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Ideas from Europe – Wildcard candidates 2018

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Have you voted for your favourite Ideas from Europe wildcard candidate yet? Read on for a re-cap of all the wildcard candidates and be sure to make your voice heard before voting closes to get your candidate to the finals on 24 April in the Hague later this year.


Michalis Agapiou, Novelseas (Cyprus)

The Syndeseas Integrated Solution is an innovative tool, managed by a team of Shipping MRV Auditors. The tool is designed to support and facilitate the enhanced implementation of new and existing maritime regulations as well as help reduce emissions and the use of fossil fuels.

Watch the pitch here.

Mark Marinov, (Bulgaria) makes electric mobility easy to understand, desirable and accessible. They produce and distribute EV charging stations, as well as own the largest online media for electric mobility in Bulgaria. In addition they spread their message through the production of a unique TV series featuring Bulgarian celebrities.

Watch the pitch here.

Martina Cvetković, Balmaris (Croatia) 

Balmaris uses a system to filter ballast water without the use of chemicals. This reduces the damaging effects of invasive alien species introduced via ballast water that are recorded in the seas all over the world and that are having considerable economic, ecological, and environmental impacts.

Watch the pitch here.

Radek Hušek, Sens Foods (Czech Republic)

Sens Foods is looking to use insects to create a whole new range of sustainable, next-gen food products. Using cricket flour, they have developed unique protein and energy bars – gluten and lactose free, with the highest quality protein from crickets and premium natural ingredients.

Watch the pitch here.

Margus Kullerkupp, Sol Navitas (Estonia)

Sol Navitas provides living quarters with natural fresh air with the help of solar energy. As a result global air is less polluted because the technology only uses existing solar energy that does not emit CO2 into the atmosphere.

Watch the pitch here.

Hugo Mercier, Rythm (France)

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, yet most people still know relatively little about sleep and its implications for our bodies. With Dreem, the breakthrough wearable technology that improves deep sleep quality, Rythm not only studies our sleep behaviour but actively enhances our deep sleep.

Watch the pitch here.

Sotiris Bantas, Centaur (Greece)

Centaur are passionate about food safety and enabling abundance. Created by an agronomy expert and software engineer, Centaur brings intelligent technology to history’s oldest industry, by keeping crops healthy and the world happily fed.

Watch the pitch here.

Priszcilla Várnagy, Be-Novative (Hungary)

To be engaged and to be creative, people need unusual triggers to create breakthroughs. Be-Novative invites corporate and individual users to a virtual brainstorming during which participants can find solutions to the world’s big problems or for everyday life situations, using the power of creativity and community.

Watch the pitch here.

Andrea Civra, Panoxyvir (Italy)

We spend nearly five years of our lives coughing and having clogged noses. The Panoxyvir spray is based on molecules produced by our body that have the ability to modify cell membrane composition, which can be used to cure colds and prevent the onset of symptoms.

Watch the pitch here.

Anna Ramata-Stunda, Alternative Plants (Latvia)

Alternative Plants is a biotech start-up that develops plant stem cell cultures for sustainable production of botanical ingredients. Plant stem cell technology is our tool to make inaccessible ingredients from rare medicinal plants accessible to all.

Watch the pitch here.

Violeta Masteikienė, FriendsJam (Lithuania)

Friends Jam is an organisation that connects big families with gardeners or arboretum owners. Together they collect the surplus berries and fruits from the year’s harvest. These are then used to either complement the existing food budget for a large family (allowing them to save for other items), or are made into jams which the families can then sell for extra money.  

Watch the pitch here.

Klaus Conrad, Easy Peasy Coding (Malta)

Easy Peasy Coding uses technology to make children think. Their programs include after-school and joint parent/child classes. The initiative also trains teachers, and provides schools with classroom-ready resources like student workbooks, as well as guidance on how to link coding to core curriculum subjects.

Watch the pitch here.

Artur Racicki, SEEDia (Poland)

SEEDiA creates products that gather solar energy. Their solar benches, stands and other products utilise the energy they gather to charge mobile devices (both with USB ports and wireless chargers), Wi-Fi hotspots, heated seats, radio, LEDs and screens.

Watch the pitch here.

Flavia Oprea, ENTy (Romania)

ENTy aims to empower Ear-Nose-Throat-doctors to issue data-based assessments. The solution consists in a lighter, portable, lower cost device that generates numerical indicators which are easy to interpret.

Watch the pitch here.

