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Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Thomas Wobben

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Here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal, we have already featured interviews with several of the 2022 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury members: Thomas Cooney, Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker, Outi Slotboom, Marian Piecha and Christel Delberghe. Now it’s the turn of Thomas Wobben, who is representing the Committee of the Regions. He gives us his views on the uniqueness of the EEPA and offers some useful advice for entrants.

After studying economics and politics, Thomas worked in the voluntary sector, before joining the European policy services of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt in 1993. In 1995, he moved to the Saxony-Anhalt Liaison Office in Brussels, taking over as Director in 2000. Thomas has been with the Committee of the Regions since March 2012, firstly as Director for Horizontal Policies and Networks, then as Director for Legislative Work.

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

The EEPA is a great opportunity for initiatives at local, regional or national level to show their concepts and achievements in promoting entrepreneurship, for example by helping SMEs to enter new markets or fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in education and training. Coming from the Committee of the Regions, it is also very positive to see that many of the EEPA entries and winners focus their work on the local and regional level.

Do you have any advice for the participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

The EEPA is about honouring innovative ideas, strong commitment and convincing results that could be replicated in other parts of the EU. The better these elements are described in the application, the higher the chances are.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

The jury members will be looking for initiatives and strategies on how to address the current challenges for entrepreneurs and SMEs with regard to the digital and green transition, an inclusive society and responding to the current crisis.

Which are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

For me, the top three qualities for the winners are convincing results, an innovative nature and transferability of the approach.

You still have one EEPA jury member to meet, so make sure to visit the Promoting enterprise news portal regularly. We will introduce you soon! For more EEPA updates follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Christel Delberghe

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On the Promoting Enterprise portal, you have already met number of European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2022 jury members (Outi Slotboom, Thomas Cooney, Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker and Marian Piecha). Today, let’s hear from Christel Delberghe, who will be the voice of business associations on this year’s jury. Christel tells us what this year’s jury will be looking for and gives advice on how to make your project stand out.

Christel has been Director General of EuroCommerce since November 2021, where she acts as the chief advocate for the retail and wholesale sector with the EU institutions, stakeholders and the media. Previously, she was EuroCommerce’s Executive Director for Competitiveness and Communications, leading action on commercial relations and competition issues, as well as the interests of wholesalers and SMEs.

EEPA Jury Member Christel Delberghe

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

The EEP Awards specifically recognise projects that have an impact on the local economy but are also transferable to other regions in Europe. They promote Europe as a whole and help strengthen the Single Market, which in the end benefits all consumers in Europe.

Do you have any advice for the participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

For us jury members, it is important to see the impact the project has on the local economy, its innovative dimension and how it could be transferred and possibly implemented in other regions in Europe. Show us not only numbers, but also stories behind the project, and list what would be needed to replicate your project to other regions.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

Covid has focused the attention of businesses on the importance of the digital transition, which is why it is important to showcase how your initiative supports the digital transition of enterprises and small businesses. The sustainability transformation is an equally important priority: we would like to see practices that encourage and foster new ideas to support SMEs in their transition.

Which are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

The successful project will be innovative, impactful and transferable within Europe. It will recognise the most successful promoters of enterprise and entrepreneurship and inspire future entrepreneurs.

Interested in meeting the other EEPA jury members? We will introduce you soon! So make sure to visit the Promoting enterprise news portal regularly for updates, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

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Today we are continuing to introduce you to the members of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) jury by talking with Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker. Selma represents the organisation that won last year’s Grand Jury Prize. Her recent experience as a participant in the competition means her advice for this year’s cohort is particularly valuable. Keep reading to hear it!

Selma is Programme Director of COMPETENZentrum für Selbständige (CfS), an initiative started by the German non-profit Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen e.V. (I.S.I. e.V.) working in Berlin. For more than 30 years, I.S.I. e.V. has been empowering and qualifying women with a migration background to pursue entrepreneurship. Before being awarded last year’s Grand Jury prize, CfS was selected as the winner in the competition’s Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category.

EEPA 2022 Jury Member Selma Yilmaz-Schwenker

Through CfS, I.S.I. e.V. promotes entrepreneurship amongst immigrant women in Berlin by providing free training and access to networking events. What’s more, I.S.I. e.V., which is itself managed by immigrant women, not only supports women looking to become entrepreneurs, but also those who are already entrepreneurs and are looking to expand their businesses. Below, Selma talks about her experience in the competition, gives some excellent advice, and lets us know what will make a project stand out for her in this year’s competition.

