals! Make sure to tune into the finals ceremony during the SME Assembly 2020 and follow #SMEAssembly2020 to find out who will be the 2020 winners of the EEPA competition. Today we are meeting […]
      promotingenterprise
    • SME Week Newsletter 2020: Issue #5 October 15, 2020
      In the interests of the safety and wellbeing of our community, the decision has been taken by the German Presidency of the Council in cooperation with the European Commission to transform the SME Assembly 2020 into an online event. The event will feature the usual array of top-level speakers, panels and masterclasses, and will feature […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2020 Shortlist – Supporting the internationalisation of business October 13, 2020
      Ready to meet more projects competing in the 2020 European Enterprise Promotion Award finals? Today we are meeting the shortlisted projects competing in Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business. Our 2020 finalists come from Belgium, Portugal and Ukraine. These projects focus on supporting national projects and industries, and helping them get into international markets. […]
      promotingenterprise
    • COVID Stories – Hacking for health October 8, 2020
      Here on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal we have been bringing you stories from the pandemic, with a particular focus on news and information from which you, our Promoting Enterprise community, can benefit most. Previous examples have included features on the E-health at home COVID-19 initiative in the Netherlands, which supports healthcare providers in implementing […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2020 Shortlist – Improving the business environment October 6, 2020
      Another week and another round of introductions to the projects that have been shortlisted by the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury for the 2020 European finals! Today we are meeting the projects competing in Category 3: Improving the business environment. Our 2020 finalists come from Finland, Germany and Spain. The work that made the […]
      promotingenterprise
    • The SME Assembly 2020 goes ONLINE! October 1, 2020
      In the interests of the safety and wellbeing of our community, the decision has been taken by the German Presidency of the Council in cooperation with the Commission to transform the SME Assembly 2020 into an online event. The SME Assembly 2020 will feature a combination of high-level panels and interviews, expert roundtables, interactive workshops, […]
      promotingenterprise
    • EEPA 2020 Shortlist – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills September 29, 2020
      We are back with the next category of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2020 shortlist. Over the next few weeks we will be introducing you to each project that has been carefully evaluated and selected by our EEPA 2020 jury. Today we are meeting the projects competing in Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills. […]
      promotingenterprise