In total, 343 National EEPA entries were received from 31 participating countries in 2016, which were then narrowed down by the national EEPA coordinators to 57 projects put forward for the European level of the competition.
At a meeting in Brussels on 27 September, the EEPA Jury drew up a project shortlist for each of the EEPA’s six project categories. Let´s meet 18 shortlisted winners for EEPA 2016!
The winners are spread pretty evenly across Europe, with only Serbia featuring on the list more than once, with winning projects in the Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency categories. We will present all of the shortlisted projects, category by category, on the Promoting Enterprise blog over the next six weeks.
The winner in each category will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced. All of the national winners will have their costs covered to send one representative to attend the SME Assembly, while shortlisted projects will be able to send two representatives.
Congratulations to all of the shortlisted projects – they are all worthy winners, and the EEPA Jury will have a difficult task in selecting the winning projects in each category. We wish them all the best of luck at the SME Assembly in November.
CONNECT Latvia is a non-profit membership association with the objective to help create and develop new and innovative companies in Latvia. Set up by Alexander Efremov, the founders of Connect Latvia include Riga Technical University, University of Latvia, Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Connect Sweden and Riga City Council. In this interview, Efremov talks about the motivation behind the organisation and the importance of nurturing young entrepreneurs.
CONNECT Latvia appears to be a hybrid organization – part membership association and part incubator and training provider. Could you explain exactly what you are and how you operate?
Yes, CONNECT Latvia is a truly hybrid organisation, as is innovation itself. CONNECT’s mission is to stimulate new entrepreneurial ventures in our region. Even though entrepreneurship is usually associated with starting up a company, it’s meaning is much broader. It could be a social venture or pursuing someone’s dreams in research. The first, original CONNECT network was established in San Diego, USA back in 1985, where it is still operating and has reached a broad community by providing technology entrepreneurship development. Core to CONNECT’s growth and development is a culture of collaboration, fostered by San Diego CONNECT’s first director, Bill Otterson.
Still alive in our minds is his vision, which could be described as ‘networking is what makes us a community.’ Bill would, during an important event where high-level executives have gathered, spend hours talking to a young man or woman who is just starting his/her first entrepreneurial venture. These are heroes to whom we look up and follow, and they lead our next generation in the entrepreneurial journey. Another inspiring leader, friend and role model for CONNECT Latvia is Professor Alan Barrell from the University of Cambridge, UK. He is the initiator of the Cambridge Venture Camp programmes that are run in Cambridge for students from many different parts of the world, e.g. China, Vietnam, Finland, Portugal and Latvia. Alan’s passion for entrepreneurship and innovation cannot be summed in a few sentences, but one example stands out: “The concept of the world without borders – the entrepreneurship world today can become the world that unites nations and countries, despite and even encouraged by differences that will make all of us richer, firstly in our minds.”
Alan Barrell and I both meet with young entrepreneurs and inventors to discuss their business or invention ideas, trying to develop the essence of entrepreneurship and make young innovators ready for real life and for successful business life.
What were your objectives when you set up the Riga-Cambridge Venture Camp and what do you hope to achieve from it in terms of sustainable development in the SME sector?
The Riga-Cambridge Venture Camp is a new project undertaken by CONNECT Latvia. It is an informal education programme, which takes place in leading universities, business incubators and innovation centres in Riga, Latvia and Cambridge, UK. The Venture Camp is an opportunity for cross-disciplinary students to gain practical insights into the local and global business world from experienced entrepreneurs/lecturers in Riga and Cambridge. It’s also an opportunity for lecturers to foster their methodology and expand their knowledge in their area of expertise, which they can, in turn, implement into their daily lecturing activities.
