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European Enterprise Promotion Awards

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This year, a record number of 32 countries entered the competition, with the most popular category being “Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit. The Jury meeting took place yesterday in Brussels to review the national entries and decide on the shortlist for the 2015 European Enterprise Promotion Awards. The winners for each of the six categories will be announced at the Awards which will take place at the SME Assembly in Luxembourg on Thursday 19 November.

EEPA blog 1

This year’s Jury was made up of members of the outgoing Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the current Luxembourg Presidency along with representatives from the European Commission, the Committee of the Regions, business, and academia.

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards showcase the most successful promoters of enterprise and entrepreneurship around Europe. They celebrate the best entrepreneurship policies and practices, create a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in society and encourage and inspire budding entrepreneurs from across Europe.

Since 2006, the Awards have rewarded excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small business at a national, regional and local level. Watch highlights from the 2014 ceremony here.


Categories of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards explained

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The 2012 EEPAs were presented in Cyprus

The 2012 EEPAs were presented in Cyprus

The six European Enterprise Promotion Awards categories are:

Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level that promote an entrepreneurial mindset especially among young people and women.

Investing in entrepreneurial skills

Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level to improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills.

Improving the business environment

Recognises innovative policies at national, regional or local level which promote enterprise start-up and growth, simplify legislative and administrative procedures for businesses and implement the “Think Small First” principle in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Supporting the internationalisation of business

Recognises policies and initiatives that encourage at national, regional or local level enterprise and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union.

Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency

Recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency through, for example, green skills development and matchmaking as well as funding.

Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship

Recognises national, regional or local initiatives by authorities or public/private partnerships that promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium sized enterprises. This category will also recognise efforts to promote entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, especially long term unemployed, legal migrants, disabled or people from ethnic minorities.

The Grand Jury Prize can be from any category and will go to the entry considered the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe.

How SMEs are driving European growth

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2013 annual report on European SMEs via

2013 annual report on European SMEs via

SMEs are independent companies with fewer than 250 employees.

They provide two out of every three private sector jobs in the European Union and are responsible for 85% of new jobs created. SMEs account for 67% of total employment and 58% of gross value added (GVA).

Latest research shows that SMEs continue to form the bedrock of the European economy, with some 20.6 million companies employing more than 87 million people. SMEs account for more than 99.8% of all enterprises.

Micro companies – defined as enterprises with fewer than 10 employees – represent the biggest share of enterprise in the EU (92%).

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards recognises and celebrates organisations and initiatives that use ground breaking, creative ways to help to create and sustain Europe’s SME and entrepreneurship community.

Interview: Greece’s European SME Week Coordinator

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Olga Nikolopoulou, European SME Week National Coordinator for Greece

Olga Nikolopoulou, European SME Week National Coordinator for Greece

Each country participates in European SME Week in a way relevant to its own small and medium-sized enterprise community, so we interviewed Olga Nikolopoulou, National Coordinator for Greece, to find out more.

How does the Week work in Greece?

It seems to be working quite well, as we tend to get a serious number of applications to hold events every year. Entrepreneurs, young people, students and various stakeholders are always interested in being informed about the available European Union financial instruments for the support of small and medium-sized enterprises. They also seek training and networking opportunities.

Which organisations are involved?

The General Secretariat for Industry of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness and the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

How do you promote European SME Week?

As soon as the SME Week platform gets activated, we begin our SME Week promotional campaign through various channels, such as: e-mail campaigns to targeted stakeholders, via social media, the Ministry of Development & Competitiveness’s interactive digital platform which numbers over 5,600 members, relevant articles published in several Ministries’ newsletters, as well as direct communication with potentially interested parties.

What did you learn from last year’s events?

In 2013, we successfully co-organized “Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth: Promoting Business Partnerships in Greece” with the European Commission. The two-day event promoted business partnerships between Greek and European businesses in six developing sectors. 300 Greek enterprises, 110 foreign enterprises from 25 countries participated and over 1,300 business meetings were held between attending businesses. We learned that entrepreneurs are eager for any kind of networking opportunities, especially for entering new international markets.

And finally, what impact does European SME Week have in Greece?

Taking into account the fact that SMEs in Greece represent 99.6% of total enterprises, it is obvious that economic development in the country relies on successful SMEs. European SME Week events are therefore very popular.

