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Investing in entrepreneurial skills – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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The countdown to the finals of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2018 continues! Last week we met the shortlisted projects from Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit. This week it is time to meet the projects competing in Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, which come from Austria, Ireland and Lithuania.

Austria: i2c STARTacademy

The i²c STARTacademy is an innovative research commercialisation format for TUW scientists who want to transfer their technology and research results into successful products or services. It provides them with a personalised framework to plan their market entry by bringing them together with domain-specific national and international mentors, coaches, investors and industry representatives to work together on the commercial potential of their conducted research. Three years after it was launched the project has provided training and coaching to 91 researchers (40 teams), which has resulted in the generation of 23 start-ups and 85 jobs.

Ireland: ACORNS – Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups             

ACORNS is a peer to peer support programme in which successful business women (Lead Entrepreneurs) voluntarily facilitate groups of early stage female entrepreneurs. The groups serve to establish good foundations in the new early stage businesses and equip the entrepreneurs with necessary skills to develop and grow sustainable businesses. Both Lead Entrepreneurs and participants are located in rural Ireland and the aim of the programme is to create sustainable businesses throughout rural Ireland to create more jobs over time. To date over 150 early stage female entrepreneurs have been supported with a range of demonstrable results including new jobs created.

Lithuania: Entrepreneurship Academy

Entrepreneurship Academy is a tool and education platform for the development of entrepreneurial competences and skills based on active experiential methods. It brings together a network of over 70 partners including youth groups, education institutions, business and city authorities, and other partners. Participating youth have a year to learn about local businesses and entities, and to utilise the three academy modules: Development of entrepreneurial competences, Entrepreneurship labs and Personal development programmes. Since 2015 more than 800 students and 300 schoolchildren have participated and over 260 creative workshops, seven public events and seven experiential camps have been organised within the project.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz this November.

EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

The second category of the EEPA, “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills” recognises initiatives that improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills. This year the entries come from across eight different countries and will be competing for spots on the final European shortlist determined by the EEPA 2018 Jury in late September.

Austria: i2c STARTacademy

Croatia: BUDI UZOR®/BE THE ROLE MODEL™

Cyprus: Bi-Communal Innovation Camp

Germany: Nachfolge in Deutschland (Succession in Germany)

Hungary: Team Academy Budapest

Ireland: ACORNS – Accelerating the Creation of Rural Nascent Start-ups

Lithuania: VERSLUMO AKADEMIJA

Slovenia: Practical entrepreneurial education in High schools

Sweden: Timbanken

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to discover the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spiritImproving the business environmentSupporting the internationalisation of businessSupporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.

Want to know who will be judging the 2018 projects? Meet the EEPA 2018 Jury here on the Portal!

EEPA 2018 European deadline – National Coordinators submit top national projects

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The European level of the EEPA competition closed last week on 3 July 2018. National coordinators have been submitting their top national projects for consideration by a European jury for the EEPA 2018 shortlist, and a total of 56 entries were received.

This year the national winners will be evaluated by a jury with members from different sectors, disciplines and backgrounds. The 2018 members can be found here on the News Portal.

2018 saw a total of 303 national projects submitted across 32 participating countries. Portugal achieved the highest ever recorded national total for EEPA with a spectacular 82 applicants to their national competition.

After the reinstating of the green category, EEPA 2018 will see projects competing across six different categories for 2018:

Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit (14 entries) was once again the category with the most applications closely followed by Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills (10 entries).

This year’s EEPA jury will meet in Brussels on 26 September 2018 to deliberate which national projects will make it onto the 2018 European shortlist. Keep coming back to the Promoting Enterprise News Portal for both the announcement of the shortlist and an introduction to all of the shortlisted projects by competition category.

Good luck to all of the national winners! Don’t forget to keep checking here for the 2018 shortlist announcement…

About the EEPA selection process

The competition has two stages. Applicants must first compete at national level to be eligible to compete at European level. For the national competition, each country selects two entries to be nominated for the European competition.