Tomáš Brngál, Virtual Medicine (Slovakia)

Every student of medicine has to pass an anatomy exam, which is considered to be one of the toughest. Virtual Medicine has the following mission: simplified and effective learning of anatomy. This was the reason for which they created the first virtual anatomical classroom, in which students are learning about anatomy using virtual reality.

Watch the pitch here.

Jernej Vidmar, AgiliCity (Slovenia)

Urban planning methods are completely obsolete and are practically the same as they were 100 years ago. That’s why AgiliCity is developing an innovative solution that moves urban planning to industry 4.0 standards, making it a lot smarter, more flexible and transparent.

Watch the pitch here.

Alejandro Badolato, Auto Drive Solutions (Spain)

Auto Drive Solutions (ADS) is specialised in the precise guidance and positioning of trains, automobiles and other vehicles. ADS develops innovative and disruptive positioning systems and developed a first prototype that has been successfully tested on the Madrid Metro.

Watch the pitch here.

Jonathan Burr, Howz (United Kingdom)

In the UK, 3 million people juggle paid work with caring responsibilities for the elderly. Howz brings peace of mind, by monitoring the elderly’s use of everyday objects, learning what’s normal and alerting the family when things look out of the ordinary.

Watch the pitch here.

Best of luck to all of the wildcard candidates with all of their innovative solutions and we look forward to finding out who will fill the last spot on stage at the Ideas from Europe finals in The Hague on 24 April 2018…

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

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Have we met all of the projects competing for a place on the EEPA 2017 European shortlist? Almost! Today Promoting Enterprise presents the final category of national winners, Category 6: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship. This category recognises initiatives that promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, legal migrants, disabled, or people from ethnic minorities.

In 2016 the prize was won by The Rotterdam Business Case from the Netherlands, for their project that strives to help innovative individuals and entrepreneurs who have failed with a venture or are in financial difficulties.

10 projects will be considered for a European title in this category. Well done to all the national winners and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Bulgaria: Listen Up Online Platform for Equal Access

France: Adie Microfranchise Solidaire (AMS)

France: Start’Up Lycée

Iceland: Social and green impact of an electronic drug administration system in an Icelandic nursing home for the elderly

Malta: Setting up our Social Enterprise

Netherlands: IMC Weekendschool

Poland: Karlino na drodze rozwoju

Portugal: MUNDAR: Change your world – young entrepreneurship contest


Slovakia: DATAROOM

Sweden: STAR (Social Innovation och Tillväxt för Alla i Regionen)

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Investing in entrepreneurial skills

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Time to meet the next category of European projects competing to be on the EEPA 2017 shortlist! Look here if you missed Category 1, but today it is the turn of Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills.

This category recognises initiatives that improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills. In 2016 the prize was won by Enterprise Educators Academe from the United Kingdom, for their project working to embed entrepreneurship into education curriculums.

This year there are 9 outstanding European projects competing in this category. Best of luck to all the projects and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Belgium: VentureLab – Student Entrepreneurship for Change

Bulgaria: Implement a Strategy for local development in the municipality of Ardino and implementation process of the Strategy for Community-led local development in the municipalities of Ardino and Djebel

Cyprus: Sound Labor Relations, Contemporary Enterprises  

Estonia: Tech Sisters & Digigirls

Ireland: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Creating an Entrepreneurial Mindset Amongst Engineers: The DkIT BSc (Hons) in Engineering Entrepreneurship

Latvia: University of Latvia Student Business Incubator

Lithuania: Youth Entrepreneurship Education Program – ATVERK

Malta: The Maltese Business Story Initiative

Sweden: Business Generator

European Innovation Scoreboard

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Ever wondered how innovative your country is? What about in comparison to its neighbours or overall in the region? The European Innovation Scoreboard is a European Commission initiative that provides a comparative analysis of innovation performance in EU countries, other European countries, and regional neighbours. It assesses relative strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems and helps countries identify areas they need to address.

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard is a regional extension of the European Innovation Scoreboard, assessing the innovation performance of European regions based on a limited number of indicators.

European Innovation Scoreboard 2017

The 2017 edition of the Scoreboard presents a refined analytical framework. Rankings are therefore not directly comparable with previous editions, but time series using the new analytical framework allow performance to be tracked over time. New indicators capture investments in skills, digital readiness, entrepreneurship, and public-private innovation partnerships. In addition, a new toolbox with contextual data can be used to analyse and compare structural differences between countries.

