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EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Lean Landing – ‘Grand Jury Prize’ Winner 2018

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Ready for our next EEPA winner interview? Today we are proud to welcome our 2018 Grand Jury Prize Winner, Lean Landing from Denmark!

The Lean Landing network consists of a total of 19 partners, accelerators and incubators. The network has members from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom. Members of the Lean Landing network open up their facilities to the 190 participating SMEs, giving them bases in their target countries, as well as a local business support system. These local bases allow SMEs to gather first impressions of the foreign market, establish contacts, and learn important local business etiquette and practices. So far, of the 190 SMEs involved, 80 have successfully been abroad with the Lean Landing project.

The project is run by Væksthus Sjælland, a non-profit organisation established in 2007 that provides services for entrepreneurs and micro SMEs with scalability and growth potential. The organisation is also responsible for providing business support to the Zealand Region of Denmark and is one of five national units.

How did you first hear about the national competition and why did you decide to enter?

Our organisation has known about the national EEPA competition for a few years, and in the past been national winners three times as well as receiving a ‘special mention’ award. We decided to enter again because EEPA is THE place and event to be at, if you are running EU projects, and winning the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ this year is the biggest prize any EU project can receive.

How did you prepare your application?

We didn’t really prepare, but we spend quite some time on the application to make sure that we got all the right and important information filled in.

What was it like to win the award?

We were honestly just very overwhelmed and very surprised. We had hoped to win in our category ‘Supporting internationalisation for business’ but we did not expect to win the ‘Grand Jury Prize’. It has probably been the biggest recognition our organisation has ever received for any EU project.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award hasn’t really had that much of an impact on my daily work, but there has been a lot of positive attention from many people from other organisations both nationally and internationally. Furthermore our 19 partners in the project have also been very happy about the result and it has sparked a new sort of energy internally, that we have actually done something really special with our project.

The exposure from EEPA and Euronews, who worked with the EU commission since we won, has also been great. The video from when we received the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ was available the day after and the film that was shot by Euronews for ‘Euronews Business Planet’ is going to be part of our ongoing marketing material for the project.

Why should others enter EEPA 2019? What advice would you give them?

Other organisations and projects should enter EEPA because it is a great way to get recognised for the work that each of us put in daily and it is truly a great experience to participate in the ceremony. Furthermore, it is great way to meet like-minded people and expand your network.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are to continue to develop new and value-creating projects like Lean Landing, with the purpose of helping SMEs to grow locally, nationally and internationally.

Youth of Europe – Meet YEC 2018 winner Marija Elena Borg

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It is time to meet the winner of the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition…Marija Elena Borg! Marija impressed first the jury with her essay on the links between innovation and the holistic growth of organisations, and then went on to win the audience vote when she presented her essay at the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz.

Marija is from Malta and is currently the EU Funding Executive of the Malta Business Bureau, which is the EU Advisory Office of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. Since 2015, she has managed multiple EU-funded projects and events largely linked to education and skills development. Her frequent participation in workshops and training courses has allowed her to work in multicultural settings and develop a great interest in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2017, Marija Elena also graduated with a Master’s Degree in European Politics, Economics and Law at the University of Malta.

Read on to find out more about her competition experience and what she thought of the SME Assembly 2018.  

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I have always believed that innovation – in its holistic sense – is the gateway to creating a smart and sustainable future. Therefore, when I came across the competition advert on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, I decided to put pen to paper and give this opportunity my best shot!

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2018?

This year’s edition of the SME Assembly provided an excellent learning and networking platform for European entrepreneurs and policy-makers. The organisation of a variety of activities, including business tours, matchmaking sessions, debates and participatory workshops, sparked the interest of attendees and prompted their active participation.

My highlight of the SME Assembly was the Mentoring Workshop, during which experienced entrepreneurs spoke about promoting start-up mentoring. Considering that in comparison to other continents such as North America, entrepreneurs in Europe seem to be more reluctant to enter into a mentor-mentee relationship, this workshop showcased real success stories, proving that mentoring can be equally rewarding for both parties.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate’, what does that mean to you?

My interpretation of this year’s theme is rather simple: The best way to enable innovation (be it within a private or public organisation) is through promoting interaction between peers that will in turn facilitate the exchange of ideas, thoughts and experiences.

