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What happens at an EEPA national ceremony? – Let’s look at Germany!

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We have seen the shortlist, and started introducing all the candidates, but what happens before that? What does a national ceremony look like? Today on Promoting Enterprise German National Coordinator Juliane Kummer shares with us what happened at the 2017 German EEPA national ceremony.

The German national awards ceremony 2017 took place on 13 October 2017 in Berlin, as part of the deGUT-fair, one of the most important German entrepreneurship fairs. The ceremony was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and was presented during the fair forum. The two winners “BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @ Hansenberg” and “Import Promotion Desk” were announced to the visiting public and they received congratulations and a winner’s certificate handed out by the Ministry. Following the award presentation, each winner was invited to present their innovative and inspiring initiatives by giving a short interview on the stage. These two winners had been selected by a national expert jury who evaluated a total of 29 entries in May 2017.

“BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @ Hansenberg” project, takes a different approach to education and aims to educate secondary school students in the areas of business, natural sciences and ultimately entrepreneurship. The project is divided into different phases and includes business competitions, immersive internships abroad, science clubs and business weeks. Through these activities students are pushed to think like entrepreneurs, work in teams, and work in collaboration with local and national stakeholders. As they advance through school activities become more complex and introduce different skills, allowing the students to develop into competent candidates for the modern labour market.

The “Import Promotion Desk” supports German imports, thus opening the door for SMEs from selected developing and emerging countries to access the European market and develop trade capacities. The aim is to maintain the sustained import of particular products from partner countries, whilst maintaining high quality, social and environmental standards. The IPD brings together European importers, who can optimise procurement and increase product diversity, and exporters as trade partners. Consequently partner country export capacities are strengthened through job creation and income increase. IPD is currently active in the following counties: Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Columbia, Nepal, Peru and Tunisia.

Both projects will be present at the SME Assembly, so if you are interested in finding out more visit their websites and see if you can spot them at the event next month!


Where are they now? Business College 20-80 Learning, EEPA 2015 finalist

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What happens to EEPA winners after the ceremony? What do they get up to next? Today Promoting Enterprise is proud to introduce Leny van der Ham, the founder of International Business College 20-80 Learning, a 2015 EEPA finalist. Today she shares with us what her project is about and her exciting updates since being a part of EEPA back in 2015.

20-80 Learning promotes the entrepreneurial spirit of young people, helps them complete their regular education in 80% of the time leaving the other 20% of their time for creative collaboration and personal development. 20-80 Learning focuses on self-development, entre- and intrapreneurship, follow-up study, real life, metacognition and languages. In more than 30 Dutch secondary schools the students complete the standard secondary school course in 4 days a week using 80% of the class time. The remaining 20% is the 20-80 Learning day when students develop metacognition, entrepreneurship and skills for their further education and careers. The 20-80 learning philosophy is now being applied in the fields of business, science, sport and arts, and is receiving widespread positive recognition by the Dutch Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and Economic Affairs.

But what is the goal of 20-80 Learning? Why is it important to reserve 20% of young people’s time for other skills and activities? For founder Lenny van der Ham, the answer is simple and manifold:

To me, every day is so valuable that boredom is unacceptable. An entrepreneur has to be alert to market processes: a teacher is an intrapreneur and must always be aware of his customer and his product, thus there should always be room for innovation in education!”

Through this program she aims to make education not only well-rounded and useful, but to put the fun back into education and provide a space for both students and teachers to experiment and develop. Via this approach the goal is to minimise potential negative effects such as poor performance, negative attitudes to work, negative interaction with teachers, and dropouts from further education.

After such success in the Netherlands, Leny is looking at how to expand her transferable concept on a global scale, and explore the possibilities of setting up accredited campuses across the world.

Interested in the concept? Want to help implement Leny’s global vision and bring this system to teenagers worldwide? Find out more from the website, and contact for more information.

