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Business Generator becomes Navigator Scale-up

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Back in 2017, the project “Business Generator” from Sweden, won the EEPA Category “Investing in entrepreneurial skills” for their work in identifying the gap in the strategic management process for SME companies, as well as a way to reach SMEs and provide them with useful skills for their daily lives as entrepreneurs.

After initial struggles to keep the Business Generator going after the EEPA competition, this project, and specifically coordinator Anette Rhudin, are back with a brand new and improved ‘Navigator Scale-up’. The Navigator serves as a support for SMEs that need to have a board under Swedish law. Due to financial constraints it is normally a challenge for SMEs and entrepreneurs to have an external board not made up of family and friends, and thus miss the chance, to have that input, that the right matched, external competence can give. Having a competent board can help avoid bankruptcy, develop necessary company procedures and aid in the overall management of the SME.

Through the Navigator SMEs can be matched with externals that serve as a board or ‘navigators’, without taking away control from the SME. The Navigator is a particularly good option for SMEs looking to scale up, as the externals are there to coach, ask critical questions and offer guidance based on their extensive experience. Through their experience, external board members are able to make SMEs aware of ‘hazards’ and guide them so as to avoid expensive failures.

Positive changes can only happen in a safe environment, which is why a Navigator’s primary task is help the entrepreneur navigate a changeable environment and give them enough control to feel safe and be able to scale up their company. One of the crucial success factors in the Business Generator project was that the four external navigator members had all gone on their own scalable business journeys. Being able to understand the current entrepreneur’s experience enables externals to truly coach and give the best advice to the SME they are assisting.

The Navigator has already been helping several SMEs, specifically OptiPack, an SME in a typical small Swedish village which started last year. Optipack began with four young people who had no experience of owning a company and who required a bank loan to get started. In order to qualify for a loan they needed an external board with experienced members, which is where Business Navigator came in to help. After being assigned a Navigator team they began to advance, thanks to the collective experience of their external board members who between them are experienced businesspeople and own large international companies.

Thanks to help from their Navigator, Optipack were able to invest EUR 2 428 882 in their latest product and continue working and developing.

Optipak are a successful example of what a Navigator can do for an SME, and we hope to keep coming back with more success stories as the Business Navigator gets bigger and spreads its message, support and advocacy for SMEs.

Supporting the internationalisation of business – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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Who else is on the EEPA 2018 shortlist? We are up to Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business, which focuses on projects that encourage enterprises and SMEs to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. This year the competing projects come from Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia and Finland. Don’t forget to read about the shortlisted projects in Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills and Category 3: Improving the Business Environment.

Bulgaria: Supporting the internationalization and digitalization of SMEs in Bulgaria and Europe

This project facilitates both the internationalisation and digitisation of Bulgarian SMEs through the organisation of high profile events like a National Business Forum, a Balkan Conference and an International SME Summit, each of which typically involves over 200 SMEs from Bulgaria. The initiative also enables the participation of Bulgarian SMEs in international exhibitions and specially organised B2B matchmaking meetings, through which SMEs can meet and find clients, partners, investors and market opportunities. The project also proactively promotes the benefits of business digitisation through skills training and access to information and good practice examples.

Denmark: Lean Landing

Lean Landing have developed and implemented an innovative and lasting soft-landing network between micro SMEs, business incubators and business development organisations in six North Sea countries. The soft-landing network enables SMEs to break into international markets via direct discussions with potential customers and partners in the target country. The project focuses on micro SMEs and early internationalisation, as opposed to the traditional focus on medium sized SMEs. Traditionally SMEs rely on detailed and lengthy market studies before attempting to enter, however through Lean Landing they can learn directly the local experience and knowledge of incubators in several countries.

Estonia: Development of the Estonian timber sector as the biggest exporter of wooden houses in the European Union

The Estonian Wooden House Cluster has been working to become the largest wooden house exporter in the European Union, and aims to increase the both the international competitiveness and exports of Estonian wooden house producers. Actions have included target market mapping, coordinated activities to support entry into the market, organised activities to promote producer products and competence building seminars and conferences. Results have included stable growth in sector turnover and exports, as well as raised awareness and preservation of traditional Estonian building practices. The initiative has also sustained many jobs and increased the value of products produced by the sector.

Finland: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme

Kasvu Open offers sparring to companies interested in growth, free of charge. The goal is to promote company growth and business development, thus improving the SMEs’ chances of achieving international growth. Through sparring the companies’ growth plans are challenged, adapted and supported by experts representing several different fields. The selected companies come from all industry sectors across Finland and receive access to expert networks. The experience also includes a tailored growth path, run by several partners who facilitate free participation at events, provide funded support for the participating SME and ultimately guide the enterprise in the right direction.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz this November.

