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Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

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Today we are continuing to introduce you to the members of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury by talking with Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker. Selma represents the organisation that won last year’s Grand Jury Prize. Her recent experience as a participant in the competition means her advice for this year’s cohort is particularly valuable. Keep reading to hear it!

Selma is Programme Director of COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige (CfS), an initiative started by the German non-profit Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e.V. (I.S.I. e.V.) working in Berlin. For more than 30 years, I.S.I. e.V. has been empowering and qualifying women with a migration background to pursue entrepreneurship. Before being awarded last year’s Grand Jury prize, CfS was selected as the winner in the competition’s Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category.

EEPA 2022 Jury Member Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

Through CfS, I.S.I. e.V. promotes entrepreneurship amongst immigrant women in Berlin by providing free training and access to networking events. What’s more, I.S.I. e.V., which is itself managed by immigrant women, not only supports women looking to become entrepreneurs, but also those who are already entrepreneurs and are looking to expand their businesses. Below, Selma talks about her experience in the competition, gives some excellent advice, and lets us know what will make a project stand out for her in this year’s competition.

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

It showcases entrepreneurship initiatives from the whole of Europe, sharing valuable examples and boosting entrepreneurship by increasing the recognition and value of entrepreneurs. By shining a light on local initiatives, it shows the great European potential of entrepreneurship and its role in nurturing and shaping our society.

Do you have any advice for the participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

It is very important to include information on the impact the initiatives have had, both with figures and performance indicators and with concrete examples. The vision for the future is also very important, since these initiatives must constantly adapt to changes in the environment and respond to the real needs of society.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

The difficult political situation has brought instability and economic crisis, as well as uncertainty about the future. To build trust and hope, we need to move toward a healthy society that is attentive to social values and gender equality, thus promoting sustainable, equitable and responsible initiatives and projects. In this context, attention to the needs of the most vulnerable is crucial, as well as a focus on people’s mental and physical well-being.

What are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

An innovative and engaging approach, impact on people and on the local economy, and attention to the well-being of people.

We will introduce you to the other members of the 2022 EEPA jury soon – so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Thomas Cooney

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Every year, during the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), we introduce you to the members of our jury, who play are responsible for choosing the most innovative and exciting competition entries and selecting the winner of the Grand Jury Prize. We kick off our introductions this year with an EEPA stalwart Professor Thomas Cooney.

Thomas is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Technological University Dublin, and Academic Director of the TU Dublin Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship. He is also a director of four businesses, works in a supportive capacity with a variety of organisations and has published widely on the topic of entrepreneurship. Thomas has been an EEPA jury member for several years now, so we asked him for his advice for participants and what the jury will be looking for in 2022. Read on for his enlightening insights!

EEPA Jury Member Professor Thomas Cooney

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

What is wonderful about EEPA is that it recognizes unsung heroes and celebrates the amazing work being done by people to encourage greater levels of entrepreneurial activity at local and regional levels. These people also support the inclusion of marginalized communities whose needs are not being met by formal government interventions, and this competition enables their incredible work to be acclaimed.

Do you have any advice for EEPA participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

Successful applications have one common feature – they provide statistics and evidence of the success of their initiative. Hard data showing the number of people who have successfully completed the programme and the measurement of the impact of the programme is much more powerful than any testimonial.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are critically important in terms of addressing the current challenges facing governments and people across Europe. Therefore, I believe that showing how an initiative tackles a specific UN SDG would be helpful, but applicants need to identify which specific target they are addressing (e.g. SDG Target 10.1) rather than being quite broad with their relationship to the UN SDGs.

Which are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

The three qualities that I would like to see are: (1) level of innovation (what is the project doing that nobody else is doing?); (2) the ability for the initiative to be replicated in another country, by other people; and (3) the long-term sustainability of the initiative. Excel in these three qualities and you will be in contention for a prize!

We will introduce you to the other five members of the 2022 EEPA jury soon – so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

Introducing the 2022 EEPA Jury

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Today on the Promoting Enterprise news portal, we are excited to introduce you to the seven 2022 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury members. The EEPA jury is made up of representatives from the European Commission, business associations, academia, the current European presidencies, and the last Grand Jury Prize winner.

Let´s give a warm welcome to Thomas Wobben, Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker, Thomas Cooney, Outi Slotboom, Christel Delberghe, Caroline Mischler and Marian Piecha.

There are seven jury members in total. We begin our introduction with Thomas Wobben, who is representing the Committee of the Regions. After studying Economics and Politics, Thomas worked for voluntary sector organisations and, in 1993, joined the European policy services of Saxony-Anhalt. In 1995, he began working in the Liaison Office of Saxony-Anhalt in Brussels, taking over as Director in 2000. Since March 2012, he has been Director for Horizontal Policies and Networks and later for legislative works at the Committee of the Regions.

