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The future of physiotherapy – Virgílio Bento

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we meet entrepreneur Virgílio Bento. Virgílio is from Portugal and is the founder of  SWORD Health, a company working to change the future of physiotherapy. Today he shares with us a snapshot of his entrepreneurial story and his “secret of success”.

I became an entrepreneur in 2012 when I finished my PhD. It was clear to me that becoming an entrepreneur would be a more impactful use of my knowledge as opposed to staying in academia. It was then that I began my journey with SWORD Health. The company is building the future of physical therapy by combining AI with high-precision motion tracking sensors. This allows our patients to have access to high-quality physiotherapy without having to leave their homes.

The inspiration for the idea was personal and came from my family’s struggle to get high-quality physical therapy in a very difficult moment of our lives. Both my own personal experience as well as those of the SWORD Health patients and their families is what drives me to do better and achieve more. The company mission has remained the same from the beginning, to democratise the access to high quality physical therapy services with our digital therapists, regardless of the economic or social status of any patient.

Setting up my own business has taught me that talent, resilience and luck are key and you need all three to be successful. My overall ‘secret of success’ is to work smart and work hard, although I do not think it is a ‘secret recipe’; it is an attitude to life. Personally I don’t consider myself successful, and probably never will; there’s always a bigger mountain to climb. You also need to be prepared to make mistakes. I have not failed yet; but the time will come. Failure is not about when, but how one deals with it.

Being an entrepreneur is exciting and unpredictable, so if I could go back to the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I would tell myself to buckle up for one hell of a ride. I believe that the process of innovation is like going into a dark forest and coming out alive on the other side. Despite the inevitable difficulties and challenges of being an entrepreneur, I would advise all potential entrepreneurs to simply persist. It is not going to be easy, but it is well worth it.

Want to learn more about Virgílio’s work? Have a look at the SWORD Health website.

Do you want to be featured on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal? Want to share your entrepreneurial story? Get in touch with us at: promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu 

Green Projects – EEPA 2018 is looking for you!

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are still open for nominations and entries, and this year with the re-instatement of the ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category, which was temporarily suspended in 2017, there are even more prizes to win!

So what is this category about?

The ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’ category is one of a total of six categories, and recognises initiatives 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.

Previous European winners of the category include:

Interested in applying for this category? Check your national submission deadline and contact your national coordinator today!

Watch the 2016 winning moment:

Find out about the 2016 nominees:

EEPA 2018 – Learning from Portuguese National Coordinator Helena Moura

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EEPA continues and so does the work of all of the National Coordinators. Today on Promoting Enterprise we are joined by Portuguese coordinator Helena Moura, who has been involved with EEPA since the inception of the scheme in 2005. Continue reading to learn from her experiences and to find out what goes into the Portuguese EEPA campaign.

How have you been preparing EEPA 2018 so far?

IAPMEI, the Portuguese body responsible for EEPA coordination, did a preliminary benchmark comparing the actions carried out during the previous EEPA editions versus related results. This allowed us to define an integrated action plan based on:

  • a core message combining “motivation” with the benefits of participation in EEPA, an EU initiative carried out in more than 30 countries
  • sharing information on awarded projects
  • personalised mailing, by post, from the President of IAPMEI addressed to a wide range of entities (over 800), including ministries, and a personalised email to over 1 300 other entities
  • strengthening the collaboration with national and regional stakeholders
  • highlighting EEPA on the IAPMEI website and on the portal of the Portuguese Enterprise Europe Network consortium
  • reinforcing the dissemination of EEPA material via IAPMEI social networks and newsletters
  • researching online and through media for eligible initiatives

This was combined with a regular assessment so as to allow for a reformulation of the action plan where needed.

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for reaching out to potential applicants?

Based on experience, my top 3 pieces of advice would be to do your research, establish close cooperation with stakeholders and create those direct contacts and finally, put in the hard work! Several of the Portuguese projects awarded in previous editions, including on EU level, come from research carried out by IAPMEI. Once you have identified the potential candidate, it is also very important to identify the right person to be your contact. This will allow to better introduce the EEPA scheme, motivate them to participate and to give all the necessary support and follow-up.

IAPMEI developed a committed task force which is dedicated to motivating participants and supporting the preparation of entries, something which has definitely been s key for reaching out to potential applicants.

What will be the main aspects of your EEPA 2018 campaign?

