The EU will support 257 small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) from 31 countries who aim to get their innovations faster to the market. The companies have been selected in the latest round of the SME Instrument, which is part of the recently launched European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. The funding of €12.65 million in total comes from Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme.
Examples of the projects selected to receive EU funding include solar street lights, software that uses augmented reality to help industrial plants monitor their production chain, a diagnosis tool for sleep apnoea, an innovative mobile payment technology, a custom-made paint vending machine and a wrapping machine for sustainable packaging.
In this phase of the SME Instrument (the so-called Phase 1), each project will receive €50 000 to draft a business plan. There are 253 projects in total as several companies can team up to propose one project. The companies will also get three days of free coaching and business acceleration services.
Most companies selected for funding work in the field of health, engineering and information and communication technology (ICT). Most companies are based in Spain (45), Italy (28) and Israel (23).
The European Commission received 2009 proposals for this first Phase 1 cut-off of the SME Instrument this year. The next application deadline for SME Instrument Phase 1 is in May 2018.
Applications for phase 1 or phase 2 can be submitted at any time, as the SME Instrument is managed as a permanently open call with several cut off dates per year. Applications are evaluated as soon as there are submitted.
On 12 June, a limited number of SME Instrument companies working in Industry 4.0 smart factory solutions will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors and network with corporate representatives and other entrepreneurs in an exclusive event promoted by the SME Instrument Business Acceleration Services.
The event welcomes all innovative approaches to industrial automation and innovative manufacturing technologies. Prepare yourself to make a short pitch about your company (5 minutes), which will be followed by a brief question and answer session. If you are a Phase 1 or Phase 2 SME Instrument company with a solid international business strategy and are committed to participating in the event, we welcome you to apply.
Innovation is the best way to increase productivity and growth. Implementing industry 4.0 solutions and systems might generate enough momentum to ensure the EU’s position as a global manufacturing and industry leader. By enabling innovations across the entire value chain, start-ups and medium-sized companies are in a privileged position to tackle the new challenges posed by digitalisation and interconnection of products.
If you fit the description above then don’t miss out on this opportunity to join the next industrial revolution, and apply here until 13 May.
For more information on the competition, and to learn about similar events, read the full article on the EASME website.
Who else received an EEPA 2017 special mention? Meet the Listen Up Foundation from Bulgaria, who were recognised for their work for the deaf and hard of hearing communities in Bulgaria. Find out how they entered and the exciting opportunity that came their way after the EEPA 2017 awards ceremony…
How did you first hear about the national competition?
We first heard about the national competition via the Reach for Change Foundation network, of which we are a member. This network often notifies us of different opportunities, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) was one of them.
Why did you decide to enter the national competition?
The main motivation for entering was to bring more visibility to the challenges that the deaf and hard of hearing students face in schools and universities. We specifically wanted to highlight the challenges posed by them having no access to information and communication. For us we needed to show how important it is to make all involved parties – students, parents, teachers, lecturers and many others involved in the training process at schools and universities – aware of these students and their needs.
How did you prepare your application?
In general we are constantly in the process of developing new activities and expanding on our work, specifically creating an environment with higher awareness on the need for accessibility for all. Our preparation simply consisted of accurately documenting what we do and being sure to include all of our latest activities. For us this meant including big developments such as the establishment of the Academy for deaf and hard of hearing children and youth by the Listen Up Foundation. Through the establishment of the academy we can continue to bring more empowerment tools for the deaf community in order to be actively involved in the change-making process.
What was it like to receive a special mention and how did it affect your work?
It was a complete surprise, we didn’t expect it and we are so thankful for it! It was really wonderful to be acknowledged and we truly appreciate it. Not only was it fantastic recognition for our project, but it was an opportunity for both the Bulgarian and wider European deaf communities to be in the spotlight and receive the attention they deserve.
Receiving the special mention also created some exciting opportunities for us. We recently signed a contract with the Ministry of Education in Bulgaria to provide accessibility services to the deaf and hard of hearing students at approximately 50 mainstream schools. This will come into force around the beginning of the next academic year from 2018-2019.
Why should others enter EEPA 2018 and what advice would you give them?
We strongly recommend entering the EEPA competition to anyone that is considering it! By entering such an important contest you will gain recognition for your project and doors will open for other opportunities.
What are your plans for the future?
Our future plans consist of us continuing our work through raising awareness of the deaf and hard of hearing communities, and advocating for their needs. We believe that video-relay services for deaf signers will cover all major institutions across the country in the future. We also hope that over the next two years all deaf and hard of hearing students will have access to speech-to-text services at both schools and universities.
Interested in the work of the Listen Up Foundation? Visit their website to find out more! Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.
The Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture is one of the highlights of the SME Assembly and is given by a different guest lecturer each year. This year Professor Jan Fagerberg, from the University of Oslo gave a lecture on the current status of European innovation and how this is closely related to the issues of economic transformation and climate change.
