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EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme – ‘Supporting the internationalisation of business’ Winner 2018

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2019, are looking for the next winners that will demonstrate the diversity of European projects working to promote enterprise, support entrepreneurs and contribute to the European ecosystem. Here on Promoting Enterprise we have been contacting past winners to share their experiences, winning projects and advice for future applicants.

Today is the turn of Kasvu Open from Finland, the winners of Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business, in the EEPA 2018 cycle. 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.

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

We were already familiar with EEPA seeing as our parent company, the Central Finland Chamber of Commerce, won an EEPA prize back in 2006. We decided to enter because people within our network encouraged us to try and promote our work on a European stage.

How did you prepare your application?

The Kasvu Open method has been in use since 2011 and annual number of companies applying the coaching programme has grown from 35 to 800 during these years. Kasvu Open has sparked the flame of growth in more than 3500 companies, 1652 of which have received free sparring from experts. Based on this we already knew our project results; Kasvu Open is efficient, valuable and successful. For the application it was just a question of clearly writing down the work that we have done, documenting our activities over the years, and presenting the numbers, which speak for themselves.

What was it like to win the award?

Winning the award was a great honour on behalf of the whole growth company ecosystem in Finland. The award is dedicated to all growth companies, experts (“growth millers”), partners and everyone who has been a part of the Kasvu Open journey during the years.

Being recognised with an EEPA award confirmed that we are on the right path towards becoming the best growth company nation in the world.

How did winning the award impact your work?

This win has motivated us to keep working even harder! Now we can say that we have been recognised in Europe, meaning that our next target must be higher. It has also made us humble. We can celebrate our win, but we need to keep developing our processes to maintain our status as a frontrunner in our field.

Why should others enter EEPA 2019? What advice would you give them?

It is definitely worth trying. Submit your project and see what happens! In terms of advice, be yourself, present your project proudly, and you will be noticed. This is the approach we took.

When you are shortlisted for an EEPA prize you get to attend the SME Assembly, which is an opportunity to meet other nominees and hear their stories. This is really valuable because you can get new ideas from hearing these stories. EEPA is a great competition which allows nominees to present their work and build upon what they are doing on a European scale. The event itself is a very well organised and good place for networking, so it is a great experience for everybody.

What are your plans for the future?

We are continuing to develop Kasvu Open by exploring the possibilities of technology and Artificial Intelligence. One of our main focuses is on adapting the digital platform and marketing automation solutions for Kasvu Open processes.

Watch Kasvu Open’s winning moment below and stay tuned for their future updates! Have a look here for more information on EEPA 2019 and get applying!

 

SME Week Newsletter 2019: Issue #2

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EEPA 2019 – 13 years of European excellence

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are now in their 13th cycle and looking for the next winning projects to take their place in the EEPA hall of fame. The awards launched at the end of January 2019 and all of the National Coordinators are working hard to find worthy projects to compete for the national EEPA titles.

In this edition you can find more information on EEPA 2019 as well as all the latest Portal articles answering your EEPA FAQs and providing inspiration for EEPA 2019 candidates.

Let us know what you would like to see in upcoming newsletters and on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal and don’t forget to follow us across social media for all the latest updates.

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European Enterprise Promotion Awards – 2019 edition launch

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are back again for another cycle to identify and reward the best projects from across Europe. Get ready to see the most innovative and inspiring projects from across Europe compete against each other to win a coveted EEPA 2019 prize.

On Tuesday 29 January, EEPA 2019 and the project nominations, which will be happening on a national level, were officially opened. National deadlines are individual to each participating country and will be communicated by the National Coordinators. Once the national competitions have taken place, European level submissions will be accepted until the deadline on 03 July. Once the European nominations have been received, the EEPA 2019 Jury meeting will take place in mid-September which will be followed by the announcement of the shortlist on by the end of September. The final step will be the prestigious awards ceremony, which will take place in Helsinki, Finland on Tuesday 26 November as part of the annual SME Assembly.

Public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States, will be competing for the coveted awards, which go to the most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). All the information about the awards and application process can be found on the DG Growth website, and is available in all EU languages.

The 2019 EEPA categories are as follows:

  • Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit
  • Investing in entrepreneurial skills
  • Improving the business environment
  • Supporting the internationalisation of business
  • Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency
  • Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

EEPA is a great opportunity to be recognised on a European level and to meet like-minded Europeans and international actors working to promote and advocate for SMEs. If you are interested in applying, make sure to have a look at the application information page and speak to your national coordinator. There are also past EEPA winner testimonials available to inspire your entry and to learn more about the competition. For more information about EEPA 2018 watch the 2018 winners’ videos on our YouTube channel!