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.

Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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It’s time to meet the shortlist! Last week we announced the official EEPA 2018 European shortlist, and starting from this week we will be introducing each of the nominated projects, here on Promoting Enterprise. Today we begin with Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit. This year we have projects from Belgium, Estonia and Greece competing for the prize. Find out more about who is competing for the European title in Graz this year.

Belgium: De Makersrepubliek: Handmade in Brugge, The Box en Turbo

The Makersrepubliek brings together three initiatives, Handmade in Brugge, TURBO and The Box Brugge. With a shared physical space, the initiatives reinforce each other and encourage cross-fertilisation of ideas to achieve the overall objective of stimulating entrepreneurship in Brugge. The project specifically targets young people and women and has become a pioneering springboard for the city’s economy. Brugge is known for pioneering craftsmanship and through this initiative wants to bring traditional and innovative practices together to encourage businesses to consider the city as an attractive location, with innovative facilities like the ‘plug&play’ business premises offered in the inner city.

Estonia: Superheroes

Superheroes is an entrepreneurship and leadership accelerator dedicated to unlocking the potential of 13-17 year old girls. Over the course of four months and 10 workshops, participating girls test their strengths, boost their life skills and develop bonds with each other. Most importantly, they turn their dreams into reality by running projects they are passionate about in teams of five, supported by mentors. A unique methodology combined with a daring and engaging set of activities empowers girls to become more independent and entrepreneurial, and to be inspired by diverse role models across the globe.

Greece: Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship

This project highlights blue entrepreneurship and economy, which cover the sustainable use of the sea and its resources for economic development. The Municipality of Piraeus has implemented several blue entrepreneurship actions including the BlueGrowth innovation competition, the BLUACT network, the Blue Development Strategy, two European programs and the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Centre for Blue Development. The goal is to create new sustainable businesses and jobs in the Blue Economy and to promote a new innovative business ecosystem. So far the project has produced 20 new startups, 45 new jobs and 55 networking events.

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.

EEPA 2018 – Meet the European shortlist

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The 2018 EEPA shortlist has been finalised. After a successful EEPA 2018 jury meeting on 26 September, the jury made their selection from all of the national candidates to choose the top projects in each category. Congratulations to all of the selected projects and see you at the EEPA finals this November in Graz, Austria!

Category 1 – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Belgium: De Makersrepubliek: Handmade in Brugge, The Box en Turbo

Estonia: Superheroes

Greece: Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship

Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

Austria: i2c STARTacademy

Ireland: ACORNS – Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups

Lithuania: Entrepreneurship Academy

Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment

Romania: Start up Nation Romania

Spain: Open Innovation 4.0.

United Kingdom: Anchoring economic growth in the Tees Valley

Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Bulgaria: Supporting the internationalization and digitalization of SMEs in Bulgaria and Europe

Denmark: Lean Landing

Estonia: Development of the Estonian timber sector as the biggest exporter of wooden houses in the European Union

Finland: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme

Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency

Netherlands: HAS Food Experience

Portugal: Matosinhos Carbon-zero Living Lab enhanced by local carbon market

Slovakia: Green bicycle

Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

France: Initiative remarquable

Germany: ProjectTogether

Ireland: Laois Start Your Own Business Programmes

Have a look at all of the national winners from the six different categories:

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.

 

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

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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 fourth category of the EEPA “Supporting the Internationalisation of Business” recognises initiatives that encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. This year the category has nine different projects competing to win, so who will make it onto the European shortlist? Find out at the end of September after the EEPA 2018 Jury meeting!

Bulgaria: Supporting the internationalization and digitalization of SMEs in Bulgaria and Europe

Denmark: Lean Landing

Estonia: Development of the Estonian timber sector as the biggest exporter of wooden houses in the European Union

Finland: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme

Hungary: Startup Budapest Programme

Malta: Enabling the digital transformation of Maltese SMEs

Slovenia: Innovative business model 2COUNTRY

Spain: Misión Inversa del Vino y la Alimentación

Turkey: Cyberpark Accelerator Program (CAP): An Internationalization Pathway Business

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to discover the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spiritInvesting in Entrepreneurial Skills, Improving the business environmentSupporting 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!