A shortlist of nominees will be chosen by a European jury. All nominees from the national and European competitions will be invited to attend the final awards ceremony. The ceremony recognises the winners for their efforts and gives them the opportunity to present themselves in a pan-European environment.

EEPA 2017 – Business Generator showcases female entrepreneurs

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EEPA 2017 winner Business Generator from Sweden may be on a temporary pause, but they still have many company success stories from the people they helped. Today, project director Anette Rhudin tells us about some of the women involved in Business Generator and their entrepreneurial stories.

A local food application connecting farmers and customers

Kicki is a farmer from Värmland, who had the idea to create an app to make it easier for people to buy food directly from the farmers that produce it. Currently there is no “easy” connection between customers and farmers, and customers are forced to drive to several different farms to get the produce they are looking for. Kicki’s app creates that connection and allows farmers to directly communicate with their audience and promote their goods.

A local hotel benefitting local industry

When Marianne first came to Business Generator she was having a tough time with her hotel business and really needed help. During her time in the generator she learnt a lot and developed great skills surrounding customer questions and marketing. She worked hard and put a lot of money and her time to define her customers and “talk” to them.

As a result of her training with the generator she changed her trademark and developed cooperative relationships with other tourist attractions in this area. Her success has allowed her to expand the number of rooms and bring significant investment to her village. She also makes sure to use décor from the area and offer local food from farmers close to the hotel.

Generational business passes to a female entrepreneur

Anna is now a successful entrepreneur who is the fifth to run the Sahlströmsgården. Anna came to the Business Generator to successfully handle the generational shift and receive assistance with the associated legal changes. She handled all of this whilst still running the company and overseeing daily operations.

At the beginning of Business Generator it was not easy to attract women to take part as they prioritised their businesses and did not see how to make time for generator activities. Eventually some saw the benefits of the generator and joined in to benefit from the support.

Read more about the Business Generator here on Promoting Enterprise and make sure you stay up to date with the EEPA 2018 competition.

Business Generator – Where are they now?

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) 2017 winner Business Generator, from Sweden, specifically project coordinator Annette Rhudin. The European Enterprise Promotion Awards reward those who promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.

The “Investing in entrepreneurial skills” category winner shares the future of Business Generator and what winning an EEPA prize and participating in the EEPA process meant to them.

In an ideal world all European issues would be looked at from a European perspective, like those of SMEs being considered by the European Commission. Through initiatives like the EEPA competition, SMEs have been identified and celebrated as the backbone of European economy and key sources of employment.

The EEPA competition also brings out certain issues that several SMEs face, and the support that projects, like Business Generator, are offering to entrepreneurs and enterprises across Europe. One thing that stood out for me, that has certainly been an issue for Business Generator, is disparity between regions and the need to adapt different strategies. Some regions are experiencing growth and have access to funds and resources, whereas others are struggling to grow and have little to no access to the same resources, like my own region of Värmland in Sweden. The EEPA competition is a fantastic opportunity to see what is going on in Europe, to meet others striving to help SMEs and ultimately gain visibility for the work you do.

The future of Business Generator remains uncertain, and despite coming “top of the class” in Europe, will not continue, for now. The Business Generator team had several meetings at both regional and national level, but the budgets have already been defined and there is no surplus to fund the continuation of Business Generator. Municipal budgets have also been defined, and due to how tight they are, unfortunately there is no room for Business Generator. This is not to say that there is no interest in Business Generator, but for the project to continue interest alone is not enough.

The project itself is new and innovative, and challenges old ways of thinking. Whilst this is the way forward for SMEs it is a daunting investment to make, and when budgets are tight means that it is less likely to receive support. This also represents the current situation in Sweden, where SMEs receive almost no government research and development funding, which is largely distributed to universities, large companies and the public sector.

In comments from the Swedish National Audit Office, SMEs and innovation were recognised “as keys to Sweden’s future growth”, yet the body also stated that only “a minor part of total state aid to the business sector is directed at R&D and innovations as well as at small and medium-sized enterprises”. Whilst this is somewhat disheartening I believe that the solution is to take care of SMEs, and show this through concrete actions.

