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Follow your ideas – become an entrepreneur

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The Entrepreneurship Conference “Follow your ideas – become an entrepreneur” will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria on 6 March 2018 under the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the European Union. The conference is organised by the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Bulgaria and the European Commission.

The conference will bring together participants from all over Europe and include: young entrepreneurs, SMEs, education representatives, science organisations, NGOs and the European institutions. During the conference participants will question youth entrepreneurship in the EU and explore how best to promote entrepreneurship as a viable career option for European youth.

The conference will be divided into three main panels:

  • Entrepreneurship education and youth entrepreneurship in Europe
  • The young entrepreneurs speak
  • Best practices in promotion youth entrepreneurship in Europe

Speakers will include representatives from Bulgarian ministries, the European Commission, youth organisations, Ideas from Europe finalists and former European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitors.

For more information visit the event website.

Youth voices of Europe – Meet Youth Essay Competition winner Oksana Vedmidska

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‘What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?’, was the question that we posed to the youth of Europe for this year’s edition of the SME Youth Essay Competition.

Today, Promoting Enterprise is excited to present this year’s winner, Oksana Vedmidska from Ukraine! Oksana first impressed the Youth Essay Competition jury with her passionate essay and then went on to blow the audience away with her ideas at the SME Assembly 2017. Interested in what impressed the jury? Read her essay here and continue reading to find out more about her and her thoughts about the SME Assembly 2017.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Firstly, I decided to enter the competition, because entrepreneurship is a topic which is personal for me. Thanks to entrepreneurship, my family was able to survive difficult economic times in Ukraine in the 90s. Secondly, and this is probably because of the fact that my parents are involved in entrepreneurial activities, I myself adore the independence and passion that stands behind your freelance work or your own company.

In addition, this probably has something to do with my genes. I must admit that if one looks at Ukrainians from a historical perspective, they will see that we are used to being owners. This began from being owners of small agricultural plots, where we worked hard to cover the needs of our families. As a result we developed crucial skills like practical thinking, responsibility, independence and the ability to take risks – qualities and skills which are crucial for an entrepreneur. I believe Ukrainians inherited these skills and qualities and that is why we strive to establish our own small businesses/start-ups.

Thirdly, I considered the Youth Essay Competition to be a fantastic opportunity to spread my ideas and talk about problems and solutions concerning entrepreneurship that we face nowadays.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2017?

The SME Assembly 2017 was characterised by an incredible spirit of innovation and what the future holds. I was very delighted to see that we spoke about digitalisation as one of the keys of entrepreneurial success. Somehow in our ordinary lives we do not notice the importance of this topic and do not discuss opportunities it gives and the risks it involves, but during the Assembly we were really able to recognise the importance of e-governing, e-commerce, data exchange etc. not only for entrepreneurs and customers but for the society as a whole.

Moreover, a highlight of the SME Assembly 2017 was probably social entrepreneurship. I cannot remember any project of the Ideas from Europe which did not have some significance for society. Somehow the final purpose of each start-up was to guarantee benefits to a human-being. To my mind, that is a big step in the business environment, when a person is not simply seen as a customer by a business, but as a human-being with different specialised needs. If I had an investment fund, I would definitely provide venture capital, not only with the purpose to obtain some gains, but also because successful implementation of a social business project would improve the environment our global society lives in, and in which our kids will continue to live.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, what does that mean to you?

From a practical point of view, I would reinterpret it as ‘Develop an idea. Study your potential market niche. Write a business plan. And go for it, no matter what’. In my way of thinking, an entrepreneur is a dreamer, who respects the material bounds of our world. I would take this slogan and use it in schools to inspire teachers to change the old-fashioned science-oriented way we use to teach our children and also in order to motivate kids and adolescents to work on their entrepreneurial skills.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

Revealing personal plans is like revealing a sweet dream you had last night and since you want to keep the odds on your side you try to keep it secret… 🙂

In reality I am busy with my second degree that I have just started at the University of Applied Science of Darmstadt. So for the next 3 years I plan to study Information Law there. That is probably why all of my time will be devoted to studies, work and discussions concerning development and possibilities of improvement of our society. Anyway, we will see what is in store for me, one thing I know for sure is that there are still so many countries to visit, cultures and languages to learn, and experiences to gather and share, so I will not sit still!