The 3 Education Trends Preparing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

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Educators are tasked with the necessary burden of preparing today’s students to shape tomorrow’s world as our next generation of thinkers, leaders and entrepreneurs — the tireless creators who are at the forefront of innovation and driving the world’s economy. Recently, we’ve seen the traditional learning models begin to evolve with the meaningful incorporation of technology, as we try to equip students with the digital literacy required of today’s employees. But, with technology constantly changing, can we actually predict what skills and knowledge today’s students will need to lead the future workforce?

This uncertainty about the future is precisely what defines the type of workers we’ll need: flexible and collaborative problem solvers. Where the traditional learning model leans heavily on memorisation and discipline to create uniform, self-reliant students, the educational system must shift the focus from what students learn to how well students can apply knowledge to break barriers, chart their own paths and ignite their own career passions and interests. As we redefine the education environment through technology and innovative learning styles, we can prepare students to meet changing workplace expectations by teaching them how to learn, think and lead.

In these new education models key styles of education have been identified:

  • Mobility enhanced personalised education: Learning how to learn
  • The Maker Movement: Learning how to think: a hands-on approach
  • Student-led learning: Learning how to lead

Incorporating technology in the classroom is already having an enormous impact on students, but if the lesson doesn’t go beyond the classroom, what value does it truly have for students’ real lives? Educators need to focus not only on how far we can advance learning with tech, but also how to build a culture of challenging outdated models and embracing new solutions; this is critical for our future workforce.

For today’s students to succeed in the workforce, they must learn to be contributors and innovators, rather than masters of a specific skillset. As technology evens out the playing field for global companies, innovation and differentiation will become even more instrumental in the success of a business. Today’s students will carry the burden of taking risks and thinking outside their roles to keep companies competitive and afloat. Future workplaces will not need “expert accountants” or “expert coders,” but rather expert problem solvers, thinkers, collaborators and “intrapreneurs.”

The burden doesn’t only fall on educators; technology companies also need to continue to provide communities with special STEM programs, focused on areas like data science and engineering. They can also help by supporting organisations like Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to closing the gender gap in computer science and technology, and Major League Hacking, a student hacking league that supports weekend-long invention competitions. Organisations like these inspire students and foster a drive to learn the skills needed to build a better world.

So whether you’re an educator or member of the tech community, it is up to us to help students think differently by teaching and supporting them with the world of tomorrow in mind, rather than defaulting to the ways we were taught as children. It’s vital we work together to set a precedent for innovation now so the next generation of entrepreneurs and employees can create a positive global impact when we pass the torch.

Read the full article:

Steering the heavy education tanker away from a head-on collision with the future

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Our current entrepreneur in residence Karen Boers, co-founder & CEO of and European Startup Network; has returned with a second blog post. This time she gives us her views on the current European education system and whether it really prepares the youth of today for the challenges they will face.

portrait_karen_boersWe’re always talking about the fast moving societal changes and how digitalisation is changing every aspect of our private and professional lives and will continue to do so. This is absolutely true – digital technologies have connected and empowered nearly every citizen on earth. After the industrial revolution, this trend could very well be the paving the way for different societal and economical models, which in their turn could lead to severe power shifts from the happy few, to the well-connected within the next decade.

Some very striking images have been circulating social media recently, showing the differences between what we called a ‘telephone’ a century ago and today, and the huge difference between what we called a ‘vehicle’ (i.e. horse & carriage) and modern cars and transport. There was also a comparison between what a classroom looked like 150 years ago – and its modern equivalent, it is unchanged!

We are preparing today’s youngsters for their future in very much the same way we have been preparing labourers to go into the factories for the past decades. We are training them to be silent, listen carefully and not question orders but rather execute them in the efficient, large-scale way we have grown accustomed to. We are training them to think hierarchically and obey – day after day and year after year. The reason being this is the way our society was structured for many years and how our economies thrived in the mass production age.

