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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

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Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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We have reached the final EEPA 2018 category, Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship. This category recognises projects and 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. For the 2018 competition, projects competing in this category come from France, Germany and Ireland.

Don’t forget to read about the shortlisted projects in Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, Category 3: Improving the Business Environment, Category 4: Improving the Business Environment and Category 5: Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency.

France: Initiative remarquable

The Remarkable Initiative operates within the ‘Initiative France’ network and specialises in loans that are interest-free and without a guarantee. These are granted in addition to local loans received by the entrepreneurs from the local ‘Initiative France’ platform. The interest-free loan increases the enterprise funds, facilitates access to bank funding and is repaid over a maximum of five years. It also comes with a mentoring and sponsorship plan established jointly between the entrepreneur and the local platform. The loan favours enterprises that combine job creation, economic success, innovation and responsible commitments to their local communities and environment.

Germany: ProjectTogether

ProjectTogether is a leading digital incubator for social start-ups. As the first contact for young founders of social projects, ProjectTogether identifies functioning approaches and builds bridges between the active young generation and social institutions in order to actively shape social development. The incubator empowers young founders by supporting and training them, but also by obliging them to play a decisive role in shaping our society. Project leaders receive digital coaching through webinars and an active online community of founders and experts, as well as access to networks to connect with government bodies, companies and foundations.

Ireland: Laois Start Your Own Business Programmes

Laois Start Your Own Business Programmes cover the adaption of mainstream training and mentoring programmes into pilot programmes to meet the needs of groups traditionally excluded from enterprise opportunities. Identified groups include older people, ex-prisoners, migrants and asylum seekers. The programme includes the first of its kind delivered in an asylum seeker provision centre, as well as similar programmes delivered in several prisons. Each programme is adapted to the audience and addresses the different challenges and circumstances faced by each group. Trainers are also specifically selected and trained so as to be relatable for participants.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz at the SME Assembly 2018.

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.

SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #7

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Who is going to Graz? – Youth Essay Competition 2018

It is now October, meaning that the SME Assembly 2018 is just around the corner. Next month we will be travelling to current European Presidency country Austria to the beautiful city of Graz for the flagship conference of the European SME Week. As the SME Assembly gets closer, be sure to keep checking the News Portal and all the social media for updates, important information and exclusive behind the scenes content.

In this edition we will be looking at the EEPA 2018 European shortlist, and finding out more about the projects competing for a European prize. We are also proud to announce some of the younger guests of the SME Assembly 2018, the top three Youth Essay Competition finalists!

We hope you enjoy this edition and make sure to follow us on the journey to Graz and our live coverage from the SME Assembly.

Read more >>

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Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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Only two more categories of EEPA 2018 shortlisted projects to present, and today we are finding out about the green and ecological projects. Last year the Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency category was temporarily suspended, but it is back for 2018! This year the competing projects in this reinstated category come from The Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia.

Don’t forget to read about the shortlisted projects in Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, Category 3: Improving the Business Environment and Category 4: Improving the Business Environment.

The Netherlands: HAS Food Experience

The HAS Food Experience, run by the HAS University of Applied Sciences, acts as launch platform for innovative projects in the food sector. This includes promising food concepts with social impact, and the further development of socially relevant projects in the food sector. The HAS Food Experience also works to stimulate innovation in food and profile start-ups and businesses established by HAS students. During the past 10 years, over 499 food projects have been presented at the HAS University College, and more than 40 promising concepts have become start-ups or entered the market, of which 80% are still successful.

Portugal: Matosinhos Carbon-zero Living Lab enhanced by local carbon market

The Matosinhos Carbon-zero Living Lab tests sustainable and innovative solutions, products and services to foster a local carbon market in an industrial coastal municipality. Local residents and businesses are encouraged to develop and propose projects, which are then implemented and made available for municipal use. The local carbon market uses CO2 emissions credits gained through the adoption of sustainable solutions such as bike sharing, sustainable lighting or artificial intelligence applied to building management. The credits can be exchanged for goods and green services and are an incentive for sustainability in the municipality, which previously had a high carbon footprint.

Slovakia: Green bicycle

The Zelený bicykel project is a bicycle sharing system focusing on smaller cities in Slovakia that are uninteresting for large bike-sharing companies. The main objective is to provide citizens with an environmentally friendly, healthy and economical transportation alternative for shorter distances across their cities. The project also aims to educate citizens on leading a healthy active lifestyle and improve their overall quality of life and environmental consciousness. The initiative has also resulted in numerous partnerships with several institutions including secondary schools and businesses, ensuring extensive involvement across different demographics of the city communities.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz at the SME Assembly 2018.

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.

Improving the Business Environment – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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Ready to meet the next set of shortlisted EEPA 2018 projects? Today it is time to introduce the projects in Category 3: Improving the Business Environment. This year the competing projects come from Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Don’t forget to read about the shortlisted projects in Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills.

