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The SME Assembly 2017 – eMagazine

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The SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, focused on starting, scaling and spreading your wings, and provided a platform for discussion, networking and knowledge sharing. The outcomes of this European flagship event are now available for you to read, and look at in graphic representations, in the eMagazine on the newly updated SME Assembly 2018 webpage.

In the magazine you will find summaries of the daily activities as well as the key messages from the various sessions, speakers and masterclasses. In addition to the key takeaways for 2017, you will also find a selection of images taken during the event, all of which are available on the Promoting Enterprise Flickr. The magazine also highlights and displays visual documentation from the CoCreative Flow team who captured everything in realtime on site.

Be sure to read through to learn about everything that happened in Tallinn and don’t forget to check the updated SME Assembly webpage for the latest news on the upcoming SME Assembly 2018 in Graz.


The EIPP – Providing connection opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs

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The European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) is a virtual meeting place for project promoters and investors. This year the Portal was present at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, and came to life in the first ever EIPP matchmaking session during which investors, entrepreneurs and project promoters were able to meet in person and discuss future partnerships and investment opportunities.

But what did the participants think? Check out the videos below to see what everyone thought and be sure to go through the photo albums on Flickr to see, as Vice President Jyrki Katanien once put it, ‘the tinder of investment’ in action!

Ichó, Steffen Preuss, DE

Slow Mills, Erwin Meijboom, NL

Virtual Medicine, Tomáš Brngál, SK

EIPP Session highlights

SME Week Newsletter 2017: Issue #8

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Another year, another SME Assembly in the European SME story.

The SME Assembly is over for another year and the 2017 edition, hosted by Estonia, was another exciting chapter in the European SME story. Over 600 delegates attended and speakers from a wide variety of disciplines including, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, digitalisation, e-commerce, public procurement and many more were all present in Estonia to share their knowledge and exchange with the European SME community.

Enjoy reading about everything that happened in Tallinn and be on the lookout for some exciting content and exclusive interviews coming your way very soon!


<< Previous Issue #15


Lights, camera, action…Conclusions from the 2017 SME Assembly

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The 2017 SME Assembly has come and gone, but it certainly has not left us indifferent. It has been clear from this year’s edition that the focus has been much more on action and on the implementation of the SME-related policies developed in previous years. But what results are these policies producing? Here are some of the main conclusions from the event:

  • Let’s aim to solve problems rather than buy products in public procurement: different stakeholders worked together to generate innovative ideas responding to a real-life policy challenges at the Policy Hack It is a common practice in the EU that governments tend to buy highly specified products rather than solutions to their problems. This needs to change towards more participatory, solution-oriented approach, adding a new perspective to the public procurement process.
  • Public procurement is a key opportunity for SMEs: EUR 2 trillion is spent annually in the EU on public procurement. The EU Public Procurement Package of Measures is a step in the right direction, however, more work needs to be done in certain sectors to improve access to information, guarantee more transparency and use better fitting selection criteria.
  • A positive outlook for European SMEs in most countries: both the number of SMEs and their added value above the 2008 levels (pre-crisis) levels, though there is a clear north-south division with southern countries still struggling. Steady growth is expected for 2017 and 2018 according to the SME Performance Review 2016/2017, where a focus on self-employment will become ever-increasingly important.
  • Some tangible results of EC actions, but still a way to go: the Small Business Act has already generated tangible results. However, more has to be done in crucial areas for the future of SMEs, such as innovation.
  • Greater visibility of European investment opportunities: the EC is carrying out a number of actions to increase the visibility of investment projects with a focus on SMEs. Examples include the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) and the European Investment Fund. However, whether these initiatives will meet the real finance needs of European SMEs still remains to be seen. Decreasing a minimal ticket to 1 mln EUR is a move in the right direction, however, understanding how venture funds approach deals would be welcomed.
  • Access to finance is still one of the highlighted issues for SMEs in Europe: a fragmented legal and tax system in Europe are the main barriers to access finance. The development of regional co-investment funds, harmonisation of the regional cooperative framework and mutual recognition of existing fiscal incentives for business angels are some of the potential solutions to overcome these barriers.
  • Preparation for the future: SMEs have to prepare themselves for the market conditions of the future. 21st century enterprises should be experience-focused, outcome-based, agile & lean, service-oriented and ecosystem-driven.
  • