Tue David Bak, director of Innovation and Growth for Region Zealand in Denmark, is back for a final interview with Promoting Enterprise. Today the subject is the future, what does it hold for innovation and enterprise? What can we expect? What are the trends telling us? Read on to find out…
In Denmark specifically, the public sector is embracing innovation, which I see as a positive thing. Overall, user driven innovation is increasing, as consumers and users begin to play larger roles in development, and there is a shift from only research based innovation. The current trend is disruption of society as there is a need for innovation for us to advance.
What measures/steps are you taking to encourage digital innovation in Region Zealand?
In Region Zealand we currently don’t do enough and as such we are not a front runner in the digital space. In Denmark however there have been some steps towards pushing companies to work digitally and make that digital transformation. The Danish Business Authority (which takes care of company registrations and working in the Danish public sector) took the controversial decision to make it mandatory for all companies to digitally invoice if they wanted to work in the public sector. Initially there was a lot of resistance but overall it helped – and is still helping companies – to transition to the digital sphere. As such, Denmark has no physical paper trails for monetary transactions and the public sector is going fully digital. That is truly innovative.
As director for innovation and growth, what do you see as the future of enterprise?
The same situation can be seen across all the EU countries, the public sector is under enormous strain which has and will continue to be a catalyst and driver for innovation. This in turn will result in increased cooperation and further blurring of public and private divisions. This blurring of divisions also relates to how the idea of employment is changing and evolving, which is not to say it is negative, but simply means that new working models are beginning to emerge. I see the future of enterprise as no longer including the ‘employee’ concept, I think this will be phased out. It is not uncommon now and nor will it be in future to have multiple jobs or hybrid employment models, alongside an overall merging of individuals and companies.
What does the future of enterprise look like in Denmark? Do you think it is different to global trends or where the future of enterprise will go globally?
Denmark has always had a strong focus on creating a business environment conducive to startups and entrepreneurs. So far we have been successful, but we also need to change in order to stay competitive and innovative. The new focus now needs to be on helping startups to scale up. So the big question for us now is how do we scale up in Denmark? Perhaps a larger and certainly important question is, how do we scale up in the EU?
If you enjoyed this insightful interview with Tue David Bak, be sure to read his other interviews right here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal.
First interview: Innovation – What is it and how can it be fostered?
Second interview: Startup Culture – Tue David Bak shares his insights and predictions
The SME Assembly is the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, and gathers the best and most inspiring ideas with the potential to change the world for the better, from across the 28 Member States. The conference takes place once a year during the European SME Week. Together with the network of SME Envoys, the assembly creates the governance structure of the Small Business Act.
The 2017 edition of the SME Assembly will take place from 22 – 24 November 2017 in Tallinn, during and in cooperation with the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It will be the main event of European SME Week 2017. The opening ceremony will take place at the Seaplane Harbour Museum and the assembly itself at Kultuurikatel.
The Assembly focuses on how to make SME policy work in the everyday European context, in order for Europe’s SMEs to really thrive. In this, the sixth year of the SME Assembly, the programme will again include:
- the Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ lecture, which will be held at the House of Blackheads;
- the 11th European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony;
- keynote speeches from high-level politicians and dignitaries;
- interactive sessions where participants get an opportunity to drive the policy agenda;
- practical masterclasses and boot camps;
- and an interactive expo to promote start-ups and scale-ups and those that support them.
There will also be the Ideas from Europe semi-finale, which will showcase the conclusion of a member state wide competition to find the ‘Top 10’ ideas from visionary entrepreneurs across Europe.
Entry to the SME Assembly and European Enterprise Promotion Awards is by personal invitation from the European Commission only. If you would like to register your interest, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So prepare yourselves to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, like the iconic barn swallows of Estonia, and follow us on the journey to Tallinn!
In order to keep up with updates, deadlines and news about the SME Assembly 2017, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, make sure to follow all the different social media and information channels:
YouTube: Promoting Enterprise
Stepping into the working world as a fresh graduate is already a daunting prospect, especially for those wanting to start out as entrepreneurs. Today Promoting Enterprise presents an innovative Irish project designed to support these young and brave innovators.
EEPA Special Mention project IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme from Ireland, is a 9 month business development programme designed to support recent graduates turn innovative product and service ideas into sustainable, scalable businesses and in doing so, develop critical entrepreneurial skills. This interview gives us an insight into their application journey, their advice for EEPA 2017 applicants and what to expect from the project team in future.
How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?
We heard about the competition via an email from Gillian Slattery, the Regional Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland. We had been running the programme since 2011 and the competition provided an excellent opportunity to see where we stood in comparison with similar programmes both nationally and internationally.
What was it like to receive a Special Mention?
It was very satisfying, we knew that we hadn’t been shortlisted for the main award so didn’t have any expectations. As a result it was a complete surprise.
How did winning immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?
The award is very important as international 3rd party validation of what we are doing for funders, sponsors and others who have supported the programme. The award was very positively received by our Local Authorities – Cork City and County Councils and we received letters of congratulation from the President of the University and the Senior Vice President Academic and Registrar.
Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?