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

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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 “Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit” category has once again proved to be the most popular category, receiving 14 entries for the 2018 edition. This category recognises initiatives that promote an entrepreneurial mind-set, especially among young people and women. Have a look at the winning national projects below and stay tuned to find out which of them will make it on to this year’s EEPA shortlist after the jury meeting in late September 2018.

Belgium: De Makersrepubliek: Handmade in Brugge, The Box en Turbo

Bulgaria: Gabrovo Innovation Camp

Croatia: Sisak-Moslavina County – Center of The Gaming Industry

Cyprus: IDEA

Estonia: Superheroes

France: Youth services cooperatives

Greece: Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship

Latvia: Support for self-employment and business start-ups

Lithuania: Futurepreneurs

Netherlands: Day for Change Actie

Poland: The “Małopolska” program – technology is becoming a business here

Romania: Rubik Hub

Sweden: JA Sweden – an entrepreneurial youth

United Kingdom: Supporting Fife’s Enterprise Journey

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to find out about the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, Improving the business environment, 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!

EEPA 2018 – Behind the scenes with Estonian National Coordinator Kaupo Sempelson

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What happens behind the scenes of EEPA? What goes into organising a national campaign? Today on Promoting Enterprise Estonian National Coordinator Kaupo Sempelson shares what has been going into the Estonian EEPA 2018 campaign.

How have you been preparing EEPA 2018 so far?

We finalised all of our preparations and launched the Estonian national competition on the 8th of February, for which the deadline is the 6th of April. However, we have recently begun the national process and we are hoping for a lot of active participation.

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

The most important piece of advice I can give is to spread the invitation to apply across different networks, but also to send direct invitations to potential candidates. The direct approach is sometimes the most cost efficient solution. In Estonia we have also made use of the ministry’s Facebook page to disseminate the information about the EEPA national competition.

What will be the main aspects of your EEPA 2018 campaign?

We will not run a media campaign, as we are focusing our efforts on reaching potential candidates directly. We have found that this is particularly effective and allows us to secure quality entries.

What advice would you give to projects applying in the newly re-instated category ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’?

It is a very good opportunity for a potential project to get publicity. I think that the potential of this category is as yet undiscovered by potential projects. The entrepreneurial spirit category is very popular each year, so I think that we need to put some extra effort into reaching the green markets projects so this newly re-instated category can be just as strong.

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

During my time as Coordinator I have seen a lot of initiatives worth rewarding and I am convinced that the EEPA competition is a very good award scheme for these projects to gain the recognition they deserve. The fact that the competition is on a European level is definitely an important aspect and one that has a positive effect on the projects.

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes of other national EEPA campaigns? Have a read of interviews with the Spanish and Swedish EEPA national coordinators here on Promoting Enterprise.

“Internationalisation 2015 – 2020” – ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ Winner 2017

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In celebration of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) returning for another edition in 2018, Promoting Enterprise is bringing you a series of testimonials from the EEPA 2017 winners. Today’s winner – Internationalisation 2015-2020 from ecoplus International, shares with us their story of how they became the 2017 winners in the category ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’.

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

We first heard of the competition via the newsletter of the liaison office of Lower Austria in Brussels as well as via the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy. Entering seemed like a good way to present what we do at the regional, national and EU level, and it is always interesting to compete with others! We see competition as a sort of “benchmarking” for what we are doing.

How did you prepare your application?

We did not do anything special in preparation for EEPA, after all we are not “new” in the business – we have more than 10 years’ experience in this field. However, despite our experience we always enjoy opportunities to improve, adapt and innovate. With regards to EEPA we saw that we already had some specific support programmes that corresponded to the EEPA internationalisation category criteria quite well, so we just simply presented the work we have been doing with these programmes.

What was it like to win the award?

When we take part in awards of this kind we always want to win or, at least, be a nominee. Due to the time it takes to prepare all of the necessary documentation we rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. The last time we participated in something similar was in 2012 when we participated in an EU Award after being nominated by Austria. This time around, with EEPA, it was even better as not only were we nominated but ended up winning in our category!

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award resulted in some great media coverage, but as always you have to be proactive. Winning an EU Award can be a good story for local media, but you have to share it with them. We were and continue to be supported by all our partners, but especially by the government of Lower Austria (by the governor herself) – so our advice is to share your award with those who support you throughout all your years of hard work!

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

Firstly, it is always useful to take, from time to time, an “outside view” on what you do, based on the criteria of the EEPA.  Taking part in an EU Award means competing with a lot of other projects – so there is also the chance to learn from others.