The secretariat team look forward to supporting you through the 2019 EEPA campaign. For support with social media, blogs and promoting EEPA in your country please contact Megan Gardner megan.gardner@gopacom.eu for all other technical questions, please contact Ann Garrot, Secretariat Manager ann.garrot@LOWeurope.eu.

Stay updated with all EEPA news by following us on Twitter (@EEPA_EU and #EEPA2019) and Facebook (@PromotingEnterprise).

European Enterprise Promotion Awards – ‘Class of 2018’

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The 12th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) is now over, and after months of waiting we now know which projects were crowned best in Europe. Congratulations to all of the winners in the EEPA ‘Class of 2018’, your hard work has paid off! Have a look below to find out more about this year’s winners, and click on each project to see their video presentation from the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria. 

Grand Jury Prize: Lean Landing, Denmark

Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit: Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship, Greece 

Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills: i2c STARTacademy, Austria

Improving the Business Environment: Open Innovation 4.0., Spain

Supporting the Internationalisation of Business: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme, Finland

Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency: Matosinhos Carbon-zero Living Lab enhanced by local carbon market, Portugal

Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship: ProjectTogether, Germany

Stay tuned for the publication of the 2018 Compendium of winners brochure (in English) to find out more about this year’s winning projects, and don’t forget to have a look at the EEPA 2018 ceremony photos here.

Keep following right here on the Portal and across social media (Twitter and Facebook) for winner interviews and updates.

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.

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 – Improving the Business Environment

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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 next EEPA category is “Improving the Business Environment” which recognises initiatives that support enterprise start-up and growth, and simplify both legislative and administrative procedures for businesses. Have a look through the national winners in this category below and stay tuned until the end of September to see which of these makes it onto the European shortlist!

Austria: Industry-Startup.Net

Finland: Kakola – from a Prison to an Etrepreneurial Base

Iceland: Electronic Company Register

Italy: PLL – Piani Locali per il Lavoro

MaltaSetting of a one-stop-shop customer care service to facilitate simplification for SMEs

Poland: Entrepreneur Package

Romania: Start up Nation Romania

Slovakia: Better Regulation Center

Spain: Open Innovation 4.0.

United Kingdom: Anchoring economic growth in the Tees Valley

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to find out about the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, Investing in entrepreneurial skillsSupporting the internationalisation of businessSupporting 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 2016 and beyond – The Rotterdam Business Case

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), provide a chance for many projects to gain recognition on a European stage across a variety of categories. During the selection process and the awards themselves, we get to meet all of these interesting projects and witness their winning moments, but what happens after the awards ceremony? What comes next for EEPA winners? Today on Promoting Enterprise we bring you the story of EEPA 2016 winner ‘The Rotterdam Business Case’, winner of theResponsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurshipcategory. Two years on and the Rotterdam Business Case is scaling up and looking to become a European Business Case, but how have they been working to scale up a successful project to support struggling entrepreneurs? Read on to find out…

Every country needs entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are ambitious, they take risks a  nd create most of the wealth, jobs, and prosperity in a nation. Who helps them however, when they are in difficulty? Who gives them a second chance or the advice they need to be successful? Who makes sure they have options like the customers they serve?

Economic Sustainability

The Rotterdam Business Case, founded in The Netherlands, provides help to struggling entrepreneurs. The project began with the initiation of a pilot in Rotterdam in 2012 to support entrepreneurs operating below the poverty line. The goal was simple; help entrepreneurs to help the economy! Or, in other words: “To increase income and economic sustainability by improving entrepreneurial skills and vision.” The pilot soon became a project – The Rotterdam Business Case – which since then has supported more than 800 entrepreneurs in the Rotterdam region  to get their enterprises back on track. In November 2016 The Rotterdam Business Case was awarded a European Enterprise Promotion Award in the category ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’. Since being awarded the project has been scaling up, in both the Netherlands and in Finland, where pilots are starting.

‘Young and Old is Gold’

The concept is based on a tripartite cooperation between the University of Applied Sciences, the City of Rotterdam and a foundation made up of successful retired entrepreneurs (OKB). The retired entrepreneurs act as senior coaches for the struggling entrepreneurs by providing  advice and mentoring to overcome obstacles and challenges. Their role is to encourage the struggling entrepreneur to regain control, (re-)captain their entrepreneurial ship and help draw up a re-start plan. The students from the University of Applied Sciences act as junior coaches, and provide practical assistance for the re-start (streamlining/sorting out the administration, drawing up a cost-calculation), drafting of reports to plan out the various aspects of the re-start (business plan or acquisition plan). This successful cooperative approach is described with the slogan ‘Young and Old is Gold’.