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

It showcases entrepreneurship initiatives from the whole of Europe, sharing valuable examples and boosting entrepreneurship by increasing the recognition and value of entrepreneurs. By shining a light on local initiatives, it shows the great European potential of entrepreneurship and its role in nurturing and shaping our society.

Do you have any advice for the participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

It is very important to include information on the impact the initiatives have had, both with figures and performance indicators and with concrete examples. The vision for the future is also very important, since these initiatives must constantly adapt to changes in the environment and respond to the real needs of society.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

The difficult political situation has brought instability and economic crisis, as well as uncertainty about the future. To build trust and hope, we need to move toward a healthy society that is attentive to social values and gender equality, thus promoting sustainable, equitable and responsible initiatives and projects. In this context, attention to the needs of the most vulnerable is crucial, as well as a focus on people’s mental and physical well-being.

What are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

An innovative and engaging approach, impact on people and on the local economy, and attention to the well-being of people.

We will introduce you to the other members of the 2022 EEPA jury soon – so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

Meeting the 2022 EEPA Jury – Thomas Cooney

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Every year, during the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), we introduce you to the members of our jury, who play are responsible for choosing the most innovative and exciting competition entries and selecting the winner of the Grand Jury Prize. We kick off our introductions this year with an EEPA stalwart Professor Thomas Cooney.

Thomas is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Technological University Dublin, and Academic Director of the TU Dublin Institute for Minority Entrepreneurship. He is also a director of four businesses, works in a supportive capacity with a variety of organisations and has published widely on the topic of entrepreneurship. Thomas has been an EEPA jury member for several years now, so we asked him for his advice for participants and what the jury will be looking for in 2022. Read on for his enlightening insights!

EEPA Jury Member Professor Thomas Cooney

What do you think makes this competition unique in Europe?

What is wonderful about EEPA is that it recognizes unsung heroes and celebrates the amazing work being done by people to encourage greater levels of entrepreneurial activity at local and regional levels. These people also support the inclusion of marginalized communities whose needs are not being met by formal government interventions, and this competition enables their incredible work to be acclaimed.

Do you have any advice for EEPA participants on how to make their application stand out from the rest and include the information that you need to evaluate the project?

Successful applications have one common feature – they provide statistics and evidence of the success of their initiative. Hard data showing the number of people who have successfully completed the programme and the measurement of the impact of the programme is much more powerful than any testimonial.

What do you think the jury members will be specifically looking for in the EEPA 2022 competition?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are critically important in terms of addressing the current challenges facing governments and people across Europe. Therefore, I believe that showing how an initiative tackles a specific UN SDG would be helpful, but applicants need to identify which specific target they are addressing (e.g. SDG Target 10.1) rather than being quite broad with their relationship to the UN SDGs.

Which are the top three qualities you will look for in a winning project?

The three qualities that I would like to see are: (1) level of innovation (what is the project doing that nobody else is doing?); (2) the ability for the initiative to be replicated in another country, by other people; and (3) the long-term sustainability of the initiative. Excel in these three qualities and you will be in contention for a prize!

We will introduce you to the other five members of the 2022 EEPA jury soon – so make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal regularly and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for all the latest news.

Initiatives support refugees fleeing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine

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Europe has seen millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine following Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against its neighbour. According to the United Nations, more than 12 million people are believed to have fled their homes in Ukraine since the conflict began, with 7.1 million Ukrainians displaced internally and 5.2 million fleeing to neighbouring countries and beyond. Here on the Promoting Enterprise portal, we reached out to SME Week National Coordinators for information on initiatives being implemented across the EU to support Ukrainian refugees and help them integrate. Read on to find out more!

Source: EU countries preparing to welcome those fleeing Ukraine | European Commission (europa.eu)

English schools across Malta have offered sponsorships for English language courses to Ukrainians arriving in Malta having been forced out of their homes as a result of Russia’s war of aggression. The announcement came after FELTOM, (the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations in Malta) reached out to the Ukrainian Honorary Consulate to offer support to help displaced Ukrainians integrate into Maltese society once they have reached safety in the country.

Ukrainian refugees arriving in Malta can also turn to the country’s Foundation for Social Welfare Services for support. The foundation provides an array of 70 services ranging from domestic violence, human trafficking, child protection, alternative care, substance misuse, psychological services, to mention just a few. Everyone resident in Malta, including migrants, refugees and their children, can avail of the services it offers. In fact, FSWS is in contact with the Ukrainian community in Malta to offer its assistance as the need arises.

Meanwhile in Portugal, Portugal for Ukraine is a platform that acts as a one-stop-shop for information on actions being taken by the Portuguese government related to Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine. The platform contains information on international action, humanitarian aid and the integration and hosting of displaced persons in Portugal.