Jury member Thomas Wobben

Every year the EEPA competition offers me a sample of a European diversity. Looking at the EEPA projects, I try to assess their impact and added value in a specific territorial context, in particular shortlisting those that inspire and provide at least some transferability potential to other territories with similar characteristics,” Thomas said.

Representing last year’s Grand Jury prize-winner is Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker. Selma is Programme Director of “COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige” at ISI (Initiative of Self-Employed Migrant Women), a non-profit association in Berlin, Germany which, for more than 30 years, has been empowering and qualifying women with a migration background, preparing them for professional self-employment.

Jury member Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

Representing academia is Professor Thomas Cooney, who has been a jury member for several years and brings significant experience to the role. Thomas is Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Academic Director of the TU Dublin Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship.

Jury member Thomas Cooney

Next, we introduce you to Outi Slotboom. Outi is Director for Strategy and Economic Analysis at the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission. Her Directorate is in charge of the strategy for EU industrial policy and the Single Market, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship, the international aspects of industrial policy, and the economic analysis underpinning these policies.

Jury member Outi Slotboom

Next, we meet Christel Delberghe, providing expertise from a business association perspective. Christel has been Director General of EuroCommerce since November 2021, where she acts as the chief advocate for the retail and wholesale sector with the EU institutions, stakeholders and the media. Previously, she was EuroCommerce’s Executive Director for Competitiveness and Communications, leading action on commercial relations and competition issues, as well as the interests of wholesalers and SMEs.

Jury member Christel Delberghe

Next, we would like to introduce you to Caroline Mischler, who is representing the French EU presidency. Caroline is the Director of the European and International Department of the Directorate General for Enterprises, at the French Ministry of Economy and Finance. Caroline joined the Directorate General in 2005 and has held various positions, designing public policies to support competitiveness, innovation and industry. She was appointed Director of the European and International Department in 2019.

Jury member Caroline Mischler

Finally, we would like to introduce you to Marian Piecha, who represents the Czech EU presidency on this year’s jury. In 2008, Marian was appointed the Director of the Department of Business and Investment at the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade. From 2013 to 2014, he was the CEO of the business and investment support agency CzechInvest. Since 2014, he was the Director of the MIT ́s SME Support Department. He was appointed Deputy Minister of the EU Funds and Digital Economy Section on February 1, 2018.

Jury member Marian Piecha

About #EEPA2022

The EEPA competition has two stages. Applicants must first compete at national level to be eligible to compete at European level. For the national competition, each country nominates up to two entries for the European competition in six categories:

Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
Investing in skills
Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
Supporting the internationalisation of business
Supporting the sustainable transition
Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

The #EEPA2022 jury then chooses a shortlist of nominees to compete at the final awards ceremony, which recognises the winners for their efforts and gives them the opportunity to present themselves in a pan-European environment.

For more information, visit the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter.

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

EEPA 2022: When is my national deadline?

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The 2022 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) have been launched across the participating countries. However, different countries have different national deadlines for participation – do you know when your national deadline is? Read on to find out!

The EEPA national competitions are underway and are currently looking for the best projects to compete at national level. The participating countries are inviting projects or initiatives to apply for the national competitions in six categories.

The six categories in this year’s competition are:

1. Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
2. Investing in skills
3. Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
4. Supporting the internationalisation of business
5. Supporting the sustainable transition
6. Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

If you would like to participate, you can find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here. See the table below for your national deadline. If your national deadline is not included, make sure to come back as this this page will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. For any further questions, be sure to contact your National Coordinator or the EEPA Secretariat.

More about EEPA

EEPA participating countries invite projects and initiatives to apply for the 2022 national competitions where two national winners per category are be selected to compete at the European level. The prestigious EEPA 2022 jury will then carefully review these national winners and, from them, select the European shortlists.

All shortlisted nominees from both the national and European competition levels will receive invitations to the Awards Ceremony at the annual SME Assembly in November, this year co-hosted by the Czech Presidency of the Council and the European Commission. At the SME Assembly, the jury will also announce the winner of the Jury’s Grand Prize. The winner can be from any category and the prize goes to the entry considered to be the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

For more information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website, and for the latest updates, make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For more information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website and for the latest updates make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portalto follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

EEPA Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business

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We have already introduced you to the first three categories in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Today it is the turn of Category 4 – Supporting the internationalisation of business.