The new scoreboard reveals that EU innovation performance continues to increase, especially due to improvements in human resources, the innovation-friendly environment, own-resource investments, and attractive research systems. Sweden remains the EU innovation leader, followed by Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany. Lithuania, Malta, the UK, the Netherlands, and Austria are the fastest growing innovators.

In a global comparison, the EU is catching up with Canada and the US, but South Korea and Japan are pulling ahead. China shows the fastest progress among international competitors.

Interested in finding out more? Have a look at country profiles, an interactive online score board and find out who is leading innovation in Europe.

The Digital Assembly 2017

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The Digital Assembly 2017 will take place on 15 and 16 June in Valletta, Malta. It is an event co-organised by the European Commission and the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Digital Assembly 2017, is an opportunity for stakeholders to debate, take stock and look ahead at how Europe and how its partners around the world are preparing for this digital transformation. It will also be an opportunity to have dialogue on the benefits of the Digital Union for citizens with a special focus on younger generations.

The Assembly will kick off on 15 June with a networking lunch, followed by a high-level opening ceremony and international panel discussions.

On Friday 16 June, four thematic working sessions will focus on the key priorities:

The Digital Assembly 2017 will end with a panel of young people discussing expectations and ideas for the digital economy and society, before a closing ceremony.

Read the programme here.

Be sure to follow the event on Twitter with the hashtag: #da17eu and live web streaming of the event!

For more information:

Ideas from Europe 2017 – Joint Development. Shared Purpose.

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Ideas from Europe 2017 is about to begin! What can you expect and what are the key dates that you need to remember?

Ideas from Europe was launched in 2015 as a joint initiative of the SME Envoy network and the Dutch government, and will soon become a formal not-for-profit foundation based in the Netherlands in order to continue its activities at European level.

The primary aim of Ideas from Europe, was to shine light on European visionary entrepreneurs – we believe that most of the solutions to our global challenges are already out there, in the hands of visionary entrepreneurs.

The 2017-2018 edition of Ideas from Europe will kick off on 6 April 2017 in Malta, and marks the start of a new search for potential solutions to global challenges. All 27 EU Member States are involved in searching for innovative ideas and the entrepreneurs behind them, and together with Ideas from Europe will give them the opportunity to present their ideas on a European stage. The 2017-2018 programme will continue with a scaling up of ideas from 2016, which will run in parallel with the new search from May to November 2017.

The semi-finals will be held during the SME Assembly 2017 in late November 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, which will be complemented by a public vote across the EU to help find the top ideas in Europe.

For more information on Ideas from Europe be sure to keep checking their website for updates.

Do you have an idea that could compete on European level? Do you think you have a potential solution to a global challenge? Why not get in touch with Ideas from Europe and enter your idea for consideration? Contact them for information at

Look here for more information on previous speakers.

Ideas from Malta – Will we see you there?

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Calling all innovators! Do you know what is going to be happening in Malta on the 7th of March 2017?

The Ideas from Malta event is a collection of Ideas From Europe and Malta’s entries for business solutions to global challenges. If you are working on an idea that solves a global challenge, this is your opportunity to get recognised and gain the support you need to maximise impact. You can also nominate others.

From power, water & housing to education, healthcare & finance, if you are a Maltese / Dual citizen or resident of Malta building a solution to societal and environmental issues, we want you! Whilst the official deadline has passed you can still submit your ideas for consideration, feedback and guidance here.

Shortlisted innovators will be invited to present their idea at an event to be held in Malta on 7th March 2017. The winner will be Malta’s representative for Ideas from Europe. All innovators who submit an idea will be reviewed and provided with opportunities to further their development, including access to mentors, internships, partners and investors.

This is a unique opportunity to gain access to the partners and funding you need to reach your goals. Let’s help you get there and maybe even further: to the Ideas from Europe finals taking place at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn.

For more information:

The importance of creativity in business

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The blog post on 30 May, talked about creativity being at the heart of scaling up, but creativity is also at the heart of developing and building any business, as Dr Leonie Baldacchino, Director of the Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta, explains in this interview.

At the SME Assembly in Luxembourg last November you explained how everyone can be more creative. Could you give a brief overview of how this can be achieved?


I view creativity as a skill.  Since a skill is an ability that is learned through practice, I believe that everyone can be more creative by engaging in regular creative thinking exercises.  

Let’s take swimming as an analogy.  Human beings are born with the potential to learn how to swim but, in order to become competent swimmers, they must first acquire basic swimming skills, followed by many hours of training in the pool to enhance their technique, strength and endurance. Similarly, human beings are born with the potential to be creative, but attaining this potential requires skill acquisition followed by regular practice to internalise creative thinking skills and develop expertise.  

