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EEPA 2018 Testimonial: i²c STARTacademy – “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills” Winner 2018

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Today on Promoting Enterprise it is time to reveal the story of another European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) 2018 winner. TU Wien i²c STARTacademy from Austria won the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category with their innovative research commercialisation format for TUW scientists who want to transfer their technology and research results into successful products or services.

Read through their testimonial to find out what it is like to win an EEPA, along with their advice for 2019 applicants and what went into their winning entry.

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

We first heard about the competition from the local newspaper where an article about last year’s national winner was published. We decided to enter as we wanted to emphasise the multiple activities underway at TU Wien aiming to complement our students and scientists’ technical knowledge with an entrepreneurial skill set. Since we had to select a specific programme out of our portfolio for this application, we decided to enter the competition with our i²c STARTacademy, a tailor made programme to help transfer research results into potential successful business models.

How did you prepare your application?

Preparing the application meant we had to conduct a thorough study on the effect our programme had on the teams which went through the i²c STARTacademy. In addition to the normal feedback we collect to improve our programmes, we reached out to each team individually and collected updated KPIs on their status. This enabled us to provide exact statistics on their successes and failures. Their feedback, experiences from the camp, and the mentor’s statements on the role the i²c STARTacademy plays in the ecosystem, laid the foundations for the film we submitted together with our application.

What was it like to win the award?

Receiving the distinction was an honour and an acknowledgment of our hard work to instil an entrepreneurial culture at TU Wien.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award generated a lot of positive attention both in the university and at ecosystem level. It helped us raise awareness about the entrepreneurial offers available to TU Wien scientists. This recognition brought additional visibility and helped to present TU Wien as an Entrepreneurial University. Since then, different European delegations have approached us to make presentations based on our work and experience.

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

Entering the competition is a great chance to promote your endeavours and strengthen your position as a role model in your local ecosystem at European level. Considering the ‘jungle’ of programmes out there, we highly recommend including what makes your programme special and unique in your application.

What are your plans for the future?

Our future plan includes refining existing programmes and developing new ones in order to reach the goal of establishing an entrepreneurial ecosystem within TU Wien that is aligned with the offers of the local, national, and international ecosystems.

Read about this wining project in the EEPA 2018 compendium and keep coming back to the News Portal for more EEPA news.

EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Matosinhos Carbon-zero Living Lab – ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ Winner 2018

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It is time to discover another story and the secrets behind a prizewinning project from the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2018. The EEPA aim to find, promote and boost projects from across Europe that are working to strengthen and improve the European enterprise ecosystem across a number of categories. Today we travel to Portugal to meet the 2018 winner of theSupporting the development of green markets and resource efficiencycategory. The “Carbon-zero Living Lab Matosinhos” project was the first to win in this category after it was temporarily suspended in 2017.

The “Carbon-zero Living Lab Matosinhos” tests sustainable and innovative solutions, products and services to foster a local carbon market in an industrial coastal municipality. Local residents and businesses are encouraged to develop and propose projects, which are then implemented and made available for municipal use. The local carbon market uses CO2 emissions credits gained through the adoption of sustainable solutions such as bike sharing, sustainable lighting or artificial intelligence applied to building management. The credits can be exchanged for goods and green services and are an incentive for sustainability in the municipality, which previously had a high carbon footprint.

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

The Municipality of Matosinhos was contacted by CEiiA – Centre for Engineering and Product Development, and jointly we decided to apply to the EEPA 2018 with the project “Carbon-zero Living Lab Matosinhos” due to the creative and innovative characteristics of the initiative. The information about the national competition was provided by IAPMEI by e-mail and through their website and social networks.

How did you prepare your application?

The application was prepared in collaboration between the Municipality of Matosinhos and CEiiA, with contributions from other project partners. IAPMEI gave us a lot of strong support throughout the process.

What was it like to win the award?

It was a great honour to win this award. It is perfectly aligned with our strategy to transform Matosinhos into an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive city. Winning is also a recognition of the work the Municipality of Matosinhos is doing to benefit its companies, organisations and citizens.

How did winning the award impact your work?

The European award was very important for both national and international visibility to the project. This recognition is a relevant tool to promote the attractiveness of the city of Matosinhos for talents, tourists and investments. Moreover, the “Carbon-zero Living Lab Matosinhos” focused on the development and testing of low-carbon solutions in a specific area of the city, with the final objective being the replication of these solutions in other parts of the territory, and even exporting them to other cities and regions in Portugal and abroad. The award represents an opportunity to disseminate the project and increase this replication potential.