We’ve come to realise that cross-disciplinary students have little or no knowledge about doing business or of commercialising their ideas and inventions. The usual scenario is either thinking that an idea is unreal and, therefore, no effort is put into actually testing that hypothesis, or the other storyline is often by investing time and money into a solution that nobody needs. What we want to refine here is the attitude and potential of our young and talented by explaining vital business development processes with real-time work on the business ideas with which students come into the Venture Camp. Our participating lecturers, entrepreneurs and mentors are dedicated to helping the Venture Camp participants succeed. Success for some is the first failure, the chance to learn and do better in the next business project, and for others it’s a prosperous SME. Some of our programme graduates have launched booming SMEs, such as ICT Amber Housing in the housing sector; VIVIDLY, a virtual reality platform for architects and their clients; KonqEyes, an application to assist the blind. These are just some examples, and even those who are still in the midst of their way to success have gained the necessary boost to strive for their goals. Our mission is to be there and give a helping hand throughout the programme and beyond.
Is there anything that you feel the European Commission can do to assist you achieve your objectives for Latvia?
Support incentives through visiting experts, co-organising workshops, promotion of activities, programmes, experts, members, organisation…
Such activities like the EU-co-financed project under the Interreg programme, ‘Best Agers’ or another project ‘Connect Baltic Sea Region+’, have played crucial roles in forming CONNECT’s vision and activities. Leaders of these projects and the international team around them have influenced development of the mindset, capacity and passion for entrepreneurship and innovation in all aspects of the life cycle. For example, the Best Agers project focuses on how to engage seniors aged 55+ in business activities at a broader, deeper and larger scale. Some activities were focused on using the skills and experience of best agers to become mentors for young people and entrepreneurs; others brought to the table issues on safe and adapted workplaces for elderly people. One noteworthy example of this was the City of Kiel Waste Management project in which they redesigned and rebuilt waste collection machines so that people who work them could get into and out of them more easily by simply making one small step up/down instead of three larger steps. We call it ‘making the world a better place to live.’
Hundreds of projects competed in the 2015 national competitions for a chance to represent their country in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards; 19 projects have now been shortlisted. A record number of 32 countries entered the Awards this year with the most popular category being “Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit”.
This year’s jury was made up of members of the outgoing Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the current Luxembourg Presidency along with representatives from the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, business, and academia. Following much deliberation, the jury established a shortlist of 19 nominees in six categories. The winners for each of the categories will be announced at a central event of European SME Week, the SME Assembly in Luxembourg, to which all nominees will be invited. The prestigious Grand Jury Prize winner and special mentions will also be announced at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony.
Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
France: Youth Awareness Week for Female Entrepreneurship sees female entrepreneurs go into schools over the course of the week and put on presentations, talks or forums for young people aged 13–25 about female entrepreneurship and how women can start businesses and find success. The initiative aims to increase young people’s awareness of female entrepreneurship, and how women can start businesses and find success. Over the past three years 816 woman entrepreneurs, 18,000 young participants and more than 250 educational establishments – colleges, secondary schools and higher education institutions – have been involved.
Responsible organisation: The 100,000 Entrepreneurs Association
Organisation website: http://www.semaine-entrepreneuriat-feminin.com/
Netherlands: ZomerOndernemer allows young people to start their own companies and experience entrepreneurship during their summer holidays. By turning young people into proud business owners, the initiative helps them develop crucial skills as well as stimulate the spirit of entrepreneurship. Launched in 2010, the project has already attracted 265 young people and helped produce 82 companies.
Responsible organisation: The New Entrepreneur Foundation
Organisation website: www.zomerondernemer.nl
United Kingdom: The John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank supports the development of an entrepreneurial culture within the City of Hull by engaging young people from the age of 5, allowing them to gain “soft skills” and entrepreneurial experience. The initiative raises awareness of the self-employed option as a pathway post education. It has supported over 350 young people interested in business from across Hull and the East Riding area.