One of the simplest exercises that one can carry out to enhance creativity is the application of divergent thinking to everyday objects. Divergent thinking refers to the generation of multiple responses or solutions to a particular stimulus or problem. This is regarded as a key skill in creativity as it enables individuals to generate many different ideas. Getting into the habit of generating alternatives by, for example, thinking of many different (and unusual) uses for common items like a sock, a wheel or a piece of paper, enhances one of the most basic skills in creativity.

Many tools and techniques are available to help us be more creative. Some may seem awkward or difficult to the uninitiated but, just like swimming becomes effortless to the swimmer who glides through the water after mastering the relevant techniques, creativity becomes second nature to individuals who make use of creative thinking tools on a regular basis.

A great deal has been written about innovation and its importance for entrepreneurs. How does this differ from creativity and how do you see the role of creativity in business?

I view creativity and innovation as overlapping constructs at two ends of the creative process.  Creativity is the first stage in the creative process and occurs when an individual has an idea that is both new and useful. Innovation is the last stage of the process and refers to the implementation of a creative idea in order to derive value. Innovations can take various forms, including products, services, processes and technologies. The defining feature is that they must be different from and better than what is already available in a particular context. Therefore, before ideas are implemented, they are generally screened to determine their novelty, added-value, feasibility and compatibility with business objectives to ensure their appropriateness for particular settings.    

It has become widely accepted that creativity and innovation are crucial for business success, especially in the ever-changing and uncertain world which we live in today.  Creative thinking is required to regularly come up with new ideas to solve problems that may arise, and to address the challenges brought about by changing customer requirements, market structures, or competitive fields.  However, the reactive function of creativity in the face of change is only one half of the picture.  Creativity is also concerned with instigating change on the basis of a new idea or concept, not because there is a problem to solve, but because an opportunity for improvement has been recognised.  Entrepreneurs who run high-growth businesses do not simply adapt to changes in their environment, but are actively involved in disrupting and creating new markets, i.e., they are trendsetters, not followers.  This proactive side of creativity is especially important in today’s highly competitive business world in which players are constantly striving for that added advantage, thus rendering the mere maintenance of one’s current position insufficient.  

Some businesses outsource their R & D and their product development but it seems likely you would not suggest this solution, but would, rather, encourage the business to build their capacity for creativity. Can you offer some guidance on increasing creative capacity across a business as a whole?

There are many ways in which entrepreneurs and managers can increase the creative capacity of their businesses.  First, they must realise that they have a very important role to play in providing top-down support for creativity and innovation as their beliefs, attitudes and behaviours invariably lay the foundations on which their organisation’s practices and policies are built.  Second, they should appreciate that, if given the opportunity, each and every member of an organisation has the potential to contribute to the creative capacity of a business, as they often have ideas that could lead to an improvement in some aspect of the organisation.

Business leaders must therefore walk the walk by creating a climate that is characterised by a high level of trust and open communication across all levels to foster creativity and innovation.  Furthermore they should actively encourage idea generation, risk-taking and experimentation, and they should treat failures that are made in the pursuit of innovation as learning opportunities.  Furthermore, a system must be in place to facilitate the generation, communication, evaluation and implementation of employee ideas. Such systems, which are generally referred to as idea management or innovation management systems, are a set of procedures that dictate what should happen when employees have ideas that they would like to propose to their organisation.  Many people believe that structures and procedures are detrimental to creativity and innovation, but without such a system, ideas are likely to fizzle out and die before they can ever be implemented.


You’ve already described the creativity process and how to build and develop creativity as a skill set, could you now give a brief outline of the academic programmes in this field that you run at the University of Malta.

The Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking at the University of Malta offers a Master in Creativity and Innovation, a part-time evening Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as a PhD programme in these subject areas.

The Master in Creativity and Innovation is an interdisciplinary programme designed to assist participants to expand their perception, employ creative skills, develop ideas individually and within teams, sustain a creative climate and manage innovation.  This programme attracts professionals from a broad base of disciplines from the local and international scene.  

The Diploma in Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is aimed at individuals who would like to further their education and improve their career prospects but are not in a position to attend full-time day courses due to other commitments. Students shall develop knowledge, transferable skills and attitudes concerning creativity and idea generation, innovation (including innovation management), and entrepreneurship.  

