Tag ‘EEPA 2017’
With the beginning of a new European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) cycle, many of you might be wondering if you should take the chance and try to secure your place in the EEPA hall of fame. But why should you enter EEPA? What should you prepare?
Promoting Enterprise has collected some advice from previous winners to showcase the best parts of entering EEPA and their advice for prospective candidates. Collect some tips and tricks from our past winners, and don’t forget to watch their winning moments on our YouTube channel!
“Other organisations and projects should enter EEPA because it is a great way to get recognised for the work that each of us put in daily and it is truly a great experience to participate in the ceremony. Furthermore, it is great way to meet like-minded people and expand your network.”
- Lean Landing, Grand Jury Prize Winner 2018
“Any organisation that believes its project has a beneficial impact on promoting entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional or local level should enter EEPA. It is a great opportunity to make your project known to a wider audience, to have insight into similar ones running across Europe and to be part of a pan-European business promotion environment.
EEPA 2019 candidates should extensively document their activities, carefully assess the effectiveness, sustainability and impact of their initiatives, and present concrete, measurable and usable results. The potential of transferring the project to other regions in Europe is an important asset too. Overall, do not hesitate to participate in EEPA if you have a significant entrepreneurship promotion practice to share.”
- Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship, Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit Winner 2018
“My advice for future applicants would be to work a little more upstream, and to focus on having good national mobilisation around your project and work. Once this is established this can then be complemented by working with the public entities that transmit the EEPA message and that organise the awards.”
- ADIE – ‘Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship’ Winner 2017
Firstly, it is always useful to take, from time to time, an “outside view” on what you do, based on the criteria of the EEPA. Taking part in an EU Award means competing with a lot of other projects – so there is also the chance to learn from others.
Secondly, EEPA is a chance for recognition on an EU level. When applying it is important to ask yourself if others can replicate what you do. Success is always a combination of vision, strategy, trial and error, lessons learnt and results, so be sure to include your project story and journey.
Finally, prepare well! Be aware that it requires quite a lot of work until your documents are “final” (based on the requirements of the EEPA). Advice and help from the national body (in our case the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy) might also be very useful, so make the most of it.
- Internationalisation 2015–2020 – ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ Winner 2017
I would recommend working on the tangible results of your projects. Showing that the submitted project has a positive impact on their territory and that it can help other European countries and citizens!
- Reempresa, ‘Improving the business environment’ Winner 2017
Keep coming back to the Promoting Enterprise News Portal for the latest on EEPA 2019 and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
Back in 2017, the project “Business Generator” from Sweden, won the EEPA Category “Investing in entrepreneurial skills” for their work in identifying the gap in the strategic management process for SME companies, as well as a way to reach SMEs and provide them with useful skills for their daily lives as entrepreneurs.
After initial struggles to keep the Business Generator going after the EEPA competition, this project, and specifically coordinator Anette Rhudin, are back with a brand new and improved ‘Navigator Scale-up’. The Navigator serves as a support for SMEs that need to have a board under Swedish law. Due to financial constraints it is normally a challenge for SMEs and entrepreneurs to have an external board not made up of family and friends, and thus miss the chance, to have that input, that the right matched, external competence can give. Having a competent board can help avoid bankruptcy, develop necessary company procedures and aid in the overall management of the SME.
Through the Navigator SMEs can be matched with externals that serve as a board or ‘navigators’, without taking away control from the SME. The Navigator is a particularly good option for SMEs looking to scale up, as the externals are there to coach, ask critical questions and offer guidance based on their extensive experience. Through their experience, external board members are able to make SMEs aware of ‘hazards’ and guide them so as to avoid expensive failures.
Positive changes can only happen in a safe environment, which is why a Navigator’s primary task is help the entrepreneur navigate a changeable environment and give them enough control to feel safe and be able to scale up their company. One of the crucial success factors in the Business Generator project was that the four external navigator members had all gone on their own scalable business journeys. Being able to understand the current entrepreneur’s experience enables externals to truly coach and give the best advice to the SME they are assisting.
The Navigator has already been helping several SMEs, specifically OptiPack, an SME in a typical small Swedish village which started last year. Optipack began with four young people who had no experience of owning a company and who required a bank loan to get started. In order to qualify for a loan they needed an external board with experienced members, which is where Business Navigator came in to help. After being assigned a Navigator team they began to advance, thanks to the collective experience of their external board members who between them are experienced businesspeople and own large international companies.
