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SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #4

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Youth of Europe – Voices of the future

The Youth of Europe have a voice, plenty of ideas and innovative visions of the future, but how can they make their voices heard? The European Commission values the voices of the future and is proud to announce that the SME Week Youth Essay Competition is back, with a fresh question ready to be answered. Keep reading and visit the News Portal for more information on how to enter.

Have a look through this latest edition for all the EEPA updates as well as upcoming entrepreneurial events and remember that we want YOUR stories, so update us for future editions.

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Business Generator – Where are they now?

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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:

Learning from the best – Advice from EEPA 2017 winners

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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!

SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #3

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The future of European startup policy – Have YOUR say

Interested in finding out what the most innovative Europeans are up to? What about a chance to have your say in European startup policy making? Or perhaps you have an entrepreneurial project that deserves recognition on European level? You are in the right place!

In this edition of the SME Week Newsletter find out about the latest EEPA 2018 updates, the recent Ideas from Europe finals, an opportunity to contribute to EU startup policy and more.

Read on to find out more and don’t forget that we want to hear YOUR stories, so get in touch to see yourself featured in upcoming editions.

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Green Projects – EEPA 2018 is looking for you!

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are still open for nominations and entries, and this year with the re-instatement of the ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category, which was temporarily suspended in 2017, there are even more prizes to win!

So what is this category about?

The ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category is one of a total of six categories, and recognises initiatives that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency through, for example, green skills development and matchmaking, as well as funding.

Previous European winners of the category include:

Interested in applying for this category? Check your national submission deadline and contact your national coordinator today!

Watch the 2016 winning moment:

Find out about the 2016 nominees:

EEPA 2018 – National deadlines

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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.

Need more information? Contact your national coordinator and have a look at the EEPA 2017 winner testimonials for some inspiration!

*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:

SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #2

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EEPA 2018 – Call for national submissions

Welcome to the March edition of the SME Week Newsletter!

Today we bring you the latest updates from EEPA 2018, the upcoming Ideas from Europe final and the latest events across Europe in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, startups and enterprise. Read on for two special features on the Maltese SME Week, and an exciting initiative for SMEs from Austria, both of which highlight the diversity of the European entrepreneurial community.

Interested in learning more? Keep reading and don’t forget to send in your updates and contributions about your latest activities, events and initiatives, to be featured in upcoming editions.

It is that time of the year again, when the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) commence and the best projects from all across Europe begin to compete for a place on the EEPA 2018 shortlist.

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EEPA 2018 – Learning from Portuguese National Coordinator Helena Moura

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EEPA continues and so does the work of all of the National Coordinators. Today on Promoting Enterprise we are joined by Portuguese coordinator Helena Moura, who has been involved with EEPA since the inception of the scheme in 2005. Continue reading to learn from her experiences and to find out what goes into the Portuguese EEPA campaign.

How have you been preparing EEPA 2018 so far?

IAPMEI, the Portuguese body responsible for EEPA coordination, did a preliminary benchmark comparing the actions carried out during the previous EEPA editions versus related results. This allowed us to define an integrated action plan based on:

  • a core message combining “motivation” with the benefits of participation in EEPA, an EU initiative carried out in more than 30 countries
  • sharing information on awarded projects
  • personalised mailing, by post, from the President of IAPMEI addressed to a wide range of entities (over 800), including ministries, and a personalised email to over 1 300 other entities
  • strengthening the collaboration with national and regional stakeholders
  • highlighting EEPA on the IAPMEI website and on the portal of the Portuguese Enterprise Europe Network consortium
  • reinforcing the dissemination of EEPA material via IAPMEI social networks and newsletters
  • researching online and through media for eligible initiatives

This was combined with a regular assessment so as to allow for a reformulation of the action plan where needed.

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for reaching out to potential applicants?

Based on experience, my top 3 pieces of advice would be to do your research, establish close cooperation with stakeholders and create those direct contacts and finally, put in the hard work! Several of the Portuguese projects awarded in previous editions, including on EU level, come from research carried out by IAPMEI. Once you have identified the potential candidate, it is also very important to identify the right person to be your contact. This will allow to better introduce the EEPA scheme, motivate them to participate and to give all the necessary support and follow-up.

IAPMEI developed a committed task force which is dedicated to motivating participants and supporting the preparation of entries, something which has definitely been s key for reaching out to potential applicants.

What will be the main aspects of your EEPA 2018 campaign?

