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EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Listen Up Foundation – Special Mention 2017

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Who else received an EEPA 2017 special mention? Meet the Listen Up Foundation from Bulgaria, who were recognised for their work for the deaf and hard of hearing communities in Bulgaria. Find out how they entered and the exciting opportunity that came their way after the EEPA 2017 awards ceremony…

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We first heard about the national competition via the Reach for Change Foundation network, of which we are a member. This network often notifies us of different opportunities, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) was one of them.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

The main motivation for entering was to bring more visibility to the challenges that the deaf and hard of hearing students face in schools and universities. We specifically wanted to highlight the challenges posed by them having no access to information and communication. For us we needed to show how important it is to make all involved parties – students, parents, teachers, lecturers and many others involved in the training process at schools and universities – aware of these students and their needs.

How did you prepare your application?

In general we are constantly in the process of developing new activities and expanding on our work, specifically creating an environment with higher awareness on the need for accessibility for all. Our preparation simply consisted of accurately documenting what we do and being sure to include all of our latest activities. For us this meant including big developments such as the establishment of the Academy for deaf and hard of hearing children and youth by the Listen Up Foundation. Through the establishment of the academy we can continue to bring more empowerment tools for the deaf community in order to be actively involved in the change-making process.

What was it like to receive a special mention and how did it affect your work?

It was a complete surprise, we didn’t expect it and we are so thankful for it! It was really wonderful to be acknowledged and we truly appreciate it. Not only was it fantastic recognition for our project, but it was an opportunity for both the Bulgarian and wider European deaf communities to be in the spotlight and receive the attention they deserve.

Receiving the special mention also created some exciting opportunities for us. We recently signed a contract with the Ministry of Education in Bulgaria to provide accessibility services to the deaf and hard of hearing students at approximately 50 mainstream schools. This will come into force around the beginning of the next academic year from 2018-2019.

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

We strongly recommend entering the EEPA competition to anyone that is considering it! By entering such an important contest you will gain recognition for your project and doors will open for other opportunities.

What are your plans for the future?

Our future plans consist of us continuing our work through raising awareness of the deaf and hard of hearing communities, and advocating for their needs. We believe that video-relay services for deaf signers will cover all major institutions across the country in the future. We also hope that over the next two years all deaf and hard of hearing students will have access to speech-to-text services at both schools and universities.

Interested in the work of the Listen Up Foundation? Visit their website to find out more! 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: Import Promotion Desk – Special Mention 2017

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Time for another testimonial from a 2017 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) special mention!

Today’s EEPA interview takes us to Germany to meet the recipients of an EEPA 2017 Special Mention, theImport Promotion Desk (IPD). IPD share with us their tips for making your EEPA submission stand out by drawing on their own experiences, and their plans for the future of the project. 

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

We first heard about the awards scheme from a colleague and decided to enter because of the good reputation of the award and the chance for publicity for our work.

How did you prepare your application?

We did not do any specific activities in preparation for our EEPA submission. We are convinced of what we do and therefore thought that a good, concise and accurate description of our constant activities was special enough!

What was it like to receive a special mention?

We were extremely proud to receive the special mention, and we certainly did not expect it. The recognition by a neutral authority such as the EU Commission was very important for us as it confirmed our strategic approach, thus giving our project credibility and validity. In addition, our participation in the EEPA scheme attracted considerable attention and raised the awareness level of IPD once again.

The awards ceremony was an opportunity to get to know other interesting companies and to exchange ideas and experiences with many entrepreneurs from different countries. Although we exchanged with start-ups from different sectors we are not working in, the ideas they have were very inspiring. Additionally, we got really good feedback from many different angles.

How did receiving a special mention impact your work?

The media coverage was not very extensive, but this was probably due to it being quite difficult to describe what the special mention is exactly. However, the awareness within our network was extremely positive. After all, it is also a recognition of our good cooperation with our partners as well as the IPD team.