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

Participation in EEPA is a good opportunity to share experience and good practices with other European organisations, and to become aware of innovative and creative initiatives that are being implemented in Europe.

What are your plans for the future?

The “Carbon-zero Living Lab Matosinhos” is part of an integrated strategy to promote the decarbonisation of the municipality. We will continue the development of this project, enlarging its scope in terms of partners, solutions to be tested and users.

Read about Matosinhos in the EEPA 2018 compendium and keep coming back to the News Portal for further EEPA updates!

EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Lean Landing – ‘Grand Jury Prize’ Winner 2018

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Ready for our next EEPA winner interview? Today we are proud to welcome our 2018 Grand Jury Prize Winner, Lean Landing from Denmark!

The Lean Landing network consists of a total of 19 partners, accelerators and incubators. The network has members from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom. Members of the Lean Landing network open up their facilities to the 190 participating SMEs, giving them bases in their target countries, as well as a local business support system. These local bases allow SMEs to gather first impressions of the foreign market, establish contacts, and learn important local business etiquette and practices. So far, of the 190 SMEs involved, 80 have successfully been abroad with the Lean Landing project.

The project is run by Væksthus Sjælland, a non-profit organisation established in 2007 that provides services for entrepreneurs and micro SMEs with scalability and growth potential. The organisation is also responsible for providing business support to the Zealand Region of Denmark and is one of five national units.

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

Our organisation has known about the national EEPA competition for a few years, and in the past been national winners three times as well as receiving a ‘special mention’ award. We decided to enter again because EEPA is THE place and event to be at, if you are running EU projects, and winning the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ this year is the biggest prize any EU project can receive.

How did you prepare your application?

We didn’t really prepare, but we spent quite some time on the application to make sure that we got all the right and important information filled in.

What was it like to win the award?

We were honestly just very overwhelmed and very surprised. We had hoped to win in our category ‘Supporting internationalisation for business’ but we did not expect to win the ‘Grand Jury Prize’. It has probably been the biggest recognition our organisation has ever received for any EU project.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award hasn’t really had that much of an impact on my daily work, but there has been a lot of positive attention from many people from other organisations both nationally and internationally. Furthermore our 19 partners in the project have also been very happy about the result and it has sparked a new sort of energy internally, that we have actually done something really special with our project.

The exposure from EEPA and Euronews, who worked with the EU commission since we won, has also been great. The video from when we received the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ was available the day after and the film that was shot by Euronews for ‘Euronews Business Planet’ is going to be part of our ongoing marketing material for the project.

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

Other organisations and projects should enter EEPA because it is a great way to get recognised for the work that each of us put in daily and it is truly a great experience to participate in the ceremony. Furthermore, it is great way to meet like-minded people and expand your network.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are to continue to develop new and value-creating projects like Lean Landing, with the purpose of helping SMEs to grow locally, nationally and internationally.

Youth of Europe – Meet YEC 2018 winner Marija Elena Borg

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It is time to meet the winner of the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition…Marija Elena Borg! Marija impressed first the jury with her essay on the links between innovation and the holistic growth of organisations, and then went on to win the audience vote when she presented her essay at the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz.

Marija is from Malta and is currently the EU Funding Executive of the Malta Business Bureau, which is the EU Advisory Office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. Since 2015, she has managed multiple EU-funded projects and events largely linked to education and skills development. Her frequent participation in workshops and training courses has allowed her to work in multicultural settings and develop a great interest in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2017, Marija Elena also graduated with a Master’s Degree in European Politics, Economics and Law at the University of Malta.

Read on to find out more about her competition experience and what she thought of the SME Assembly 2018.  

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I have always believed that innovation – in its holistic sense – is the gateway to creating a smart and sustainable future. Therefore, when I came across the competition advert on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, I decided to put pen to paper and give this opportunity my best shot!

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2018?

This year’s edition of the SME Assembly provided an excellent learning and networking platform for European entrepreneurs and policy-makers. The organisation of a variety of activities, including business tours, matchmaking sessions, debates and participatory workshops, sparked the interest of attendees and prompted their active participation.

My highlight of the SME Assembly was the Mentoring Workshop, during which experienced entrepreneurs spoke about promoting start-up mentoring. Considering that in comparison to other continents such as North America, entrepreneurs in Europe seem to be more reluctant to enter into a mentor-mentee relationship, this workshop showcased real success stories, proving that mentoring can be equally rewarding for both parties.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate’, what does that mean to you?