For the current campaign IAPMEI has widened the scope of the target audience, and enlarged the dedicated task force for direct contacting of potential applicants. There has also been additional training for the task force members, so as to have more assertive and effective communication with potential applicants.

What advice would you give to projects applying in the newly re-instated category ‘Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency’?

It is a challenging category, but not impossible to apply for! Portugal was awarded in this category in the first year, and the winner was found through careful IAPMEI research. My advice would be to take the time to identify and contact the entities with the potential to apply for this category, and most importantly don’t give up!

What is the most important thing you have learnt during your experience as National Coordinator?

Having worked in EEPA from the very beginning (2005), I would say that it is a challenge to promote enterprises and entrepreneurship and, mostly, to encourage and inspire potential entrepreneurs. However, despite the difficulties the visibility and impact that the projects and related promoters achieve with EEPA participation is important and should definitely be highlighted when recruiting potential projects. When you are promoting the EEPA think about what opportunities could come as a result of participation, and share that with your potential applicants.

Since 2006, Portugal has achieved more than 14% of the total of the EEPA national entries, which demonstrates the commitment of the Portuguese promoters participating in the initiative. These results are in line with the high entrepreneurship performance in Portugal and demonstrate the dynamism and effort that the country has been carrying out to promote the business activity in the Europe.

Any other National Coordinator experiences that you would like to share?

I have witnessed the enormous commitment from all the involved parties, from the huge dissemination carried out by the European Commission and, at national level by IAPMEI, the great commitment of the President of IAPMEI and of course that of the National Jury. Without their commitment and dedication, the EEPA would not be what they are in Portugal today. We are also lucky enough to be able to organise a national ceremony with the participation of a member of government, and featuring the testimonials of previously awarded Portuguese projects.

Interested in what goes on behind the scenes of EEPA? Read the latest national coordinator interview here with Estonian coordinator Kaupo Sempelson and keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for all the latest EEPA news.

Life after EEPA – MADEIRA VINTNERS on Euronews

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All the way from the sunny Portuguese island of Madeira, Promoting Enterprise is bringing you a story from a former European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) nominee…Madeira Vintners!

Over the last five years, the all-female team at MADEIRA VINTNERS have been working to establish their Madeira wine brand, the first Madeira wine firm to be founded in over 80 years . The team is not only nationally innovative, but unusual across the sector. The first harvest in 2012 helped with Madeiran grape distribution, producing added value for Madeiran grape producers and vineyards. As an isolated EU territory, the success of this venture, which saw more than 100% increase in sales in 2016-2017, is important for the island’s agribusiness sector, which is a key source of revenue after tourism.

Since competing in the 2017 edition of EEPA, the project has gone on to be interviewed by Euronews about their work in the wine production sector. Watch their interview below and visit their website for more information on this innovative project!

Ideas from Europe 2017 – Finalists

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Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden are going to the finals of Ideas from Europe on April 24, 2018 in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, the Netherlands. The jury found these ideas the most innovative and believe these will have the most impact on our society.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The winners

This is what the jury, Kaupo Reede, Kristin Schreiber, Ulrike Rabmer Kollen and Cees Vermaas had to say about the ideas:

  1. Julien Penders of Bloomlife (Belgium): “If you are a mother the solution of Bloomlife will give you peace of mind.”
  2. Klaus B. Pederson of Too Good to Go (Denmark): “A practical solution to the second hand market of food.”
  3. Steffen Preuss of Ichò (Germany): “This solution is acknowledging the tremendous problem of dementia and provides a practical device that brings relief.”
  4. Fiona Edwards Murphy of ApisProtect (Ireland): “We need bees to make sure our food supply will last. This solution will help the bee population.”
  5. Aida Nazarikhorram of LuxAI (Luxembourg): “There is a big potential in technology that lets children interact more easily with robots.”
  6. Mark Offerhaus of Micreos (The Netherlands): “This solution is potentially a ground breaking alternative for antibiotics.”
  7. Artur Racicki of SEEDia (Poland): “The combination of something practical and modern that will help both us and the environment.”
  8. Francisco Duarte of PavNext (Portugal): “The combination of safety and energy has great potential.”
  9. Mervi Pänkäläinen of Mightifier (Finland): “This will really stimulate behaviour change and help children fight bullying.”

