Imagine what a successful and sustainable start-up in 2030 looks like? Which crucial competences and skills do its founders and employees have? What has been the legacy of the COVID pandemic on entrepreneurship, and how have they responded? How have they been supported to meet the twin challenges of digitalisation and sustainability?
Make your voice heard!
In your essay, imagine the story of three different entrepreneurs embarking on a journey to become sustainable start-ups of the future. Describe their stories of success, their struggles, their needs and what key skills and competences they should have in order to start and grow sustainable, resilient SMEs.
The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is launching for the sixth time with a brand new question for the youth of Europe to answer:
What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? Think about the competences and skills needed in the future for an entrepreneur, describe three promising and sustainable start-ups in 2030.
The Youth Essay competition is organised by the European Commission Directorate-General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. It is an opportunity for 18-25-year-olds to share ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.
Sounds like an opportunity for you? Then, all you need to do to have a chance at winning a trip to the SME Assembly 2021 in Slovenia this November is to submit your essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 26 September 2021.
- The competition is open to all 18 to 25-year-olds from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
- Essays should not exceed 2 500 words in length
- All essays must be in English
- Only one entry per applicant
- The deadline for submissions is 26 September 2021
- The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
- The final winner will be chosen via a public vote
- An opportunity to attend and present at the SME Assembly for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
- Presentation training before delivering essay live at the SME Assembly 2021
- Promotion of essays across our communication channels
- A trip to the 2021 SME Assembly in Slovenia
See Youth Essay Competition 2021 Terms and Conditions.
We are back with another European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we brought you the story of our ‘Improving the Business Environment’ winner BIND 4.0 from the Basque Country. Check it out, if you haven’t read it yet.
This time we take a bike ride to Portugal to meet with Portugal Bike Value, winner in the ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ category. Portugal Bike Value is working to support and promote the potential of the Portuguese bicycle industry, establishing it as a player in the European supply chain. It is also promoting Portugal as a destination for foreign investment in the area of soft mobility. The initiative’s efforts saw exports to more than 50 destinations increase from EUR 226 million in 2011 to EUR 402 million in 2019. By investing in cleaner technologies that have a reduced environmental footprint, Portugal Bike Value is also helping to support the European Green Deal.
How did you hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
The first information we received was from AICEP, the Portuguese agency for investment and foreign trade. Then we looked for more details on the internet, where we received a lot of helpful information. The Commission website and News Portal were very informative and from the data we collected, we understood that Portugal Bike Value had a good chance of doing well.
How did you prepare your participation?
Preparations for participation were conducted almost completely internally, within the National Association of Two Wheel Industries (ABIMOTA), using two external consultants who have been involved in the Portugal Bike Value project from the very beginning. This means that it was quite easy to prepare for our EEPA participation.
What was it like to win the award?
First, it was a big surprise. Our job is to work on behalf of our associates, promoting the hardware and furniture sectors and, of course, two wheels and smooth mobility. Until that moment, we had no experience of participating in a contest like this. Later it made us think about the real value of Portugal Bike Value. After winning a prize like this, we could better understand the real value of our project.
How did winning the award impact your work?
First of all, as I said, it gave us a real perspective on the value of the project. Then, this victory gave us a major boost in terms of communication, both in Portugal and abroad. The EEPA awards are highly visible and boost the image of the participants.
Why should others join the EEPA? What advice would you give them?
In our experience, the best advice is – participate. As long as you have a solid, well-developed project, you can only win. The gains that you will receive in terms of experience and contacts with other projects are overwhelming. If you can reach the final, you will gain additional visibility and in the event of victory, then the return is massive.
What are your plans for the future?
The Portugal Bike Value project is concluding its cycle and, therefore, we are developing a new project, where we seek to deepen and build on the experience we have gained and, if possible, do even better.
Congratulations to Portugal Bike Value! Re-live their winning moment and make sure to keep up with their work and activities.
You can also catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:
We are back with another European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we brought you the story of our ‘Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills’ winner – Merkuur Mobile Workshops from Estonia. If you haven’t read it yet, make sure you do!