For the current campaign IAPMEI has widened the scope of the target audience, and enlarged the dedicated task force for direct contacting of potential applicants. There has also been additional training for the task force members, so as to have more assertive and effective communication with potential applicants.

What advice would you give to projects applying in the newly re-instated category ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’?

It is a challenging category, but not impossible to apply for! Portugal was awarded in this category in the first year, and the winner was found through careful IAPMEI research. My advice would be to take the time to identify and contact the entities with the potential to apply for this category, and most importantly don’t give up!

What is the most important thing you have learnt during your experience as National Coordinator?

Having worked in EEPA from the very beginning (2005), I would say that it is a challenge to promote enterprises and entrepreneurship and, mostly, to encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. However, despite the difficulties the visibility and impact that the projects and related promoters achieve with EEPA participation is important and should definitely be highlighted when recruiting potential projects. When you are promoting the EEPA think about what opportunities could come as a result of participation, and share that with your potential applicants.

Since 2006, Portugal has achieved more than 14% of the total of the EEPA national entries, which demonstrates the commitment of the Portuguese promoters participating in the initiative. These results are in line with the high entrepreneurship performance in Portugal and demonstrate the dynamism and effort that the country has been carrying out to promote the business activity in the Europe.

Any other National Coordinator experiences that you would like to share?

I have witnessed the enormous commitment from all the involved parties, from the huge dissemination carried out by the European Commission and, at national level by IAPMEI, the great commitment of the President of IAPMEI and of course that of the National Jury. Without their commitment and dedication, the EEPA would not be what they are in Portugal today. We are also lucky enough to be able to organise a national ceremony with the participation of a member of government, and featuring the testimonials of previously awarded Portuguese projects.

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes of EEPA? Read the latest national coordinator interview here with Estonian coordinator Kaupo Sempelson and keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for all the latest EEPA news.

EEPA 2018 – Behind the scenes with Estonian National Coordinator Kaupo Sempelson

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What happens behind the scenes of EEPA? What goes into organising a national campaign? Today on Promoting Enterprise Estonian National Coordinator Kaupo Sempelson shares what has been going into the Estonian EEPA 2018 campaign.

How have you been preparing EEPA 2018 so far?

We finalised all of our preparations and launched the Estonian national competition on the 8th of February, for which the deadline is the 6th of April. However, we have recently begun the national process and we are hoping for a lot of active participation.

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for reaching out to potential applicants? 

The most important piece of advice I can give is to spread the invitation to apply across different networks, but also to send direct invitations to potential candidates. The direct approach is sometimes the most cost efficient solution. In Estonia we have also made use of the ministry’s Facebook page to disseminate the information about the EEPA national competition.

What will be the main aspects of your EEPA 2018 campaign?

We will not run a media campaign, as we are focusing our efforts on reaching potential candidates directly. We have found that this is particularly effective and allows us to secure quality entries.

What advice would you give to projects applying in the newly re-instated category ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’?

It is a very good opportunity for a potential project to get publicity. I think that the potential of this category is as yet undiscovered by potential projects. The entrepreneurial spirit category is very popular each year, so I think that we need to put some extra effort into reaching the green markets projects so this newly re-instated category can be just as strong.

What is the most important thing you have learnt during your experience as National Coordinator?

During my time as Coordinator I have seen a lot of initiatives worth rewarding and I am convinced that the EEPA competition is a very good award scheme for these projects to gain the recognition they deserve. The fact that the competition is on a European level is definitely an important aspect and one that has a positive effect on the projects.

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes of other national EEPA campaigns? Have a read of interviews with the Spanish and Swedish EEPA national coordinators here on Promoting Enterprise.

Belgium, it is time to apply for EEPA 2018!

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are under way across Europe, but what does a competition look like on national level? Today our EEPA journey takes us to Belgium, where the national competition is coordinated by National Coordinator Francis Otte.

Since 2006, Belgium has been participating in the EEPA awards scheme, and submitted a great variety of projects to compete at both national and European level. Of the all projects submitted, 3 have placed on the annual European shortlist and 3 have won prizes at European level, in both the ‘Investing in entrepreneurial skills’ and ‘Improving the business environment’ categories.

Find out more about previous Belgian winners:

This year the Belgian competition is open until 7 May 2018, so Belgian projects you know what to do! Get your applications in before your national deadline of 7 May 2018 in order to have the chance to represent Belgium on the European EEPA stage at the SME Assembly 2018.

For more information on the Belgian EEPA competition read the flyer in French and Dutch.

Visit the Belgian EEPA website for more information in French and Dutch.

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