At this year’s SME Assembly 2020 we met eight entrepreneurs who have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective sectors and areas of expertise. In the Stories of Success session, they shared how they used their creativity to set up solutions for needs, pivoted their business and ultimately kept things going through the pandemic.
Make sure to watch their session to find out more and check out all of the work that they are doing!
Jan Dolezal from the Czech Republic pivoted his tourism business SmartGuide to answer the needs of digital tourism and safe travel for tourists in pandemic times. At SmartGuide they have been making it easier for tourist destinations to sign up and increase their digital offering through their ‘Smart Restart’ programme and get tourist destinations back on their feet.
Silyana Bojilova, got together with other entrepreneurial minds to start the WeCare Foundation in Bulgaria, to provide care packages and psychological support for families with children where parents have lost their main source of income due to the pandemic.
Karsten Kossatz from Germany set up his initiative Helfen.Berlin, a platform for small businesses to come together and offer vouchers for their goods and services for customers to redeem at a later date whilst they were forced to close during Germany’s lockdown. He first got his idea when he saw business owner friends worrying about how they were going to survive throughout the extended closure.
Zsigmond Kovari, from Hungarian company Linistry shared the story of their queuing app and their win at the EUvsVIRUS hackathon with their innovative idea to apply their technology to make supermarkets safer and create a virtual queuing system. Linistry has also worked in collaboration with an airline to create virtual queuing for boarding gates and help observe social distancing.
Ursula Lavrenčič, CEO of KOBI Helps Children Read, told us about making the KOBI online learning app more accessible during the pandemic and lockdown in particular to ensure that children with learning difficulties were still able to keep learning from home. To show solidarity, KOBI momentarily made their app free to help parents with dyslexic children and to support them.
Soren Lex from plasticpreneur, explained how his business that creates plastic chips and pushes using recycled plastic to create a variety of products, turned their expertise and existing specialist machines to making face masks, shields and other protective equipment during the pandemic as they can produce it much faster with their technology. They also shipped out production kits globally to help others produce large amounts of protective equipment at a rate suited to a global pandemic at local level.
Willemijn Schneyder, CEO of Dutch software company Swipeguide explained how during the pandemic they offered their pro intuitive SaaS platform services for free for up to 6 months for manufacturing companies that were ‘giving back’ by donating or producing essential products throughout the first months of the pandemic.
Marco Witzmann from ValiSpace, a cross border engineering company operating from both Germany and Portugal, spoke about how they offered their remote engineering suite to companies producing ventilators, helped the healthcare industry get their product design teams organised and supported universities and other institutions with their knowledge and resources.
Don’t forget to watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights and head on over to our YouTube channel to watch the different sessions, available now!
Veolia Germany initiated the U-START program in order to foster the cooperation with innovative startups in the fields of circular economy, climate protection and resource efficiency, and to reduce the time to enter the market with new concepts for a better world.
Veolia is dedicated to helping startups grow, and giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to engage directly in a co-innovation partnership. Depending on the individual needs and level of maturity Veolia provides different scale-up opportunities: prototyping, testing facilities for proof of concept, co-creation projects, access to distribution channels etc.
Veolia is launching its fourth U-START call on circular economy together with EIT RawMaterials. Startups can apply here from 1 April to 31 May 2019 for the opportunity to participate in a startup acceleration programme to develop sustainable business ideas in circular economy.
For this edition, the call is focusing on sustainable ideas on the following key topics:
- Innovative recycling concepts for electronic waste (PCB, Li-ion batteries etc.)
- Alternative upcycling valorisation routes for secondary products (Recycled paper, glass fibre composites, recycled carbon fibres etc.)
- New technologies for sorting and recycling composite materials (Mixed plastic products and metal-plastic composites)
- Entrepreneurs, innovators and companies with an early stage venture that can serve as a base for a viable new business.
- Entrepreneurs should be working full-time on their venture.
Five good reasons to join the U-START program:
- Global player: Team up with the world leader in energy and resource efficiency services for municipalities & industries
- Seed funding: Benefit from up to 100 000 EUR to test your solution
- Collaboration: Develop your project in a co-creation mode with Veolia experts
- Testing: Test your solution on one of > 200 Veolia industrial sites in Germany
- Scaleup: Deploy your solution on the German market with Veolia commercial teams
- Market: Accelerate access to global market through the Veolia network
For any questions regarding this call or the U-START programme in general contact: email@example.com.