Access to international markets can play a critical role in the success of a start-up. With this in mind, Category 4 in the EEPA recognises projects that make it easier for enterprises, and particularly small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups, to get a foothold on international markets, both inside the EU and around the world, and to benefit from the internationalisation of their business.

Let’s take a look at the type of projects that have succeeded in this category in previous years. The Category 4 winner in 2021 was the Iberian Centre for Research and Forest Firefighting (CILIFO) in Spain. To expand Spain’s and Europe’s firefighting capacity, the Firefighting Open Innovation Lab-CILIFO (FOIL-CILIFO) accelerator is supporting entrepreneurs, technologies, companies and start-ups involved in forest management and forest fire prevention and fighting. The project offers companies the opportunity to test innovative technologies in a real environment, helps them find international partners to replicate their results, and provides legal advice and support in accessing European funding with the help of specialised mentors.

To visit the Supporting the Internationalisation of Business winners in 2020, we need to get on our bikes and head to Portugal, to meet with Portugal Bike Value, which is working to support and promote the potential of the Portuguese bicycle industry, establishing it as a player in the European supply chain. Portugal Bike Value is also promoting Portugal as a destination for foreign investment in the area of soft mobility. By investing in cleaner technologies that have a reduced environmental footprint, the project is also helping to support the European Green Deal.

Participation in the EEPA had a major impact on Portugal Bike Value. “First of all, it gave us a real perspective on the value of the project. Then, this victory gave us a major boost in terms of communication, both in Portugal and abroad. The EEPA awards are highly visible and boost the image of the participants.

So, what advice do the Portugal Bike Value team have for projects that might be considering taking part in this year’s competition? “In our experience, the best advice is – participate. As long as you have a solid, well-developed project, you can only win. The gains that you will receive in terms of experience and contacts with other projects are overwhelming. If you can reach the final, you will gain additional visibility and in the event of victory, then the return is massive.

From Portugal, we head northwards to meet with the Category 4 winners from 2019. HealthTech Nordic is a community of over 230 Nordic start-ups offering digital healthcare solutions designed to empower patients and revolutionise healthcare services. The HealthTech community creates connections between innovative solutions, healthcare and the global market by advancing ideas and pooling resources.

Asked about their EEPA experience, HealthTech were enthusiastic. “Amazing! It was really nerve-wracking sitting in the audience and listening to the presentations of the three category finalists. Both we and the project from the Netherlands were convinced that the Romanian project would win, their film was so good! When we heard our project announced as the winner we couldn’t believe it! Overall it was an amazing evening and experience.”

SME_Assembly_2019_Kanizaj-6271

Winning the EEPA award had a major impact on the project. “I posted about the win on LinkedIn and Facebook and have never before gotten so many comments and congratulations! The project’s lead partner organization Innovation Skåne also published several very engaging posts in social media as well as sent out a widely read press release. We also watched as HealthTech Nordic got increased social media attention after the awards, so that growth has been quite exciting to watch.

Your project could also benefit from EEPA publicity. If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

In our next blog, we will look at previous winners in EEPA Category 5 – Supporting the sustainable transition. In the meantime, if you would like some more information, visit the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

EEPA Category 3: Improving The Business Environment and Supporting the Digital Transition

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In previous posts we discussed at EEPA Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, sharing with you the entrepreneurial journeys taken by previous winners in these categories. Today, we will turn our attention to Category 3.

EEPA Category 3 is titled, Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition. This category was designed to recognise initiatives that are making Europe an attractive place to start, operate, grow and scale a business. It also rewards projects that simplify legislative and administrative procedures and support the digital transition of enterprises. We can learn a lot from the category winners in previous years, so let’s meet them…

The 2021 winner was Digital Commerce a Portuguese programme that supports the digital transformation of micro enterprises and SMEs in the commerce and services sector. In the three years of work prior to its EEPA win, the programme trained 67 digital consultants and provided expertise to 50 business and commercial associations. What’s more, 1,345 entrepreneurs graduated from its Digital Academy and the programme conducted 51 sessions and workshops as part of a National Roadshow, which involved that participation of around 3,000 entrepreneurs and traders.

BIND 4.0 – a public-private acceleration programme specialising in promoting Industry 4.0 projects, was 2020’s winner. BIND 4.0 targets technological start-ups with 4.0 solutions in advanced manufacturing, energy, health and food. The programme was set up as an open innovation platform, where start-ups from all over the world and large industrial companies established in the Basque Country could interact in an agile way to develop innovative high-impact projects. The start-ups receive intensive support aimed at accelerating their development and immersing them in the Basque industrial ecosystem.