Responsible organisation: Hull City Council
Organisation website: www.youthenterprise.co.uk
Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Denmark: The Mobile FabLab is entrepreneurship on wheels, designed to raise awareness on new prototyping technologies and entrepreneurial skill by visiting and facilitating a large number of events, workshops and meet-ups all over Denmark for pre-entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs and SMEs. They have initiated the first mobile FabLab-facility of its kind worldwide, put on more than 60 events reaching almost 28,000 people, 232 SMEs have been through FabLab- counselling and competence development courses and they have facilitated workshops for 1600 students in FabSchool.
Responsible organisation: FabLab Danmark c/o Væksthus Sjælland
Organisation website: www.detmobilefablab.dk
Ireland: Going for Growth focuses on encouraging female entrepreneurs to be ambitious and supports them to achieve their growth aspirations. Based on annual cycles, the initiative leverages the volunteer efforts of successful female entrepreneurs. The impact is measured in increased revenues, employment created and first time exporters, as well as in greater ambition, confidence, and a heightened strategic perspective among the participants; to date, over 400 ambitious owner managers have been supported.
Responsible organisation: Fitzsimons Consulting in association with the Gender Equality Division, Department of Justice and Equality
Organisation website: Going for Growth focuses on encouraging female entrepreneurs to be ambitious and supports them to achieve their growth aspirations.
Italy: Alternating Work & School Experience provides students in secondary education with the professional skills required by businesses today, through a range of programmes and work experience opportunities. The initiative aims to ensure the best work experience school programmes are created to benefit the greatest number of students possible in the province. Some of the skills that are developed through the initiative are centred around business innovation, the corporate culture, the development of relevant statistical data, problem solving and marketing and business plan development. Since the initiative has been implemented, there has been a marked improvement for the schools and businesses involved, particularly in terms of skills and knowledge acquired.
Responsible organisation: Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Crafts and Agriculture of Macerata
Organisation website: http://www.mc.camcom.it/P42A0C176S166/The-Chamber-of-Commerce.htm
Category 3: Improving the Business Environment
Croatia: Your Business Friendly Town acts as an accessible and practical example of how new and established entrepreneurs have the opportunity to succeed, by strengthening the capacity of local government. It has opened the doors of domestic and foreign investment to create new jobs, promote entrepreneurship in the local area, and to overcome administrative hurdles by adopting local government as “business partners”. The initiative has successfully increased the number of investors, entrepreneurs and jobs in the Economic zone of Jalševac, doubling the number of jobs in to over 850.
Responsible organisation: City of Jastrebarsko
Organisation website: www.jastrebarsko.hr
Malta: Strengthening the Business Environment through Active Social Dialogue focuses on providing professional management support to SMEs, as well as working to educate the general public on employment-related issues. Due to a series of specialised and focused activities, at least 14% of the SMEs in Malta have been empowered to become increasingly active participants in social dialogue in Malta.
Responsible organisation: Malta Employers’ Association (MEA)
Organisation website: www.maltaemployers.com
United Kingdom: Creative Quarter describes itself as an ‘incubator without walls’, which aims to support creative SMEs to generate prosperity and create jobs. It develops highly-skilled local workforce who are ready to compete with one another to transform The Creative Quarter area in the city to make it a great business location. The initiative has supported over 700 businesses and has created just over 600 jobs. It has also contributed to the development of over 7,500 sq m. of new workspace for SMEs, entrepreneurs and creative businesses.
Responsible organisation: Creative Quarter Nottingham Limited
Organisation website: www.creativequater.com
Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Estonia: GameFounders is a global gaming industry accelerator that aims to support technically strong teams with developing a business model and guidance on product development. Since its launch, the accelerator has implemented four cycles and has worked with 28 teams from 16 countries. GameFounders has contributed to the increase of Estonian gaming industry start-up numbers.
Responsible organisation: GameFounders OÜ
Organisation website: www.gamefounders.com
Latvia: TechHub Riga is a major technology and IT co-working space for startup companies. The space was created with a view to bring together like-minded startups that can help each other to successfully develop their projects. The initiative has provided office space for more than 30 technology startups since its creation. More recently, over the past 2 years, 50 businesses have been incubated, as well as several international and local conferences, meetings, and experience sharing events being organised and held each year.