That’s it for the 2017 finalists and winner! If you missed the finalist exclusive interviews be sure to read about Evlampia Karavangeli and Pavle Kostic on the News Portal. Where will these young finalists find themselves next? We will have to wait until 2018 to find out…

Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship – Final EEPA 2017 introductions

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Time to introduce our final category of EEPA 2017 candidates! The category of ‘Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship’ recognises initiatives that promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, legal migrants, disabled, or people from ethnic minorities. This year there are two nominated projects for the European prize from France and Portugal.

Adie (Association for Economic Rights Initiatives) is an association which helps people without access to conventional banking services start-up their business, thanks to their initiatives like Microfranchise Solidaire, the first operator of microcredit in France. By 2016, it had supported 19,431 people and enabled the creation and development of 14,366 businesses. Additionally more than 200 entrepreneurs have already joined a microfranchise network and benefitted from the support of a partner in order to set up and develop their activities.

 

The Mundar Change your World – Young Entrepreneurship Contest is a platform that offers children and young people the chance to create, present and experiment with their ideas. Created in 2013, it gives young innovators between the ages of 16 and 30 a chance to have their ideas funded and implemented. To date 77 youth ideas with personal, community and social benefits have been implemented, allowing youth to have a real impact without one of the biggest hurdles, financial support, getting in the way.

Who will come away with an EEPA 2017 prize? Which projects will be our 2017 European winners? We can’t wait to find out at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn this November! Read more about about Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, Category 3: Improving the Business Environment and Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business on the Portal, and keep coming back for the latest SME Assembly, SME Week and EEPA 2017 updates.

What happens at an EEPA national ceremony? – Let’s look at Germany!

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We have seen the shortlist, and started introducing all the candidates, but what happens before that? What does a national ceremony look like? Today on Promoting Enterprise German National Coordinator Juliane Kummer shares with us what happened at the 2017 German EEPA national ceremony.

The German national awards ceremony 2017 took place on 13 October 2017 in Berlin, as part of the deGUT-fair, one of the most important German entrepreneurship fairs. The ceremony was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and was presented during the fair forum. The two winners “BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @ Hansenberg” and “Import Promotion Desk” were announced to the visiting public and they received congratulations and a winner’s certificate handed out by the Ministry. Following the award presentation, each winner was invited to present their innovative and inspiring initiatives by giving a short interview on the stage. These two winners had been selected by a national expert jury who evaluated a total of 29 entries in May 2017.

“BIRTH – Business Innovation Responsibility and Technology @ Hansenberg” project, takes a different approach to education and aims to educate secondary school students in the areas of business, natural sciences and ultimately entrepreneurship. The project is divided into different phases and includes business competitions, immersive internships abroad, science clubs and business weeks. Through these activities students are pushed to think like entrepreneurs, work in teams, and work in collaboration with local and national stakeholders. As they advance through school activities become more complex and introduce different skills, allowing the students to develop into competent candidates for the modern labour market.

The “Import Promotion Desk” supports German imports, thus opening the door for SMEs from selected developing and emerging countries to access the European market and develop trade capacities. The aim is to maintain the sustained import of particular products from partner countries, whilst maintaining high quality, social and environmental standards. The IPD brings together European importers, who can optimise procurement and increase product diversity, and exporters as trade partners. Consequently partner country export capacities are strengthened through job creation and income increase. IPD is currently active in the following counties: Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Columbia, Nepal, Peru and Tunisia.

Both projects will be present at the SME Assembly, so if you are interested in finding out more visit their websites and see if you can spot them at the event next month!

 

Youth Essay Competition 2017 – Who is going to Tallinn?

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The Youth Essay Competition results are in! After a lot of deliberation and discussion, the Jury have selected their top three submissions who will go on to compete for first place at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn!

So who wrote the top three submissions? Congratulations to:

Evlampia Karavangeli

Evlampia Karavangeli is 22 and from the small town of Drama in northern Greece. She is currently studying at the Democritus University of Thrace Medical School and is very enthusiastic about her studies. She is multilingual and speaks Greek, English and German and is also studying Spanish, which she combines with her love for sketching and literature.

