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‘Find your own distinctive formula’ – Sustainable beekeeping triumphs at EEPA 2016

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winner-cat-5Beekeeping and sustainable development can be a winning combination, as seen with the success of ‘Lime Trees & Honey Bees’ at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016.

Lime Trees & Honey Bees triumphed in Category five “Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency” with a project promoting sustainable development through beekeeping in the Danube Microregion of Serbia. This interview gives us an insight into their application journey, their advice for EEPA 2017 applicants and what to expect from the project team in future.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We first heard about the national competition through a public notice on the web site of our national EEPA coordinator, the Republic of Serbia Ministry of Economy. Their experience and support was invaluable during the preparations, especially because it was the first time we were applying.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

The Local Economic Development Office (LED Office) team prepares, supports and monitors the implementation of a significant number of projects regarding local economic development for the City of Novi Sad. The moment we found out about the competition we knew we had to apply with the project “Lime Trees & Honey Bees for Sustainable Development of the Danube Microregion”. It already had outstanding results in supporting entrepreneurship in a not so commonly exploited field but a significant one for the entire ecosystem.

How did you go about preparing your application?

2-5-beekeepers-in-honey-bees-farm-best-practice-examples-from-serbia-and-austria-limehoneyFrom when the project was first created and implemented by the LED Office team, to filling in the application, we were sure that the “Lime Trees & Honey Bees” experience was worth sharing. However, the preparation of some supporting materials was challenging since the project officially ended in February 2015. Luckily our enthusiasm about this project once again inspired colleagues from several city departments. We joined forces and completed the application materials. In general, it was rather joyful remembering all the hard work on this project and the great results and we believe that is what made our application stand out.

What was it like to win the award?

Winning the award was a complete surprise! Of course we were secretly hoping for it, but we were also aware that the competition was very strong. Even on a national level we had two winners, the other competitor from Serbia was SEE ICT’s project “We know we can”. Therefore, we thought being on the shortlist was already a success.

We were competing in category number five “Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency” and, as the time was passing by, we were completely focused on the ceremony, enjoying the presentations and great organisation of the EEPA team. Hearing the name of our project being announced as the award winner was an incredible moment. It was overwhelming and exciting, but above all such great recognition for everyone who had worked on this project and supported it.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

One 1-1-2-young-beekeeper-in-her-honey-bees-farm-city-of-novi-sad-limehoneyof the main reasons for our application was to further support the producers of Fruska Gora lime honey and we expected certain publicity thanks to the award, but we were quite surprised by the amount of interest and increase in the media coverage by the local as well as the national media. This boosted the interest in beekeeping and quality product Fruska Gora lime honey as we hoped. In addition, work on this initiative and winning the award brought recognition to the City of Novi Sad LED Office, as well as invitations to relevant events. It also strengthened our cooperation with the Ministry of Economy on supporting entrepreneurship.

What kind of response did you receive?

The reactions were very positive from the general and professional public. The significance of EEPA was clear despite the fact that in most cases it was introduced for the first time. We have used the increased interest of the Serbian national and regional media to promote Fruska Gora Lime honey and beekeeping as an ecologically sustainable business as much as possible.

We hope that the success of the City of Novi Sad in the EEPA competition will inspire others to create innovative projects on the subject of SME development and to enter the EEPA competition.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

Winning this prestigious award has given greater exposure to the City of Novi Sad, thus significantly contributing to our credibility, improving our chances in creating new project partnerships across Europe and working on innovative solutions for supporting the development of SME’s

1-city-of-novi-sad-fruska-gora-lime-honey-limehoneyWhy should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

Entering the EEPA 2017 gives a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and contacts with colleagues, experts and other stakeholders, drawing focus to the relevant questions and impact SME development. A good idea, a quality product, enthusiasm, detailed planning, active stakeholder involvement and teamwork were the key to our success. Our recommendation to future competitors would be to make sure to find their own distinctive formula

What are your plans for the future?

Currently we are working on Horizon 2020 projects, Cross-border-cooperation IPA Hungary-Serbia and IPA Croatia-Serbia with special emphasis on SME development. We will continue our work on improving the business environment and encouraging faster economic development of Novi Sad and expect to achieve even better results in future. As for the “Lime Trees & Honey Bees” we expect that beekeeping associations will continue to follow the guidelines set within the project, use and expand acquired knowledge and skills, and increase the market share of the Fruska Gora lime honey, an exceptional high-quality product, typical of this area.

SME Assembly 2016 – The delegate verdict is here!

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Welcome back to the Promoting Enterprise blog! Are you ready for 2017? We have decided to kick off the year with a look at what you all thought of the SME Assembly 2016.

The response rate was 48%, with the most responses coming from Belgium, Slovakia, Netherlands and Greece. Of all the respondents, 98% believed the SME Assembly 2016 was worth attending, of which 47.44% said definitely. What does this mean for SME Assembly 2017? 92% of respondents indicated that they would definitely or were likely to attend, so we hope to see you in Tallinn!

sme-assembly sme-assembly-2017

We were happy to see that the event was perceived to be successful in  “creating the environment when people are ready and willing for the real networking”, and “very well organised”. Other comments are also being used to improve our performance and your experience at the SME Assembly 2017.

Moving on to the business tours, which firstly took participants to see Slovakia’s flying car, an automotive innovation that makes use of existing aviation and automobile infrastructure to offer a future with the possibility of real door-to-door travel. The second tour featured an innovative Slovakian SME GA drilling, is working towards revolutionising current drilling technology to allow for cheaper and more efficient drilling, with the idea of providing affordable and sustainable geothermal power to all. It seems these tours were a hit with 97% of the tour attendees finding them extremely/relevant and useful.

31203527695_47a6e51219_kga-drill

Overall, SME Assembly 2016 attendees appeared very satisfied with the rest of the 3 day conference events, including; the SME Week Reception (94% found it extremely relevant and useful) and the EEPA ceremony (87% said it fully met or exceeded their expectations), although participants would have appreciated more networking time.

slovak-dancers peter-v gjp

We also asked our delegates what they thought of the graphic recording of the SME Assembly, a real time depiction, which summarised the event with visuals, created by entrepreneur Sabine Soeder and fellow artist Martin Saive. 82% of delegates found this useful. The event app was also greatly appreciated with 92% of delegates believing it to be relevant and useful. The app can always be improved and with your suggestions regarding programme alerts, information about other attendees, networking facilitation and more.

catering musicians dinner

Thank you to everyone who provided us with feedback and took time to fill in the survey. The preparations for SME Assembly 2017 are already underway…so stay tuned and see you in Tallinn this November!

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