But now we are facing different challenges. Mass production is suffering in the western economies. Hierarchical icons are being disrupted by flexible, agile businesses. Collaboration, creativity and the ability to change are becoming ever more dominant in the new business paradigms, and it’s clear that there is no way back. Millennials are already exhibiting signs of not caring too much about steady careers, future-proof choices or life-long guarantees. They think very differently about ownership, citizenship, sharing, learning and professional careers. They are self-organising, always connected and pay it forward much more than previous generations.

There is no way that the education that we are currently providing Generation Z youngsters is preparing them properly for what is ahead, and there is growing consensus that future generations might not put up with the inertia of the current system, eroding it from the inside out. The information overload is growing, and we need to urgently transition into a system that educates youngsters to deal with that, to find their way in an ever-connected and saturated network of information sources, opinions and potential expertise. Self-learning and life-long learning are gaining in importance. Additional skills are often acquired outside of the school system at present, through volunteer programs and alternative schooling. Learning how to learn is therefore growing inherently more important than any kind of knowledge transfer.

I would not argue for a total disruption of our school system, though. Europe has been on the frontlines of (free) quality education, equal opportunities for all and innovation for a long time. Let’s now make sure Europe initiates a power shift in traditional education, slowly steering the heavy tanker towards a coaching environment, with expert inputs from all societal angles, project and applied learning and a wide range of soft skills on top of purely academic knowledge transfer. That way I am sure we will keep nurturing generations of renowned business and academic leaders, as well as a flexible and future-proof workforce.

Read Karen’s last blog post: Failing is not contagious, but success is 

The future is an opportunity

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In a recent interview, Jan Vanherck, a well-known Belgian entrepreneur and Dean of the United International Business Schools in Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland, took the opportunity to look into the future.


In 1975, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation and Fairchild Semiconductor, forecast the doubling of computer power every two years. Will this continue and how will it affect the world of the future?

His prediction has proven to be accurate over the past 40 years. It has led to an ever-accelerating progression and miniaturisation in all chip-based technologies, and this evolution has huge consequences for the world of tomorrow. Experts have forecast that computer hardware will match the human brain, in terms of creative design and analytical capabilities, in 15 to 20 years. The interaction between brain science and information technology will create artificial intelligence, a research field crucial to future generations.

Already, this increased computing power is delivering better understanding of the human body, and DNA sequencing is a good example.  In 1970, Nobel laureate, Jacques Monod, said: “The molecular size of DNA prohibits, without any doubt, modification of the genome. The sequencing of the human genome is impossible, or, anyway, unreachable in three to five centuries”. How wrong he was! Only six years later, the first genetic manipulation took place and in the first years of this century, the first full sequencing of human DNA was achieved. Just ten years later, the consumer genomics company 23andMe began offering genome sequencing for $999 and soon it will be available for as little as $100. This is the gateway to personalised medicine, particularly for the treatment of all hereditary diseases, and cancer.

Do you see other technologies having a similar effect?

Absolutely! For example, nanotechnology.  Nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of extremely small things and can be used across all other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering. To give you an idea of what a nano size is, the thickness of printer paper is about 100 thousand nanometres. On a comparative scale, if a marble were a nanometre, then one metre would be the size of the earth.

Nanotechnology will allow us not only to develop medicines that act on the level of our cells and tissues, repairing defects on an inconceivably small scale, but also to build micro engines and micro sensors.

The technology will be widely available in a few years time and will extend our life expectancy dramatically. Neuro-genetic scientist, Laurent Alexandre, in a now famous TED-talk entitled,  “Le recul de la mort” (“The retreat of death”), summarised this evolution by saying that he believes that the first person who will live to be 1000 years old has already been born.

What about globalisation and entrepreneurs?

Globalisation is a term that has been politicised so let’s talk about global networks instead. They already exist, facilitated via the Internet and, from the point of view of society, it will make us interact with a lot of people, spread over the world, exchanging ideas, thoughts, and concerns. Political power will shift and emerging countries, such as China and India, will take a dominant role. New players and new markets will emerge. We’ll need to cope with different cultures, each with their own set of values.