Finally, in the Netherlands, the programme “Docentvluchteling voor de klas”, which roughly translates as “Teacher-refugees back in the classroom”, is being implemented by the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences together with a foundation that works with refugees, schools and other stakeholders. Originally set up to help teachers who fled Turkey for political reasons to get back in front of the classroom in the Netherlands, word is that it will be reshaped to also incorporate Ukrainian refugees. Lessons are aimed at teaching the Dutch language and Dutch teaching methods and systems.

As we receive more information on further initiatives being implemented across Europe to support Ukrainian refugees and integrate them into EU society, we will let you know about them here on the Promoting Enterprise portal, so make sure to check in regularly!

EEPA Category 6: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

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We have already introduced you to the first five categories in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Today, it is the turn of the sixth and final category – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship. This category aims to reward projects that offer new and innovative solutions and approaches to promote socially and environmentally responsible business. This could include encouraging disadvantaged groups to take part in entrepreneurship initiatives, or promoting corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises with a view to creating a more inclusive society.

Let’s take a look at some winners from previous years to get an idea of the type of project that is successful in this category.

The 2021 Category 6 winner was Inkludera from Sweden. Inkludera is supporting social entrepreneurs with unique solutions to scale them and make them financially sustainable. With this in mind, Inkludera supports the entrepreneurs in building partnerships with the public sector. Since 2013, the entrepreneurs Inkludera supports have entered into over 900 partnerships with 108 of Sweden’s municipalities. These partnerships enabled the entrepreneurs to continuously work with 27 200 people in 2020 – addressing various social issues.

The EEPA award is a great testament to the work we have been dedicated to during the past decade and of course a motivation going forward,” the team said, adding: “We believe it’s a great forum for being inspired by other organisations. It’s important to be true to your cause and focused on impact – in your everyday work and in your application.

From Sweden we travel southwest to the Netherlands to introduce you to Social Enterprise NL, the Category 6 winner in 2020. Social Enterprise NL is a national network and a key driver in the growing movement towards social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands. The network currently has over 400 members, all of whom benefit from various workshops and growth programmes aimed at strengthening their business. Members also receive support from network coaches and experts and gain online visibility and publicity.

EEPA participation gave the project a lot of positive attention. “After winning the award, we received many compliments from an astonishing number of people and organisations all over the world! It led to so much engagement online. This is giving a great boost to the social enterprise movement in the Netherlands and to everyone involved with Social Enterprise NL,” the team said.

Give the publicity that they received, it is no surprise that the Social Enterprise NL team strongly encourage others to participate. “EEPA is a great opportunity to showcase your work and its results and to present them at the highest level. It puts a spotlight on your business and on the work that you do, and it helps you to become more visible. We definitely recommend others to apply!

From the Netherlands, we travel east to Germany to visit the 2019 Category 6 winner Start-Up Your Future. Start-Up Your Future is helping refugees in Berlin-Brandenburg to set up their own businesses by giving them support and offering them the option of self-employment through mentoring partnerships with Gründerpaten. The partnerships invite voluntary mentors to guide refugee entrepreneurs through the start-up process, from brainstorming ideas to writing a business plan.

We regard the nomination for the EEPA Award 2019 as a recognition and appreciation of the work and impact “Start-Up Your Future” has achieved over the last two and a half years in Berlin. Special thanks go to our nearly 200 business mentors, who have contributed so much on a voluntary basis. With their support, SUYF was able to foster entrepreneurial spirits and contribute to the integration of refugees at an economic and social level,” the team said.

It is really motivating to have your work recognised at European level. The award is very important for both national and international visibility for the project and represents an opportunity to disseminate the project and increase its replication potential,” they said, adding, “We would definitely recommend participating in EEPA as it is a good opportunity to exchange experiences and views with other European organisations.”

Judging by the experience of the EEPA alumni, the benefits of participating in the competition are clear. So why not try it yourself? This year it could be your turn to join the EEPA family! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

EEPA Category 5: Supporting the sustainable transition

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We have already introduced you to the first four categories in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards. This time it is the turn of Category 5 – Supporting the sustainable transition. Projects in this category have a strong sustainability focus and propose innovative approaches to help the European economy transition to a more sustainable path.

This category recognizes initiatives that promote a circular economy approach or that have specific environmental features such as encouraging the use of recycled materials or renewable energy. This Category was renamed in 2021; it previously went under the title “Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency”.