Find out what her essay ‘Checkmate in Entrepreneurship’ is all about when she presents it live at the SME Assembly 2017 next month!

Oksana Vedmidska

Oksana Vedmidska is from the small town of Pryluky, not far the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. After finishing her studies in Technical Translation, she went on to work as a translator of medical texts, working in English, German and Russian. She then went on to win a scholarship that took her to Germany to study a Masters in the areas of dubbing, subtitling, audio descriptions for the blind, and easy language. Earlier this year she was also selected to represent her home country of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly in New York as a winner of the 2017 edition of the Many Languages One World competition.

What skills does Oksana think an entrepreneur needs? And why does she think “entrepreneurship is one of the most effective tools, which our global society has to transform the world into a better place”? We will find out during her live presentation in Tallinn in November!

Pavle Kostic

Pavle Kostic is from Nova Pazova in Serbia and is currently in the third year of his Management studies at the University of Belgrade. He has been actively involved in several art, essay, photography and debate competitions, including the Serbian competition for ‘Best business ethics essay’ which he won in 2014.

What can we expect from Pavle’s essay ‘Ethics and a system as a prerequisite of regular competition’? Find out next month at the SME Assembly when he presents it live!

We would also like to thank all the other writers who submitted their work. This year the quality was very high and the Jury had a very difficult decision when narrowing it down to the top three. Be sure to follow Evlampia, Oksana and Pavle on their journey to Tallinn as they get ready for the live finale where the Youth Essay Competition 2017 winner will be revealed...

Estonian entrepreneurs: Meet Kenneth and Sander!

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This week Promoting Enterprise is starting a series of interviews with a group of Estonian entrepreneurs to find out about what they do! From motorised scooters to furniture, these entrepreneurs are diverse, creative and not afraid to think outside of the box. Read on to meet our first two entrepreneurs, Kenneth and Sander and learn about where their entrepreneurial path has led them…

Kenneth Pert

Meet Kenneth – he is 24 and the founder of his brand Kenneth Pert Natural Furniture. Kenneth is a designer and furniture craftsman. At the moment, his company is a ‘one man show’, Kenneth has to fill different roles – from managing the business side to cleaning his workshop. At this point, he has been in the field for 5 interesting and challenging years.

What motivates you?

I am inspired by people who have overcome challenges, their own personal struggles and added some extra value to the world. People play an important part in my life. That is why my closest friends and family are also my biggest driving force. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The opportunity to use my time as I wish. I have been able to focus on my own interests and to grow at my own pace. This gives me enough room to devote time to the people I hold most dear. At the same time, it is important to stay disciplined and remember that I have a lot of responsibilities.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

The skills of today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs largely overlap, for example, adaptability, consistency, discipline and curiosity. There has been a rising demand for people to have emotional intelligence regardless of their role or position in an organisation. It is quite essential to identify the right people to hire, because without help, it’s almost impossible to create a successful business.

When developing a product or service a lot of research, testing and feedback analysis goes into it. In this phase being good with numbers and having analytical skills is definitely another essential entrepreneurial skill.

Sander Sebastian Agur

Sander Sebastian is the 26 year-old co-founder of Inventory.com, the first online B2B marketplace to offer a comprehensive inventory management service by comparing suppliers and transactions up to the final delivery of products. Sander is also a Senior Vice President of ERPLY Retail Platform, which is a web-based on Enterprise resource planning application with support for accounting, inventory, invoicing, e-commerce, Point Of Sale (POS) and more, offering retailers a complete IT solution that can be adapted to meet unique requirements. The company includes well known clients such as Sony, Walt Disney, Amazon, Elizabeth Arden, Garmin and many others.

At the young age of 22, Sander was chosen as the successor to the head of Estonian Air, the former national airline of Estonia, but decided to work in private enterprise instead.

What motivates you?