How the Small Business Act for Europe puts SMEs first

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Front cover of Thinking Big for Small Businesses via

Front cover of Thinking Big for Small Businesses via

Adopted in June 2008, the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA) reflects the European Commission’s recognition of the central role that SMEs play in the EU economy. For the first time, it sets out a comprehensive SME policy framework for the EU and its Member States.

The aim of the Act is to improve the overall approach to entrepreneurship and permanently embed the ‘Think Small First’ principle in policy-making – from regulation to public service.  The Act promotes SME growth by helping them tackle problems which hamper their development, particularly focusing on initiatives that help small businesses by:

• Cutting red tape

• Providing access to finance

• Increasing access to markets

Finally, the Act also aims to deliver a longer-term shift in attitudes – creating a greater awareness of the role entrepreneurs play in society and encouraging and inspiring potential new entrepreneurs.

Who is responsible for driving the SBA forward?

As part of a review of the Small Business Act, the Commission invited Member States to nominate a national SME Envoy to complement the role of the European Commission’s SME Envoy, Mr Daniel Calleja Crespo. Together with representatives of EU-level SME business organisations, the network of SME Envoys facilitates the implementation of the Small Business Act on a European level and in Member States.

An SBA spin-off: the EEPAs

The European Enterprise Promotion Awards support the aims of the Small Business Act by recognising innovation and rewarding the success of public bodies and public-private partnerships in promoting enterprise & entrepreneurship at a national, regional and local level.

5 EU small business resources

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Enterprise & Industry Magazine

Enterprise & Industry Magazine

Where can those involved in promoting enterprise find relevant European Commission resources?

Enterprise & Industry Magazine

The Enterprise & Industry online magazine covers issues related to SMEs, innovation, entrepreneurship, the single market for goods, competitiveness and environmental protection, industrial policies across a wide range of sectors and more.

The printed edition of the magazine is published three times a year. You can subscribe online to receive it – in English, French, German or Italian – free of charge by post.

European Small Business Portal

Want to find out what the EU does to boost small businesses in Europe and on the global market and what it can do for your business? This multilingual portal gathers together all the information provided by the European Commission on and for SMEs, ranging from practical advice to policy issues, from local contact points to networking links.

Secrets of Success brochure

As part of European SME Week, the European Commission publishes Secrets of Success to help inspire both those new to entrepreneurship and existing small business owners and promoters who could benefit from reading about the experiences and best practice of their European peers.

European SME Week

The Week, in 2014 held between 29 September and 5 October, promotes enterprise in 37 countries through events, of which 1500 were held in 2013. Find out about European SME Week events for 2014.

Business Planet

Business Planet is a series of videos published by Euronews and created in partnership with the European Commission. The videos cover topics such as:

  • Making the most of EU financial support tools
  • University support for budding entrepreneurs
  • Japan: European entrepreneurs’ eastern ‘getaway’ to new markets

Winners of the 2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

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Winners of the 2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

Winners of the 2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards

Category | Grand Jury Prize

A special prize awarded to the entrepreneurial initiative considered the most creative and inspiring in Europe


Making enterprise a realistic option for the hard-to-reach

Outset, YKTO Ltd, United Kingdom


Outset is designed to show the unemployed that self-employment and enterprise is a realistic alternative to unemployment.

Specifically created to help the most vulnerable groups, including the long-term unemployed, recently redundant, under-25s, women, people from minority ethnic backgrounds, people with mental and physical disabilities and those who are over 50 years of age, the programme takes a unique approach to supporting start-ups. A national project that works in urban and rural settings, it seeks to change beliefs about the ability to start a small business.

The project ethos involves using support teams that often have similar challenging backgrounds, come from the same local areas and have had first-hand experience of being self-employed or running a business. Outset actively reaches, through all types of community spaces, from sports centres to Diwali and Chinese New Year festivals to find the people that will benefit most. This in-person outreach is reinforced by highly effective, targeted promotions including radio ads with direct response SMS facilities, quirky and enticing posters, postcards and flyers plus online and email marketing and lots of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We use normal, jargon-free language.

Since the start of the programme, Outset has engaged with over 6,000 people. Of those, 673 have started a business, together creating 890 jobs. Outset Finance has helped its clients raise £790,258 from a variety of funding sources to either start or expand their business.