My interpretation of this year’s theme is rather simple: The best way to enable innovation (be it within a private or public organisation) is through promoting interaction between peers that will in turn facilitate the exchange of ideas, thoughts and experiences.

As I explained in my own essay, people are the primary cause of innovation. It is therefore the ‘duty’ of business owners or officials in management positions to ensure that their organisation maintains an appropriate work environment which directly empowers employees and motivates them to work and increase the rate of product or process innovation in the workplace.

What did it feel like to win the competition?

Surreal! Considering the work that was put into compiling the essay and pitching it to the SME Assembly participants, it felt incredible and fulfilling to be recognised as the winner of this year’s competition. I was also amazed by the feedback received following the announcement of the final result – numerous entrepreneurs applauded my proposed practical approach to innovation.

I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Joakim Davidsson and Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, who also delivered excellent presentations in Graz!

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

So many things to do, so little time! My current plan is to keep learning as much as possible and developing my areas of interest, which include skills development, youth activism, public speaking and project writing/management.

Naturally, I also look forward to being part of next year’s edition of the SME Assembly in Finland!

Read Marija’s essay and have a look at the presentation  she made at the SME Assembly 2018.

Don’t forget to read our interviews with 2018 finalists Joakim Davidsson and Ngaio Olsen-Stahl here on the News Portal.

SME Assembly 2018 Magazine

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A digital magazine of the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria. Generating 4,16 trillion EUR of value added and employing 94,8 million people in the non-financial business economy in 2017, SMEs continue to be the most important element of the EU economy. This growth is expected to continue with figures for SMEs in the EU-28 indicating that SMEs will create around 2,7 million new jobs in 2018 – 2019.

The 2018 SME Assembly brought together 600 entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers, researcher and media, to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate.’ The focus was on the continuous search for methods on how to make SME policy work for those concerned, i.e. for our entrepreneurs and their employees.

Bringing together the learning and experience of participants and speakers throughout the two days, the Assembly culminated in the creation of ‘A Manifesto for an Innovative Europe’. Put together with the help of those who matter in European SME policy, the Manifesto is intended as a contribution to reflect on and practice helping companies to bring about everyday innovation for everyday companies.

Read the full SME Assembly magazine, have a look at the visual documentation and watch the visual documentation video!

Youth of Europe – Meet finalist Ngaio Olsen-Stahl

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Ready to get to know another finalist of this year’s SME Youth Essay Competition? Let’s meet Ngaio!

Ngaio Olsen-Stahl is a passionate Social Science student at the University of Strasbourg, who developed an interest in international relations and comparative politics due to her own mixed cultural heritage from France and New Zealand. She hopes to pursue a career in public policy, and after taking part in a Model European Union event, was all the more inspired to do so within the EU.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I just happened to be surfing the web and looking at upcoming events in Europe, and came across the essay competition information by chance. At the time it was the middle of August and I was enjoying a break from my studies, but after reading the question I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I am very passionate about the EU and its values, and I wanted to discover what I thought about innovation. Truthfully, it was not something I had thought about a lot, but after my research it has really grown on me, and I’m now very interested in how I can create and find innovation in my career path.

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2018?

The SME Assembly was a fantastic event, with people from all over Europe (and indeed, the world) coming together for the purpose of supporting business, ideas, and innovation in Europe. People from all industries, and all different career levels, shared their stories with me, and it was a very humbling experience to be able to gain so much knowledge just by simply getting to know people. I made some great friends too! The speeches, debates, and policy sessions were varied and incredibly useful, my favourites were The Big Debate and Bridging the Skills Gap. The App made sure I knew exactly where to go and when to be there, and Graz was such a beautiful city to explore during my free time. Overall it was a life-changing experience that has inspired me to work on an entrepreneurial venture.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate’, what does that mean to you?

To me, this embodies the spirit of collective power. Acknowledging the strength of Europe as a Union and business as a team, our world is moving towards being ever-more globalised, interdependent and invested in a number of different economies. This diversity and growth will be the fuel for new ideas in the future.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

I’m currently in the exciting/terrifying transition between my Bachelors and the unknown. I will be applying to Master courses in Public Policy, different research projects in social development, and some graduate opportunities in government ministries. So, my exciting plans are all hypothetical at the moment but I’ll leave you with a graceful ‘watch this space’!