(Click on the links above to see the individual pitches)

The Jury have decided that due to them sharing a common objective and similar goals, but with slightly different target audiences, that the Speak Up solution from Sweden will share the stage with Mightifier from Finland at the finals in The Hague.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The Jury also wanted to highlight another project and give it a special mention. Stefan Steinberger the semi-finalist presenting Refugee{code}, will also be joining the finalists at the Hague due to his solution being so relevant to the current refugee crisis.

Wildcard

From November 23 onwards, the wildcard vote for the last finalist will be open to the public. They will be able to vote online via http://ideasfrom.eu/vote for one of the other nineteen solutions that were not chosen by the jury.

The innovator with the most votes will then go on to join the other finalists in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, The Netherlands on April 24, 2018.

To see photos from the Ideas from Europe semi-finale, please visit our Flickr. To see the whole competition, you can watch the video.

Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship – Final EEPA 2017 introductions

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Time to introduce our final category of EEPA 2017 candidates! The category of ‘Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship’ 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. This year there are two nominated projects for the European prize from France and Portugal.

Adie (Association for Economic Rights Initiatives) is an association which helps people without access to conventional banking services start-up their business, thanks to their initiatives like Microfranchise Solidaire, the first operator of microcredit in France. By 2016, it had supported 19,431 people and enabled the creation and development of 14,366 businesses. Additionally more than 200 entrepreneurs have already joined a microfranchise network and benefitted from the support of a partner in order to set up and develop their activities.

 

The Mundar Change your World – Young Entrepreneurship Contest is a platform that offers children and young people the chance to create, present and experiment with their ideas. Created in 2013, it gives young innovators between the ages of 16 and 30 a chance to have their ideas funded and implemented. To date 77 youth ideas with personal, community and social benefits have been implemented, allowing youth to have a real impact without one of the biggest hurdles, financial support, getting in the way.

Who will come away with an EEPA 2017 prize? Which projects will be our 2017 European winners? We can’t wait to find out at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn this November! Read more about about Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, Category 3: Improving the Business Environment and Category 4: Supporting the Internationalisation of Business on the Portal, and keep coming back for the latest SME Assembly, SME Week and EEPA 2017 updates.

Meet the EEPA 2017 candidates for the ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ prize

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What other inspiring projects are competing for an EEPA 2017 title? Today we introduce you to the shortlisted candidates in the ‘Supporting the Internationalisation of Business’ category, which recognises initiatives that give enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, opportunities and encouragement with regards to both EU and external markets. This year’s candidates are from Austria, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

With the programme “Internationalisation 2015 – 2020”, ecoplus International supports Lower Austrian SMEs in entering foreign markets, from the initial providing of information to realising first export deals or establishing branches, with free and customised services. The aim is to support SMEs in their international business activities and to increase their success in foreign markets. In addition the “High Potential Programme” supports selected enterprises with high internationalisation potential in their development to become “Exportchampions”. This is a new approach for supporting enterprises and start-ups, in their growth strategies and their international expansion, all in keeping with the concept of “start-up to scale-up”.

The all-female team at MADEIRA VINTNERS have spent the last 5 years working to establish their Madeira wine brand, after the last firm which was founded over 80 years ago. The all-female team is not only nationally innovative, but unusual across the sector. The first harvest in 2012 helped with Madeiran grape distribution, producing added value for Madeiran grape producers and vineyards. As an isolated EU territory, the success of this venture, which saw more than 100% increase in sales in 2016-2017, is important for the island’s agribusiness sector, which is a key source of revenue after tourism.

The International Trade Centre at Business West has transformed international trade services, combining regional, national and international expertise, funding and resources. It aligns its Chamber of Commerce objectives with UK and Pan European policy, combining private sector expertise from third party providers and the Banking Sector to benefit businesses and boost export sales in the South West of England. The centre now employs over 100 trade advisers and provides a range of digital solutions and support. To date it has engaged with 5,800 exporters, assisted 2010 companies with overseas sales to the value of £430 million and created 3,800 jobs.

Which project will win the 2017 title? Find out at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn this November! Find out about the Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills and Category 3: Improving the Business Environment nominees on the Portal, and come back next week to read about Category 6: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship…

European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2017, 11 years of fostering entrepreneurship

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The Portuguese national awards ceremony for the 11th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2017 (EEPA) took place on 21 September 2017, in Lisbon. The two national winners were announced and all of the projects that submitted their hard work to the national competition were recognised for their efforts. The ceremony was chaired by Jorge Marques dos Santos, the President of the Board of IAPMEI the Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation and SME Envoy, took place.