I hope that there is a future for Business Generator and would be interested to know more about the situation in other countries regarding SME funding. Currently in Sweden, SME’s receive 3,7 % of the state aid, but deliver four out of five new jobs. My wish is that the funding statistics will change and that SMEs can continue to deliver jobs and receive the support they need both at national and European level.

Whilst the Business Generator journey may have temporarily come to an end, I would like to thank the European Commission, for helping to highlight the good work that is going on across Europe through the EEPA competition. Finally, my message to potential future applicants, apply for EEPA 2018, this is an important opportunity and you should take it!

Interested in finding out what happened to some of the companies helped by the Business Generator? Come back soon to find out right here on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.

Watch the ‘winning moment’ for Business Generator from EEPA 2017:

What is it like to win? EEPA 2017 winners share their experiences

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Past winners have shared their tips for how to prepare for an EEPA submission, and their application journeys and lessons. But what does it feel like to be announced the winner of an EEPA category after putting in so much hard work? How did our past winners feel when they were recognised as some of the best projects in Europe? Today our 2017 winners reflect on their winning moments and what it was like to win the award.

 “Of course it was a surprise! Within an impressive group of finalists which included investor programmes, incubators and accelerators with a long track record, we felt like the underdog. We don’t have a long track record yet, although we have enough data to have an evidence-based method to help innovators. But still we were the new kids on the block, with a crazy new kind of entrepreneurial programme, involving festivals. So for us, winning was an encouragement to keep going and support other regions to make festivals part of their innovations ecosystem.”

Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017

“It was incredible! It was an amazing recognition and such a great source of motivation for us to continue our work! I later realised that winning and being identified in front of everyone was really important, because afterwards I was approached by several people who wanted to know more about the project. It was really interesting to be able to speak about our work with so many different people.”

ADIE – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship Winner 2017

“When we take part in awards of this kind we always want to win or, at least, be a nominee. Due to the time it takes to prepare all of the necessary documentation we rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. The last time we participated in something similar was in 2012 when we participated in an EU Award after being nominated by Austria. This time around, with EEPA, it was even better as not only were we nominated but ended up winning in our category!”

Internationalisation 2015 – 2020 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business Winner 2017

“It got my heart racing! We arrived in Tallinn without knowing at all what would happen and for us it was a big surprise. It is an honour to receive this award and we want to share it with everybody who made it possible!”

Reempresa – Improving the business environment Winner 2017

“We really wanted to win the European prize, but just because we thought we were the best project didn’t mean that the jury would think the same thing. When Business Generator was announced as the winner, I had a pulse of 1000! Friends who have seen the video of us winning say that I look unmoved, but really I was shocked. Just hearing Sweden mentioned with our project was incredible, I was representing our country!”

Business Generator – Investing in entrepreneurial skills Winner 2017

“When you find out that you are shortlisted of course you start to think “what if…”, but we didn’t expect to win. We were really excited when we did win because it was a complete surprise!”

Enterprise Village – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit Winner 2017

Would you like the chance to have a ‘winning moment’? Apply for EEPA 2018 before it is too late! Check your national deadlines and read more about past winners.

Watch all of the EEPA ‘winning moments’ and highlights from the SME Assembly 2017 here:

Learning from the best – Advice from EEPA 2017 winners

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What makes a successful European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) entry? What is the secret to winning at European level? Today on Promoting Enterprise, the 2017 edition winners tell us why others should enter EEPA 2018, and share their advice for making an application stand out.

The 2017 winners shared a lot of advice in their testimonials but there were certain things that each of them mentioned as key to their EEPA success, and reasons why an EEPA prize is so valuable. Firstly, all of the winners recognised the power of the EEPA scheme for bringing recognition to project work at European level, as well as the opportunity to see and interact with other projects that have been recognised as best European practices.

“The prize itself is valuable, but so is the opportunity to see how projects in other countries deal with the same issues and questions. You can see differences in financial solutions, project launches and how each country has their own solutions and plans, all of which are the best across Europe.”