Thanks to help from their Navigator, Optipack were able to invest EUR 2 428 882 in their latest product and continue working and developing.
Optipak are a successful example of what a Navigator can do for an SME, and we hope to keep coming back with more success stories as the Business Navigator gets bigger and spreads its message, support and advocacy for SMEs.
Ready to meet another EEPA 2018 Jury member? Today is the turn of Anna van Nunen, Director of Innofest from the Netherlands, which won the EEPA Grand Jury Prize in 2017. Today Anna will be sharing what she will be looking for when judging the EEPA applications this year, and some advice based on her experience as one of last year’s winners.
What will make an EEPA project stand out for you? What will make it special?
An EEPA project stands out when it has a clear vision on how entrepreneurs are being supported and has an effective way of taking that vision and translating it into actions. I will specifically look at the way the projects answer the needs of local entrepreneurs.
What top three qualities should a project have to make it onto the 2018 shortlist?
- A proven methodology of helping entrepreneurs
- Scalability of the initiative throughout Europe
- A good dose of social entrepreneurship
I am a firm believer in innovation and entrepreneurship as conditions for a social and sustainable world.
What makes a project worthy of the Grand Jury Prize?
To win the Grand Jury Prize a project must be both innovative and effective. I will look for projects that are a little out-of-the-box and make use of regional infrastructure in an effective way.
Which is your favourite category and why?
I believe that innovation and entrepreneurship need to be stimulated at an early stage, so that we can create and foster an innovative generation. Therefore, I am really looking forward to reading all proposals in the category “Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit”.
What are you looking forward to at the SME Assembly 2018?
I am really looking forward to reading all applications. I know from last year that it will be an inspiring collection of initiatives and I look forward to learning from them all. I also can’t wait to meet and congratulate the winners afterwards!
Is there anything you want to say to the applicants waiting for the shortlist announcement?
Keep it cool. For us (Innofest), just winning the national competition brought us so much and was a fantastic achievement. I would also advise all applicants to start preparing an international strategy before attending the SME Assembly. Once you are at the Assembly there is a great network of ecosystem partners from all over Europe that will attend the Assembly in Graz this year, so be prepared and make the most of it.
EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories. Read about the 2018 national winners and be sure to keep coming back to the News Portal to find out who makes it onto the EEPA 2018 shortlist.
EEPA 2017 winner Business Generator from Sweden may be on a temporary pause, but they still have many company success stories from the people they helped. Today, project director Anette Rhudin tells us about some of the women involved in Business Generator and their entrepreneurial stories.
A local food application connecting farmers and customers
Kicki is a farmer from Värmland, who had the idea to create an app to make it easier for people to buy food directly from the farmers that produce it. Currently there is no “easy” connection between customers and farmers, and customers are forced to drive to several different farms to get the produce they are looking for. Kicki’s app creates that connection and allows farmers to directly communicate with their audience and promote their goods.
A local hotel benefitting local industry
When Marianne first came to Business Generator she was having a tough time with her hotel business and really needed help. During her time in the generator she learnt a lot and developed great skills surrounding customer questions and marketing. She worked hard and put a lot of money and her time to define her customers and “talk” to them.
As a result of her training with the generator she changed her trademark and developed cooperative relationships with other tourist attractions in this area. Her success has allowed her to expand the number of rooms and bring significant investment to her village. She also makes sure to use décor from the area and offer local food from farmers close to the hotel.
Generational business passes to a female entrepreneur
Anna is now a successful entrepreneur who is the fifth to run the Sahlströmsgården. Anna came to the Business Generator to successfully handle the generational shift and receive assistance with the associated legal changes. She handled all of this whilst still running the company and overseeing daily operations.
At the beginning of Business Generator it was not easy to attract women to take part as they prioritised their businesses and did not see how to make time for generator activities. Eventually some saw the benefits of the generator and joined in to benefit from the support.
Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) 2017 winner Business Generator, from Sweden, specifically project coordinator Annette Rhudin. The European Enterprise Promotion Awards reward those who promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.
The “Investing in entrepreneurial skills” category winner shares the future of Business Generator and what winning an EEPA prize and participating in the EEPA process meant to them.
In an ideal world all European issues would be looked at from a European perspective, like those of SMEs being considered by the European Commission. Through initiatives like the EEPA competition, SMEs have been identified and celebrated as the backbone of European economy and key sources of employment.