It provided us with a valuable opportunity to step back and reflect on our project and we used the application process to provide a snapshot of the programme at that point in time. The Special Mention Award created a number of important opportunities to connect with others operating in the same space across Europe.
What are your plans for the future?
The plan is to double the programme over the next couple of years and to continue to develop the support offered to maximise the start-up success rate.
The SME Assembly is over, but the conversation continues
This month the focus is on the SME Assembly 2016, which took place from 23-25 November in Bratislava, Slovakia. With over 600 delegates and speakers from all over Europe and beyond, this year’s assembly was a great success and brought together a diverse audience committed to building an SME friendly Europe and sharing views on entrepreneurship, scale ups and startups.
The assembly played host to policy sessions, interactive open spaces, high-level roundtables, lectures, masterclasses and much more. The event also saw the crowning of this year’s prize-winning projects at the EEPA ceremony and gala dinner which took place on 24 November. Read the EEPA news section for more.
During the assembly we brought you live coverage from the event on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Daily roundup posts from the three days (1, 2 and 3) are also available for you to read on Promoting Enterprise.
Now that SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava has come to an end, we can begin to look forward to the SME Assembly 2017 which will take us to Tallinn in Estonia. The preparations are already under way, we hope to see you there! Read more >>
SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava is over but the collaboration continues. Here are a couple of first take-away recommendations from the conference:
- More creative approach to education, encouraging companies, the public sector and schools to work together and adapt traditional educational structures and teachers´ skills to the rapidly changing work environment.
- Entrepreneurship and digital education should be present in education from primary school level including both obligatory and elective subjects.
- Make public procurement more start-up and SME friendly.
- Develop a network of national scale-up advisors to help companies to grow.
- Establish a matchmaking platform between start-ups, scale-ups and corporates for networking and collaboration / funding opportunities
- Empower local and national ecosystems and build sustainable working relations among eco-players. The European ecosystem will follow consequently.
- Continue to remove existing barriers in Europe (IPR, free movement of data, access to finance etc.) so that European start-ups and SMEs think of Europe as their natural market.
- Failure forms part of every successful company, this needs to be embraced, openly discussed, and learnt from.
- Embrace the collaborative economy and alternative forms of financing, supporting businesses and public administration in the shift towards different ways of working.
- Learn from best examples on national level and scale them up in Europe
This is just one contributors list, do you have anything to add? Other points to share? The Online SME Assembly LinkedIn group is there for you to discuss, collaborate and share your input! If you missed out on the assembly or want a quick overview, be sure to read our daily posts and check out our social media.
SME Assembly Daily posts:
Primarily, scaling a business depends on two factors converging: the availability of additional funds to sustain a positive cash flow, and the existence of a market for your product.
Products and services fall into two categories: those that are needed to sustain a specific quality of life, and those that are not. There is usually a market for those that are needed and so people will buy, but for those products and services, no matter how desirable they may appear to be, that are best described as wants, the market is both smaller and much less certain, and people are more reluctant to buy. The wise entrepreneur will, of course, have conducted extensive market research to determine into which category their product or service fits and will have extended that research into the saleability of the product in the geographical market in which they want to operate. After all, strategic planning, especially marketing strategy, is about deciding what product to sell, at what price and in which market.
Europe is, essentially, a consumer market with strong overtones of ‘materialism.’ In marketing terms, a ‘consumer’ is a person who buys a good (product or service) that they may not need, uses it, and disposes of it often before the end of its useful life, and then buys again. A classic example of such a product is the smartphone. Most people have one and the majority of them are on their fifth or sixth model, even though the early models still work. ‘Materialism’ exists where the individuals value themselves and others based on the goods (products, services and, particularly, brands) that they own. Think about that smartphone again: Apple iPhones are one of the world’s most sought-after goods because they are Apple, not because they are measurably ‘better’ than other smartphones.
Okay, you have a wonderful new product, you’ve done the marketing research and the data points to there being a market for it. Now the question is whether that market is big enough and sufficiently sustainable for you to sell enough units to make a return on investment.
All goods have a ‘product life-cycle’ which tracks the unit sales from introduction through the growth phase where increasing unit sales are experienced, into a mature market and finally to declining sales. And here’s the bad news: no good (product, or service) has ever managed to avoid this cycle. Even the great Apple has experienced this and at the end of April 2016 they reported a 16 % decline in unit sales of the iPhone, with most major news media reporting that the outlook was for further falls throughout the year. Even their chief executive, Tim Cook, said that the smartphone market “is not currently growing.” For the iPhone, in particular, and smartphones, in general, the market is now saturated and it ceases to be sustainable.
Unit sales, not the value of sales, is what has to be tracked in a product life-cycle, and a wise entrepreneur will also track sales revenue per product and ‘profit’ per product.
Understanding the life-cycle provides clear guidance that the next product needs to be ‘introduced’ when the sales trend is slowing in terms of units sold, i.e. just before the ‘maturity’ part of the life-cycle. If there isn’t a new product ready to launch at that point, then both cash flow and profits will decline and the business will no longer be sustainable. The market for your wonderful new product may be enormous, but unless you build sustainability into your plan in the form of new products, then scaling up a business is likely to be the wrong strategy.