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Launch of the 2019 European Social Innovation Competition: €150,000 for three innovations reducing plastic waste

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On 28 February 2019, at an event in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the European Commission launched the 2019 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition. Under the theme Challenging Plastic Waste, this year’s edition is looking for ideas and projects that reduce plastic waste by targeting systemic change at the local, national and European level. Independent Judges will determine the three projects that will each be awarded €50,000 in October 2019.

We collect more than 27 million tons of plastic waste in Europe per year. Whilst addressing plastic waste is a big challenge, it is also an opportunity to innovate and create new solutions. That is why this year we are calling for ideas to tackle this societal issue, laying the foundations for new business models, new forms of cooperation and stimulating new ways of doing things for a better, cleaner and more sustainable future for all,” said Slawomir Tokarski, Director in charge of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the European Commission.

The European Commission has already implemented several measures, as part of a determined action to turn the challenge of plastic waste into a positive drive for the future of Europe. This includes the first-ever Europe-wide Plastics Strategy, the launch of the Circular Plastics Alliance as well as a voluntary pledges campaign. With these measures, the Commission is laying the grounds for a transition towards a more circular economy, fostering growth and innovation.

 The aim of the 2019 European Social Innovation Competition is to support ideas and projects that reduce plastic waste and littering through changing and improving existing processes or through introducing brand-new products and initiatives. These innovations need to reduce the amount of plastic waste created or encourage and enable the greater re-use and recycling of plastic waste. Solutions should be scalable and target change at the systemic level and be rooted in one of the following areas:

  • Reducing the consumption of single use plastic products;
  • Recycling, reusing, and upcycling existing plastic waste;
  • Dealing with accumulated plastic waste in landfills and the environment;
  • Changing consumer behaviours, or retail and wider business practices;
  • Implementing alternative business models and optimising supply chains;
  • Introducing new materials fit for a circular economy or that offer sustainable alternatives to fossil-based plastics.

The European Social Innovation Competition is seeking ideas from social innovators, entrepreneurs, students, designers, businesses, doers, makers and change creators – anyone who has an innovative and creative idea for turning the tide on plastic waste.

The 2019 edition of the Competition was launched in Ljubljana, a sustainability pioneer, former European Green Capital and winner of the 2018 Sustainability category in the European Capital of Smart Tourism Awards. This zero waste city collects 68% of its waste separately (more than any other European capital). Furthermore, two recent winners of the Competition are from Slovenia, demonstrating a burgeoning social innovation ecosystem in the country. Ljubljana was therefore a natural choice to host this year’s Launch Event for the 2019 Competition.

At the Launch Event attendees had the opportunity to learn about the Competition and hear from one of last year’s winners, HeritageLab, regarding their experience. In addition, attendees were able to gain insights from a discussion panel in which some of this year’s Judges discussed the issue of plastic waste, as well as take part in a mini hackathon thinking up solutions to the plastics problem. The event closed with an exhibition titled “Toasted Furniture” from Slovenian artists Nuša Jelenec and Nina Mršnik. It showcased the artists’ innovative method of actually toasting plastic waste, transforming it into beautiful and colourful panels, which are then used as the building blocks for furniture and lighting. This offered a fantastic and creative example of Challenging Plastic Waste.

Applications are open until Thursday 4 April noon CET. For full details visit: eusic.challenges.org

Launched in memory of social innovation pioneer Diogo Vasconcelos, the European Social Innovation Competition is a challenge prize run by the European Commission across all EU Member States and Horizon 2020 associated countries. Now in its 7th year, the Competition acts as a beacon for social innovators in Europe, employing a proven methodology for supporting early-stage ideas and facilitating a network of radical innovators shaping society for the better. Each year the Competition addresses a different issue facing Europe. This year, the focus is: Challenging Plastic Waste.

EU Social Innovation Competition 2019

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The EU Social Innovation Competition is back for a 2019 edition, and will kick off on 28 February 2019 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The competition was set up by the European Commission in memory of social innovation pioneer Diogo Vasconcelos, who was chairman of the Social Innovation Exchange. The Social Innovation Exchange is a global community that encompasses several types of stakeholders including NGOs, global firms, academics and public agencies, working together to tackle modern societal challenges such as ageing, climate change and public sector services such as healthcare. Diogo also launched several initiatives, including the Entrepreneurs Academy, before his passing in July 2011.

The launch event in Ljubljana will officially open the 2019 edition and bring together innovators, entrepreneurs and policy makers to discuss and share ideas on social innovation. The event will see the unveiling of the 2019 theme and mark the official entry start date. At the event, participants will have the chance to meet and listen to previous competition winners and innovation experts, as well as explore how Ljubljana became the first European zero waste capital. Participants will also take part in group activities related to the 2019 competition theme.

To round up the event, there will be a ‘Toasted Furniture’ art exhibition focused on circular economy by Nuša Jelenec and Nina Mršnik.

Register for the launch event here and don’t hesitate to express your interest in the 2019 competition and learn more here.

Follow the latest event updates on Twitter via @EUSocialInnov and make sure to follow #diogochallenge.

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

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

The fourth category of the EEPA “Supporting the Internationalisation of Business” recognises initiatives that encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. This year the category has nine different projects competing to win, so who will make it onto the European shortlist? Find out at the end of September after the EEPA 2018 Jury meeting!

