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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!

French entrepreneurship stronghold wins at EEPA 2016

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15 years of supporting entrepreneurship, the European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) for ‘Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit’, local press coverage and an appearance on Euronews, are just some of the things that the Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat project has on their list of successes. The winner of the EEPA 2016 Category 1 award has no plans to slow down and today shares with us their EEPA journey, what to expect from them in the future and their advice for being a European level award winning entry.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We first heard about the competition through word of mouth and through the website. We have been involved in supporting entrepreneurship for 15 years and through several European programmes we have had the opportunity to share our experiences and enrich our own knowledge with that of our European counterparts. It just seemed like a natural progression for us to present ourselves as candidates for the EEPA prize.

We also saw EEPA as an opportunity to firstly, reward the 50 organisations that engage with and are united by the Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat network (including 200 experts in entrepreneurship), and secondly, to go further with our sharing of experience with our European counterparts and perhaps even implement some actions together. Once we decided to enter we created a specific internal project team that was in charge of preparing the application.

What was it like to win the award?

We were obviously very happy to receive the prize and really considered it as an acknowledgement of 15 years of engagement and the culmination of a journey. The awarding of this prize came at a moment when we were carrying out a big overhaul of our project model in order to improve on what we have done until now. Winning this prize galvanised us and offered us great opportunities to undertake some meaningful collaborations with our European counterparts and really go beyond just sharing experience with one another.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?

It was both internal and external acknowledgement. EEPA allowed us to increase our visibility, in addition to articles in the local press, our initiative was the subject of a Euronews report which was broadcasted in several languages across different countries. It was recognition of both the motivation and engagement of our numerous partners. This prize also gave us the opportunity to begin exchanges with other national and European winners during our time in Bratislava.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

It is important to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship beyond our borders, and to share our experiences so that our entrepreneurs can grow. One piece of advice: apply and share as much as possible!

Participating in a competition is a real opportunity to meet and share with initiatives and people, learning from their experiences is very enriching. Of course, if winning the prize is at the end of your competition journey; then it just makes it even better.

What are your plans for the future?

Before winning the EEPA prize, we were working on an ambitious project focused on supporting entrepreneurs, specifically for the development of an innovative numeric platform. We plan to include and work with other European initiatives, with the support of the European Union. At the SME Assembly, Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska mentioned that she wanted to see the emergence of a European ecosystem, and we believe that our project fits in completely with that vision.

Empowerment through entrepreneurship – Meet guest contributor Daisy da Veiga

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Today Promoting Enterprise welcomes guest contributor Daisy da Veiga, a self-employed entrepreneur who balances motherhood, travel and family life alongside running her own business. Over the next few weeks Daisy will be giving insight into the life of an entrepreneur and how to best communicate your ideas effectively.

Hello everyone, my name is Daisy da Veiga and I live in Rotterdam.  I am 32 years old and a happy mom to Isaiah and wife of Mark. I am a self-employed entrepreneur in the empowerment sector since 2008.

With my enterprise Daisy da Veiga Coaching & Consultancy I get to empower people to make choices from the heart and live a victorious life. In 2007, after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in International Communication Management, I read the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. I had felt stuck for a while because I could not find a job in the field of work I studied for. After reading this book I was triggered to use the insights gained and put them into action. I had learnt that we create our own reality with our thoughts. The first dream I realised through applying the Law of Attraction, was to work abroad, in Abu Dhabi as an international media consultant. This meant daily interaction with CEO’s and chairpersons of the biggest companies in Abu Dhabi. In the two following years, I fulfilled my second dream, which was to meet inspiring people, like the social rights activist Desmond Tutu, the football player Clarence Seedorf and life success coach Tony Robbins.

With the realisation that we have the power to create our own reality, I decided to dedicate my life to communicate this message to as many people as possible. I do this as a life coach, author, empowerment trainer, blogger, vlogger and motivational speaker.

My biggest success is the thousands of people I have positively impacted with my work over the years, and my biggest challenge is balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. I’d like to spend all my time with both my son and my work.

One of the things I love to do is travel, as I believe that it is extremely important that I feel balanced between my social and professional life. I am very happy that I have found that balance, mainly due to my great husband.

My latest trip was to Lisbon in Portugal for an empowerment exchange project that I will tell you more about in the near future. In the video below I introduce myself, according to an introduction exercise we did on the first day of the project. Yes, sometimes I am a blue communicating Smurf!