According to Professor Fagerberg, Europe is stuck in a partially self-inflicted stagnation and needs to transform accordingly. The European stagnation can be explained by globalisation, and the differing responses of European states, leading to a lack of homogeneity. The Euro in particular, meant that there was no specific need for policy coordination, which led to increased unemployment and different austerity policies. These outcomes mean that something must change, in order to rise out of stagnation, the economy must radically transform.
The need to transform the economy is particularly linked to climate change. European emissions are still at high levels, and must decline much faster than their current rates. This is where the link to renewable technology becomes relevant, both environmentally and economically speaking. Not only is it the answer to cutting down on emissions but due to: rapidly declining costs, unlimited availability, broad applicability and pervasive effects, it could arguably transform the current economy into a more sustainable model.
As both challenges are heavily influenced by each other, they require a coordinated policy response which should specifically have innovation policy at its heart. This entails innovation policy working across fields to promote, explore and provide opportunities in fields related to renewables. Through ICT and renewable technology there is a chance to not only transform the economy, but do so without causing further harm to the climate and possibly even remedy the current effects.
For photos from the lecture, please see the Flickr album.
For more information on his work and publications, please visit his website.
The first edition of the WATIFY Solution Award will take place this year on 15-16 November in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of the Global Finals of the Creative Business Cup 2017. The Award is looking to recognise the next innovative SME that has technological transformation at the core of its successful business. This SME should be an inspiring example for other European SMEs and encourage them to adopt digital and/or key enabling technologies.
All entries will be screened against a set of pre-defined criteria by WATIFY experts in the fields of innovation and technology. This screening will result in a shortlist of 5 finalists.
The finalists will then pitch their cases in Copenhagen before a live audience and a Jury composed of business executives and senior representatives from the European Commission (DG GROW), its Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME), the Creative Business Cup and WATIFY, will decide on the overall WATIFY Solution Award winner 2017.
The winner will:
- Receive a 1000 euro prize
- Have the opportunity to showcase their technological transformation in a promotional video
- Be awarded a CBC/WATIFY Diploma certificate
- Have opportunities to network with entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe
Who can apply?
European SMEs and entrepreneurs that have gone, or are going through, a high-impact and innovative technological transformation.
In particular, the Jury will be looking for a creative transformation that:
- Innovates in terms of technology, product or service
- Brings about change in the value chains of industry and inside the company itself and/or can inspire new business models
- Shows unique value propositions
- Has scalability potential.
The application deadline is 24 October 2017. More information on the WATIFY Solution Award can be found here.
Environmentally friendly innovation, is it possible? Can new ideas be sustainable, economically viable and still be innovative?
The Eco-innovation action plan aims to prove that innovation does not have to be separate from being sustainable and environmentally friendly. In fact, many of the projects supported under the eco-innovation scheme prove that the two go hand in hand! Through promoting the concept of circular economy and engaging in sustainable practices, SMEs do not have to be excluded from eco-innovation and can in fact make it a strong part of their identity and a unique selling point.
Sound interesting? Interested in finding out more about: Eco-friendly paper bottles, Eco-lights made from soda bottles or ECO°PAPER made out of confectionary production waste? Browse through the project gallery to discover the diverseness of Eco-innovation in Europe.
For more information on how to apply and benefit from funding for eco-innovative ideas have a look at the DG Environment Eco-innovation website: http://ec.europa.eu
Have you heard the news? The third edition of the European Youth Event (EYE2018) is taking place on 1 and 2 June 2018. On this occasion, the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg will welcome more than 8,000 people aged between 16 and 30 from any EU member State or another European country.
The European Parliament offers once more a unique opportunity for young Europeans to make their voices heard and to come up with innovative ideas for the future of Europe. Participants will get the chance to discuss them with political decision-makers and inspiring personalities on the European stage.
EYE2018 includes a wide range of activities in English, French and German run under the motto “The plan is to fan this spark into a flame.” (Hamilton, My Shot). The activities centre around five main themes:
- Young and old: Keeping up with the digital revolution
- Rich and poor: Calling for a fair share
- Apart and together: Working out for a stronger Europe
- Safe and dangerous: Staying alive in turbulent times
- Local and global: Protecting our planet
Young people who want to take part need to register on this website between October and December 2017. After successfully registering, they can also shape the EYE programme by proposing to organise an activity or an artistic performance.
Those who cannot make it to Strasbourg will still be able to debate the five main themes of the event online and take part in competitions on social media before and during the event.
Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark, is back for a final interview with Promoting Enterprise. Today the subject is the future, what does it hold for innovation and enterprise? What can we expect? What are the trends telling us? Read on to find out…
In Denmark specifically, the public sector is embracing innovation, which I see as a positive thing. Overall, user driven innovation is increasing, as consumers and users begin to play larger roles in development, and there is a shift from only research based innovation. The current trend is disruption of society as there is a need for innovation for us to advance.