Learning new skills and applying them usefully. I’ve definitely failed more than I’ve succeeded. As most long-term goals require skills that we don’t have when we set the goals, this motivates me to grow together with the challenges.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

In my sector there are almost no limits to what can be built. Once you realise that everything around you has been created by people that are no smarter than you, it all becomes doable.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

I think skills are important, but they can also be acquired on the way. What is more important is your mindset for what’s coming and your openness to learn and make stuff happen. Everything changes so fast so you must be able to work in constant chaos. I think that’s what a startup is, nonstop chaos you need to navigate.

Anything else you want to share?

For Inventory.com, we got a small grant at the beginning of 2017 of 50, 000 EUR from the European Commission to kickstart the development, which we are super grateful for.  Unfortunately we were rejected for the second phase of the  Horizon2020 program, but we are continuing to invest our own resources to help Europe have a multinational sales channel for product exchange and we hope that our  next application in November will be successful!

The project “Inventory.com” increases the visibility and competitiveness of manufacturing SMEs on the EU market by creating conditions for an open and efficient market. Currently manufacturing SMEs lack access to suppliers and clients. They are reliant on a small number of business partners and are invisible to any other potential partners. Many SMEs, due to their niche products, find it hard to expand their client network, find suppliers and create international contacts. Product availability, specifications, price and delivery information is not available to market participants and the required information is not presented, standardised and/or not available in different languages. Therefore, companies cannot compare and decide on the best choice. This is a problem our European customers face daily and we would like to change that.

The 2017 SME Assembly will take place in Tallinn, Estonia from 22 – 24 November 2017.
The conference will be the flagship event of European SME Week.

ECOSTAR – The custom built accelerator and entrepreneurship hub for nature based business

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What kind of support is out there for green and eco-entrepreneurs? How can you sell an idea that is innovative, eventually profitable but also green and sustainable? Entrepreneurs in this field may find it difficult to convince investors or find the right support systems for their offered products and services. This is where the newly launched ECOSTAR accelerator is there to help!

ECOSTAR is the research-enterprise impact hub and accelerator that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation for nature-based businesses. The initiative is promoted by a university-enterprise partnership between European and US-based institutions, and it is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, and other private investors. It’s an Impact Hub that promotes the start-up and acceleration of new business initiatives with a positive impact on environment and society. It’s a Research-Business alliance that links universities and companies, providing networking and market-oriented training. It focuses on business models that make profit by marketing, promoting and enhancing biodiversity, and ecosystem services. The initiative provides business opportunities and real benefits for the environment through the following main actions:

JOIN: Create a wide research-enterprise network at EU level, linking together entrepreneurs, scientific and business mentors, and investors, wanting to create value for nature through new business ideas.

LEARN: Deliver a series of specialised entrepreneurship and innovation trainings targeted to MEEB through multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning.

GROW: The ECOSTAR Nature-Accelerator selects and invests in early-stage impactful startups that are developing innovative and sustainable solutions for disrupting the agriculture, forestry and natural resource sectors.

E-learning technology, business model case studies, EU support networks, and free ad hoc MEEB business plan advice, are some of the methods that are delivered through a strong and committed partnership of businesses and universities at country and European level.

To find out more about this exciting initiative and to read some of the success stories from participating eco-ventures, visit their website: www.ecostarhub.com

European Innovation Scoreboard

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Ever wondered how innovative your country is? What about in comparison to its neighbours or overall in the region? The European Innovation Scoreboard is a European Commission initiative that provides a comparative analysis of innovation performance in EU countries, other European countries, and regional neighbours. It assesses relative strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems and helps countries identify areas they need to address.

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard is a regional extension of the European Innovation Scoreboard, assessing the innovation performance of European regions based on a limited number of indicators.

European Innovation Scoreboard 2017

The 2017 edition of the Scoreboard presents a refined analytical framework. Rankings are therefore not directly comparable with previous editions, but time series using the new analytical framework allow performance to be tracked over time. New indicators capture investments in skills, digital readiness, entrepreneurship, and public-private innovation partnerships. In addition, a new toolbox with contextual data can be used to analyse and compare structural differences between countries.

The new scoreboard reveals that EU innovation performance continues to increase, especially due to improvements in human resources, the innovation-friendly environment, own-resource investments, and attractive research systems. Sweden remains the EU innovation leader, followed by Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany. Lithuania, Malta, the UK, the Netherlands, and Austria are the fastest growing innovators.