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

Entering EEPA is a good chance to be compared with other projects, but it means that you really need to make sure that your submission and the overall uniqueness of your project stand out. As such, the award submission should be prepared very carefully, make sure your collected data and documents are well-structured and easy to follow. Furthermore, best-practice examples should be well-presented to highlight the work that you have been doing.

In our case we focused on highlighting the core competence of IPD, which is supporting exports with a focus on development. We provide exporting companies in developing and threshold countries with the knowledge and competences they need to increase their competitiveness on the international market. We also included our focus on sustainability, in terms of enabling exporters, developing better access to the EU market for external countries and selective support for the export of in-demand products.

In your application be sure to clearly indicate your strengths and competencies. For us this meant highlighting our good knowledge of the product demand due to our strong network of relevant sector associations (and through them many importers and wholesalers) in Germany (and Europe). We also continued to demonstrate our competencies by describing how we use our knowledge and network. We explained our focus on demand, and how this ensures that the enterprises achieve long-term sales on the export market. When selecting products to support, we carefully check using market studies and demand analyses which products are gaining importance on the German and European markets.

Overall, convince the national and European jury to view your project as a European best practice that deserves to be rewarded for all of the hard work that you have put in!

What are your plans for the future?

Our goal is to integrate developing countries more effectively into global trade, and thus make a substantial contribution towards sustainable economic development in these countries. Many exporters from developing countries are only denied access to the EU market because they lack knowledge of the legal standards and import regulations, the required certifications and above all the contacts with European traders. This is exactly where the IPD comes in. We offer exporters specifically selected information and training on export marketing and advise them on the whole quality management process and on certification of their products. In addition, the IPD establishes valuable business contacts between the exporters and potential customers through specialist trade fairs.

Our vision is to broaden our project to more developing countries and sectors so that more companies can profit from our services.

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.

Green Projects – EEPA 2018 is looking for you!

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are still open for nominations and entries, and this year with the re-instatement of the ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category, which was temporarily suspended in 2017, there are even more prizes to win!

So what is this category about?

The ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category is one of a total of six categories, and recognises initiatives that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency through, for example, green skills development and matchmaking, as well as funding.

Previous European winners of the category include:

Interested in applying for this category? Check your national submission deadline and contact your national coordinator today!

Watch the 2016 winning moment:

Find out about the 2016 nominees:

EEPA 2018 – National deadlines

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The first national deadlines for the European Enterprise Promotion Awards are coming up soon, so don’t miss your chance to enter! This year the awards ceremony will take place in November in Graz, Austria as part of the SME Assembly 2018.

Check your national deadlines in the table below and don’t miss out on this year’s edition! Each participating country has a different national deadline so be sure to get the right one. All submissions must be done at national level in order to be eligible at European level, for which nominations close on 3 July 2018.

Need more information? Contact your national coordinator and have a look at the EEPA 2017 winner testimonials for some inspiration!

*The Netherlands national deadline is provisional. Please come back to this page regularly for updates once the national deadline is confirmed.

Watch the winning moments from EEPA 2017:

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Malta Business Story Initiative – Special Mention 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards recognise winners in a number of categories, as well as awardi ng a Grand Jury Prize. In addition to the winning projects, the awards also give ‘Special Mentions’ to projects that did not win a particular category but nevertheless impressed the EEPA jury. Today Promoting Enterprise presents one of the Special Mention projects from 2017 – the Maltese Business Story Initiative from Malta, run by the Malta Employers’ Association.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We first heard about the competition through the Ministry for the Economy. One of our executives took the initiative to apply, as he believed that we had a good basis for doing so.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

The main motivation was to determine whether our initiatives are of a good standard, and also to network with other organisations to see examples of best practice. The competition also stimulates innovation, which we saw as an opportunity to help us think of new initiatives and, in turn, add value for our existing members.

What was it like to receive a special mention?

We did not fully expect it, but we certainly aspired to it. We believed our project had the qualities to be recognised in this manner, but then one never knows what else is being conducted by other organisations. The fact that we received a special mention is a great encouragement to continue to strive for excellence in everything that we do. It is a motivator for our staff and has sent positive signals both to our members and non-member organisations, who have since become more aware of the benefits of joining the Malta Employers’ Association.