This week we are in the Basque Country to meet our ‘Improving the Business Environment’ winner BIND 4.0, a public-private acceleration programme specialising in promoting Industry 4.0 projects. BIND 4.0 is targeted at technological start-ups with 4.0 solutions in the fields of advanced manufacturing, energy, health and food. The programme has been set up as an open innovation platform, where start-ups from all over the world and large industrial companies established in the Basque Country interact in an agile way to develop innovative high-impact projects. The start-ups receive intensive support and benefit from activities aimed at accelerating their development and immersion in the Basque industrial ecosystem.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
The EEPA are well known throughout Europe for recognising initiatives that improve business at the local, regional or national levels. BIND 4.0 offers something valuable to all parties involved in our programme and our main goals are to increase talent, innovation and competition in our region. We decided to apply and see how we compare to the other incredible initiatives focused on start-ups and business development, and we are quite pleased with the results.
How did you prepare your application?
Our main goal is to contribute to improving the society in which we live through innovation and technology, so we felt our objectives were in line with those of the EEPA. We filled out the application by detailing the impact that BIND 4.0 has had on the industrial and entrepreneurial ecosystem. We explained how our programme is symbiotic; there are benefits for technology start-ups, for the local economy and for established companies looking to collaborate on pilot projects.
What was it like to win the award?
It is a great honour for BIND 4.0 to receive this award from among 13 other stellar candidates throughout Europe. The EEPA is an official recognition of our on-going commitment to business development through the acceleration of start-ups, and of the collaboration between public institutions and private companies. We are thrilled to be acknowledged, at the European level, for our efforts over the last five years.
How did winning the award impact your work?
This award is a source of pride, for consistently accomplishing our goal to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. Since our inception, we’ve accelerated over 100 start-ups and facilitated the development of more than 170 Industry 4.0 projects. This award provides additional validity to our international initiative so we can continue to attract talent to the Basque region and promote collaboration between young start-ups and large corporations.
Why should others enter EEPA? What advice would you give them?
If you would like to see how your programme and efforts measure up against the other programmes being implemented throughout Europe, we recommend applying. The EEPA is a great way to stay informed about impactful programmes, ground-breaking initiatives and the benchmark models in the marketplace.
What are your plans for the future?
The BIND 4.0 Team is currently preparing for the fifth edition of the programme that begins in January 2021. We are also organising a new edition for the post-COVID climate, so we have redesigned the programme to continue supporting start-ups in an online format. The Basque Country is one of the strongest industrial ecosystems in Europe and this award helps enforce the impact BIND 4.0 continues to make toward innovation in entrepreneurship.
We have a positive outlook for the year ahead, as we offer a bridge between flexible, innovative start-ups and proficient, forward-thinking corporates. The COVID pandemic brought numerous significant changes, from establishing remote working conditions to creating new safety measures; we saw innovation in so many new areas. The health and technology innovations this year have been inspiring and are an indication of the direction on which all businesses will need to focus in the year ahead. We feel BIND 4.0 is in the best position to help connect start-ups and corporations and turn innovation into action.
Congratulations to BIND 4.0! Re-live their winning moment and make sure to keep up with their work and future innovations on their website.
You can also catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:
Science is Wonderful! brings the world of science, research and innovation to the public. This year, the exhibition will take place fully online from 22 to 24 September as part of the second edition of the European Research and Innovation Days.
Through an array of digital activities, researchers will interact with children, students and citizens,explain what researchers’ role is in a post-crisis context and highlight how research impacts citizens’ daily lives. The event will also address hundreds of stakeholders from all over Europe in the framework of the European Research and Innovation Days.
This is a unique opportunity to put your outreach and communication skills into action, be impactful andshow how you are contributing to develop solutions addressing the current crisis, its consequences and the priorities that will be at the core of the recovery.
We are looking for EU-funded projects working in all disciplines and speaking all languages to participate in the online exhibition. If you are convinced that you are up to this exciting e-encounter with many fledgling future scientists, citizens and stakeholders, please fill in the online form by 5 July 2020.
If your application is successful, you will be contacted to prepare your activities.
For any questions concerning your application, please contact the EU R&I Days communication team.
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, the European Union (EU) has joined together with global partners to organise a worldwide pledging marathon, set to begin on Monday 4 May. The marathon is part of the Coronavirus Global Response, which is the response to the call to action launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other global health actors on 24 April to “Accelerate the Development, Production and Equitable Access to New COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines”.