As I explained in my own essay, people are the primary cause of innovation. It is therefore the ‘duty’ of business owners or officials in management positions to ensure that their organisation maintains an appropriate work environment which directly empowers employees and motivates them to work and increase the rate of product or process innovation in the workplace.

What did it feel like to win the competition?

Surreal! Considering the work that was put into compiling the essay and pitching it to the SME Assembly participants, it felt incredible and fulfilling to be recognised as the winner of this year’s competition. I was also amazed by the feedback received following the announcement of the final result – numerous entrepreneurs applauded my proposed practical approach to innovation.

I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to Joakim Davidsson and Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, who also delivered excellent presentations in Graz!

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

So many things to do, so little time! My current plan is to keep learning as much as possible and developing my areas of interest, which include skills development, youth activism, public speaking and project writing/management.

Naturally, I also look forward to being part of next year’s edition of the SME Assembly in Finland!

Read Marija’s essay and have a look at the presentation  she made at the SME Assembly 2018.

Don’t forget to read our interviews with 2018 finalists Joakim Davidsson and Ngaio Olsen-Stahl here on the News Portal.

SME Assembly 2018 Magazine

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A digital magazine of the SME Assembly 2018 in Graz, Austria. Generating 4,16 trillion EUR of value added and employing 94,8 million people in the non-financial business economy in 2017, SMEs continue to be the most important element of the EU economy. This growth is expected to continue with figures for SMEs in the EU-28 indicating that SMEs will create around 2,7 million new jobs in 2018 – 2019.

The 2018 SME Assembly brought together 600 entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers, researcher and media, to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate.’ The focus was on the continuous search for methods on how to make SME policy work for those concerned, i.e. for our entrepreneurs and their employees.

Bringing together the learning and experience of participants and speakers throughout the two days, the Assembly culminated in the creation of ‘A Manifesto for an Innovative Europe’. Put together with the help of those who matter in European SME policy, the Manifesto is intended as a contribution to reflect on and practice helping companies to bring about everyday innovation for everyday companies.

Read the full SME Assembly magazine, have a look at the visual documentation and watch the visual documentation video!

Youth of Europe – Meet finalist Ngaio Olsen-Stahl

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Ready to get to know another finalist of this year’s SME Youth Essay Competition? Let’s meet Ngaio!

Ngaio Olsen-Stahl is a passionate Social Science student at the University of Strasbourg, who developed an interest in international relations and comparative politics due to her own mixed cultural heritage from France and New Zealand. She hopes to pursue a career in public policy, and after taking part in a Model European Union event, was all the more inspired to do so within the EU.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I just happened to be surfing the web and looking at upcoming events in Europe, and came across the essay competition information by chance. At the time it was the middle of August and I was enjoying a break from my studies, but after reading the question I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I am very passionate about the EU and its values, and I wanted to discover what I thought about innovation. Truthfully, it was not something I had thought about a lot, but after my research it has really grown on me, and I’m now very interested in how I can create and find innovation in my career path.

What did you think of the SME Assembly 2018?

The SME Assembly was a fantastic event, with people from all over Europe (and indeed, the world) coming together for the purpose of supporting business, ideas, and innovation in Europe. People from all industries, and all different career levels, shared their stories with me, and it was a very humbling experience to be able to gain so much knowledge just by simply getting to know people. I made some great friends too! The speeches, debates, and policy sessions were varied and incredibly useful, my favourites were The Big Debate and Bridging the Skills Gap. The App made sure I knew exactly where to go and when to be there, and Graz was such a beautiful city to explore during my free time. Overall it was a life-changing experience that has inspired me to work on an entrepreneurial venture.

The theme of this year’s SME Assembly was to ‘Connect. Share. Innovate’, what does that mean to you?

To me, this embodies the spirit of collective power. Acknowledging the strength of Europe as a Union and business as a team, our world is moving towards being ever-more globalised, interdependent and invested in a number of different economies. This diversity and growth will be the fuel for new ideas in the future.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

I’m currently in the exciting/terrifying transition between my Bachelors and the unknown. I will be applying to Master courses in Public Policy, different research projects in social development, and some graduate opportunities in government ministries. So, my exciting plans are all hypothetical at the moment but I’ll leave you with a graceful ‘watch this space’!