  • Business Generator – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Winner 2017

In addition to European recognition, being a part of EEPA helped winners gain experience in pitching their projects. This is particularly useful when building awareness and a network around your work, and something that the EEPA application process values highly.

“It was very helpful to get pitching experience and advice on our Innofest-proposition. One of the main reasons behind our win was that we presented a new proposition (i.e. festivals as testing grounds for innovators) to add to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

  • Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017

Finally, all winners agreed that EEPA is a big contributor to increasing awareness around project work. Through EEPA, the winners had the opportunity to attend the prestigious SME Assembly, where they mingled with a variety of stakeholders and players in the entrepreneurial, SME and startup ecosystems.

So what advice do the 2017 winners want to share with this year’s applicants?

“My advice for future applicants would be to work a little more upstream, and to focus on having good national mobilisation around your project and work. Once this is established, it can then be complemented by working with the public entities that transmit the EEPA message and that organise the awards.”

  • ADIE, Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship Winner 2017

“Prepare well! Be aware that it requires quite a lot of work until your documents are “final”, so advice and help from the national body might be very useful, so make the most of it.”

  • Internationalisation 2015 – 2020 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business Winner 2017

“I would recommend working on the tangible results of your projects. Show that the submitted project has a positive impact on its territory and that it can help other European countries and citizens!”

  • Reempresa – Improving the Business Environment Winner 2017

“When applying it is important to ask yourself if others can replicate what you do. Success is always a combination of vision, strategy, trial and error, lessons learnt and results, so be sure to include your project story and journey.”

  • Business Generator – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Winner 2017

“Do not hesitate, apply! If you are doing the right thing, eventually someone will notice, and sometimes it’s the EEPA jury.“

  • Enterprise Village – Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit Winner 2017

“Our advice for future applicants is to make sure that you highlight why your initiative is both effective and unique.”

  • Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017

For more information on the 2017 winners, read the EEPA 2017 winner testimonials here. Some of the EEPA 2018 national competitions are still open, so check the national deadlines here and apply before it’s too late!

Belgium, it is time to apply for EEPA 2018!

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are under way across Europe, but what does a competition look like on national level? Today our EEPA journey takes us to Belgium, where the national competition is coordinated by National Coordinator Francis Otte.

Since 2006, Belgium has been participating in the EEPA awards scheme, and submitted a great variety of projects to compete at both national and European level. Of the all projects submitted, 3 have placed on the annual European shortlist and 3 have won prizes at European level, in both the ‘Investing in entrepreneurial skills’ and ‘Improving the business environment’ categories.

Find out more about previous Belgian winners:

This year the Belgian competition is open until 7 May 2018, so Belgian projects you know what to do! Get your applications in before your national deadline of 7 May 2018 in order to have the chance to represent Belgium on the European EEPA stage at the SME Assembly 2018.

For more information on the Belgian EEPA competition read the flyer in French and Dutch.

Visit the Belgian EEPA website for more information in French and Dutch.

European Enterprise Promotion Awards – 2018 edition launch

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It is that time of the year again, when the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) commence and the best projects from all across Europe begin to compete for a place on the EEPA 2018 shortlist.

Today 05 February, marks the opening of the EEPA 2018 and the project nominations, which will be happening on a national level. National deadlines will differ across countries and will be communicated by the National Coordinators. Once the national competitions have taken place, European level submissions will be accepted until the deadline on 03 July. Once the European nominations have been received, the EEPA 2018 Jury meeting will take place in mid-September which will be followed by the announcement of the shortlist by the end of September. The final step will be the prestigious awards ceremony, which will take place in Graz, Austria on Tuesday 20 November as part of the annual SME Assembly.

Public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States, will be competing for the coveted awards, which go to the most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). All the information about the awards and application process can be found on the DG Growth website, and is available in all EU languages.

The 2018 EEPA categories are as follows:

For the 2018 edition the previously suspended ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ is back and accepting submissions.

