Key takeaways from EU Industry Days 2022

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This year’s edition of EU Industry Days brought together a multitude of sessions on industry challenges, opportunities and policy responses with a wide range of stakeholders. With a strong focus on SMEs, this edition opened discussions on their needs, the role of the cluster network, social entrepreneurship and the new SMEs fund, to name a few.

The event also focused on the role of young people in line with the Commission’s 2022 European Year of Youth in a series of uplifting conversations about social equality, youth unemployment and the precarious nature of work and the urgent call for sustainable and socially responsible business models.

The opening day of the event featured different sessions dedicated to the EU industrial ecosystems, the presentation of the Transition Pathway for EU Tourism, and much more. During an inspiring talk about SMEs participating in the transition, Sotiris Kopatsaris, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Future Hotels Sotiris declared that SMEs in tourism should commit to this transition in order to survive as a sector pointing out that a strategy and a change of culture in SMEs to commit overtime to this journey is much needed.

The second day of the event included different parallel sessions of the EU Industrial Forum and a range of exciting sessions organized by the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, and the European Economic and Social Committee.

Among them, „Driving the sustainability transition for European SMEs: support to change and innovate”, a session moderated by Crispin Waymouth, Deputy Head of Unit, DG GROW, European Commission caught our attention. This session explored the main actions and instruments that should be deployed for the acceleration of the sustainability transition of SMEs.

Iraklis Agiovlasitis, Coordinator of Innovation Services, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)/FFG Austrian Research Promotion Agency perfectly summarized the needs of SMEs during the twin transition: “What is of utmost importance in this sustainability transition for SMEs is access to know-how, access to finance, access to technology, relevant skills and, on top of that, international cooperation.

The third day of the EU Industry Days was the highlight of the event, with high-level plenary sessions and keynote speeches, and was the day we especially waited for as Kristina Dimova, our Youth Essay Competition 2021 winner, was invited to join an inspiring conversation with young entrepreneurs.

Just like in her winning essay, Kristina made a strong statement about the need to treat young employees as humans and not as tools that help companies gain profit. „In order to make a young talent stay in the company, the employers should understand that they should treat them as humans, not so much as employers who are only there to gain them profit.

The closing day of the event opened with a much awaited keynote speech from Petri Salmimen, President of SMEunited. SMEunited latest survey shows that about 50 % of SMEs report a decrease in turnover due to containment measures, lack of workforce or sick staff and shortage of material. SMEs have been hit hardest by the Covid crisis and it is time now to help them to recover and to master the green and digital transition. “We have to guarantee access to finance for the high upfront investments, technical assistance to understand what to change and how, support for eco-innovation without forgetting the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce to new competences”, underlined Mr Petri Salminen.

We also had an interview with Mr Petri Salminen earlier this month. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here.

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