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‘Winning has given us room to manoeuvre’ – EEPA2016 increases project credibility

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daniela_olmunger_photo_by_anders_feldtThe European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016 category winner interviews are here! Find out about the story behind these successful projects, and even pick up some of their useful tips and tricks for future applicants. Today is the turn of the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’. The winning project for 2016 was Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden, originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship and represented by Daniela Ölmunger in this interview, supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It covers three projects: Entrepreneurship in education, Start your business, and Develop your business, which provide different styles of support to various groups ranging from schoolchildren, all the way to seasoned business people.

Today’s interview gives insight into how this project became an EEPA 2016 winner, what happened next and where we can expect to see them in the future. This is just the first of several interviews so stick around to find out more about the EEPA 2016 winners in the coming weeks!

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We first heard about the national competition from the Swedish Agency for Economical and Regional Growth, Tillväxtverket. They called us and advised us to compete seeing as we were already competing for the ‘regional stars’, due to the results and lessons in the project Entrepreneurial West Hisingen.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

First of all I love to compete and write, I am also a project developer so I am used to working with deadlines and conducting analyses and I thought why not. It was also an honour to be asked to compete at European level, where you don’t always know what other people are doing, only that they are great projects.

How did you go about preparing your application?

Well we didn’t actually know that we were nominated until quite late, but once we did we conducted a workshop to discuss the application questions, look at different aspects of the project and consult our stakeholders to gather their opinions. Competing also gives you a chance to reflect, and we knew we had really good results but this reflective period was still very useful.

one_stop_future_shop_ali_tabrizi_jasmine_soufi_photo_by_anders_feldtstart-up-fasttrack-1-photo-by-jennie-olsson

What was it like to win the award?

It was so crazy! We actually thought that we had been forgotten at first because our movie was not presented when our category was announced and then we thought that perhaps there had been an administrative mistake and that we were not actually national winners. When the Grand Jury Prize was announced I had not even thought about that category as we had all been so focused on the original category we entered, as our achievements were being read out we started to think that someone might have stolen our ideas! Once we were announced as the winners everything was a bit chaotic, I had nothing prepared for when we went up on stage, but overall it was very surprising and exciting to win.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

The main difference we saw was definitely in terms of political impact. Upon our return, we began receiving several visits from different parties and politicians, including the minister of finance and her team, who came for some insight and points from our project after we were first nominated. This increased political interest has led to us being more respected, and being invited to various city council groups which in turn has increased our local impact and overall our role in national political development.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

Winning this prize has helped us build our credibility and earned the respect of those around us in various circles. We are slightly unconventional in Swedish terms, but people now take notice of us and trust our opinions and views. Being winners has given us room to manoeuvre and the lasting impact will be that we can now stand up for and defend that room. This is important as we already have launched a new entrepreneurial project in Gothenburg – the EU-project One Stop Future Shop.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

I think that entering EEPA gives you a chance to reflect on what you have done with your project, which is work worth doing and not something we get much of an opportunity to do. You can’t always focus on what you did well yesterday, but the analysis is important and it gives you a chance to make your learning journey visible so that others can learn from it. You should not be scared to point out things that you learnt from and definitely take help from others, don’t do it all on your own. In our case we asked for the opinions of our stakeholders and learnt a lot from them during this fun and honouring process.

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What are your plans for the future?

Currently we are working on One Stop Future Shop, which is based on the learnings and results from Entrepreneurial West Hisingen. In this project we are already seeing substantial results. This has a lot to do with the experiences from the previous project where we have been able to sort out what the needs are and how to contribute to making a more entrepreneurial region. In the future we hope to contribute to local growth and the creation of local companies, as well as motivate people to see that they can do anything they want to in life. Future plans depend on a lot of things, I have a lot of ideas, but maybe some of them are too innovative!

Watch the EEPA 2016 Grand Jury Prize Winner video here.

EEPA – The winners of the 2016 edition

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The SME Assembly 2016 may be over, but the conversation continues! Today is an opportunity for us to present to you the European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners from the 2016 edition. You met them here on the blog when they were shortlisted, but here is an overview of the projects that came out on top…


The
Category 1- Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, the winner was Lyon Ville de l’Entrepreneuriat (Lyon City of Entrepreneurship) from France. This initiative 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.