How did receiving a special mention impact your work?

There was positive media coverage and we produced a television programme which promoted the EEPA among the Maltese. The programme was broadcast on national television. I believe that it has also been instrumental in generating a surge in membership over the past few months, which shows that companies respond positively to such achievements. I think that the fact that we have received a special mention twice in three years has also made an impact. It has also increased the Association’s determination to constantly think of new ideas to serve our stakeholders better.

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

The best part of the EEPA is the networking and learning aspect. There is definitely a benefit in participating, irrespective of whether one wins or not, as the EEPA is a showcase of innovation and best practice. Many of the ideas and projects conducted by so many countries are easily transferable to other countries.

What are your plans for the future?

We fully intend to continue with the project, and so far the educational television programme has seen a steady increase in viewers. As the viewer base has increased, we have invested to improve its production quality and will continue to do so. Our intention is to continue educating the companies and the public – through the involvement of the social partners – about economic, labour and social issues.

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 2018 – Learning from Portuguese National Coordinator Helena Moura

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EEPA continues and so does the work of all of the National Coordinators. Today on Promoting Enterprise we are joined by Portuguese coordinator Helena Moura, who has been involved with EEPA since the inception of the scheme in 2005. Continue reading to learn from her experiences and to find out what goes into the Portuguese EEPA campaign.

How have you been preparing EEPA 2018 so far?

IAPMEI, the Portuguese body responsible for EEPA coordination, did a preliminary benchmark comparing the actions carried out during the previous EEPA editions versus related results. This allowed us to define an integrated action plan based on:

  • a core message combining “motivation” with the benefits of participation in EEPA, an EU initiative carried out in more than 30 countries
  • sharing information on awarded projects
  • personalised mailing, by post, from the President of IAPMEI addressed to a wide range of entities (over 800), including ministries, and a personalised email to over 1 300 other entities
  • strengthening the collaboration with national and regional stakeholders
  • highlighting EEPA on the IAPMEI website and on the portal of the Portuguese Enterprise Europe Network consortium
  • reinforcing the dissemination of EEPA material via IAPMEI social networks and newsletters
  • researching online and through media for eligible initiatives

This was combined with a regular assessment so as to allow for a reformulation of the action plan where needed.

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

Based on experience, my top 3 pieces of advice would be to do your research, establish close cooperation with stakeholders and create those direct contacts and finally, put in the hard work! Several of the Portuguese projects awarded in previous editions, including on EU level, come from research carried out by IAPMEI. Once you have identified the potential candidate, it is also very important to identify the right person to be your contact. This will allow to better introduce the EEPA scheme, motivate them to participate and to give all the necessary support and follow-up.

IAPMEI developed a committed task force which is dedicated to motivating participants and supporting the preparation of entries, something which has definitely been s key for reaching out to potential applicants.

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

For the current campaign IAPMEI has widened the scope of the target audience, and enlarged the dedicated task force for direct contacting of potential applicants. There has also been additional training for the task force members, so as to have more assertive and effective communication with potential applicants.

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 challenging category, but not impossible to apply for! Portugal was awarded in this category in the first year, and the winner was found through careful IAPMEI research. My advice would be to take the time to identify and contact the entities with the potential to apply for this category, and most importantly don’t give up!

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

Having worked in EEPA from the very beginning (2005), I would say that it is a challenge to promote enterprises and entrepreneurship and, mostly, to encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. However, despite the difficulties the visibility and impact that the projects and related promoters achieve with EEPA participation is important and should definitely be highlighted when recruiting potential projects. When you are promoting the EEPA think about what opportunities could come as a result of participation, and share that with your potential applicants.

Since 2006, Portugal has achieved more than 14% of the total of the EEPA national entries, which demonstrates the commitment of the Portuguese promoters participating in the initiative. These results are in line with the high entrepreneurship performance in Portugal and demonstrate the dynamism and effort that the country has been carrying out to promote the business activity in the Europe.

Any other National Coordinator experiences that you would like to share?