Read the call to action here.
To support this call to action the EU and its partners aim to raise €7.5 billion in initial funding via the worldwide pledging marathon starting on Monday 4 May 2020. During the marathon countries and organisations around the world will be invited to pledge funds and support for the call to action.
European Commission President von der Leyen said: “We need to bring the world, its leaders and people together against coronavirus. We will launch a global pledging effort. A real marathon. Because beating coronavirus requires a global response and sustained actions on many fronts. We need to develop a vaccine, to produce it and deploy it to every corner of the world. And we need to make it available at affordable prices.”
The 4 May 2020 will mark the start of the marathon and pledges, and also see the European Commission announce the next milestones of a global campaign.
The collected funds will be allocated to three main strands:
Find out more about the effort and how to get involved on the Coronavirus Global Response website: europa.eu/global-response
Follow #UnitedAgainstCoronavirus across social media for updates and help raise awareness by sharing information and announcements surrounding the pledging marathon.
Read the original press release in the Commission press corner.
Europe needs to deepen its innovation capability to compete on global markets and maintain and improve the European way of life, as called for by the European Council as recently as June 2018 and March 2019. That is why the Juncker Commission has set a new level of ambition for the EU and its Eu countries and regions, and proposed horizon Europe, the most ambitious research and innovation programme ever. This will keep the EU at the forefront of global research and innovation.
The European Commission’s 2019 European innovation scoreboard and Regional innovation scoreboard published today show that the EU’s innovation performance has been improving for four years in a row. For the first time ever, Europe’s innovation outperforms that of the United States. However, the EU continues to lose some ground to Japan and South Korea, and China is catching up fast. The data complements the Commission’s recent country-specific recommendations (CSRs) in the framework of the European semester, which highlight the role of research and innovation and include recommendations to enhance productivity growth and competitiveness.
The 2019 European innovation scoreboard: key findings
- Based on their scores, EU countries fall into four performance groups: innovation leaders, strong innovators, moderate innovators and modest innovators. Sweden is the 2019 EU innovation leader, followed by Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom and Luxembourg dropped from the top rank of innovation leader status to the strong innovators group, while Estonia joins the strong innovators group for the first time.
- On average, the innovation performance of the EU has increased by 8.8% since 2011. Since 2011, the innovation performance increased in 25 EU countries. Performance has increased the most in Lithuania, Greece, Latvia, Malta, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and the Netherlands, and decreased the most in Romania and Slovenia.
- At the global level, the EU has surpassed the United States. The EU’s performance lead over Brazil, India, Russia, and South Africa remains considerable. However, China is catching up three times as fast as the EU’s innovation performance is growing. Relative to Japan and South Korea, the EU has been losing ground.
- In selected areas of innovation, the best performing EU countries are: Denmark – human resources and innovation-friendly environment; Luxembourg – attractive research systems; France – finance and support; Germany – firm investment; Portugal – SME innovators;Austria – linkages; Malta – intellectual assets; Ireland – employment impacts and sales impacts.
The 2019 regional innovation scoreboard: key findings
The 2019 scoreboard is accompanied by the regional innovation scoreboard. It provides a comparative assessment of performance of innovation systems across 238 regions of 23 EU countries, while Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Malta are included at the country level. In addition, the regional innovation Scoreboard also covers regions from Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland.
The most innovative regions in the EU are Helsinki-Uusimaa, Finland followed by Stockholm, Sweden and Hovedstaden, Denmark. For 159 regions, performance has increased in the 9-year observation period. This year’s regional innovation scoreboard demonstrates a strong convergence in regional performance with decreasing performance differences between regions.
Read the full article on the EASME website.
The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is getting even closer…only 12 days to go until the deadline on 16 September 2018! Today on Promoting Enterprise we present David Gomes, another Youth Essay Competition jury member. David Gomes will be on the jury as the representative from the JADE Network (The European Confederation of Junior Enterprises), who are one of our competition partners. Read on to find out what he is looking for in an entry and don’t forget to submit before the deadline!
What will you be looking for in an entry?