Read Ngaio’s essay and have a look at the presentation she made at the SME Assembly 2018.

Don’t forget to have a look at fellow competition finalist Joakim Davidsson!

SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #8

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SME Assembly 2018 – The highlights

That’s a wrap…for the SME Assembly 2018! Last week, from 19-21 November, the SME Assembly 2018 took place in Graz, Austria under the Austrian presidency of the EU. The theme for this year’s Assembly was ‘Connect.Share.Innovate’ and saw delegates, SMEs, startups and key policy makers bridging gaps, sharing skills and laying the foundations for future innovation.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the SME Week newsletter where we give you a snapshot of this year’s Assembly, including highlights such as the European Enterprise Promotion Awards final ceremony, and the SME Week Youth Essay Competition.

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SME Assembly 2018 – Day 3

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The third and final day of the SME Assembly 2018 took place on Wednesday 22 November 2018, and featured numerous policy sessions, masterclasses, the youth essay competition final and the handover to the next EU Presidency.

Day 3 started out with the Youth Essay Competition final, during which the three finalists, Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, Marija Elena Borg and Joakim Davidsson, took to the stage to present their essays and answers to: “What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?” Each finalist was also quizzed live on stage about their essay during which the audience participated in a live vote to select the winner. Congratulations to our SME Week Youth Essay competition winner Marija Elena Borg from Malta! Have a look at Marija’s, Ngaio’s and Joakim’s presentations and don’t forget to read their essays linked above.

Wednesday featured 10 different sessions, including a variety of policy sessions, unique masterclasses and a Scale up Lab. Once delegates had connected, shared and exchanged best practices it was time to bring the SME Assembly 2018 to a close. During the conclusions session, hosted by André Meyer from DG Growth, delegates witnessed the unveiling of the tailor-made innovation manifesto, created by SMEs and for SMEs, under which European innovation can grow and thrive. It was also the time to hand over the preparation of the next SME Assembly, which will take us to Helsinki in Finland in November 2019.

That’s a wrap for the SME Assembly 2018! Thank you all for following us both here on the News Portal and across our social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr). Keep following us for more exclusive content for the SME Assembly 2018 coming very soon and don’t forget to go and have a look at the videos from the event.

SME Assembly 2018 – Day 2

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Day 1 was great, but that was just the beginning of the Assembly. Day 2 of the SME Assembly 2018 certainly had just as much to offer and took place in this year’s venue the Helmut List Halle in Graz.

This first full day of sessions, workshops and masterclasses opened with keynote speeches from Günther H. Oettinger, Member of the European Commission for Budget and Human Resources, Margarete Schramböck, Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs and Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Steiermark Regional Minister of Economy. The speakers covered the importance of supporting SMEs, building their digital capacities and the need for larger corporations and SMEs to cooperate rather than compete for the benefit of the economy.

The speeches were then followed by ‘The Big Debate’ and a mentoring workshop to encourage start-up mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs. The Big Debate saw two expert teams discuss the role of innovation in tomorrow’s sustainable business models. The experts expressed their views on needed changes to advance, including the need for an overhaul of our culture and competences, and encouraged SMEs to be bold and focus on the positives of change. The Mentoring Workshop followed previously mentored entrepreneurs, who encouraged the audience to invest in the mentoring process in order to become stronger and better entrepreneurs.

The morning continued with, ‘Building our Land of Enterprise’ and an Invest EU policy session. Building our Land of Enterprise took on the global perspective of what it means to be an entrepreneur and featured entrepreneurs from around the globe who shared their experiences of building companies within different enterprise ecosystems. The policy session explored the Invest EU initiative and featured expert speakers who encouraged Europe and its talent to not shy away from outside investment and attention. In order for European companies to thrive they need to be noticed, and not hindered by barriers.

The afternoon hosted two sessions, Innovative Europe and a matchmaking session within the Invest EU framework. Innovative Europe gave delegates a change to interact with expert speakers and each other in order to build innovative solutions to encourage SMEs to flourish. Over in the matchmaking session a select group of entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to meet with experienced investors and form long lasting connections and matches for the future of their businesses.