Read Ngaio’s essay and have a look at the presentation she made at the SME Assembly 2018.

Don’t forget to have a look at fellow competition finalist Joakim Davidsson!

SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #8

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SME Assembly 2018 – The highlights

That’s a wrap…for the SME Assembly 2018! Last week, from 19-21 November, the SME Assembly 2018 took place in Graz, Austria under the Austrian presidency of the EU. The theme for this year’s Assembly was ‘Connect.Share.Innovate’ and saw delegates, SMEs, startups and key policy makers bridging gaps, sharing skills and laying the foundations for future innovation.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the SME Week newsletter where we give you a snapshot of this year’s Assembly, including highlights such as the European Enterprise Promotion Awards final ceremony, and the SME Week Youth Essay Competition.

Read more >>

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SME Assembly 2018 – Day 3

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The third and final day of the SME Assembly 2018 took place on Wednesday 22 November 2018, and featured numerous policy sessions, masterclasses, the youth essay competition final and the handover to the next EU Presidency.

Day 3 started out with the Youth Essay Competition final, during which the three finalists, Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, Marija Elena Borg and Joakim Davidsson, took to the stage to present their essays and answers to: “What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?” Each finalist was also quizzed live on stage about their essay during which the audience participated in a live vote to select the winner. Congratulations to our SME Week Youth Essay competition winner Marija Elena Borg from Malta! Have a look at Marija’s, Ngaio’s and Joakim’s presentations and don’t forget to read their essays linked above.

Wednesday featured 10 different sessions, including a variety of policy sessions, unique masterclasses and a Scale up Lab. Once delegates had connected, shared and exchanged best practices it was time to bring the SME Assembly 2018 to a close. During the conclusions session, hosted by André Meyer from DG Growth, delegates witnessed the unveiling of the tailor-made innovation manifesto, created by SMEs and for SMEs, under which European innovation can grow and thrive. It was also the time to hand over the preparation of the next SME Assembly, which will take us to Helsinki in Finland in November 2019.

That’s a wrap for the SME Assembly 2018! Thank you all for following us both here on the News Portal and across our social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr). Keep following us for more exclusive content for the SME Assembly 2018 coming very soon and don’t forget to go and have a look at the videos from the event.

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.

SME Assembly 2018 – Day 1

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The SME Assembly 2018 is officially open! Yesterday on 19 November 2018, this year’s Assembly, taking place in Graz, Austria got started with the highly anticipated business tours and the Mind the Bridge SME Matchmaking session.

Several Austrian enterprises opened their doors to the SME Assembly 2018 delegates, and welcomed them to learn about their processes, manufacturing, research, history and the products that they create. We would like to thank A&R Carton, Sappi, UP TO ELEVEN, XAL, Brauunion, Spitzer Dach, SUNNYBAG GmbH and the WKO Steiermark Talentcenter for participating in the tours and for letting the delegates experience their business environments.

During the business tours, some specially invited SMEs were given the chance to attend an exclusive matchmaking session run by Mind the Bridge. Chairman of Mind the Bridge, Alberto Onetti presented their work and the importance of creating links between SMEs, start-ups, scale-ups and existing corporations. Through these bridges, SMEs are able to progress faster and corporates can benefit from fresh ideas and impart their experience on new market entrants.

Day 1 continued into the evening with two spectacular events, the European SME Week Reception and the Schumpeter Lecture. The evening kicked off with the European SME Week Reception, which took place at the Old University of Graz. The Reception opened with speeches from Austrian dignitaries and was followed by traditional accordion music.

Later on in the evening the Schumpeter Lecture, the VIP event of the SME Assembly, took place at the Kunsthaus. The evening began with opening remarks from André Meyer from DG GROWTH, Deputy Director General for DG GROWTH Irmfried Schwimann and Dr. Margarete Schramböck, who spoke of the unique strength of Austria with its SME dominant culture, and the ever growing presence of and continued need for female entrepreneurs. After these remarks, this year’s lecturer Professor Bronwyn H. Hall opened the third Schumpter Innovation in Enterprise lecture, which centred on tax policy for innovation, including considerations for policy makers and SME actors.

Watch the Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise Lecture:

What a great start to the SME Assembly 2018, but that was just the beginning! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @EEPA_EU for all the live coverage of the SME Assembly and we look forward to bringing you all the latest from the Helmut List Halle, this year’s venue here in Graz.

Don’t forget to have a look at all of the photos from the SME Assembly 2018 here on Flickr.

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