Innovation is the keyword – I will be looking for entries that suggest practical and concrete ways for entrepreneurs and governments to become more innovative. For me an entry needs to offer more than just sharing ideas and thinking about what we want in the future. I want the entries to really consider what we want to see in terms of innovation and how we can make this a reality. The writers should think about how we can foster an environment that promotes innovation on a constant basis. I am expecting really good answers as the question of innovation is one that we need to answer as fast as we can.
What are the top three criteria you will base your judging on?
I will judge each essay on the following three criteria: originality, feasibility, and presentation.
What will make an entry stand out for you?
An entry will stand out for me if it considers both the strengths and weaknesses of our present environment, and proposes solutions that are suitable for the problem identified. It is not enough to come up with ideas and expect them to be the best solution for the perceived problem. In order for an entry to be well rounded and thought provoking, the author will need to demonstrate a deep understanding of what is being done at the moment, and propose their solution in light of that.
What advice would you give for those still not sure about entering the competition?
Over time the younger generations are taking an ever increasing role in important societal discussions. This competition is an amazing opportunity to make an impact on what policy-makers are defining for our collective future and to make your voice heard. When we are invited to give our opinions we should embrace the challenge and speak up!
What steps do you think should be taken to foster and encourage innovation?
For me, it is much more about change management. Our society is ready for innovation, the problem simply lies with how people react to new ways of doing something or new products and services. We need to embrace innovation as a way to keep improving our lives for the better. Innovation should be a constant in our mindsets, in everything we do – both personally and professionally, and the leaders of this change should definitely be both governments and entrepreneurs.
Interested in entering this year’s competition? Find out more about the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition right here. Use the News Portal for all your competition questions and be sure to have a look at the previous winning entries for inspiration. Finally, don’t forget to submit your essays by 23 September 2018!
Oksana Vedmidska, most recent winner of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition in 2017, is back on the Portal! Last week she shared what she has been doing since winning the competition, the best part about entering and her advice on how to answer the 2018 question. Haven’t read it yet? Have a look here.
Today Oksana shares with us her advice for the 2018 competitors, what she learnt from her competition experience last year and finally her projects for the future.
Do you have any advice for the 2018 competitors?
I am convinced that our thoughts influence our actions in a material manner. That is why my advice would be to think practically. Let me demonstrate this. There is a young Ukrainian performing artist that uses the motto “Brave, Love, Freedom”. I would use this motto in a practical way in order to dwell upon the topic of this year’s competition.
Let’s take firstly the point “Love” I would interpret it in the following way: look around you, define the persons you care about, think about their needs and what innovative steps are required to improve the lives of your loved ones. Now let us look at “Freedom”: get rid of prejudice; let your critical mind absorb and analyse information around you; be open to any topic no matter if you agree with it or not, because firstly you have to listen to opposing opinions, then gather data and facts about the argument and finally build your own opinion. Finally, “Brave”: do not be afraid to talk with experts about topics like: Innovation, Political and Social strategies, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, do not be intimidated by their experience and look for seminars and conferences at which these topics are discussed. Finally, do not doubt yourself, sit down and write down all of your own ideas, because these ideas will one way or another influence the behaviour and way of thinking of those who will read or listen to them!
What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?
The essays I read raise very important issues concerning the promotion of entrepreneurship, for example, questions about ethical norms or the way businesses and European officials communicate with youth. These ideas spoke to me and I will keep them in mind in order to use and implement them in terms of my future career and volunteering activities.
Furthermore, while at the SME Assembly 2017 I learnt a lot about the needs, problems and wishes of small and medium-sized enterprises and their suppliers. In addition, thanks to the diversity of the topics discussed I received information that helped me to identify issues that may become problematic and worth discussing in future.
Do you have any exciting projects that you would like to share?
For the time being my greatest project is to graduate on time and to carefully study the new EU General Data Protection Regulation about which everyone, and especially entrepreneurs, is anxious. I am also interested in seeing how relations between the EU and Latin American countries develop. My interest comes from both having friends in Latin America and my personal conviction that the development of relationships will only benefit both sides and especially youth from countries with emerging economies.
Interested in the 2018 competition? Find out more right here and read the 2018 advice from 2016 winner Andri Pandoura for more inspiration. Don’t forget to read Oksana’s first post here and don’t forget to keep coming back to the Portal for more exciting content on this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition.