Internet technologies, another area for innovators and entrepreneurs, are causing rapid changes in the world with the rise of Big Data. The world is becoming dominated by an all-knowing network. The fact that it gathers an enormous amount of data and, more importantly, has the computing power to actively process it and get information out of it, will force us to rethink a lot of things, privacy, for example, and freedom, family, friendship, love, and honesty.

Intellectual property is another issue. Billions of people thinking, generating ideas, writing papers, books, songs… Inventing new applications, offering new commercial services and products. Can individuals or companies claim the knowledge and decide whether they will use it, or simply put it in the fridge? Should we allow organisations to gather and process our individual data? How will we define ownership and plagiarism? These concepts were developed in the last century by a world where communication was done using handwritten letters, then wired phones and facsimile machines. Are these concepts strong enough to overcome the tsunami of the Internet and Big Data?


What is the role of business education in all this?

We need to make sure that future entrepreneurs can handle the big, unknown challenges. Let me quote Gordon Moore again: “The technology at the leading edge changes so rapidly that you have to keep current after you get out of school. I think probably the most important thing is having good fundamentals.”

Learning does not stop. Only a few decades ago, the teaching of students was considered complete when they graduated. In the best case, people took a few refresher courses during their professional life and that was it. Today, with the vast amount of new knowledge in front of us, learning is a continuous activity. It doesn’t stop today, it simply goes on. It is important to realise that every theory and model we teach is only a statement of current knowledge and is only true in certain circumstances and those circumstances are subject to radical change at ever increasing speed. We need to teach our students – the entrepreneurs of the future – how to think because they are going to have to answer questions we’ve not yet even thought of. We need too re-think ourselves and our environment, and challenge everything.

The Entrepreneurial School (TES) – A project for teachers by teachers

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One of the most effective instruments to help create more businesses and jobs is to give students an opportunity to gain practical experiences before leaving school. Educators, business people, entrepreneurs and policy makers are convinced of the impact it has on young people’s self-confidence and their eventual employability and entrepreneurial potential.

The Entrepreneurial School (TES) and the TES guide are part of a large entrepreneurship education initiative in Europe, which now includes participation from 18 countries. The TES guide supports teachers’ professional development in applying entrepreneurial learning in the classroom.

The TES guide includes a database containing more than 125 entrepreneurial tools and methods in nine languages, as well as good practice examples and self-assessment tools. In addition, the guide provides educators with materials to support entrepreneurial learning in any subject area and for any age group.

So far, TES has reached 4,000 teachers in 22 countries.

The TES consortium has also established The Entrepreneurial School Award, a national and European recognition of the best schools in entrepreneurship education.

TES received funding from the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and is supported by Accenture, Clifford Chance, HP, Intel and Virke. The initiative is led by JA-YE Europe in partnership with a consortium of 10 European and national organisations.

An update on Infantium

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By Karen Márquez, CEO and Founder of Infantium


Karen Marquez - Infantium

I write these lines from Boston, after a massive snowfall! Since we were featured as a SoS company, lots of good things have happened. Infantium uses brain-inspired computing to personalize learning of children (Neuroscience, machine learning and AI).

2014 was a promising one for Infantium. In summer, we were awarded with a scholarship (global impact competition) to attend the GSP at Singularity University (founded by Google) at NASA headquarters in Mountain View. It’s one of the most selective in the world, and among thousands of applications, 80 leaders and technology entrepreneurs from 35 countries are selected to analyze the major technological advances transforming the world.

In two decades, the people living in big cities will grow by two billion. This shift will put tremendous stress on healthcare, housing, education and other critical resources. The great transformation yet to come cannot be managed by political or economic tools, but with technological innovations. The mission of Singularity is identifying leaders and groundbreaking changing technologies that can impact the life of at least 1 billion of people.

