As promised in our last EEPA update, over the next few weeks we will present the EEPA projects shortlisted in all six project categories. The winners in Category 1 – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit – come from different ends of Europe, with one project from Estonia, one from France and one from Serbia. One of the projects has a focus on women entrepreneurs, another aims to engage young people in business, and the third has a focus that straddles both these objectives.
The Estonian project, Garage48 Motivating Women to Start-up Community, aims to transform the male-dominated tech sector into a more female-friendly industry. Since its formation in 2010, the project has increased female participation in its development weekends from 20% to 47%. The main goal of these events is to give participants a chance to complete the process of creating a start-up during one weekend and to match aspiring entrepreneurs with various skillsets. Several successful and well-functioning start-ups have been created as a result. Watch their video.
Also with a focus on women, in addition to students and start-ups, the second Category 1 shortlisted project – Lyon City of Entrepreneurship (Lyon Ville d’Entrepreneuriat) – is a network of 46 organisations and 200 experts from across the region, working to promote the entrepreneurial spirit more widely, increase the number of businesses created and improve the robustness of new businesses. Each year, the network provides support to between 10,000 and 12,000 businesses and entrepreneurs, with 17 “access points” providing assistance, information and guidance. Experts provide support on the creation, takeover and handover of businesses and on aspects including how to grow or fund a business, start up and training. Watch their video.
The third and final Category 1 winner, “We know we can”, is a national motivational movement in Serbia that aims to inspire young people to become entrepreneurs and proactively build their careers with the right tools and knowledge. It started with a campaign that showcased more than 200 local entrepreneurs who are globally successful, which reached over 20% of the Serbian population. Following this, a crowdfunding campaign raised US$ 108,000, making it the biggest non-profit campaign in the region. This has enabled the creation of tech and entrepreneurship community centres in five Serbian cities for exchanging knowledge, networking and motivation. Watch their video.
All three of these projects are making a significant contribution to the promotion of entrepreneurship among their target audiences in their respective regions and any one of the three would be a worthy winner in this category, so the EEPA Jury is faced with a difficult task. The winner in each category will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced.
Garage48, a tech hub and coworking space, and innovation centre, Innokas are the winners of this year’s Estonian national EEPA competition, beating seven other projects that were in the running for this year’s contest.
After winning the competition, Head of Innokas, Angela Leppik said, “This kind of competition is necessary as it helps entrants to see their organisation’s performance through the eyes of an outsider. It allows you to see more clearly what your business needs are so that you can focus on those activities in the future. It also helps you to understand even more how important it is to work at the county level, nationally, and to find partners outside Estonia.” Leppik also acknowledged the need to involve county development centres in the competition process since they are familiar with various activities at the local level.
Garage48 board member, Maarika Susi said that she was pleased that the national EEPA process recognised entrepreneurial thinking and good ideas. “We are happy to win this competition, and for the acknowledgment. Our organisation supports entrepreneurship promotion and this recognition motivates us even more to contribute to the development of the start-up community and entrepreneurial awareness. We’re also happy to see that both female entrepreneurship and increasing opportunities in the IT sector were important to the jury, who supported our efforts and urged us to continue our activities,” said Susi.
The jury had a difficult decision to make from a strong field, according to Deputy Secretary General of Economic Development, Viljar Lubi, who acted as Chair. “It was a pleasure to have so many strong candidates from organisations dealing with business promotion activities on different levels and in different areas. In the end, the jury decided to select an organisation with a strong international dimension and the originality of the Garage48 idea that expedites the move from idea to first prototype stood out. Innokas has achieved a remarkable qualitative leap at the local level, and their close cooperation with other private enterprise networks is exemplary.”