‘Secrets of Success’, the biennial brochure that celebrates entrepreneurial successes across Europe and COSME countries, is back with another cohort of innovative entrepreneurs.
The latest edition investigates the journeys that entrepreneurs from across Europe have taken, discovering their motivation, and recording their struggles along the way. In ‘Secrets of Success’ we showcase small and medium-sized enterprises in the European Members States and countries in COSME, Europe’s programme for small and medium-sized enterprises. The entrepreneurs come from wide-ranging sectors, and bring a great variety of experiences to this year’s edition. Despite their differences, they all share the following two values: ‘Learning from Failure’ and ‘Building your Best Team’. Through both struggles and successes, these entrepreneurs are examples of persistence, and highlight the benefits of connecting, sharing and innovating.
Read this year’s edition to learn from these entrepreneurs and allow their stories to inspire you on your own entrepreneurial journey.
The 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is THE place to be for innovators, entrepreneurs and trailblazers from across five innovation sectors. Taking place from June 4-5 in the Netherlands, the GES 2019 will be focusing on Agriculture, Connectivity, Energy, Health, or Water, and is looking for transformative technological solutions in each sector.
This will be the first time that the GES comes to the European Union, and will be co-hosted by both the governments of the Netherlands and the United States of America. This 9th edition of this globally known event aims to drive global innovation and celebrate the free-market economy that supports jobs, growth, and transformative solutions to global challenges. It will also serve to build on strong transatlantic relationships and common values, promote economic growth, fair trade, and encourage investment in entrepreneurial activity that creates prosperity and jobs.
The event provides the ultimate networking opportunity for scale ups, innovators, entrepreneurs and investors to meet, discuss and ultimately innovate together to improve innovation across the five sectors.
Applications close on 30 January 2019 so if you want to be considered for a place at GES 2019 don’t delay and apply today!
For more details look at the GES 2019 application page.
The MEAINDEX platform, an online toolbox for business entrepreneurs, was initiated in September 2015, and was then launched during the Maltese edition of the European SME Week. This platform then evolved into an online directory which acts as an SME hub and facilitates SME understanding of the local business ecosystem. The online portal officially went live in June 2018, and is both endorsed and supported by the Commissioner for Simplification within the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta, and the Malta Communications Authority together with a number of collaborative entities.
The platform is run by the Malta’s Employer’s Association and supported by various Maltese institutions and authorities, including Malta Enterprise, the Family Businesses Office and the Malta Office of the European Commission.
What does the tool do?
The online toolbox provides accessible information for potential entrepreneurs as well as existing business actors in Malta. It explains the bureaucracy they will encounter, guides entrepreneurs through the necessary steps to set up their business, and helps individuals and companies identify relevant entities and individuals to help them on their business journeys.
The tool also offers additional practical information on trade licenses, updated legislation and the development of policies. It is also a resource for SMEs to consults relevant statistics, both at European and local level. Finally, the tool also acts as an address book, and currently has over 173 individual entities registered within its database.
This online platform offers SMEs solutions and allows them to navigate the bureaucracy of starting an enterprise with all of the necessary support and connections.
Visit the toolbox here.
The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is getting even closer…only 12 days to go until the deadline on 16 September 2018! Today on Promoting Enterprise we present David Gomes, another Youth Essay Competition jury member. David Gomes will be on the jury as the representative from the JADE Network (The European Confederation of Junior Enterprises), who are one of our competition partners. Read on to find out what he is looking for in an entry and don’t forget to submit before the deadline!
What will you be looking for in an entry?
Innovation is the keyword – I will be looking for entries that suggest practical and concrete ways for entrepreneurs and governments to become more innovative. For me an entry needs to offer more than just sharing ideas and thinking about what we want in the future. I want the entries to really consider what we want to see in terms of innovation and how we can make this a reality. The writers should think about how we can foster an environment that promotes innovation on a constant basis. I am expecting really good answers as the question of innovation is one that we need to answer as fast as we can.