Since 2006, more than 3700 projects in the 31 countries have been submitted  in the national competitions, with Portugal contributing more than 14% of total participating projects. The ceremony was attended by 80 participants, with a large representation of EEPA candidates, a representative of the European Commission Representation in Portugal and other stakeholders. The Secretary of State for Industry and the Ministry of Economy Ana Lehmann, also attended the ceremony.

Congratulations to this year’s Portuguese national winners!

MADEIRA VINTNERS (Category 4 – Supporting the internationalisation of business) and MUNDAR: Change your world – young entrepreneurship contest (Category 5 – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship).

 

 

Who will make it onto the EEPA 2017 shortlist? Find out later this week right here on Promoting Enterprise! 

 

EEPA National Winners 2017 – Improving the business environment

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Who else will be competing for a place on the European shortlist for EEPA 2017? Time to find out about the European projects competing in Category 3: Improving the business environment! Don’t forget to have a look at the national winners in Category 1 and Category 2.

Category 3 recognises initiatives that support enterprise start-up and growth, simplify legislative and administrative procedures for businesses. In 2016 the prize was won by the Leader SME programme from Portugal for their activities to support national SMEs.

This year there are 8 projects competing for a European title in this category. Congratulations to all the national winners and we look forward to finding out who is on the EEPA 2017 shortlist!

Austria: Innovation to Company

Czech Republic: Třebíč is lively

Ireland: Mayo Ideas Lab

Italy: Progetto Manifattura – Polo Meccatronica

Netherlands: Innofest

Slovenia: Podjetno v prihodnost

Spain: Reempresa

Turkey: Business Friendly Uskudar Municipality

How to win EEPA? Past winners reveal their recipe for a winning formula

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What is the recipe for success? What is the secret? How can you make sure your project is one of the next European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) winners? EEPA is an opportunity for public bodies and public-private partnerships from across the EU Member States, (as well as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey) to put forward their most imaginative and successful initiatives that support entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Each country selects their top national winners to compete at European level across five different categories.

Today Promoting Enterprise brings you advice from the best of the best, past EEPA winners. Ready to discover the answers? Read on…

Why should you enter EEPA?

Many of the past winners have mentioned that one of the key benefits of entering EEPA is that it provides “a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect”, as “you can’t always focus on what you did well yesterday…the analysis is important and it gives you a chance to make your learning journey visible so that others can learn from it.”

Not only does it allow for reflection but it provides an opportunity to meet with other pioneering initiatives from across Europe, as “participating in a competition is a real opportunity to meet and share with initiatives and people…learning from their experiences is very enriching”. Some winners also mentioned the increased internal learning and contact saying that “entering EEPA gives a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and contacts with colleagues, experts and other stakeholders, drawing focus to the relevant questions and impact SME development”.

All the winners agreed that winning, in the words of one winner “the most rigorous and professionally run enterprise award in the world”, was quite an experience. Ultimately this award “provides recognition from a higher recognised entity like the European Commission”, which for many has led to exciting national and international developments for their projects.

Finally very importantly “you should enter because it is fun! The whole process requires a lot of work and you need to invest the necessary time, but once that part is done you can really enjoy the experience of being in the competition.”

What should you bear in mind when you apply?

So how did this variety of winners come out on top in each of their respective categories? Each winner has their own story to tell which you can read here, but read some of the tips they wanted to share with the potential winners of the future:

  • “Apply and share as much as possible!”
  • “It is important to evaluate whether a project has the following: quality, results, strong partnership, and replicability. Our advice would be that if your project has all of the above, then you should definitely compete!”
  • “Focus your attention on strategy and results achieved.”
  • “A good idea, a quality product, enthusiasm, detailed planning, active stakeholder involvement and teamwork were the key to our success. Our recommendation to future competitors would be to make sure to find their own distinctive formula.”
  • “Develop a pitch and make it interesting and inspirational for others. Inspiration is a very important part of EEPA work, it is what makes a project stand out.”
  • “You should not be scared to point out things that you learnt from and definitely take help from others, don’t do it all on your own.”

Interested in finding out more about EEPA? Are you going to apply and compete for a European title? Be sure to contact your national coordinator for more information and check when your national deadline is. Hurry up because the deadlines are approaching!

Read about the SME Assembly 2017 during which the EEPA finals and awards ceremony will be held.

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