In a global comparison, the EU is catching up with Canada and the US, but South Korea and Japan are pulling ahead. China shows the fastest progress among international competitors.

Interested in finding out more? Have a look at country profiles, an interactive online score board and find out who is leading innovation in Europe.

https://ec.europa.eu

Five finalists, two winners…who will represent the Netherlands at EEPA 2017?

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Congratulations to Innofest and IMC Weekend School who will represent the Netherlands at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017! The EEPA 2017 finals will take place in Tallinn, Estonia during the SME Assembly 2017 and feature the most original and successful initiatives of governments and public-private partnerships from the EU and COSME participating countries.

On the 11th of May, during the Dutch Entrepreneurship Week, the Dutch national finals for EEPA 2017 took place. Five projects pitched their initiatives to a jury and an audience of more than 100 SME entrepreneurs. After an exciting ceremony, Innofest and IMC Weekend School were chosen as the national winners, and the public award was awarded to Day for change.

Innofest is an innovative concept: the idea is to use festivals as live testlabs for new products and services. The audience is wide ranging as there are millions of festival goers every year in the Netherlands. The idea is transferable and applicable in other European countries. The jury liked the originality of Innofest as they really satisfy a need and effectively make use of the test environment at the final stage of development.

IMC Weekend School is a school for supplementary education in which youth from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, aged from 10-14, attend courses for three years every sunday given by passionate professionals, usually volunteers. The program comprises 15 subjects including: journalism, enterprise, philosophy, politics, law, medicine and arts. They have a large reach, with around 1 100 students attending and over 4 000 guest teachers each year. The jury praised the initiative, which is starting to roll out this inspiring design across the Netherlands and Europe.

Public Award

In addition to the jury prize there is also a public award, which this year went to Day for change. Day for Change is committed to a fair economic system, with (social) entrepreneurship and where inclusive finance is central. With the Day for Chance Activities, the Dutch youth are operating with a microcredit. Their profits are supporting entrepreneurs in developmental countries. Each academic year between 5 000 and 6 000 pupils participate in the Day for Change in the Netherlands

For more information on EEPA in the Netherlands: www.rvo.nl

Read the full press release (in Dutch): www.rvo.nl/actueel/nieuws

What does a national coordinator do? – Inside the Spanish national EEPA 2017 campaign

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The 2017 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) is in full swing, and a lot of national deadlines are approaching…so get those applications in!

Today we meet Spanish EEPA National Coordinator Antonio Fernandez Ecker, who gives us a glimpse into the Spanish campaign and his advice for promoting EEPA 2017.

How have you been promoting EEPA 2017 so far?

The promotion for EEPA 2017 has been focused on providing relevant information and getting it to the right people. Part of this is including the relevant information about EEPA 2017 on the web page of the Ministry for Industry and SMEs and disseminating it via social media and email.

For our email dissemination we have directed our communications to specific entities such as:

  • Members of the State Council for SMEs: an advisory board for SME affairs which is made up of representatives of the general state administration as well as representatives from the autonomous communities and local entities
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Business schools
  • Universities
  • Points of care for entrepreneurs (a network of unique one stop shops which exist in Spain, for information and electronic administration services for entrepreneurs and companies)
  • 2016 prize winners

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

  • Motivate them to participate by showing them that they are running an initiative with good results
  • Prepare a good application that reflects why the project is good
  • Give them relevant information about previous editions

What are the main aspects of your EEPA 2017 campaign?

To increase the dissemination of information amongst interested actors in the SME environment, with the goal of getting them to present success stories which take place in local environments which normally would not have as much publicity. We have also been taking a direct contact approach, providing information via email or telephone, so as to resolve any doubts that projects may have before presenting themselves as candidates.

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

In my brief experience as a National Coordinator, I have only been in this role from September 2016, I have learnt that knowing, sharing and disseminating examples of successful initiatives in different EU countries is very important. It allows us to learn from each other, avoid previously made mistakes and put into practice initiatives that would otherwise have been difficult to implement. Overall, I believe that EEPA is extremely useful for promoting entrepreneurship in our countries.

Thinking of applying? Contact your national coordinator before your national deadline!

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