The EEPA competition also brings out certain issues that several SMEs face, and the support that projects, like Business Generator, are offering to entrepreneurs and enterprises across Europe. One thing that stood out for me, that has certainly been an issue for Business Generator, is disparity between regions and the need to adapt different strategies. Some regions are experiencing growth and have access to funds and resources, whereas others are struggling to grow and have little to no access to the same resources, like my own region of Värmland in Sweden. The EEPA competition is a fantastic opportunity to see what is going on in Europe, to meet others striving to help SMEs and ultimately gain visibility for the work you do.
The future of Business Generator remains uncertain, and despite coming “top of the class” in Europe, will not continue, for now. The Business Generator team had several meetings at both regional and national level, but the budgets have already been defined and there is no surplus to fund the continuation of Business Generator. Municipal budgets have also been defined, and due to how tight they are, unfortunately there is no room for Business Generator. This is not to say that there is no interest in Business Generator, but for the project to continue interest alone is not enough.
The project itself is new and innovative, and challenges old ways of thinking. Whilst this is the way forward for SMEs it is a daunting investment to make, and when budgets are tight means that it is less likely to receive support. This also represents the current situation in Sweden, where SMEs receive almost no government research and development funding, which is largely distributed to universities, large companies and the public sector.
In comments from the Swedish National Audit Office, SMEs and innovation were recognised “as keys to Sweden’s future growth”, yet the body also stated that only “a minor part of total state aid to the business sector is directed at R&D and innovations as well as at small and medium-sized enterprises”. Whilst this is somewhat disheartening I believe that the solution is to take care of SMEs, and show this through concrete actions.
I hope that there is a future for Business Generator and would be interested to know more about the situation in other countries regarding SME funding. Currently in Sweden, SME’s receive 3,7 % of the state aid, but deliver four out of five new jobs. My wish is that the funding statistics will change and that SMEs can continue to deliver jobs and receive the support they need both at national and European level.
Whilst the Business Generator journey may have temporarily come to an end, I would like to thank the European Commission, for helping to highlight the good work that is going on across Europe through the EEPA competition. Finally, my message to potential future applicants, apply for EEPA 2018, this is an important opportunity and you should take it!
Interested in finding out what happened to some of the companies helped by the Business Generator? Come back soon to find out right here on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.
Watch the ‘winning moment’ for Business Generator from EEPA 2017:
Past winners have shared their tips for how to prepare for an EEPA submission, and their application journeys and lessons. But what does it feel like to be announced the winner of an EEPA category after putting in so much hard work? How did our past winners feel when they were recognised as some of the best projects in Europe? Today our 2017 winners reflect on their winning moments and what it was like to win the award.
“Of course it was a surprise! Within an impressive group of finalists which included investor programmes, incubators and accelerators with a long track record, we felt like the underdog. We don’t have a long track record yet, although we have enough data to have an evidence-based method to help innovators. But still we were the new kids on the block, with a crazy new kind of entrepreneurial programme, involving festivals. So for us, winning was an encouragement to keep going and support other regions to make festivals part of their innovations ecosystem.”
Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017
“It was incredible! It was an amazing recognition and such a great source of motivation for us to continue our work! I later realised that winning and being identified in front of everyone was really important, because afterwards I was approached by several people who wanted to know more about the project. It was really interesting to be able to speak about our work with so many different people.”
ADIE – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship Winner 2017
“When we take part in awards of this kind we always want to win or, at least, be a nominee. Due to the time it takes to prepare all of the necessary documentation we rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. The last time we participated in something similar was in 2012 when we participated in an EU Award after being nominated by Austria. This time around, with EEPA, it was even better as not only were we nominated but ended up winning in our category!”
Internationalisation 2015 – 2020 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business Winner 2017
“It got my heart racing! We arrived in Tallinn without knowing at all what would happen and for us it was a big surprise. It is an honour to receive this award and we want to share it with everybody who made it possible!”
Reempresa – Improving the business environment Winner 2017
“We really wanted to win the European prize, but just because we thought we were the best project didn’t mean that the jury would think the same thing. When Business Generator was announced as the winner, I had a pulse of 1000! Friends who have seen the video of us winning say that I look unmoved, but really I was shocked. Just hearing Sweden mentioned with our project was incredible, I was representing our country!”
Business Generator – Investing in entrepreneurial skills Winner 2017
“When you find out that you are shortlisted of course you start to think “what if…”, but we didn’t expect to win. We were really excited when we did win because it was a complete surprise!”
Enterprise Village – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit Winner 2017
Watch all of the EEPA ‘winning moments’ and highlights from the SME Assembly 2017 here:
What makes a successful European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) entry? What is the secret to winning at European level? Today on Promoting Enterprise, the 2017 edition winners tell us why others should enter EEPA 2018, and share their advice for making an application stand out.