Responsible organisation: Foundation TechHub Riga
Organisation website: riga.techhub.com
Italy: The Temporary Export Manager project provides businesses with the option to employ a junior/trainee member to the team to work in a company in close cooperation with company management in an international marketing position. The project aims to spread a culture of internationalisation among micro businesses and SMEs in the region, thus responding to the need for technical skills required by companies to possess and consolidate their business with those companies located overseas. Throughout the four years, over 150 new university graduates have been inserted in as many companies in the region.
Responsible organisation: Regional Union of the Chambers of Commerce of Emilia-Romagna
Organisation website: www.ucer.camcom.it
Category 5: Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency
Austria: Resource-efficient Industrial Park Liesing works to help coordinate the management of the neighbourhood in the former industrial park of Liesing, ultimately creating a positive identity for the area. Research and advisory activities focus on resource-saving and resource-efficient economies. The initiative has successfully raised awareness of the issue of conserving resources, – both with companies and businesses and the local population – and have committed to the preservation of the industrial park as a site for manufacturing companies and businesses.
Responsible organisation: Vienna Chamber of Commerce
Organisation website: www.wkw.at
Luxembourg: SuperDrecksKëscht works to certify waste management concepts of facilities and plants, promotes the consumption of sustainable products and supports the further development of resource-efficient recovery operations. It aims to develop the classical waste management process for the recycling/de-manufacturing industry, and thus, expand and provide support to the environmental technology and services. The initiative has recorded an increase in the number of participating plants implementing ecological waste management, and has contributed to an increase in the sales of sustainable products.
Responsible organisation: The Environmental Administration/The Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructures.
Organisation website: www.sdk.lu
Spain: Green Business Network is the first networking platform in Spain to specialise in green business. Targeting entrepreneurs and investors, the project seeks to promote entrepreneurship in the environment sector and to encourage sustainable business development. The initiative has already attracted over 7,000 members, including 100 investors and funders.
Responsible organisation: Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment
Organisation website: www.fundación-biodiversidad.es
Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Austria: Business Start-up Programme for the Unemployed works with the Austrian Public Employment Service to provide start up advice, company specific qualifications and livelihood security for the unemployed. It does so through three core services: 1. Start-up advice from a commissioned third-party consulting firm 2. Company-specific qualifications and 3. Livelihood security. Their aim is to support unemployed people in taking up successful and sustainable self-employment. They have achieved a high number of start-ups (in 2014: 5,169 UGP start-ups, of which women accounted for around 40%), very good labour market success and “survival rates”: 64% after 5 years, and additional employment effects: 25% of company founders employ staff.
Responsible organisation: Public Employment Service Austria
Germany: Enterability is a management consultancy for people with disabilities that provides help before and after starting a business. The overarching goal is to enable people with disabilities to participate in the labour market through targeted counselling and training for self-employment. They provide peer counselling, advice, seminars with specific contents and methods, sign language interpreters and information on accessing loans specifically for disabled people.
Responsible organisation: Social Impact gGmbH
Organisation website: http://www.ifd-enterability.de/
Greece: Vocational Training & Certification of the unemployed workers of the ship repair industry in the Piraeus area, aimed at reduction of unemployment and recovery of the sector aims to enhance the capabilities of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry by providing a programme that hopes to increase employment levels in the local area. The programme aims to enhance entrepreneurship, mainly in the ship repair sector, and to reduce unemployment by involving those that are unemployed. Of the 1,500 unemployed who participated in the Vocational Training Programme, 867 obtained certification, and 150 gained employment.