The winner of the Supporting the sustainable transition category in 2021 was Green Penguin, an initiative that combines real data with smart digital technologies in a digital game for schoolchildren. Through the game, Green Penguin teaches schools and children environmental and digital literacy. It shows children how to achieve significant CO2 reductions, raises their awareness of environmental challenges and sustainable development and, importantly, creates future generations of environmental protectors, engaging them in the co-creation of solutions for the carbon-neutral cities of the future.

Next, to meet with the Category 5 winners in 2020, we travel to Germany to visit Greentech.Ruhr. Greentech.Ruhr is an environmental management network in the Ruhr region that aims to strengthen the region’s environmental economy, thereby supporting its transition from a mining region to a diversified economy with a high degree of specialisation in tackling ecological challenges. Greentech.Ruhr facilitates increased cooperation between all players in the Ruhr environmental economy by bringing together local companies, educational and research institutions, and public bodies to promote the Ruhr’s innovative potential in the field of environmental economics.

The Greentech.Ruhr team spoke about the positive public attention generated by their participation in EEPA. “We received many congratulations from our community. As a network for the environmental economy, it is very important for us to be known. Not only in our region but also all over the world. The EEPA will help us to enlarge our European network significantly. By winning the EEPA, we have provided further proof that the idea of a greentech network is worth sustaining and this will help us to acquire financial support later on.

The team highly recommends taking part in the competition to other potential participants: “Taking part in the competition and writing the application helps you to reflect on your project and your work. So, even if you don’t win, the time invested is not wasted. The positive effect when winning the award may differ from project to project, but it certainly brings a lot of attention and contacts. We definitely recommend taking part in EEPA.”

In 2019, the Category 5 winner was Tilos from Greece, which created an integrated energy solution with innovative features to help island regions transition to new models of production and management of electricity energy. The solution uses clean, renewable energy sources and the application of modern energy storage technologies to reduce dependency on cost-intensive and polluting oil.

SME Assembly 2019 Helsinki/ Kanizaj

Participation in the competition had a major positive impact on the initiative. “Winning this award served as motivation for the local municipality, employees and the broader Tilos community to continue their hard work and remain dedicated to the vision of energy autonomy for the island of Tilos. The EEPA 2019 award will contribute to our efforts to communicate the success stories of our island to a wider audience, making Tilos an attractive destination for all Europeans,” the team said.

The team has words of encouragement for any initiative that may be thinking about participating in EEPA. “The EEPA contest provides a unique platform for the promotion of entrepreneurship and especially SMEs. It is also an excellent opportunity to showcase the results of your work and agenda at the highest level, while getting to know the work of others in the field. Networking with policy makers, entrepreneurs, and experts from across the EU is a great way to accelerate the progress of your work, maximise your impact and start work towards replicating your results in other European markets of interest.”

Are you ready to join the European Enterprise Promotion Awards family? Since 2006, the EEPA has been recognising projects that promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level. This year it could be you! If you are interested in participating, check out your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here.

In our next blog, we will look at previous winners in the final EEPA Category 6 – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship, don’t miss it!

For more information, visit the the European Commission website and get the latest updates on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

EEPA 2022: When is my national deadline?

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The 2022 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) have been launched across the participating countries. However, different countries have different national deadlines for participation – do you know when your national deadline is? Read on to find out!

The EEPA national competitions are underway and are currently looking for the best projects to compete at national level. The participating countries are inviting projects or initiatives to apply for the national competitions in six categories.

The six categories in this year’s competition are:

1. Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
2. Investing in skills
3. Improving the business environment and supporting the digital transition
4. Supporting the internationalisation of business
5. Supporting the sustainable transition
6. Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

If you would like to participate, you can find your national EEPA factsheet with all the information you need here. See the table below for your national deadline. If your national deadline is not included, make sure to come back as this this page will be updated regularly as new information becomes available. For any further questions, be sure to contact your National Coordinator or the EEPA Secretariat.

More about EEPA

EEPA participating countries invite projects and initiatives to apply for the 2022 national competitions where two national winners per category are be selected to compete at the European level. The prestigious EEPA 2022 jury will then carefully review these national winners and, from them, select the European shortlists.

All shortlisted nominees from both the national and European competition levels will receive invitations to the Awards Ceremony at the annual SME Assembly in November, this year co-hosted by the Czech Presidency of the Council and the European Commission. At the SME Assembly, the jury will also announce the winner of the Jury’s Grand Prize. The winner can be from any category and the prize goes to the entry considered to be the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

For more information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website, and for the latest updates, make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portal and to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For more information about the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the European Commission website and for the latest updates make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise News Portalto follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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