The PhD programme is aimed at individuals who would like to undertake research at a Doctoral level in one of the Institute’s subject areas, namely creativity, innovation (including innovation management), entrepreneurship, or foresight (futures studies).

For further information:


SME Week Newsletter: Issue #2

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Entrepreneurs, national EEPA winners, competitions, and more about business in the EU


This month is a busy one as we continue to gear up for SME Week this November. June sees the closure of all national European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) competitions in time for the European closing date of 1 July. Find out if you still have a chance to enter and win one of the prestigious European awards by searching the deadlines in the article below. Also, meet Kenny, our new Entrepreneur in Residence, and enter or promote our youth essay competition. Read more >>

<< Previous Issue #1

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“I want to wake up with energy, drive and curiosity for what life will bring next.”

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In his final column as May’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR), Nathan Farrugia of Ultimate Performance offers his advice for those considering following in his footsteps and stepping out on their own in business.


Five frogs on a log. One decides to jump in. How many frogs left on the log…..? Five, because there’s a big difference between ‘deciding’ and ‘doing’.

So thinking leads to deciding, but you can’t stop there. You need to act with confidence and determination. How? Firstly, surround yourself with the right people at different times of the business cycle. Our mind plays tricks on us and the little voices of doubt and self criticism can kill our confidence, so we need to have both strategists and cheerleaders around us all the time. Taking calculated risks is important to get us into flow. The easy option won’t help us grow, or prepare us for the inevitable storm. Practice breaking small things before you play with the valuable things. Get experience in a contained space, but do get out of your comfort zone often and consistently. Don’t get amygdala hijack from being too stretched and afraid to act, or you’ll die from paralysis. Don’t overanalyse, yet do your homework well. Remain focussed on your journey, and don’t get sidetracked by your short term goals. Goals are good to take stock of progress. Slalom gracefully around them if they seem to take you off course.

The most important thing, and the biggest source of failure of businesses that solve global problems is this: they remained a dream. Once you have a vision, have designed a plan, and raised the resources to implement it, GO FOR IT! Even if it fails, the worst case scenario is that you’ve gained the opportunity to learn something new.

Pros and cons

Of course, there are pros and cons to starting your own business. The pros of being in control of your destiny are the main reasons to set up your own business. Even as a CEO of a large organisation that I helped create, there was always a sense that I was a cog in a big wheel.

I still felt 100% responsible and I was more than just an employee, but creating something you know will be entirely yours sparks something special in your spirit. It’s also great to not have to ask for permission to put an idea into practice, or feel that you can’t change direction if you so decide one day. Yes, you have responsibilities if you have employees, but it’s different than being a manager.

Running your own business also has its perils. You lose objectivity because it is personal. You may find yourself heading for trouble and keep going because you’re emotionally attached to the goal, or to avoid embarrassment. You don’t want to be proven wrong and, therefore, don’t accept criticism easily. It takes a particular character to be entrepreneurial, but these character traits can also be your downfall. Hard-headed, passionate, ambitious and a risk taker come to mind.

nathan5Starting a business after having led an organisation has helped me stay focussed and not put emotions before logic. I’m more mature and have had a fair amount of mishaps that I’ve learnt great lessons from. Not only is it not too late to start your business at 40, but it’s actually helpful to have experience under your belt. I’ve had a few sideline businesses over the years so I had some startup practice. It’s also important to have good people around you to keep you grounded. It’s easy to become engrossed in the project and lose your relationships with loved ones, and distance yourself from friends and family. Taking stock, or being coached is very important to get a reality check every so often.

To me it’s the mindset that’s the major difference between running a business and working for someone else. You can be equally passionate and driven working for someone else’s business with less personal risk and stress. Running your own business is not for everyone. It shouldn’t be everyone’s ambition. I too need to employ great managers, accountants, experts and associates to make up for all my weaknesses! Thankfully enough people choose to be professionals too.

My hope for Ultimate Performance is to continue to grow my impact by reaching more businesses and business leaders. I want to keep having fun and do exciting things, whilst sharpening my skills. I want to spend time with the people I care about and share experiences with them whenever possible. I want to wake up in the morning with energy, drive and, most of all, curiosity for what life will bring next.

About Nathan

NF-Bust-BWNathan Farrugia is an entrepreneur. He attributes much of his success to a mindset that challenges the impossible and takes every obstacle as an opportunity to find new solutions to old problems. He has used this mindset to break world record endurance challenges, as well as to grow successful enterprises. He now spends most of his time coaching CEOs and business leaders on how to unlock their own performance potential as part of the UP Academy. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

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