Responsible organisation: Piraeus Chamber of Commerce & Industry (EVEP)
Organisation website: www.pcci.gr
Portugal: Lisbon Micro Entrepreneurship is a programme working to support responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship, be it through helping to develop business plans, to advising on how best to obtain funding. It was set up in 2013 with the aim of stimulating the city’s economy and supporting company and job creation. The initiative is therefore a part of Lisbon Municipal Council’s (LMC) global strategy to support entrepreneurship, bringing together public, private and local and national bodies with a local focus, enabling anyone to get support for projects in a range of fields, from the planning phase through to the first years of activity. Support comes in the form of help to structure ideas, developing business plans, help with implementing their projects, and obtaining funding. Over 50 companies have been set up, 27 of which have been funded, over 100 jobs have been created, and over 550 meetings have been held with entrepreneurs.
Responsible organisation: Lisbon Municipal Council
Organisation website: http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/www.cm-lisboa.pt
About the awards
Since 2006, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards have rewarded excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small business at a national, regional and local level. Over 2 800 projects have entered since the awards were launched and in total they have supported the creation of well over 10 000 new companies. Its objectives are to identify and recognise successful activities and initiatives to promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship, showcasing and sharing examples of best entrepreneurship policies and practices, creating a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in European society and encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs.
For more information on the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, visit the website, follow the Awards on Twitter or visit the official Awards Facebook page. For more information on European SME Week you can visit the website and follow on Twitter.
My co-founder, Raimonds Kaze, and I had the idea to set up Infogr.am after we made customised data visualisations for the European Commission, the weekly analytical magazine Ir, and the Latvian Institute. With a rising demand for interactive infographics, we developed data visualisation software for non-designers. It is used by millions of journalists, activists, teachers and students around the world, including The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, and Amnesty International. Our goal is to empower people to tell stories with data. If the internet had not existed, I would have had to invent it – but I would have given it a different name.
As Minister in charge of SMEs and start ups, I would make Latvia a digital hub for start ups by reducing tax rates, cutting red tape and co-financing participation in accelerator programmes.
“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we create growth, innovation and success stories; we are driven to try again even if success is not immediate.”
Hero(es): Family, friends, history
Start up capital: Venture Capital
Can you code? Yes
Education / Training: Graphic design
Product / Service: Data visualisation software
Category | Grand Jury Prize
A special prize awarded to the entrepreneurial initiative considered the most creative and inspiring in Europe.
Think Small First – Introduction to Micro Companies in Latvia
The Latvian Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) developed Think Small First to help bring Latvia out of the economic crisis.
The initiative has helped micro-enterprises by promoting the creation of a special tax rate and simplified tax accounting system. It has also introduced a micro-credit programme and has made information about launching a business available in one place.
The LCCI has played one of the leading roles in discussions held in the Latvian Parliament, the Saeima. This included initiating amendments of laws to enable implementation of the concept of micro-enterprises. Through support from the Ministry of Economy, the Saeima supported the Micro-Enterprise Tax Law, which came into effect on 1st September 2010. In addition, improvement of the regulatory framework is ongoing, thus providing support to the smallest enterprises.
As a result of this initiative, a total of 28,000 enterprises have utilised the simplified tax accounting system and the number of micro-enterprises in Latvia is continuing to grow.
Overall, the introduction of the concept of micro-enterprises in Latvia has helped to further the country’s rapid economic growth within the European Union and provide a favourable climate for small businesses to operate.
Lita Kokale, Head of Public Relations
Krišjāņa Valdemāra Iela 35
Category | Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Recognising actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset. Raising awareness about entrepreneurship in society.
MyCity, The Finnish Economic Information Office, Finland
The MyCity learning entity is a miniature city, built from mobile wall elements, and includes at least 15 different local and regional enterprises and public services. Students work within his or her own trade in the city and receive wages. They also act as consumers and citizens of the society. Approximately 70 pupils work at the same time at the MyCity site. MyCity, sponsored by the Finish Ministry of Education and Culture, operates in eight different municipalities and 24,000 sixth graders and 1,000 teachers have visited the sites.