Bulgaria: Supporting the internationalization and digitalization of SMEs in Bulgaria and Europe

Denmark: Lean Landing

Estonia: Development of the Estonian timber sector as the biggest exporter of wooden houses in the European Union

Finland: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme

Hungary: Startup Budapest Programme

Malta: Enabling the digital transformation of Maltese SMEs

Slovenia: Innovative business model 2COUNTRY

Spain: Misión Inversa del Vino y la Alimentación

Turkey: Cyberpark Accelerator Program (CAP): An Internationalization Pathway Business

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to discover the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spiritInvesting in Entrepreneurial Skills, Improving the business environmentSupporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.

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

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills

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

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

Austria: i2c STARTacademy

Croatia: BUDI UZOR®/BE THE ROLE MODEL™

Cyprus: Bi-Communal Innovation Camp

Germany: Nachfolge in Deutschland (Succession in Germany)

Hungary: Team Academy Budapest

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

Lithuania: VERSLUMO AKADEMIJA

Slovenia: Practical entrepreneurial education in High schools

Sweden: Timbanken

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

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

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, eCars.bg (Bulgaria)

eCars.bg 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 – Supporting the internationalisation of business

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We have already met the national EEPA winners from Categories 1, 2 and 3…time for Category 4: Supporting the internationalisation of business! This category recognises initiatives that encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. In 2016 the prize was won by Human Security Finland for their project that tackles a key issue high on the global agenda, human suffering.

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!

Austria: Program Internationalization 2015 – 2020

Croatia: Pun ceker – kupujmo lokalno

Germany: Import Promotion Desk (IPD)

Greece: Greek Breakfast

Hungary: InnoTrade Program

Poland: Biznes Lubelskie

Portugal: MADEIRA VINTNERS

Serbia: Private sector Development Project- PSD

Slovenia: SKIS – Smart Key Information Support

Spain: ICEX Next

UK: Business West International Trade Centre

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

EEPA – Improving the business environment

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We continue our showcase of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) shortlist with an introduction to the national winners competing in Category-3 – Improving the Business Environment. These three projects, each with their own specific focus, have in common the fact that they improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem in their respective countries – Denmark, Portugal and Slovenia. Two of the projects are based on a competition/award scheme, while the third is a co-working space that motivates young entrepreneurs.

konfetti-vinder-nsc-2016-copySo, in no particular order, the first in our list this week is Denmark’s Next Step Challenge (NSC). NSC is an ambitious European startup competition focusing on Smart Energy & Digitalisation and Sound & Home Integration. Ambitious startups are offered the chance to access a one-of-a-kind business development programme in direct collaboration with big corporations, SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen. Along with EUR 250 000 in prize money, the winners are also supported by SydEnergi and Bang & Olufsen, who open up their organisations, share knowledge and strategy, and assist with product and/or business development. Check out their video!

The next project takes us to Portugal and the Leader SME programme, whichzmz_0083-edit annually rewards SMEs with the best financial performance and risk levels, as viewed by IAPMEI and Turismo de Portugal. The award offers public recognition of their successful growth strategies and competitive leadership, and winners benefit from more favourable conditions for accessing finance and other specialised business management support. In just eight years, the number of companies recognised has more than doubled from around 3 000 in 2008 to approximately 7 300 in 2015! Have a look at their video!

kikstarter-08KIKštarter was established to encourage young people in Slovenia to develop their entrepreneurial ideas. A co-working space in the deprived area of Kamnik, it provides entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and is home to 27 startups. The startups receive assistance and guidance in developing their ideas, have access to workspace, and participate in a series of motivational events. The project is contributing to the promotion of entrepreneurship to all residents in the area, which is undergoing regeneration, and helping to unlock the potential of the area and its people. The initiative has directly resulted in seven new businesses and at least as many new jobs with minimal financial investment.

Only one of these projects can be declared the ultimate winner in the category and, given the high standard of all three, the EEPA Jury is faced with a difficult choice. But choose they must, and their eventual choice 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.

Don’t forget that you can still read about EEPA Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Category 2: Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills national winners.

EEPA 2016 shortlist announced!

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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!

eepa-2016-shortlist
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.

 

Secret of Success – Renata Kišek (Rettro d.o.o.)

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Renata Kisek - Rettro d.o.o.We originally set up RETTRO to provide complex IT services to large companies. With the help of ESF and JAPTI research funding, we have since diversified into developing web-based products and services applicable for mobile devices. RETTRO’s latest product is a mobile application called Notifly. Notifly is a revolutionary new system of conveying content through sound code, undetectable by a human ear. FLY messages are broadcast by TV and radio stations, event and concert managers, organisations, restaurants, shops etc. to consumers who want additional information related to the programme they are watching; the shows they are attending; the shops they are visiting. Looking ahead, the challenges for RETTRO are to continue to create new innovative products and access new markets.

Start ups and small firms in general would most benefit from a tax regime that encourages investment in R&D and from more flexible employment rules.

“Entrepreneurs are important to society because we create jobs, develop the economy, bring new ideas, discover new businesses and boost the local community.”

Hero(es): Honest and fair people

Start up capital: Savings and ESF/JAPTI investment

Growth rate p.a: 33%

Can you code? Yes

Employees: 11

Education / Training: Mathematics

Product / Service: Marketing/retail applications

 

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