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Tag ‘COVID-19’

European Commission mobilises additional €122 million from H2020 programme

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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

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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.

SME Week Newsletter 2020: Issue #3

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Welcome to the April edition of the SME Week Newsletter.

This month has certainly been different, and for some in our Promoting Enterprise community it has been particularly challenging. April has seen many policy changes and updates, Commission initiatives, hackathons and further actions. We have seen SMEs pitching in and doing their part, pushes and drives to make funding available to those in need, and a strong commitment to keeping the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit alive.

On behalf of the Promoting Enterprise team we hope that you continue to stay well, healthy and safe, and we are committed to bringing you the latest updates and inspiring stories.

Thank you for continuing to subscribe and do not forget to submit your news, articles and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue.

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EUvsVIRUS Challenge – Can you hack it?

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The European Commission is hosting a Pan-European hackathon taking place on 24, 25 and 26 April 2020, which will bring together the brightest minds to find solutions and spark ideas across different challenge groups in relation to COVID-19.

The different challenge groups the hackathon aims to address include:

  1. Health & Life:Protective equipment, Ventilators/respirators, Protection of medical personnel, Real time communication & prevention, Cheap rapid tests, Lack of skilled caregivers, Research
  2. Business Continuity:Efficient team work, New and resilient business models, Value chains & logistics, Protecting employees, Demonstrate purpose, Stay close to your customers
  3. Social & Political Cohesion:Protection of isolated & risk groups, Mitigating fake news spreading, Support arts & entertainment, Fight against crime, Protection of citizens & democracy, Developing people-driven economies
  4. Remote Working & Education:E-Learning methods & tools, Efficient remote working, Family life during remote working & education, Primary and secondary school specific challenges, University specific challenges, Students’ challenges
  5. Digital Finance:Support identification of financial shortfalls, Speed-up access to financial support, Speed-up distribution of financial support, Availability of emergency health insurance, Enable crowd to help financially, Support for digitally excluded

The hackathon also actively encourages ideas and solutions that are not directly included in the challenges mentioned above.

You can get involved in three distinct roles depending on what you would like to bring to the hackathon:

  1. Problem solver: This category encompasses developers, designers, creative minds and all problem solvers with expertise in Health, Business, Social & Political Cohesion, Education, Digital Finance and other areas. Ideally you also have experience in hackathons.
  2. Mentor: This category is looking for experts in the areas of Health, Business, Social & Political Cohesion, Education, Digital Finance and other areas to support the problem solvers. These applicants may also play a team coordinator role during the hackathon.
  3. Partner: This category is for other actors who want to make their unique contribution to the hackathon – companies, universities, public and private organisations, and networks.

Applications are open and close on 19 April 2020, sign up here and do not miss out on this opportunity!

Find out more about the hackathon on the dedicated website and follow all the activity on social media using #EUvsVirus

Industrial clusters – Together against coronavirus

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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.

Removing restrictions to the Single Market

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The original article can be found on the DG GROWTH website.

The European Commission convened a first meeting with Member States as part of the new Single Market Enforcement Task Force (SMET) to discuss the urgent need to allow the free flow of goods such as face masks, medical supplies and food across the EU.

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “The coronavirus outbreak has made it crystal clear that no country can fight this virus alone. Europe needs to act together with solidarity. Restrictions endanger this solidarity and prevent essential goods from reaching those who need them most. The Single Market is the backbone of our joint response and we need decisive action to lift any restrictions undermining it.” 

The creation of SMET was announced in the Commission’s Single Market Enforcement Action Plan on 10 March in the context of the industrial strategy. The Task Force was envisaged as a platform for Member States and the Commission to work together to ensure better compliance with Single Market rules.

This first meeting kick-started the work of the new Task Force in light of the urgency of issues hampering the correct functioning of the Single Market, mainly intra-EU export restrictions of vital protective, medical and medicinal supplies, border controls and the need to increase production of essential equipment. This also aims at implementing the clear guidance of Europe’s leaders given at the European Council of 26 March to remove all internal bans or restrictions to the free movement of goods. The task force will be convened on a regular basis to discuss issues concerning enforcement issues in the Single Market.

What measures are in place for Europe’s SMEs during COVID-19?

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SMEs are often said to be the backbone of Europe’s economy, but what measures have been put in place to help them?

This special episode of Business Planet from Euronews, in collobration with the European Commission, looks at the support that is being mobilised to support Europe’s 25 million SMEs. In an interview with Serge Rombi from Euronews President of SME UNITED Alban Maggiar, spoke of the “exceptional measures” being put in place and the need to keep the Single Market at the heart of all action taken and honour its borderless principles.

He mentioned the increased flexibility for Member States to grant loans to struggling SMEs and tools to help governments support companies and guarantee jobs. In addition he stressed the need for large companies to pay suppliers and sub-contractors, to avoid SMEs having to pay the price for unpaid bills.

Mr Maggiar called for entrepreneurs to hold on and stick together, as well as calling on big decision makers to honour commitments to smaller ones.

For more information read the original Euronews article.   

What can you do as a consumer to support small businesses?

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The current situation with the spread of COVID-19 is challenging for many and is a particularly uncertain and stressful time for small businesses. As a consumer you have spending power and influence, which you can choose to use to help support your favourite local and small businesses. But how exactly can you help?

At the moment several governments and international bodies have taken strict and necessary measures to “flatten the curve” and control the COVID-19 outbreak. Whilst these measures are necessary for public safety and to ensure that health services and infrastructures can cope, they have affected many businesses, both large and small.

The results of these measures range from severely reduced business, to none at all, and the need to find alternative solutions in order to survive. Some businesses have gone online; others are making that transition, or finding other ways to continue providing services during these uncertain times.

But how can you use your consumer power to support small and local businesses? What action can you take to help?

Have a look through some easy tips below:

  • Order online and provide regular business
    • Want to keep your favourite businesses open? Continue being a regular customer and recommend their services to others. Several businesses are developing and expanding their online presence to cater to new demand, so have a look at what is on offer.
    • Have a look at dedicated online platforms that support local business
  • Use food delivery and takeaway services
    • Many restaurants and other Food & Beverage businesses are having to adapt to fewer or no customers. Continue to support them and their employees by using food delivery and takeaway services.
  • Buy gift cards from small businesses as presents or to use later
    • Don’t need anything from ‘non-essential’ small businesses at the moment? Buy a gift card or a voucher! These small businesses also need your support and even if you don’t need their products right now you can always offer them as a gift or save the voucher to use at a later date, while providing a lifeline for small business.
  • Avoid pausing memberships where possible
    • Has your small independent gym, yoga studio or other small fitness establishment offered to pause your membership? This is an important source of revenue for small fitness businesses, so why not ask about online options or remote individual sessions and consultations?

Got any other suggestions? Write them in the comments and share your tips for helping and supporting small businesses.

Sources and useful resources:

SME Week Newsletter 2020: Issue #2

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Welcome to the March edition of the SME Week Newsletter.

The Promoting Enterprise team will continue to bring SME, enterprise and policy related updates during this time, and are still open to receiving your updates. In particular, the Promoting Enterprise team would like to draw on your experience and knowledge to share best practices on how to support small businesses and business organisations that may be experiencing difficulties due to current restrictive measures. Please do not hesitate to send in contributions, tag us on social media or share your content directly.

Thank you for continuing to subscribe and do not forget to submit your news, articles and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue.

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