The 2017 winners shared a lot of advice in their testimonials but there were certain things that each of them mentioned as key to their EEPA success, and reasons why an EEPA prize is so valuable. Firstly, all of the winners recognised the power of the EEPA scheme for bringing recognition to project work at European level, as well as the opportunity to see and interact with other projects that have been recognised as best European practices.
“The prize itself is valuable, but so is the opportunity to see how projects in other countries deal with the same issues and questions. You can see differences in financial solutions, project launches and how each country has their own solutions and plans, all of which are the best across Europe.”
- Business Generator – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Winner 2017
In addition to European recognition, being a part of EEPA helped winners gain experience in pitching their projects. This is particularly useful when building awareness and a network around your work, and something that the EEPA application process values highly.
“It was very helpful to get pitching experience and advice on our Innofest-proposition. One of the main reasons behind our win was that we presented a new proposition (i.e. festivals as testing grounds for innovators) to add to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
- Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017
Finally, all winners agreed that EEPA is a big contributor to increasing awareness around project work. Through EEPA, the winners had the opportunity to attend the prestigious SME Assembly, where they mingled with a variety of stakeholders and players in the entrepreneurial, SME and startup ecosystems.
So what advice do the 2017 winners want to share with this year’s applicants?
“My advice for future applicants would be to work a little more upstream, and to focus on having good national mobilisation around your project and work. Once this is established, it can then be complemented by working with the public entities that transmit the EEPA message and that organise the awards.”
- ADIE, Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship Winner 2017
“Prepare well! Be aware that it requires quite a lot of work until your documents are “final”, so advice and help from the national body might be very useful, so make the most of it.”
- Internationalisation 2015 – 2020 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business Winner 2017
“I would recommend working on the tangible results of your projects. Show that the submitted project has a positive impact on its territory and that it can help other European countries and citizens!”
- Reempresa – Improving the Business Environment Winner 2017
“When applying it is important to ask yourself if others can replicate what you do. Success is always a combination of vision, strategy, trial and error, lessons learnt and results, so be sure to include your project story and journey.”
- Business Generator – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Winner 2017
“Do not hesitate, apply! If you are doing the right thing, eventually someone will notice, and sometimes it’s the EEPA jury.“
- Enterprise Village – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit Winner 2017
“Our advice for future applicants is to make sure that you highlight why your initiative is both effective and unique.”
- Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017
For more information on the 2017 winners, read the EEPA 2017 winner testimonials here. Some of the EEPA 2018 national competitions are still open, so check the national deadlines here and apply before it’s too late!
Who else received an EEPA 2017 special mention? Meet the Listen Up Foundation from Bulgaria, who were recognised for their work for the deaf and hard of hearing communities in Bulgaria. Find out how they entered and the exciting opportunity that came their way after the EEPA 2017 awards ceremony…
How did you first hear about the national competition?
We first heard about the national competition via the Reach for Change Foundation network, of which we are a member. This network often notifies us of different opportunities, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) was one of them.
Why did you decide to enter the national competition?
The main motivation for entering was to bring more visibility to the challenges that the deaf and hard of hearing students face in schools and universities. We specifically wanted to highlight the challenges posed by them having no access to information and communication. For us we needed to show how important it is to make all involved parties – students, parents, teachers, lecturers and many others involved in the training process at schools and universities – aware of these students and their needs.
How did you prepare your application?
In general we are constantly in the process of developing new activities and expanding on our work, specifically creating an environment with higher awareness on the need for accessibility for all. Our preparation simply consisted of accurately documenting what we do and being sure to include all of our latest activities. For us this meant including big developments such as the establishment of the Academy for deaf and hard of hearing children and youth by the Listen Up Foundation. Through the establishment of the academy we can continue to bring more empowerment tools for the deaf community in order to be actively involved in the change-making process.
What was it like to receive a special mention and how did it affect your work?
It was a complete surprise, we didn’t expect it and we are so thankful for it! It was really wonderful to be acknowledged and we truly appreciate it. Not only was it fantastic recognition for our project, but it was an opportunity for both the Bulgarian and wider European deaf communities to be in the spotlight and receive the attention they deserve.
Receiving the special mention also created some exciting opportunities for us. We recently signed a contract with the Ministry of Education in Bulgaria to provide accessibility services to the deaf and hard of hearing students at approximately 50 mainstream schools. This will come into force around the beginning of the next academic year from 2018-2019.