I have witnessed the enormous commitment from all the involved parties, from the huge dissemination carried out by the European Commission and, at national level by IAPMEI, the great commitment of the President of IAPMEI and of course that of the National Jury. Without their commitment and dedication, the EEPA would not be what they are in Portugal today. We are also lucky enough to be able to organise a national ceremony with the participation of a member of government, and featuring the testimonials of previously awarded Portuguese projects.

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes of EEPA? Read the latest national coordinator interview here with Estonian coordinator Kaupo Sempelson and keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for all the latest EEPA news.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: ADIE – ‘Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship’ Winner 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonials continue! Today’s testimonial takes us to France to meet the 2017 winner of the ‘Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship’ category, ADIE (Association for Economic Rights Initiatives). ADIE 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. Today they share with us their EEPA 2017 journey, and their advice for anyone planning to enter the 2018 edition.

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

We heard about the competition through the French Entrepreneur Agency (Agence France Entrepreneur) which talked about the national prize and also happens to be an ADIE financial partner. We also already knew about the prize having applied for it several years ago.

We decided to participate this time because we wanted to respond to our financial partner’s request, but also promote our work on a European level. The communication aspect and being on a European platform was an equally important motivating factor.

How did you prepare your application?

We first filled out the selection forms and then went on to contact project supporters. We used our contacts to develop and produce testimonials from those who had been supported by or had supported the project.

What was it like to win the award?

It was incredible! It was an amazing recognition and such a great source of motivation for us to continue our work! The speech that we gave at the SME Assembly was such an exciting and impressive moment, and I really appreciated being in front of a crowd that was so understanding as well as engaged by the work of our project.

I later realised that winning and being identified in front of everyone was really important, because afterwards I was approached by several people who wanted to know more about the project. It was really interesting to be able to speak about our work with so many different people.

How did winning the award impact your work?

ADIE’s victory in the ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ category had two main impacts. Firstly, it created a great sense of pride for all of the involved teams as the large amount of work that we all put in is not always recognised, so it felt good to receive recognition for it.

Secondly, our win had an impact in terms of communication as we shared our win all over social media. This led to a good presence on social media and helped contribute to raising awareness of what we do. However the communication on other platforms, for example those run by French media, was a little limited and we would have liked to have a bit more.

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

My advice for future applicants would be to work a little more upstream, and to focus on having good national mobilisation around your project and work. Once this is established this can then be complemented by working with the public entities that transmit the EEPA message and that organise the awards.

What are your plans for the future?

Our objective is to reinforce the project so as to help create new micro franchises, and with them create 3 000 medium term jobs. Our plans also include the securitisation of an economic model which will allow new entrepreneurs to become a part of the project.

To find out more about ADIE, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here and of course, don’t forget to check out their website!

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 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.

Belgium, it is time to apply for EEPA 2018!

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are under way across Europe, but what does a competition look like on national level? Today our EEPA journey takes us to Belgium, where the national competition is coordinated by National Coordinator Francis Otte.

Since 2006, Belgium has been participating in the EEPA awards scheme, and submitted a great variety of projects to compete at both national and European level. Of the all projects submitted, 3 have placed on the annual European shortlist and 3 have won prizes at European level, in both the ‘Investing in entrepreneurial skills’ and ‘Improving the business environment’ categories.

Find out more about previous Belgian winners:

This year the Belgian competition is open until 7 May 2018, so Belgian projects you know what to do! Get your applications in before your national deadline of 7 May 2018 in order to have the chance to represent Belgium on the European EEPA stage at the SME Assembly 2018.

For more information on the Belgian EEPA competition read the flyer in French and Dutch.

Visit the Belgian EEPA website for more information in French and Dutch.

“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.

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      The European Enterprise Promotion Awards recognise winners in a number of categories, as well as awardi ng a Grand Jury Prize. In addition to the winning projects, the awards also give ‘Special Mentions’ to projects that did not win a particular category but nevertheless impressed the EEPA jury. Today Promoting Enterprise presents one of the […]
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