Secondly, EEPA is a chance for recognition on an EU level. When applying it is important to ask yourself if others can replicate what you do. Success is always a combination of vision, strategy, trial and error, lessons learnt and results, so be sure to include your project story and journey.

Finally, prepare well! Be aware that it requires quite a lot of work until your documents are “final” (based on the requirements of the EEPA). Advice and help from the national body (in our case the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy) might also be very useful, so make the most of it.

To find out more about Internationalisation 2015-2020 projects, read about them in the 2017 EEPA compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: “Reempresa” – ‘Improving the business environment’ Winner 2017

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Promoting Enterprise is back with yet another EEPA 2017 winner testimonial for you to be inspired by. Today is the turn of Reempresa, winner of the ‘Improving the business environment’ category with their project for ‘re-entrepreneurs’, represented by director Albert Colomer.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We have participated in the SME Assembly conference for many years and have always been interested in the EEPA awards ceremony because it is a very important event where interesting initiatives for all Europeans are showcased. 

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

Reempresa was started in 2011 and throughout the years we have worked to implement the market for business transfers in Catalonia. Now that we have finished the development phase with great results, we thought that presenting our candidature to the EEPA awards was an opportunity to share our results with all the participating countries and to raise awareness about the importance of facilitating business transfers to support SMEs and to prevent the loss of jobs.

How did you prepare your application?

Reempresa works with a wide network of collaborators. We involved them and asked them to gather all their results and stories to explain them to the rest of Europe. Once we won the Spanish award, we launched a special website and social media campaign to share the award with all our partners, the team and, of course, with all our users who were able to sell and buy their businesses thanks to Reempresa.

What was it like to win the award?

It got my heart racing! We arrived in Tallinn without knowing at all what would happen and for us it was a big surprise. It is an honour to receive this award and we want to share it with everybody who made it possible!

How did winning the award impact your work?

For Reempresa, this award marks a before and after in the organisation! To appear on the EEPA blog and social networks, and the coverage given to us by EuroNews has been very important because it has allowed us to reach all of Europe and has allowed many people and organisations to get to know us. It has definitely helped us to be very motivated and keep working hard in the future!

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

I would recommend working on the tangible results of your projects. Showing that the submitted project has a positive impact on their territory and that it can help other European countries and citizens!

What are your plans for the future?

We are currently having talks with many countries to implement this initiative that has worked so well in Catalonia. Together, we hope to build a European business transfer market with the aim of helping European SMEs.

To find out more about Reempresa, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: “Enterprise Village” – ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’ Winner 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are back again for 2018, and ready to discover more outstanding European projects in the fields of enterprise and entrepreneurship. In order to help potential applicants, Promoting Enterprise has asked EEPA 2017 winners to share their success stories give advice on how to submit and present an EEPA winning project. Today’s winner  is Enterprise Village from Estonia, the 2017 winners in the category ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’.

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

We first found out about the national competition from a colleague that saw it advertised on social media and in a local mailing list.

Seeing as we had just had a successful season and started to build a local track-record, we decided to give it a try. We did not have very high expectations, but we thought that even getting a little positive feedback on our mission would already be a success. Once we made it to the national finals, we started to think about how EEPA could help us with our marketing and also help motivate our team, especially our volunteers.

How did you prepare your application?

We didn’t launch anything special for EEPA, but we did make our video before we sent the application. It was something that had already been planned a long time before, but the EEPA application was definitely good motivation to finally do it!

What was it like to win the award?

When you find out that you are shortlisted of course you start to think “what if…”, but we didn’t expect to win. We were really excited when we did win because it was a complete surprise!

How did winning the award impact your work?

An important outcome from winning the award was that it gave us positive attention and resulted in us making some international contacts at the EEPA event. As a result of the international contacts we are actually working on one possible co-project with Cyprus.

The media coverage after the EEPA event was actually pretty low and we were a bit disappointed with the Estonian media. However, Euronews published a story about us before the EEPA event so we got our publicity anyway. Interestingly, we got more overall attention (including media) from abroad rather than from local sources.

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

Do not hesitate, apply! If you are doing the right thing, eventually someone will notice, and sometimes it’s the EEPA jury. 🙂

What are your plans for the future?

Our new programmes, meant for schools, are almost ready to ship to our first users. This means that in addition to visiting our learning center, teachers can also use our programmes at their own schools. In the near future we are also planning to translate our materials into English so as to introduce and expand our method to other countries. In the long term we hope to have several Enterprise Village style learning centers and schools as partners so that our programmes can be used in different European countries.

To find out more about Enterprise Village, read about them in the 2017 EEPA compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

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