What are the top three criteria you will base your judging on?
I will judge each essay on the following three criteria: originality, feasibility, and presentation.
What will make an entry stand out for you?
An entry will stand out for me if it considers both the strengths and weaknesses of our present environment, and proposes solutions that are suitable for the problem identified. It is not enough to come up with ideas and expect them to be the best solution for the perceived problem. In order for an entry to be well rounded and thought provoking, the author will need to demonstrate a deep understanding of what is being done at the moment, and propose their solution in light of that.
What advice would you give for those still not sure about entering the competition?
Over time the younger generations are taking an ever increasing role in important societal discussions. This competition is an amazing opportunity to make an impact on what policy-makers are defining for our collective future and to make your voice heard. When we are invited to give our opinions we should embrace the challenge and speak up!
What steps do you think should be taken to foster and encourage innovation?
For me, it is much more about change management. Our society is ready for innovation, the problem simply lies with how people react to new ways of doing something or new products and services. We need to embrace innovation as a way to keep improving our lives for the better. Innovation should be a constant in our mindsets, in everything we do – both personally and professionally, and the leaders of this change should definitely be both governments and entrepreneurs.
Interested in entering this year’s competition? Find out more about the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition right here. Use the News Portal for all your competition questions and be sure to have a look at the previous winning entries for inspiration. Finally, don’t forget to submit your essays by 23 September 2018!
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.
The next EEPA category is “Improving the Business Environment” which recognises initiatives that support enterprise start-up and growth, and simplify both legislative and administrative procedures for businesses. Have a look through the national winners in this category below and stay tuned until the end of September to see which of these makes it onto the European shortlist!
Iceland: Electronic Company Register
Poland: Entrepreneur Package
Romania: Start up Nation Romania
Slovakia: Better Regulation Center
Spain: Open Innovation 4.0.
United Kingdom: Anchoring economic growth in the Tees Valley
Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to find out about the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, Investing in entrepreneurial skills, Supporting the internationalisation of business, Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.
Want to know who will be judging the 2018 projects? Meet the EEPA 2018 Jury here on the Portal!
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has opened the call for applications for the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2019 award on 23 November in Tallinn, at the European SME Assembly organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The EER 2019 edition was launched by Johanna Mikl-Leitner (AT/EPP), CoR Member and Governor of Lower Austria, one of the three EER winners of the current year. The EER award is open to all EU regions and cities that are ready to implement an ambitious strategy to support their SMEs and entrepreneurs. The deadline to apply for the EER 2019 label is 17 April 2018.
Each year, the EER label is awarded to three EU territories with an outstanding, future-oriented strategy to promote entrepreneurship and support small and medium-sized enterprises in their territories. The forward-looking orientation of the EER initiative means that the EER label is open to all EU territories – not only to those that are already among the top performers, but also to regions and cities that may still be less prosperous, but that have an ambitious entrepreneurial vision to reinvigorate their economy and a credible action plan to transform this vision into reality.
Over the past seven years, the EER winners have demonstrated how cities and regions can successfully strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems. During the SME Assembly’s first day, Lower Austria (EER 2017) was awarded the Commission’s European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) in recognition of its outstanding achievements in supporting SME internationalisation.
“SMEs, start-ups and scale-ups are a motor for life quality and sustainable development in our cities and regions. I strongly believe that, as regional and local decision-makers, it is our responsibility to set up the right conditions for the emergence of flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystems. Through the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) label, the European Committee of the Regions contributes to this objective. We identify and reward EU regions and cities that create an environment in which entrepreneurial initiative can unleash its full potential”, stated CoR Member Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
The implementation of the awarded regional and local strategies will be monitored throughout 2019 by the EER jury, which is composed of CoR members, representatives of EU institutions and social partners. At the end of the award year, the jury will visit the awarded territories in order to verify the progress made, provide them with an objective outside appraisal of their policies and gain new insights and inspiration for the further development of the EER scheme. The main results and achievements of the EER 2019 winners will also be shared and discussed among regional and local authorities through the EER network, which since its inception in 2010 has grown to include 24 territories, giving it the critical mass necessary for a fruitful exchange of good practices, peer-learning and successful cooperation among past and present EER winners.