Triple Helix for win-win-win

The triple helix cooperation with education, entrepreneurship and government results in a win-win-win-situation on all sides. The university offers internships to students who can practically apply their theoretical knowledge (Win 1), the city/region support entrepreneurs to strengthen the regional/city economy (Win 2) and finally former entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to use and re-use their knowledge and experience to help entrepreneurs in need (Win 3). But the biggest Win of all is of course for the struggling entrepreneur who gets a fair chance to overcome problems and become successful again.

Scaling up in the Netherlands & beyond

Due to the project attracting interest of other cities and regions the founders of The Rotterdam Business Case decided to set up a new foundation: The Dutch Business Case for Entrepreneurs, with funding from a Dutch National Foundation (GAK). The newly formed foundation works with a ‘reversed franchise concept’. New Business Cases in other cities/regions receive methods, systems, support and a 25% subsidy on the condition that they work within the concept of The Rotterdam Business Case. So far six new projects and pilots have started in the cities of Nijmegen, Amsterdam and Eindhoven and the provinces of Friesland, Friesland and Drenthe, with discussions underway for additional cities and regions to start in 2018.

 

First European Step

In 2016 the concept received the EEPA prize, which provided a European ‘stamp of approval’ for the foundation. Since receiving the award, professionals, decision makers and politicians who are enthusiastic about the concept make reference to the EEPA recognition of the Rotterdam Case. This has also helped other cities and regions come forward with their own proposals for applying the concept in their individual contexts.

One of the first results from scaling up is the start of a Finnish project in the City of Tampere. The City, the University of Applied Sciences and a Foundation of Former Entrepreneurs started a partnership to assist first time entrepreneurs using the Rotterdam Concept. The experiences of tweaking a successful Dutch project into a successful Finnish project will be shared later this year so that other cities and regions in other countries can also profit from the concept of ‘Young and Old is Gold’.

For more information on the Rotterdam Business Case and project scale up activities, please contact r.gringhuis@rotterdam.nl

Ideas from Europe 2017 – Finalists

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Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden are going to the finals of Ideas from Europe on April 24, 2018 in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, the Netherlands. The jury found these ideas the most innovative and believe these will have the most impact on our society.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The winners

This is what the jury, Kaupo Reede, Kristin Schreiber, Ulrike Rabmer Kollen and Cees Vermaas had to say about the ideas:

  1. Julien Penders of Bloomlife (Belgium): “If you are a mother the solution of Bloomlife will give you peace of mind.”
  2. Klaus B. Pederson of Too Good to Go (Denmark): “A practical solution to the second hand market of food.”
  3. Steffen Preuss of Ichò (Germany): “This solution is acknowledging the tremendous problem of dementia and provides a practical device that brings relief.”
  4. Fiona Edwards Murphy of ApisProtect (Ireland): “We need bees to make sure our food supply will last. This solution will help the bee population.”
  5. Aida Nazarikhorram of LuxAI (Luxembourg): “There is a big potential in technology that lets children interact more easily with robots.”
  6. Mark Offerhaus of Micreos (The Netherlands): “This solution is potentially a ground breaking alternative for antibiotics.”
  7. Artur Racicki of SEEDia (Poland): “The combination of something practical and modern that will help both us and the environment.”
  8. Francisco Duarte of PavNext (Portugal): “The combination of safety and energy has great potential.”
  9. Mervi Pänkäläinen of Mightifier (Finland): “This will really stimulate behaviour change and help children fight bullying.”

(Click on the links above to see the individual pitches)

The Jury have decided that due to them sharing a common objective and similar goals, but with slightly different target audiences, that the Speak Up solution from Sweden will share the stage with Mightifier from Finland at the finals in The Hague.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The Jury also wanted to highlight another project and give it a special mention. Stefan Steinberger the semi-finalist presenting Refugee{code}, will also be joining the finalists at the Hague due to his solution being so relevant to the current refugee crisis.

Wildcard

From November 23 onwards, the wildcard vote for the last finalist will be open to the public. They will be able to vote online via http://ideasfrom.eu/vote for one of the other nineteen solutions that were not chosen by the jury.

The innovator with the most votes will then go on to join the other finalists in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, The Netherlands on April 24, 2018.

To see photos from the Ideas from Europe semi-finale, please visit our Flickr. To see the whole competition, you can watch the video.

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