In Category 2 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, the prize went to Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom. This project has created the world’s first internal, accredited, enterprise educator training programme. The training and support of over 600 staff of all disciplines to embed enterprise skills across the university curriculum has been at the heart of the programme. In the first two years alone 21 000 students were reached and over 2 000 freelance businesses created. Business and public sector projects projects benefited from student support resulting in an economic impact valued at over EUR 4.4 million (GBP £4 million).

In Category 3 – Improving the Business Environment, the category winner was Portuguese project Leader SME programme. This entry annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015!


In
Category 4 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business, it was Human Security Finland that came away the winner. This entry is a national international development and crisis management business network. It assists with the building of partnerships between Finnish companies and experts aimed at assisting developing countries and crisis-hit regions with solutions to support sustainable development. The network combines business, education and research for human security. 100 organisations are now involved in the concept known as ‘crisis business’, which is based on commercialising human security expertise.


In
Category 5 – Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency, the Lime Trees & Honey Bees for Sustainable Development of the Danube Microregion project from Serbia took the category prize. It strengthens the competitiveness of beekeeping in the Fruška Gora region and motivates young people to start beekeeping businesses. The project aims to increase the market share of Fruška Gora lime honey by investing in human resources and skills development, improved knowledge through scientific research, education and the introduction of new technologies. In addition, it ran a high-profile promotional campaign to raise public interest and created a marketing plan that changed the ad hoc approach of 8 beekeeper associations to a value-added, branded product, with export potential.  


In
Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Dutch project The Rotterdam Business Case (De Rotterdamse Zaak), a work training company where students in higher vocational education and experienced business coaches help support entrepreneurs to improve their business practices and entrepreneurial skills, was the Jury’s winning choice. The project focuses on entrepreneurs who operate below the poverty line and are not financially able to find a solution to their problems. More than 600 entrepreneurs have already been helped through the combined efforts of experienced senior coaches, who act as a sounding board for entrepreneurs, and junior coaches who offer more practical support.


Finally, the Grand Jury Prize, which commends the entry that the Jury considers to be ‘the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe’, was awarded to Entrepreneurial West Hisingen from Sweden! Originally a competitor in Category 6 – Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship, this project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It covers three projects: Entrepreneurship in education, Start your business, and Develop your business, which provide different styles of support to various groups ranging from schoolchildren, all the way to seasoned business people. 

Where are they now? Catching up with past EEPA winners

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2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). In this new feature, we catch up with former EEPA honourees who’ve gone on to do great things since winning the award.

This week, Agnes Vida from the award-winning Gazdagmami Kft in Hungary reflects on the impact of winning the Grand Jury Prize two years on…

Agnes Vida, Gazdagmami Kft

Name Agnes Vida
Organisation Gazdagmami Kft
Country Hungary
Website www.gazdagmami.hu
Award won Grand Jury Prize
Year 2014

agnes VidaWhat was it like to win the award?

It was a fantastic feeling. When I started this project, not many people believed that a one-person small business in Hungary could achieve the kind of change that my company has achieved.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work?

We received a lots of press coverage in Hungary and in other European countries. The major Hungarian magazines and television shows started to cover our activities, so more and more people are looking to us.

What response did you receive from your colleagues and peers?

We’ve had many congratulations and acknowledgments. But what I’m most proud of is that a lot of our old customers who have started their own businesses with our help also thanked us.

What has been the long-term impact?

The number of participants in our free monthly presentations has doubled and all of our courses are running to full houses. Previously, people were sceptical about starting their own business, but now they’re more open to the topic, and trust us more. We have more connections in Hungary and throughout Europe, and are working on more new projects with other organisations.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

I wanted to showcase our project and results at a national level.

How did you go about preparing your application and making it award winning?

I collated all our activities and achievements from the past few years.

What advice would you give to others thinking of entering?

It’s a great experience to participate in such a contest that is measured at both the national and European level. I loved the atmosphere of the event in Naples and the presentations were very helpful. But I also wish to point out that another great aspect of the competition is that the ideas of all entrants are shared in a common database, where they can help the work of organisations in other countries through the sharing of good practice. If you complete the application form and share your ideas and the results of work, you help others to promote enterprise.

To find out more about Gazdagmami, visit the website or see the video.

Where are they now?

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The winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are shining examples of the promotion of entrepreneurship.

Brandiko

This month, we spoke to the 2014 winner in the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills winner, Ivaylo Grancharov, from Brandiko – Training in Building a Brand and Protecting it with a Community Trade Mark, which educates students on how to build a brand and register the brand as a Community Trade Mark.