The deadline for the submission of applications is 17 April 2018. The application form and detailed information about the assessment criteria are available on the EER web page: www.cor.europa.eu/eer
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On November 22, entrepreneurs from all around Europe will present their ideas to change the world for the better. 28 innovators from across the European member states will compete in the semi-finals of ‘Ideas from Europe’ in Tallinn and share their solutions to global challenges.
From tackling food waste, using innovative technology to diagnose health problems, cures for the common cold and antibiotic resistance, smart uses of renewable energy, diminishing CO2 emissions, programs for children with Autism, anti-bullying initiatives and refugee support systems – and more; these entrepreneurs have come up with innovative solutions to pertinent global challenges. This competition puts a spotlight both on the entrepreneurs and their ideas to help them grow their business and make an even bigger impact.
What is the next step?
The Ideas from Europe journey is ready for its next phase, the semi-finals, which will be held in Tallinn, Estonia during the SME Assembly 2017. Each European member state will be sending an innovative entrepreneur with a ground breaking business idea as their representative. The 28 innovators will deliver a three minute pitch in front of a renowned jury to compete for ten places in the finals. The jury, as well as the audience, will choose nine ideas to be showcased during the finals in The Hague in April 2018. The choice of the tenth finalist is down to you, all Europeans – you can all vote, online for the tenth solution that you want to see in the Hague.
The semi-finals of Ideas from Europe in Tallinn will start on November 22 at 16.00 UTC (GMT+2). The whole program will be broadcasted via a live stream. On November 23, at 09.00 UTC, the nine best ideas will be announced and the online public voting will open! The live stream can be viewed via ideasfrom.eu.
Do you want to know more about the entrepreneurs and their ideas? Have a look at the list of all 28 semi-finalists below, or visit www.ideasfrom.eu, to get familiar with their pitches and know for whom you wish to vote. Public voting for the tenth finalist will be open from November 23 until mid-January 2018, on www.ideasfrom.eu.
Please download the Press Release Ideas from Europe 2017.
Invest Europe, the association representing Europe’s private equity, venture capital and infrastructure sectors, has once again joined forces with policymakers, the investment industry, policy–focused organisations and entrepreneurs to host Invest Week 2017. Supported by the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Invest Week 2017 will focus on how Europeans can work together to create a brighter future through investment and innovation. A variety of events throughout the week will look at the role of investment in stimulating sustainable economic growth.
Michael Collins, CEO of Invest Europe stated:
“Europe is a global standard bearer for sustainable investment and has an increasingly powerful entrepreneurship and innovation culture. With 30 organisations spanning finance, pensions, insurance and entrepreneurship involved, Invest Week exemplifies the cross-border, collaborative approach that makes Europe a special place to invest and build businesses.”
“Invest Europe is proud to once again lead the organisation of Invest Week, which has this year secured the backing of the Estonian Presidency, the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund. We look forward to a packed agenda sharing ideas to help the EU meet its sustainable investment goals.”
Consult the agenda to view already scheduled events covering topics ranging from funding for start-ups, female entrepreneurship, financial regulation and sustainability. Confirmed speakers include: European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen, serial entrepreneur and investor Hermann Hauser, Chairman of the European Innovation Council, and Roger Havenith, Deputy CEO for the European Investment Fund.
For events and the latest updates, follow Invest Week 2017 on Twitter.
Journalists are welcome to attend Invest Week events. For more information and registration, please contact Emma Thorpe on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full press release here.
About Invest Europe
Invest Europe is a non-profit association located in Brussels, that represents Europe’s private equity, venture capital and infrastructure sectors, as well as their investors. Their members take a long-term approach to investing in privately held companies, from start-ups to established firms. This commitment helps deliver strong and sustainable growth, resulting in healthy returns for Europe’s leading pension funds and insurers, to the benefit of the millions of European citizens who depend on them.
Invest Europe aims to make a constructive contribution to policy affecting private capital investment in Europe, and provides information to the public on their members’ role in the economy. Their research provides the an authoritative source of data on trends and developments in their industry. It also promotes the industry’s professional standards, demanding accountability, good governance and transparency from their members.