The BIND 4.0 team was incredibly proud of their EEPA accomplishment: “This award is a source of pride, for consistently accomplishing our goal to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. Since our inception, we’ve accelerated over 100 start-ups and facilitated the development of more than 170 Industry 4.0 projects. This award provides additional validity to our international initiative so we can continue to attract talent to the Basque region and promote collaboration between young start-ups and large corporations,” they said.

When asked on what advice they would offer future EEPA participants, the BIND 4.0 team replied, “If you would like to see how your programme and efforts measure up against the other programmes being implemented throughout Europe, we recommend applying. The EEPA is a great way to stay informed about impactful programmes, ground-breaking initiatives and the benchmark models in the marketplace.”

One year earlier, in 2019, the award for improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition went to Fomento de la Contratacion Publica con Pymes, or “Public Procurement for SMEs”. This project was recognised for its work on implementing measures in the Spanish city of Valladolid to provide SMEs with opportunities in public procurement.

Their EEPA success gave the project a lot of visibility. “Winning the award has put a spotlight on our work and the change that we are trying to bring about for SME involvement in public procurement. The prize not only represents recognition of the teamwork and effort that went into the project, but also that this work has a positive effect on sustainable business development and thus on employment generation.,” the team said.

The team found preparations to apply for the EEPA to be an opportunity to bring closer local business associations. “Since 2016 our work surrounding the improvement of social efficiency in municipal public sector contracts has been under evaluation, and in response to that we put into place procedures to ensure that all awarded SMEs were up to the highest standard. This particular work helped us to prepare our EEPA application and finding the level of detail required. We also drew on past experience and collaborative work with local companies which allowed us to get the support of different local business associations for our EEPA candidacy.,” they said.

Since 2006, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards has been recognising projects that promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level. Next year it could be you! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

In our next blog, we will look at previous winners in EEPA Category 4 – Supporting the internationalisation of business, so stay tuned!

For more information, visit the European Commission website and get the latest uFor more information on these topics, please follow the European Commission website, for the latest updates, follow Promoting Enterprise News Portal as well as our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

SME Week Newsletter 2022: time to catch up!

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Welcome to the first edition of the SME Week Newsletter for 2022! 

It is only the beginning of the year, and we are just about ready to start thinking about the 2022 edition of the European SME Week.

Through events, competitions and initiatives, this pan-European campaign helps existing entrepreneurs to find support and also encourages people to set up their own businesses. The SME Assembly, our flagship event, will take place towards the end of the year in a location we hope to share shortly.

As always, we would like to hear any stories regarding your start of the year and invite you to share any news with us for the Promoting Enterprise News Portal. 

We would also like to introduce you to the new Your Europe page avalaible in Ukranian in this link, and encourage you to share it on your social media account.

Read more >>

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER AND DON’T MISS ANY UPDATES

Make sure that you are also following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop!

3+ reasons to enter EEPA 2022 Competition

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The 2022 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) has kick-started. The competition supports entrepreneurship and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through awarding innovative initiatives of public bodies and public-private partnerships.

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards aim not only at identifying and recognizing successful activities and initiatives undertaken to promote enterprise and entrepreneurship, but also at showcasing and sharing examples of best entrepreneurship policies and practices. The EEPA create a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in society and encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs.

Culinary Action! by Basque Culinary Centre from Spain, winner of Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit category said:

It will validate your work at an international level. Just by being selected as a finalist, you will get European wide recognition and the opportunity to interact and network with a variety of European actors.”

Grand Jury Prize 2021 winner COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige by Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e. V. from Germany, and also first prize winner in Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category, thinks that:

The EEPA is a great chance to make your project more visible and cooperate with other organizations to spread information about your successful work. It gives you the possibility to present your project as a model – both at a national and international level – and, ultimately, to reach your goals for a larger community all over Europe. Applying is definitely worth a try.”

The winner of Category 6, Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Inkludera by Inkludera from Sweden, found inspiration at the 2021 SME Assembly and told us:

“We believe it’s a great forum for being inspired by other organizations.”

SME Assembly 2021 was for sure an inspiring and empowering event. Let’s watch some of the key moments from last year and relive the experience!

If we have convinced you to join EEPA 2022, see below how it works:

The participating countries invite projects or initiatives to apply for the national competitions for the 2022 edition. Each national competition will announce two national winners, who will proceed to compete at the European level prior to the European deadline of 25 July 2022. The prestigious EEPA jury of 2022 will then carefully review each of the national winners, where the top projects will make the European shortlist.

All shortlisted nominees from both the national and European competition levels will receive invitations to the Awards Ceremony at the annual SME Assembly co-hosted by the Czech Presidency of the Council and the European Commission in November.

Want to participate? Find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

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