Students establish training companies and are mentored on how to build and manage their own brand, market the brand and use it to increase sales. Pupils also learn about the importance of intellectual property protection. More than 1,700 students have completed the Brandiko programme.

1. What did you learn from your experience with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards?

First of all, EEPA is a great initiative and I hope it will continue to grow. The European Commission deserves to receive our gratitude for standing behind it and maintaining it. I would like to also thank everyone who is involved in making the Awards happen. It was a fantastic night!

The EEPA ceremony is a culmination of many months of preparation and anticipation. But it’s also the climax of many years of work. I call think of the EEPAs as the Oscars for SME policy in Europe. It is the most prestigious recognition a policy maker, or another public organisation can get in the EU. It’s amazing!

In my opinion, our advantage was that we connected Brandiko with the Community Trade Mark – a very important element in doing business in the Single Market that not many people take advantage of.

Overall, the lessons we learned included finding a universal problem to solve, finding a solution to it, working on it effectively and presenting it in a way that is easy to understand.

2. What did winning a European Enterprise Promotion Award at the 2014 SME Assembly in Naples mean to you?

After facing some challenges in 2013 and 2014, we decided to apply for the EEPAs. We were very excited to find out that Brandiko got a nomination and then when we received the category award for Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, we were suddenly media stars.

Euronews’ Business Planet also did a fantastic piece on Brandiko and we are very grateful for the support of the presenter, Serge Rombi. After all of this hard work, we saw the pay off in the form of great media coverage.

We now feel an even bigger responsibility to make Brandiko a continued success. Now, we have to deliver even more and should be followed by many other successful projects.

Accepting the award was a moment of a lifetime. And as I said at the ceremony – “Napoli, sempre nei nostri cuori!”

3. How has your organisation grown since winning the Grand Jury Prize?

Brandiko is now working with a new partner who are helping us reach a new system of entrepreneurial education at schools in Bulgaria.

We are now in our fifth season of Brandiko and this year we expect to see more than 60 training companies join Brandiko – a new record for us.

4. What advice can you give to other organisations wanting to take part in the Awards?

I would recommend that applicants remember that you can be successful with the EEPAs. Do not let challenges get in the way! It is also important to be creative and never set a limit on success. It is also important to be clear in your application and demonstrate the value of the project through statistics.

Where are they now?

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The winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are shining examples of the promotion of entrepreneurship. We recently spoke to last year’s Grand Jury Prize winner Agnes Vida, from Encouraging Business Start-ups by Mothers with Young Children. Her project helps mothers to acquire the entrepreneurial skills and mindset to start a business and make it profitable.  The project delivers online resources including a blog, Facebook page, e-learning training programmes and a weekly newsletter, as well as the Entrepreneurial Women’s Roundtable meeting to help mothers navigate the world of business and network with each other.  The project also hosts the annual Mother Company of the Year competition and the Business Mums’ Conference.

Agnes Hungary

What did you learn from your experience with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards?

When you work at home, it never occurs to you how much impact you might be having on other people’s lives. When we wrote the application for the awards, it helped us to collect all of our results and reflect on how many mothers have we helped over the years. Applying for the awards also helped us to think about and measure the impact of our work. That alone was a very valuable experience.

And of course it was a great experience and a big surprise for me to win the Grand Jury Prize!

What did winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 SME Assembly in Naples mean to you?

When you work for others, the best feedback is when your clients are happy. But external feedback – when your work is recognised and rewarded on national and international level is a great pleasure and honour.

How has your business developed since winning the Grand Jury Prize? 

We received a lot of press coverage in Hungary and other European countries as a result of winning the award. The major Hungarian magazines and television shows started to talk about our activities, which meant that more people were paying attention to our project. The attendance at our monthly free presentations doubled and our courses run at full capacity.  People had previously expressed their frustrations about starting their own businesses, but they are now more open to the topic and trust us more.

What advice can you give to other organisations wanting to take part in the Awards?

It’s a great experience to participate in such a contest and have your work assessed on national and European level. I loved the atmosphere of the event in Naples and the presentations were very helpful.

I would also like to point that the other participants’ ideas are all available in the public domain, where they can be accessed to assist the work of organisations of other countries. If you fill in the application form and share your ideas and the results of your work, you are helping others to promote enterprises.

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