Day 2 closed with one of the most exciting events, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA)! The EEPA 2018 recognised six different category winners, a grand jury prize winner and four special mentions. Hosted by Ina Sabitzer, the ceremony was full of excitement, emotional speeches and of course an appreciation for the hard work of all of the recognised European projects. Be sure to have a look through the EEPA 2018 photo album to experience both the ceremony and the after party, and watch the winning moments here.

Don’t forget to come back to see what happened on Day 3, and keep following us on Twitter @EEPA_EU for all the live coverage of the SME Assembly.

Barriers for SMEs on the Single Market

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25 years after its creation, the Single Market is a vast success. It has improved the living standards for EU citizens and 56 million jobs within the EU depend on trade created by the Single Market. Furthermore, it has increased the competitiveness of the European businesses globally and made the EU the largest exporter of goods and services in the world.

Nevertheless, the Single Market is neither perfect nor complete. In fact, increasing regulatory complexity is challenging European businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Each year, the amount of national technical regulation keeps piling up which makes it more difficult for SMEs to expand their activities across Europe. At the European level SME’s also experience confusion from partially overlapping rules. This means that SMEs do not necessarily know which rules apply to them – they simply do not understand which rules to follow.

To further increase the complexity of the regulatory environment, the traditional divide between goods and services is also disappearing. From a business point of view, the division between a Single Market for Goods and a Single Market for services no longer exists. In reality, a good is often sold with an accompanying service. Unfortunately, the legislation has not followed this development which often makes the legislation out of touch with reality.

The Single Market was created to benefit citizens and businesses, but too often the legislation is purely made from a law-makers perspective. This leads to rules and procedures that are difficult for the end user to understand and to comply with. Another problem is the lack of focus on digitisation. More user-friendly digital solutions would make life much easier for SMEs. Looking ahead we need to think digital first, but when we digitize we need to think small first.

To address the above-mentioned challenges and to create a less complex Single Market to the benefit of European SMEs, this report suggests the following three approaches to enhancing the Single Market:

A one-stop shop coordinating replies across contact points

European businesses are met by many different portals, entrances and information websites. Some are national, while other are European. Created with the best intentions, these contact points have not succeeded in giving the SMEs an overview of the rules and procedures which they need to comply with, as there are many different contact points, and they occasionally give answers pointing in different directions. There is a need for the European Commission to ensure a one-stop shop in every Member State that can effectively provide businesses with the necessary overview of which rules they need to comply with, how they comply with the procedures, which documents they need to provide, and which authorities they must contact. The information available through the one-stop shop should cover all business-related aspects. The one-stop shop should therefore provide a coordinated answer across the existing contact points established by EU regulations. The one-stop shop will provide a coordinated answer from all the relevant contact points after having coordinated with the competent authorities behind the contact points, thereby making it easier for businesses to understand and comply with the relevant administrative and legislative procedures.

Future legislation made with the end user in mind

All future legislation must be made with the end user in mind. It must be easy to understand which rules and procedures the SME’s must comply with, and the corresponding administrative steps should be easy to follow. Often the procedure rather than the regulation creates problems for the SME’s. Therefore – in order to make the procedures as easy as possible – the end user’s perspective should be incorporated from the drafting stage of the regulation. A specific way of doing this is through so-called “life events” where an end user’s journey through for example an administrative process is mapped step by step. When such processes are mapped, it is possible to see which steps are more burdensome for businesses and where there is a need for simplification.

Legislation that is digital by default

One of the clear advantages of digitisation is how it can reduce the complexity of the Single Market by helping businesses through digital solutions. However, in order to fully reap the benefits of digitisation, it must be taken into account already when drafting new legislation and used to reduce complexity for SMEs. Furthermore, the development of the digital SME Envoy network economy such as Internet of Things, sharing economy and cloud computing will only create a higher demand for digital infrastructure and the very user-friendly solutions set out by legislation. However, it can be difficult to establish user-friendly digital solutions for cross-border businesses due to various factors. One of them being that EU regulation is often created in regulatory silos.