Most importantly, the businesses that Outset support do last: survival rates, particularly for women entrepreneurs, far outstrip national averages. Within disadvantaged client groups, conversion rates from engagement to start are approximately 1:5 and Outset’s new business survival rate after four years is over 80%.


Bev Hurley, Chief Executive

St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge CB4 0WS, UK


Category | Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Recognising actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset and raise awareness about entrepreneurship in society.


Boosting women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing Women’s Co-operative Bank Ltd Women’s Co-operative Bank ‘initiative’ Ltd, Cyprus

The Women’s Co-operative Bank seeks to boost women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing. The organisation identifies gaps in the economy, promotes support programmes for female entrepreneurs and provides free advice and guidance, as well as loans, that are tailor-made to the needs of small business owners. Since the project began, women’s entrepreneurship has increased in Cyprus overall from 12% in 2001, to 28% in 2012.


Artemis Toumazi, Chairman/Director

Sinergatikos Organismos Protovoulias, Ginekon Kiprou Ltd, 30 Pavlou Valdaseridi Street, Branches 1-4, 6018 Larnaca, Postal Code 42251 6530, Larnaca, Cyprus


Category | Investing in Skills

Recognises regional or local initiatives to improve entrepreneurial, vocational, technical and managerial skills


Fostering knowledge transfer and digital visualisation

Visualisation Park, Sweden

Visualisation Park in Sweden focuses on the commercial application of digital visualisation technology. Using a business park model, the location in Eksjö offers a home to a cluster of businesses with expertise in this emerging field. They are gathered around Campus i12, which offers a range of vocational courses. 50 partner companies support the educational programmes and the Park provides a meeting place for educational environment and industry to identify and develop projects. Since it was founded in July 2009 the number of partner companies has more than doubled, to over 100. Most importantly, students’ attitudes shifted. More of them are now inclined to be entrepreneurs themselves, either by launching their own start-up or freelancing.


Joakim Falkäng, Manager

Visualisation Park, Kaserngatan 26, SE-575 35 Eksjö, Sweden


Category | Improving the Business Environment

Recognising measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, particularly for start-ups


Tackling difficulties faced by SMEs in urban areas

FaciliTO, Municipality of Turin, Italy

FaciliTO is a model that the Municipality of Turin adopted to tackle the difficulties that small enterprises encounter in struggling urban areas. Micro and small businesses in Turin have faced particular difficulty in accessing credit, which is often due to the absence of project expertise. FaciliTO attempts to meet these needs by providing free consultations to support the development of business plans as well as direct financial support. Over 200 businesses have accessed FaciliTO and 93 of them have received financial support.


Elisa Rosso, Servizio Fondi europei Innovazione

Sviluppo Economico, Via Braccini 2, Cap 10144, Turin, Italy


Category | Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Recognises policies to encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union


Co-operating to bring Douro wines to the world

Douro Boys, Aicep Portugal Global, Portugal

A group of five small wine producers from the Douro region worked together to create the Douro Boys brand. Designed to exchange information and support each other to steadily improve the quality of the wines they produce, the group also aims to co-ordinate a marketing strategy centred on promoting the Douro region and its wines to the world. Between 2002 and 2011, the exports of wine from the five producers increased from €4.7 million to €11 million, an increase of 134%.


Jorge Holtreman Roquette, Administrator for Quinta do Crasto SA

aicep Portugal Global, Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal, EPE

O’Porto Bessa Leite Complex, Rua António Bessa Leite, 1430 – 2o Andar, 4150-074 Porto


Category | Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Recognises regional or local actions promoting corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices


Supporting disabled people into the workplace, Disabled at Work, Denizli Municipality, Turkey

Disability is a major cause of social exclusion and poverty, primarily due to the lack of employment opportunities. Disabled at Work, a joint Turkish-Dutch project, seeks to change attitudes and support the integration of physically disabled people into the labour market. The group comprises 16 organisations from Turkey and the Netherlands. The projects provide training as well as a matching programme which offers disabled people mentors as they prepare to enter the workforce. At the end of the programme, 194 people had been trained and 65 were employed.


Ms Pınar GÜLMEZ AĞIRBAŞ, Director of Survey and Project Department

Altıntop Mahallesi Lise Caddesi No:1, 20100 Denizli, Turkey

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