Tomi Alakoski, Executive Director
Category | Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills
Recognises regional or local initiatives to improve entrepreneurial, vocational, technical and managerial skills.
Senior Enterprise, The Mid East Regional Authority, Ireland
Senior Enterprise is specifically designed to encourage a greater involvement with enterprise by those aged 50 and over and to raise awareness of their potential to start a business, acquire or invest in a business started by someone else, or to become a volunteer mentor. To date almost 1,000 individuals over 50 years of age, who have received support from Senior Enterprise in Ireland, the UK and France, have set up new businesses.
John Byrne, Director
Category | Improving the Business Environment
Recognising measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, particularly for start-ups.
Starters’ Agreement for Entrepreneurs
The Belgium Starters’ Agreement helps aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to succeed. Entrepreneurs enter into a starters’ agreement with the City of Ghent, Belgium, to draft a business plan, appeal for professional advice and specialist guidance, follow training and development courses and to continue the independent business activity for at least three years in Ghent. With this contract, entrepreneurs can receive support of a maximum of €5,000 for education, professional guidance and investment. All start-ups that have been established as independent enterprises in Ghent for less than two years can apply for a starter’s agreement. One of the most important objectives of the agreement is to increase the success rate of starting companies during their first years and to prevent failures. To date, a total of 171 starters’ agreements have received a positive recommendation by the evaluation committee, with 166 of these approved by the Council of the Mayor and aldermen.
Ria Dossche, Advisor
Category | Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Recognises policies to encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union.
Portuguese Shoes: The Sexiest Industry in Europe, Portuguese Association of Footwear Industries, Components, Leather Goods and their Substitutes, Portugal
The Portuguese footwear industry exports more than 95% of its production to the most demanding international markets. In order to allow the sector to continue to take firm steps in a competitive international environment, the APICCAPS, a national business association, with the support of the Compete Programme, has taken various measures to promote Portuguese footwear. The current campaign has helped to promote around 120 SMEs at professional events all around the world. A campaign symbol for Portuguese shoes was developed using the slogan ‘Portuguese Shoes: Designed by the Future’. The image promotes a mark of quality and seeks to establish Portuguese Shoes as a sophisticated innovation. As a result of this strategy, footwear exports have grown more than 20% in the past two years.
Paulo Gonçalves, Director of Communication
Category | Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency
Recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency through, for example, green skills development and matchmaking as well as funding.
The Town of Gürsu Developing with Unlimited Clean Energy, Municipality of Gürsu, Turkey
Key aims of the Town of Gürsu project are to increase the use of green energy in Gürsu to prevent environmental pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels, to save energy used for municipal services and to help socio-economic development of the town. Since the initiative began, four innovative applications have been configured, tested and applied. A photovoltaic solar energy plant was developed and Gürsu is now well-known for using clean solar energy in all of its service areas. The project aims to enable Turkey to take a leading role in renewable energy investments at both regional and national levels. Since the project began, Gürsu has obtained 40% of its electricity needs from the sun in the 5 months of winter and 100% in the 7 summer months.
Hüseyun Özmen, Strategic Planning Division Manager
Category | Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Recognises regional or local actions promoting corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices.
Integration of Disadvantaged People , AV Mobilita s.r.o., Slovakia
AV Mobilita s.r.o. is a sheltered workshop specialising in integrating disabled people into all areas of life. As a pilot organisation, it focused on car repairs and it now co-ordinates other sheltered workshops forming part of the Škoda Handy Disabled Persons Project in Bratislava, Prešov, Banská Bystrica and Žilina. It participates in the cultural, social and sporting activities of Associations of Registered Disabled Persons throughout Slovakia. The scheme has facilitated the smooth integration of disabled people into society through mediation of special-priced vehicle sales and through comprehensive theoretical and practical training of applicants seeking a licence to drive a car. In 2009, the workshop received an award from the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic for the integration of disabled persons into the workplace.
Klaudia Valušková, Owner of Auto Valušek