So it is such a honor to be recognized as game-changers that can impact society through cognitive systems.

Reverse engineering the brain and Machine learning used by Infantium can really make the difference in transforming education. Education is the only way of changing human being’s lives; to fight against poverty and reach equality globally. It will be one of the important topics for humanity in the coming years: understanding the principles of human intelligence, understanding how the brain performs essential functions, and emulating those functions can mean a tool to emulate natural learning in people, overcoming the huge challenge of dropouts and frustration.

The second big news is that we made it into phase 2 of the SME instrument (EU’s Horizon2020), being the only educational Project for this phase. Exponential technologies will bring the issue in which large parts of the economy –most of them current students in K-12 -are underemployed, unemployed or unemployable, with machines replacing specific tasks and no marketable skills, acquired mostly through obsolete educational systems. Education is a pillar for the future of Europe, ensuring essential skills in a future where traditional curriculum will be far from enough. With the grant, Infantium will incorporate biometric feedback, computer vision and contextual data in our brain-inspired system to help children develop critical skills adapted to cognitive abilities, not based on curriculum-based demands.


Karen Márquez is the CEO and co-founder of Infantium, a multi-awarded start-up based on cognitive learning for young children using brain science and cognitive technology, selected as one of the 12 best start-ups of the EU by the European Commission (Tech All Stars). Karen has been awarded as MIT Young innovator under 35, with special mention as social innovator of the year, Google’s and NASA’s Singularity university global impact tech, and entrepreneur of the year by the professional Association of Computer Engineers (Catalonia, Spain).

Secret of Success – Shai Newman (Compedia Ltd)

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Shai Newman - Compedia Ltd

We have built Compedia up (using grants and R&D co-operation including the FP7 and Intel programmes) to be the leader in supplying products for the global market of education, serious games, e-learning and e-health, so that we give our customers advanced, cost effective and differentiated solutions. I’m especially excited by our new product developments that help children with autism and diabetes.

If you ask me what is needed to expand enterprise, I would say more resources for R&D, IP protection and international marketing; plus the creation of an environment (for example, more open markets and better access to finance) that truly supports SMEs like ours.

“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we have drive and energy to motivate, to create ideas and solutions in a way it is difficult to do in larger companies.”

Hero(es): Winston Churchill

Start up capital: Own

Growth rate p.a: 58%

Mentor(s): Advisers rather than mentors

Can you code?: Yes

Employees: 55

Education/ Training: IT

Product/ Service: E – learning

Entrepreneurs need more than tech to be successful

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A vote by delegates at the recent SME Assembly in Naples found that Europe must do more than provide digital technology for entrepreneurs. 73% of those who voted via the conference app disagreed with the motion ‘Thanks to digital technology, everyone can become a successful entrepreneur’.

Watch the Big Debate yourself and let us know which way you would have voted, in the comments below.

Secret of Success – Karen Márquez (Infantium)

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Karen Marquez - InfantiumWe set up Infantium because we were sure that technology was ready to disrupt the very traditional sector that is education. Infantium uses brain-inspired computing to personalise learning for children and to deliver a tailored syllabus for every learner based on performance, learning style, level, preferences and motivation. This is education adapting to the child and not the other way round. We have had invaluable support from Telefonica at key stages in our journey, with which we hope to build the most valuable repository of the way children learn world wide, and ultimately give all children better learning opportunities, wherever they start from.

Governments in Europe should make it easier for businesses like mine to attract international talent; should create one-stop-shops for start ups (where they can pay their taxes and complete necessary forms); and improve access to EU RTD funding.

“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we bring innovation to the market and improve people’s lives.”

Start up capital: Savings, bank lending and angel capital

Mentor(s): Carles Grau; Bill Magill and Farly Duvall

Can you code? Learning

Employees: 8

Education / Training: Marketing

Product / Service: E-learning

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