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!
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