Interested in Daisy and her work? Come back to Promoting Enterprise for her next post and be sure to visit her website for more information: http://www.daisydaveiga.com/

‘Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur’ – The Rotterdam Business Case

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Entrepreneurs are ambitious, daring and think outside of the box to help advance and innovate our daily lives. Yet who helps them when they are in difficulty? Who gives them a second chance or the advice they need to be successful? The Category 6 (Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship) winner of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), is a project that does just that. Today’s interview with Rob Gringhuis, one of the project partners, gives insight into this cutting edge project that is helping innovative individuals through challenging times.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

We first heard about EEPA when one partner got an email from the university of applied sciences in Rotterdam who had seen the EEPA announcement from our national economic ministry. Once we started looking into it we thought that we had a lot to offer with our project and were enthusiastic about showing people what we are doing. We had already been asked by the ministry of social affairs to present our project to other cities and regions in the Netherlands, so we saw this as a chance to take that to a European level. Our project is on the cutting edge of economic and social problems by providing entrepreneurial support, as entrepreneurs often become dependent on welfare and can cause societal difficulties. We were also curious about where our project stood on a national level and how we compared to other initiatives across the Netherlands.

How did you go about preparing your application?

Our national coordinator was very helpful and shared important advice with us during the application stage. We actually entered in 2015 but were unsuccessful, so 2016 gave us a chance to improve our original application and demonstrate the progress we had made in one year. Our 2016 application included more results which had since been expanded outside of Rotterdam and across the Netherlands.

What was it like to win the award and what kind of response did you receive?

Winning the award was fantastic! When we first saw our competitors in our category there was a familiar project there, the Swedish nominee Entrepreneurial West Hisingen. We already knew about each other because we lost to them in a previous eurocities competition, so we knew that they were an appealing and tough project to beat.

During the awards ceremony, we realised that there were only three projects announced in our category and that the Swedish project was no longer there, which made us feel a little more hopeful about winning. We were confident that we had shown the Jury the effect our project had on entrepreneurs, and also its potential for scaling up on a national level. When we were announced as the winners it was a big acknowledgment of our hard work and made us think about our project on a European level.

Before EEPA we were already developing our international expansion, but winning EEPA has certainly helped accelerate that process. We were congratulated by the EEPA team and also by previous Dutch winners from 2015, who we met not that long ago.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

We have had the Rotterdam business case since 2013, and have since started a foundation to help other cities. We are also in conversation with other regions to see if we can help them to do the same. All of this was already under way before the EEPA win but we now have an ‘approval stamp’ on our project which has helped us accelerate our processes, made it easier for others start their own business cases and also helped our partners put proposals forward faster. The win has been a tremendous push forward and as well as boosting enthusiasm also resulted in a lot of congratulations from our peers.

Ultimately this could also attract the interest of other cities and help us with our international vision. We are already in talks with Finland and may be looking at expanding to Bulgaria, so hopefully the EEPA quality stamp will help these developments.

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

This is now a strategic question for us, how do we go forward from here? We have been asked to go to seminars and tell our story, and the foundation that we started is helping other cities and helping with scaling up of existing cases. In the long term we would like to push the project forward on a European platform, maybe in 1-2 years time we will be able to have European level business cases, but this is ambitious and would require European partners. As our foundation board is entirely made up of volunteers the problem is not enthusiasm or ambition, it is time and money, but hopefully through our research programme which interviews entrepreneurs over the years to analyse the effectiveness of the project methods, we will continue to improve and grow.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

Entering the national competition forces you to step outside of your project and learn how to: market it, develop a pitch and most of all make it interesting and inspirational for others. Inspiration is a very important part of EEPA work, it is what makes a project stand out. Aside from that, you should enter because it is fun! The whole process requires a lot of work and you need to invest the necessary time, but once that part is done you can really enjoy the experience of being in the competition.

What are your plans for the future?

Our vision is a global one, meaning that we want to expand on an international scale. The project is here to assist entrepreneurs that are almost failing and so far around 50% of those who have been helped have recovered and become successful. Being successful is having a good enterprise and being a good entrepreneur, and currently there is a very large group of hard working entrepreneurs in Europe that just need help, which is why we want to expand the project, so that we can provide that necessary support. The goal is to make success a possibility for as many entrepreneurs as possible. The current target in the Netherlands is to assist 1 000 entrepreneurs a year, now we want to turn that into helping 10 000 entrepreneurs across Europe every year.

Secrets of Success 2016/2017 – What makes an entrepreneur successful?

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What makes an entrepreneur successful? How do entrepreneurs define their success? What are the secrets behind their inspiring journeys? Promoting Enterprise presents the ‘Secrets of Success 2016-2017’ brochure, which answers all of these questions and more. So what is inside? This year the brochure features interviews with 33 successful business owners from across Europe, under the themes of: Concept/Idea, Drive, Leadership/Team, Success and finally Europe.

From Albania to the United Kingdom, tourism to medical innovation, the entrepreneurs and businesses featured in this brochure offer something for everyone. Each entrepreneur provides details of their personal success, as well as encouraging and inspiring words for other entrepreneurs to learn from and reflect upon. Each profile is also available in the native language of the entrepreneurs, so why not browse through and discover the some of the inspiring minds of Europe in the field of SMEs, startups and scaleups.

Read the brochure here.

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