The Single Market is one of the greatest achievements of the European Union. It solves problems and enables trade, jobs and well-being every day. But the time is ripe to take a user perspective on the rules and update them to the everyday reality of businesses and consumers.

Read the full report from the European SME Envoy Network here.

SME Assembly 2018 – Day 1

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The SME Assembly 2018 is officially open! Yesterday on 19 November 2018, this year’s Assembly, taking place in Graz, Austria got started with the highly anticipated business tours and the Mind the Bridge SME Matchmaking session.

Several Austrian enterprises opened their doors to the SME Assembly 2018 delegates, and welcomed them to learn about their processes, manufacturing, research, history and the products that they create. We would like to thank A&R Carton, Sappi, UP TO ELEVEN, XAL, Brauunion, Spitzer Dach, SUNNYBAG GmbH and the WKO Steiermark Talentcenter for participating in the tours and for letting the delegates experience their business environments.

During the business tours, some specially invited SMEs were given the chance to attend an exclusive matchmaking session run by Mind the Bridge. Chairman of Mind the Bridge, Alberto Onetti presented their work and the importance of creating links between SMEs, start-ups, scale-ups and existing corporations. Through these bridges, SMEs are able to progress faster and corporates can benefit from fresh ideas and impart their experience on new market entrants.

Day 1 continued into the evening with two spectacular events, the European SME Week Reception and the Schumpeter Lecture. The evening kicked off with the European SME Week Reception, which took place at the Old University of Graz. The Reception opened with speeches from Austrian dignitaries and was followed by traditional accordion music.

Later on in the evening the Schumpeter Lecture, the VIP event of the SME Assembly, took place at the Kunsthaus. The evening began with opening remarks from André Meyer from DG GROWTH, Deputy Director General for DG GROWTH Irmfried Schwimann and Dr. Margarete Schramböck, who spoke of the unique strength of Austria with its SME dominant culture, and the ever growing presence of and continued need for female entrepreneurs. After these remarks, this year’s lecturer Professor Bronwyn H. Hall opened the third Schumpter Innovation in Enterprise lecture, which centred on tax policy for innovation, including considerations for policy makers and SME actors.

Watch the Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise Lecture:

What a great start to the SME Assembly 2018, but that was just the beginning! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @EEPA_EU for all the live coverage of the SME Assembly and we look forward to bringing you all the latest from the Helmut List Halle, this year’s venue here in Graz.

Don’t forget to have a look at all of the photos from the SME Assembly 2018 here on Flickr.

SME Assembly 2018 – The countdown begins

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The SME Assembly 2018 is just around the corner! Next week we will all be in Graz, Austria for the next edition of the flagship conference of the European SME Week. Today we have some exciting news to share…the final version of the SME Assembly 2018 programme.

Have a look at the latest version for the programme here and find out about the policy sessions, masterclasses, presentations and other exciting sessions on offer.

As usual the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) will be a key part of the SME Assembly, and we are looking forward to finding out who the six category winners and the Grand Jury Prize winner are for 2018. All of the national winners will be present at the Assembly as well as the shortlisted projects who will be competing for the European prizes during the final ceremony. Just as important as the projects is the highly qualified jury that selected them, don’t forget to go through all of the EEPA 2018 Jury introductions right here on the Portal and look out for them during the SME Assembly.

There are many things to look forward to at the SME Assembly 2018 and one of them is the third edition of the Youth Essay Competition. The top three entrants, Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, Marija Elena Borg and Joakim Davidsson will be competing in a live final to convince the Assembly audience of their ideas and why they should be chosen as the 2018 winner. Best of luck to our top three before the Assembly and let’s see which of these outstanding candidates is named our next winner!

Be sure to follow us on all our social media platforms to get live coverage from the event, including exclusive quotes, pictures and other exciting updates!

Twitter: @EEPA_EU

Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise

Instagram: @promotingenterprise

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    • EEPA 2018 Testimonial: Lean Landing – ‘Grand Jury Prize’ Winner 2018 January 17, 2019
      Ready for our next EEPA winner interview? Today we are proud to welcome our 2018 Grand Jury Prize Winner, Lean Landing from Denmark! The Lean Landing network consists of a total of 19 partners, accelerators and incubators. The network has members from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and the United Kingdom. Members of the Lean […]
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