Youth of Europe, we are looking for your opinions! The SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2018 is underway and looking for inspiring and creative answers to:
Not sure how to tackle the question? Deciding whether to enter or not? In order to help anybody thinking about entering the 2018 competition Promoting Enterprise spoke to 2017 winner Oksana Vedmidska about her experience and her advice for the 2018 applicants. Read on to find out what she has been up to since winning the competition, what it was like to compete last year and finally her tips and tricks for answering the 2018 question.
What have you been doing since winning the Youth Essay Competition?
Back when I won the Youth Essay Competition, I had started pursuing my second degree in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Applied Science in Darmstadt, Germany, which I am still doing. In addition, I am currently one of the volunteer translators in an international non-profit organisation “Global Voices”. This NGO is an international community of writers, bloggers and digital activists, whose aim is to translate and objectively report on what is being said in citizen media worldwide.
I am also continuing to improve my French and in March 2018 I began learning Portuguese. I actually had to put my knowledge to the test shortly after having started Portuguese. I was approached by Isabel Recavarren, an editor of an informative Euro-Latin American platform “Panorámica”, who invited me to participate in the seminar “Challenges of Euro-Latin American Women: Digital Agenda and Access to Markets”. The seminar was organised by the Women’s Forum of the Euro-Latin-American Parliamentary Assembly in the premises of the European Parliament, where I had an opportunity to listen to very interesting and informative presentations, but without much interpretative help. During the seminar I spoke in Spanish about the European youth’s visioning for digital economy.
What was the best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition?
The best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition was that I could present and share all my ideas that I had obtained from my observations. Moreover, I was able to read the ideas and visions of other young people and find out more about the way they think.
Do you have any advice on how to approach the 2018 question?
In my opinion, first of all, governments and associations of entrepreneurs have to agree to organise a round table let’s say every six months, so that governments can take into consideration issues that are important for entrepreneurs. For example, in December 2017 I visited one local seminar in Darmstadt which discussed topics such as: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Science. Participants included entrepreneurs, scientists, students, a local politician and those who were just interested in the discussion. During this seminar local start-uppers complained that because of a long and complicated bureaucratic process it is difficult for them to obtain a state subsidy for their innovative projects. I think that politicians should take this criticism seriously and develop ways to solve the problem mentioned. It is obvious that in the modern developed world we need regulations and a red-tape in order to guarantee that taxpayers’ money is put to good use and to control levels of corruption. However, politicians could reconsider, for instance, the necessity and effectiveness of certain bureaucratic steps, whether these steps be done online and perhaps whether more staff should be hired in order to process applications more quickly.
Secondly, the future of our economy lies in digital markets, so that governments need to make sure that the majority of their population has access to the Internet and is able to pass through the red-tape via secure Internet channels. Small and medium-sized enterprises, on the other hand, have to pay attention to their presence on the Internet and social media platforms. At the same time SMEs should carefully use the personal data of their customers, employees, suppliers, partners and make sure that their innovative ideas are not misused.
Thirdly, I believe that both parties have to open more opportunities for youth. For example, by providing more scholarships, cooperating with local educational institutions, creating new internship positions or mentoring programs.
Interested in the 2018 competition? Find out more right here and read the 2018 advice from 2016 winner Andri Pandoura for more inspiration. Don’t forget to come back to the Portal next week to read more about 2017 winner Oksana and her advice for the 2018 competitors!
The Enterprise Europe Network is a support network that helps small and medium-sized business (SMEs) grow and innovate internationally. Active in over 60 countries worldwide, the network draws on the skills and services of 3 000 experts from over 600 member organisations to offer business support to SMEs.
Members of the network are varied and include: technology poles, innovation support organisations, universities and research institutes, regional development organisations and chambers of commerce and industry.
Today Promoting Enterprise will be showcasing one specific aspect of the Enterprise Europe Network, their extensive collection of SME Success Stories, which are all available on their website. These Success Stories come from across European Union Member States and COSME countries, and highlight the diversity of innovative businesses in need of financial and business support.
Have look through the Success Stories catalogue and look out for the individual companies across our social media!