What measures/steps are you taking to encourage digital innovation in Region Zealand?
In Region Zealand we currently don’t do enough and as such we are not a front runner in the digital space. In Denmark however there have been some steps towards pushing companies to work digitally and make that digital transformation. The Danish Business Authority (which takes care of company registrations and working in the Danish public sector) took the controversial decision to make it mandatory for all companies to digitally invoice if they wanted to work in the public sector. Initially there was a lot of resistance but overall it helped – and is still helping companies – to transition to the digital sphere. As such, Denmark has no physical paper trails for monetary transactions and the public sector is going fully digital. That is truly innovative.
As director for innovation and growth, what do you see as the future of enterprise?
The same situation can be seen across all the EU countries, the public sector is under enormous strain which has and will continue to be a catalyst and driver for innovation. This in turn will result in increased cooperation and further blurring of public and private divisions. This blurring of divisions also relates to how the idea of employment is changing and evolving, which is not to say it is negative, but simply means that new working models are beginning to emerge. I see the future of enterprise as no longer including the ‘employee’ concept, I think this will be phased out. It is not uncommon now and nor will it be in future to have multiple jobs or hybrid employment models, alongside an overall merging of individuals and companies.
What does the future of enterprise look like in Denmark? Do you think it is different to global trends or where the future of enterprise will go globally?
Denmark has always had a strong focus on creating a business environment conducive to startups and entrepreneurs. So far we have been successful, but we also need to change in order to stay competitive and innovative. The new focus now needs to be on helping startups to scale up. So the big question for us now is how do we scale up in Denmark? Perhaps a larger and certainly important question is, how do we scale up in the EU?
If you enjoyed this insightful interview with Tue David Bak, be sure to read his other interviews right here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal.
First interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?
Second interview: Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions
What does the European Union (EU) invest in? What projects do they support? The EU is here to help support great ideas and give everybody a chance to get ahead and to give innovative European ideas a chance. Through different funding schemes the EU is able to invest in projects across the spectrum, from those that are investigating cleaner sources of energy, to those that aim to provide cutting edge healthcare.
In order to invest in such a diverse range of initiatives, the EU has a comprehensive Investment Plan. The investment plan focuses on removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and making smarter use of new and existing financial resources. To achieve these goals, the plan is active in three areas:
- mobilising investments of at least €315 billion in three years;
- supporting investment in the real economy;
- creating an investment friendly environment.
The Investment Plan provides background and context, but where does this investment go? On the InvestEU website, there are many different project stories to browse through, which highlight some of the innovative European projects that are being funded. In upcoming posts, Promoting Enterprise will be highlighting some of the projects from across the Member States and from different sectors.
Promoting Enterprise is proud to welcome back Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark. In his second interview with us, Tue sheds some light on startups, accelerators and incubators in Region Zealand and Denmark, current trends and the regional influences on startup culture.
In Denmark we have actually worked to avoid having too many regional accelerators and incubators, we prefer to have these bodies on a national level so as to keep them open to all Danish and even global companies. Global companies are not excluded from accessing our incubators and accelerators. As long as they have a Danish license and a physical presence in Denmark they can access all the resources. Through this openness we hope to facilitate a link between the Danish and global markets, thus making Denmark just as attractive as the Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs.
What trends are you seeing on the startup scene?
There is an increasing acknowledgement from startups that they do need help. The old idea of two guys in a garage doing everything on their own and not needing any support is starting to be replaced by the realisation that getting a startup to take off is difficult and that there a multitude of resources to draw from and that they are there for a reason. This links to another trend which is an overall change in mindset regarding partnerships. Similar to the collective realisation that they need help, startup founders are specifically beginning to value the need for partnerships with mentors, larger companies etc.
What trends are you seeing in startup culture? For example, does geography play a role?
Absolutely, just looking at the differences between Northern and Southern Europe is an illustration of the role of geography. I have more experience and expertise in Northern Europe, and overall I have seen that there is a strong entrepreneurial culture in Northern Europe, including acceptance of changes of career as a ‘normal’ part of professional life.
Even within countries geography is a big influence, a startup or company located in a rural area will not behave in the same way as an urban counterpart. Rural startups are more traditional working on the idea of being your own boss and are often less aggressive in their approach to scaling up. They are also more in line with the traditional Danish culture which means not standing out or drawing attention to yourself. In contrast urban areas are experiencing an aggressive growth of entrepreneurs.
Tue David Bak will be back next week on Promoting Enterprise for his final interview on the future of innovation and enterprise and what Denmark and the EU need to focus on to stay competitive.
Read his first interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?