Why should others enter EEPA 2018 and what advice would you give them?
We strongly recommend entering the EEPA competition to anyone that is considering it! By entering such an important contest you will gain recognition for your project and doors will open for other opportunities.
What are your plans for the future?
Our future plans consist of us continuing our work through raising awareness of the deaf and hard of hearing communities, and advocating for their needs. We believe that video-relay services for deaf signers will cover all major institutions across the country in the future. We also hope that over the next two years all deaf and hard of hearing students will have access to speech-to-text services at both schools and universities.
Interested in the work of the Listen Up Foundation? Visit their website to find out more! Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.
Time for another testimonial from a 2017 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) special mention!
Today’s EEPA interview takes us to Germany to meet the recipients of an EEPA 2017 Special Mention, the “Import Promotion Desk” (IPD). IPD share with us their tips for making your EEPA submission stand out by drawing on their own experiences, and their plans for the future of the project.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
We first heard about the awards scheme from a colleague and decided to enter because of the good reputation of the award and the chance for publicity for our work.
How did you prepare your application?
We did not do any specific activities in preparation for our EEPA submission. We are convinced of what we do and therefore thought that a good, concise and accurate description of our constant activities was special enough!
What was it like to receive a special mention?
We were extremely proud to receive the special mention, and we certainly did not expect it. The recognition by a neutral authority such as the EU Commission was very important for us as it confirmed our strategic approach, thus giving our project credibility and validity. In addition, our participation in the EEPA scheme attracted considerable attention and raised the awareness level of IPD once again.
The awards ceremony was an opportunity to get to know other interesting companies and to exchange ideas and experiences with many entrepreneurs from different countries. Although we exchanged with start-ups from different sectors we are not working in, the ideas they have were very inspiring. Additionally, we got really good feedback from many different angles.
How did receiving a special mention impact your work?
The media coverage was not very extensive, but this was probably due to it being quite difficult to describe what the special mention is exactly. However, the awareness within our network was extremely positive. After all, it is also a recognition of our good cooperation with our partners as well as the IPD team.
Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?
Entering EEPA is a good chance to be compared with other projects, but it means that you really need to make sure that your submission and the overall uniqueness of your project stand out. As such, the award submission should be prepared very carefully, make sure your collected data and documents are well-structured and easy to follow. Furthermore, best-practice examples should be well-presented to highlight the work that you have been doing.
In our case we focused on highlighting the core competence of IPD, which is supporting exports with a focus on development. We provide exporting companies in developing and threshold countries with the knowledge and competences they need to increase their competitiveness on the international market. We also included our focus on sustainability, in terms of enabling exporters, developing better access to the EU market for external countries and selective support for the export of in-demand products.
In your application be sure to clearly indicate your strengths and competencies. For us this meant highlighting our good knowledge of the product demand due to our strong network of relevant sector associations (and through them many importers and wholesalers) in Germany (and Europe). We also continued to demonstrate our competencies by describing how we use our knowledge and network. We explained our focus on demand, and how this ensures that the enterprises achieve long-term sales on the export market. When selecting products to support, we carefully check using market studies and demand analyses which products are gaining importance on the German and European markets.
Overall, convince the national and European jury to view your project as a European best practice that deserves to be rewarded for all of the hard work that you have put in!
What are your plans for the future?
Our goal is to integrate developing countries more effectively into global trade, and thus make a substantial contribution towards sustainable economic development in these countries. Many exporters from developing countries are only denied access to the EU market because they lack knowledge of the legal standards and import regulations, the required certifications and above all the contacts with European traders. This is exactly where the IPD comes in. We offer exporters specifically selected information and training on export marketing and advise them on the whole quality management process and on certification of their products. In addition, the IPD establishes valuable business contacts between the exporters and potential customers through specialist trade fairs.
Our vision is to broaden our project to more developing countries and sectors so that more companies can profit from our services.
Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.
The first national deadlines for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards are coming up soon, so don’t miss your chance to enter! This year the awards ceremony will take place in November in Graz, Austria as part of the SME Assembly 2018.
Check your national deadlines in the table below and don’t miss out on this year’s edition! Each participating country has a different national deadline so be sure to get the right one. All submissions must be done at national level in order to be eligible at European level, for which nominations close on 3 July 2018.
*The Netherlands national deadline is provisional. Please come back to this page regularly for updates once the national deadline is confirmed.
Watch the winning moments from EEPA 2017: