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European cluster conference: Connecting Ecosystems

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The 6th edition of the European cluster conference took place during 14-16 May 2019 in the palace of Parliament in Bucharest, hosted by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event theme was ‘Connecting ecosystems: bridge. inspire. change.’

The conference was organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs in cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Economy. It gathered 450 national and regional cluster policy-makers and practitioners from industry, research and academia.

Director Slawomir Tokarski at the Directorate-General for Industry opened the conference by highlighting that “clusters can provide solutions to the challenges we face: changing economies, changing climate and changing attitudes” which corresponded to the 3 breakout session topics: Digitalisation and skills gap, Circular Europe and Shared value and social impact.

The Secretary of State at the Romanian Ministry of Economy, Călin Bodea, gave a welcome speech. After which, a high-level policy roundtable with ministry representatives from 6 EU countries (Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain) stressed the link of clusters with strategic value chains, supporting the scaling-up SMEs and investing in skills, while highlighting the need for trust-building to make connections work.

The conference featured 2 keynote speeches

  • Bianca Dragomir, European cluster manager of the year 2016 presented 7 stepping stones for ‘clusters of change’ so they can catalyse change at speed and scale
  • Markku Markkula, First Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions, emphasised the need to look at regional vale chains and innovation ecosystems and to focus on the sustainable development goals

During the 3-day event, participants also had a chance to

  • listen to a panel discussion on how to stimulate strategic interregional collaboration
  • take part in interactive group discussions, addressing their key needs, emerging hot topics, as well as how to master digital transformation and sustainability and to create shared value
  • get an overview of the different cluster-related EU initiatives and their linkages from a session with the participation of 7 Commission directorate-generals and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology
  • connect with each other during a pre-conference EU cluster matchmaking event that attracted 149 clusters and generated 369 face-to-face meetings

Following a pitching session, participants also elected Bianca Muntean from the Transilvania IT cluster as the new European Cluster manager of the year 2019. The awards for the European cluster partnerships of the year went to impact connected car (INNOSUP-1) represented by David Seoane from Fundingbox, adpack² (ESCP-4i) represented by Lubos Komarek from Nanoprogress and the European automotive cluster network (ESCP-S3) represented by Clotilde Nade from Vehicle du Futur.

European cluster conference 2019 award winners

Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Industry closed the event. She stressed that cluster policy is about synergies and not an isolated policy and that the conference title was fitting for the event. A brief conference videobrought the event to a close.

The last day featured a series of side events including:

  • events organised by clustero (Romanian cluster association), resulting in the Bucharest declaration
  • 3 partnering meetings of European cluster partnerships, organised in collaboration with EASME)
  • a meeting of the Enterprise Europe Network thematic group on clusters
  • a meeting of the working group on social economy and clusters of the GECES expert group

The next European cluster conference will take place in November 2020 in Berlin under the German Presidency of the Council of the EU, which will be another chance for connecting ecosystems.

EIC: 261 proposals seek funding under Fast Track to Innovation

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The European Commission received 261 proposals for Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) before the latest cut-off date on 25 May 2019.

FTI promotes close-to-the market innovation activities open to all types of participants. The programme offers € 3 million to consortia composed of 3 to 5 partners including mainly industrial participants.

FTI is fully bottom-up. As there are no set topics, proposals are classified according to the keywords introduced by applicants. The top keywords introduced were engineering, health and ICT.

The proposals include participants from 28 countries, the largest number of proposals being submitted by Spanish, Italian and Dutch applicants.

Fast Track to innovation (FTI) is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot and helps close-to-the-market innovations jointly developed by small companies and their industrial partners get on the market faster.

Results will be available in autumn 2019.

Read the original article on the EASME website.

European innovation in space – EU Space Programme

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Image copyright: GSA

In a vote on 17 April 2019, the European Parliament endorsed a provisional agreement reached by co-legislators on the EU Space Programme for the 2021-2027 budget period. The agreement passed by a large majority, with 560 votes in favour, 63 against and 32 abstentions.

In June 2018, the European Commission proposed the new EUR 16-billion EU Space Programme to help maintain and further enhance the EU’s leadership in space. The Commission’s proposal brings all existing and new space activities under the umbrella of a single programme and will foster a strong and innovative space industry in Europe.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, welcomed the vote. “Space technology, data and services have become indispensable in the daily lives of Europeans and for Europe to pursue its strategic interests. We therefore need to ensure continuity and financial stability in our space activities,” she said.

Commissioner Bieńkowska also highlighted the importance of space for the European economy. “Europe’s space industry is the second largest in the world, and its space-enabled services fuel a steadily increasing 6-9% of our economy. The EU Space Programme will be key to keep this trend going,” she said.

The Commissioner cited Copernicus and Galileo as “two successful EU space programmes that already improve the lives of citizens and business in Europe and beyond,” adding that, with its vote, the European Parliament had sent a clear signal to the space sector that these flagship projects would continue to prosper and evolve towards new services.

“With the new Space Programme we also introduce new security-related space initiatives: space and situational awareness (SSA) and Governmental Satellite Communication (GOVSATCOM). We will also put the European space sector in a better position to react to the ongoing changes the space sector is undergoing worldwide,” she said, adding: “In particular, we will support a European ‘New Space’ approach with innovative start-ups, reliable and cost-effective European launch solutions and increased European technological autonomy.”

“Space matters for Europe,” the Commissioner said.

For more information, read the full original article on the GSA website.

SME Performance Review 2018

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The SME Performance Review is one of the main tools the European Commission uses to monitor and assess countries’ progress in implementing the Small Business Act (SBA) on a yearly basis. With an emphasis on the measures from the SBA Action Plan, the review brings comprehensive information on the performance of SMEs in EU countries and other partner countries. It consists of two parts: an annual report on European SMEs and SBA country fact sheets.

Today, on 20 November 2018, the latest SME Performance Review for 2018 was published by the European Commission and presents encouraging news, the SME recovery continues.

The annual report, prepared on a yearly basis, provides a synopsis of the size, structure and importance of SMEs to the European economy and an overview of the past and forecasted performance of SMEs from 2008 to 2019. Comparisons with partner countries outside the EU and with the large enterprise sector are also included.

Read the full report here.

Find out more about the SME Performance Review and read supporting documents here.

Call for participants in the Young Leaders of Industry Forum

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The first Young Leaders of Industry Forum, organised by the European Commission, is looking for applicants! The forum will take place during the annual ‘EU Industry Days’ event, on 5-6 February 2019 in Brussels. This Forum looks to attract young people aged between 21-30 years old interested in industrial careers to discuss the future of EU industry with the workforce of the future. 

The Young Leaders of Industry Forum will be comprised of 2 main parts:

  • Day 1: An interactive forum relating to the a variety of key themes for the future of European industry (globalisation, sustainability, digitalisation and innovation), where you will have the opportunity to engage in discussions with fellow participants and high-profile industry leaders.
  • Day 2: An innovation hack, where you will be split into teams to deliberate what should be the main missions of European industry today in relation to the economy, society and local communities. All teams will then have the opportunity to present their conclusions to the main Industry Day participants.

How to apply

  • Fill in the online application form
  • Submit a short video (maximum 2 minutes) answering the following question (in English): How can the future of industry contribute to a better society and environment?

Apply before Friday 30 November to be among the 30 selected participants in the very first Young Leaders of Industry Forum, and to have the opportunity to share your ideas with the European Commission and industry professionals, and shape the future of EU Industry.

Read the original article here on the DG GROW website. 

Ideas from Europe finals on April 24 – Innovative ideas on stage

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Ideas from Europe will for the second time highlight 12 inspiring innovative European entrepreneurs, who will present their ideas to solve some of our most pressing global challenges.

The live audience, as well as those joining via livestream, will be able to participate in the joint development and acceleration of those solutions. At the end of the event, the audience in the room will be consulted as to which of these 12 solutions they feel could have the most social impact. Ideas from Europe will also launch an online campaign to ask the general public the same question. The chosen solution will receive assistance from Ideas from Europe in order to scale up and develop.