Romania: Start up Nation Romania

This programme encourages the establishment and development of SMEs, and seeks to improve their economic performances, create new jobs and insert into the labour market disadvantaged persons, the long term unemployed and graduates. The programme has overseen increased investment in new innovative technologies, and as a result 21 000 new jobs have been created, of which more than 16 000 were for disadvantaged people. The programme has also facilitated SME access to finance, and introduced electronic automation systems for business plan registration and company founding. The project activities also stimulated new trade register registrations, which increased by 28.98% in 2017. 

Spain: Open Innovation 4.0.

This public-private cooperation programme aims to improve the business environment of Asturias by: Strengthening business leadership through technology; Acceleration and growth of start-ups; Reinforcement of business cooperation; Encouraging the open innovation concept; and Attracting investment. Selected start-ups join a 4.0 acceleration programme featuring both group and individual tutorials with sector experts. As well as obtaining initial funding to prepare joint proposals, they have access to specific funding for Open Innovation to implement collaborative projects. To date, 123 ideas and solutions have been presented with 14 going on to form companies that implement technical solutions.

United Kingdom: Anchoring economic growth in the Tees Valley

This project has achieved significant results in helping the Tees Valley region overcome the loss of key industries. Working closely with public and private partners, particularly Tees Valley Combined Authority, the project, coordinated by Teeside University, has delivered targeted support that has seeded new enterprises and helped existing businesses in the Tees Valley to tackle the barriers to economic growth. The targeted support has been supplemented by University provided expertise and talent, particularly in the areas of adopting digital technologies and innovation. Project results include 1446 university-business projects, growth of a technology business cluster and a stronger entrepreneurial culture.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz this November.

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.

EEPA at national level – Find out about the 2018 German national winners

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©RKW Kompetenzzentrum

The German EEPA national awards ceremony took place on 12 October 2018 in Berlin as part of the deGUT-fair, one of the most important German entrepreneurship fairs. The ceremony was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, within the ministry’s fair forum. After Germany’s national EEPA Coordinator Juliane Kummer presented the European Competition and spoke about the 2018 national EEPA campaign, the two winners “Nachfolge in Deutschland” (Business Succession in Germany) and “ProjectTogether” were announced. Both projects received congratulations and a winner’s certificate handed out by the Ministry. Following the award presentation, each winner was invited to present their innovative and inspiring initiatives by giving a short interview on stage.

The online platform “Nachfolge in Deutschland” deals with the topic of business succession. It provides innovative digital instruments and tools for entrepreneurs who are planning to transfer their business as well as for business successors. It uses a simple but holistic approach and offers a low participation threshold.

“ProjectTogether” received an additional special congratulation for being one of the shortlisted projects for the 2018 European level of the competition. The digital incubator for social start-ups combines progress and responsibility. It empowers young founders with ideas that can make the world being a better place through support and training from an active online expert community and provides access to networks to connect with government bodies, companies and foundations.

The two winners were selected by a national expert jury who evaluated a total of 31 national entries in June 2018. The jury has also selected a “German EEPA TOP 10” which has been published in a best practice brochure.

Both projects will be present at the SME Assembly, so if you are interested in finding out more visit their websites and see if you can spot them at the event next month!

Investing in entrepreneurial skills – EEPA 2018 Shortlist

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The countdown to the finals of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2018 continues! Last week we met the shortlisted projects from Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit. This week it is time to meet the projects competing in Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, which come from Austria, Ireland and Lithuania.

Austria: i2c STARTacademy

The i²c STARTacademy is an innovative research commercialisation format for TUW scientists who want to transfer their technology and research results into successful products or services. It provides them with a personalised framework to plan their market entry by bringing them together with domain-specific national and international mentors, coaches, investors and industry representatives to work together on the commercial potential of their conducted research. Three years after it was launched the project has provided training and coaching to 91 researchers (40 teams), which has resulted in the generation of 23 start-ups and 85 jobs.

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

ACORNS is a peer to peer support programme in which successful business women (Lead Entrepreneurs) voluntarily facilitate groups of early stage female entrepreneurs. The groups serve to establish good foundations in the new early stage businesses and equip the entrepreneurs with necessary skills to develop and grow sustainable businesses. Both Lead Entrepreneurs and participants are located in rural Ireland and the aim of the programme is to create sustainable businesses throughout rural Ireland to create more jobs over time. To date over 150 early stage female entrepreneurs have been supported with a range of demonstrable results including new jobs created.

Lithuania: Entrepreneurship Academy

Entrepreneurship Academy is a tool and education platform for the development of entrepreneurial competences and skills based on active experiential methods. It brings together a network of over 70 partners including youth groups, education institutions, business and city authorities, and other partners. Participating youth have a year to learn about local businesses and entities, and to utilise the three academy modules: Development of entrepreneurial competences, Entrepreneurship labs and Personal development programmes. Since 2015 more than 800 students and 300 schoolchildren have participated and over 260 creative workshops, seven public events and seven experiential camps have been organised within the project.

Keep coming back to the Portal to meet all of the shortlisted projects and don’t forget to follow all the updates to find out who wins in Graz this November.

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.

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