Interested in learning more about EEPA? Want to know what the awards ceremony is like? If you are thinking about applying for an award speak to your national coordinator and be sure to read past EEPA winner testimonials which will soon include interviews with all of the latest EEPA winners. For more information about EEPA 2017 take a look at the shortlist and watch the winners videos below!

2017 EEPA: Grand Jury Prize winner – Innofest (NL)

2017 EEPA: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit winner – Enterprise Village (EE)

2017 EEPA: Investing in entrepreneurial skills winner – Business Generator (SE)

2017 EEPA: Improving the business environment winner – Reempresa (ES)

2017 EEPA: Supporting the internationalisation of business winner – Ecoplus International (AT)

2017 EEPA: Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship winner – Adie (FR)

The EEPA secretariat team look forward to supporting you throughout the 2018 EEPA campaign. For support with social media, blogs and promoting EEPA in your country please contact Megan Gardner promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu and for all other technical  and administrative questions, please contact Andrew Dec, Secretariat Manager andrew.dec@LOWeurope.eu.

Stay updated with all EEPA news by following us on Twitter (@EEPA_EU and #EEPA2018) and Facebook (@PromotingEnterprise).

Which projects are ‘Improving the business environment’ at EEPA 2017?

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Time for the Category 3: ‘Improving the Business Environment’ introductions! The Jury has selected four projects as 2017 finalists all with different innovative ideas. This year the Category 3 projects represent the Netherlands, Austria, Italy and Spain.

Innofest works with eight summer festivals in northern Netherlands as living labs for innovation, and provides a safe environment for entrepreneurs to test their prototypes before bringing them onto the market. Innofest sees festivals as temporary mini societies, with their own set of challenges in the areas of water, food, logistics, energy and waste, among others. As contained environments, product testing results are measurable, and can reduce innovation failure rates in an area with many SMEs but that is lagging behind the rest of the Netherlands in innovation. During the festival on-site support is offered along with networking opportunities and follow-up guidance.

 

‘Innovation to Company, the project from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna, brings together innovative and flexible start-ups with established enterprises with resources and market positioning. Through active networking and matchmaking, start-ups help with the development of innovation and solving of challenges that an established enterprise may face. In turn the established enterprises offer resources and market placement, making the cooperation mutually beneficial. To date, 16 enterprises (2015-2017) and 150 start-ups (2017 not yet included) have participated, and 2.5 million EUR in potential profit opportunities for start-ups has been generated.

 

Manufacturing Project – The Green Innovation Factory is transforming the historic Rovereto factory into an industrial innovation centre. The centre covers eco-sustainable construction, renewable energy, technologies for environmental management and monitoring, natural resources, and the circular economy. Within the project exists the Pole of Mechatronics, which involves public bodies, private individuals, and trade associations. It is an innovative hub serving a widespread production chain that involves the qualified participation of companies ranging from automotive, robotics, sensors, industrial automation, up to biomedical industries. It houses productive spaces, technological workshops, and school buildings.

 

Reempresa pioneers the innovative concept of a trading market for SMEs in Catalonia, which helps ‘re-entrepreneurs’ i.e. buyers take ownership of an existing SME. The business transfer scheme preserves existing businesses and jobs, thereby ensuring continuity, and promotes economic growth. It also promotes awareness about public-private collaboration and the benefits of standardising business transfer facilitation procedures. Since 2011, Reempresa has successfully transferred more than 1,230 businesses, preserved more than 3,500 direct jobs and generated more than EUR 56.8 million in investment. This one-stop-shop platform brings retiring business owners, or others who choose to sell their business on, together with young entrepreneurs that wish to acquire a business without having to start from zero. From the first meeting, through negotiation to the conclusion of the transfer, Reempresa provides mentoring and support to ensure a smooth transfer and the future viability of the business. The scheme is also an employment opportunity, providing sustainable careers for the ‘re-entrepreneurs’, 40% of which were previously unemployed. Not only is Reempresa a national success story, but it is also an example of a highly innovative and inspiring project with high replicability potential.

Who will be the Category 3 winner for 2017? Find out this November at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn! Find out about the Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills nominees, and stay tuned for Category 4 introductions next week!

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