Ideas from Europe is an initiative of the European Commission and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy that facilitates joint development of innovations with societal impact.

“We continuously search for and validate innovative solutions to global challenges, connect innovators to stakeholders and create transparency in order to free-up the road for scaling-up process,”

  • Sonja van Meerbeek, director of Ideas from Europe

This year’s innovative ideas were found through a series of searches across European Member states, with the semi-finals held during the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia. 28 speakers took the stage in Tallinn, where 11 were selected by a jury to go through to the finals. The final idea was selected via a public wildcard vote, bringing the total number of finalists to 12.

Ready to hear what the speakers have to say? Will we see you at the Ideas from Europe finals? Learn more about the speakers and be sure to check out the final event programme here.

For more information visit the Ideas from Europe website and follow @ideasfromeurope on Twitter.   

Startup founders and managers – We need your input!

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The EU Startup Monitor Survey is open, and the European Commission wants to hear your voice! The Commission is looking for inputs to create more effective and meaningful policies that support young enterprises who have recently started a business or are in the process of scaling up. Through hearing what Europeans in the sector have to say, the European Commission can drive better evidence based policies to help startups in Europe.

The Commission is looking for founders and managers of European startups to take a few minutes of their time to provide their valuable input to the survey. After completing the survey, all participants will have the chance to win great prizes, such as: an exhibition stand at TOA Berlin, tickets to Pioneer’s 18, Bits and Pretzels and a personal invitation including travel and accommodation to the VIP SME Assembly 2018.

What are you waiting for? Contribute today!

Access the survey here.

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.

Have your say on the SME definition!

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The European Commission is currently preparing for an evaluation and possible revision of some aspects of the SME definition and is inviting any interested actor to provide feedback on its evaluation and impact assessment.

The SME definition is a widely used tool in EU policies such as competition (state aid), structural funds, research and innovation (Horizon 2020).

Moreover, the SME definition is relevant for some European administrative exemptions and reduced fees, such as for Regulation on registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH).

If you would like to know more about this initiative please check the public consultation on the review of the SME definition. You can contribute until 6 May 2018.

Read the original article on EASME news here.

Who is on the EEPA 2017 Jury? – Meet Karen and Lisa

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Who chooses the projects for the EEPA 2017 shortlist? Curious about who makes the decisions? Time to meet the EEPA Jury 2017! Today Promoting Enterprise is introducing the first two members of the EEPA 2017 Jury: Karen Boers and Lisa Steigertahl, who shared with us what they will be looking for in a project and what they are looking forward to at this year’s SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn.

Karen Boers is co-founder and Managing Director of Startups.be, which brings hundreds of startups together with incubators, accelerators, investors and public actors in a local startup ecosystem. She also runs the European Startup Network, which aims to help create a truly pan-European bottom-up startup ecosystem.

Lisa Steigertahl is co-founder and and CEO of the European Startup Network (alongside fellow jury member Karen Boers). Previously she also worked at the German Startups Association as both Head of Research and International Strategy and European Relations Manager.

What will make an EEPA project stand out for you? What will make it special?

Karen: I am looking out for projects that have made a real impact on entrepreneurs’ lives, either by helping to change the rules of the game in the local ecosystem or by providing entrepreneurs with better access to (national and/or international) customers, financing and talent.

Lisa: For me a project that creates a new solution for a demand that we did not know we had yet, or has found an innovative way of solving a problem will stand out. I am also interested in European applicability and projects that could be transferred to other markets.

Which is your favourite category and why?

Karen: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, as I believe investing in human capital – youngsters as well as adults – is the best way to boost entrepreneurship and counteract poverty and extremism through a more inclusive approach.

Lisa: Supporting the internationalisation of business, since I believe that moving from national borders to international markets will not only tremendously determine the success of a business in times of globalisation but further shape a strong European market

Finally, what are you looking forward to at the SME Assembly 2017?

Karen: To meet all the highly motivated people across Europe that are putting their best efforts to make a difference and create opportunities for others.

Lisa: To meet and engage with the people behind the projects.

Interested in finding out who else is on the Jury with Karen and Lisa? Come back next week to meet another juror!

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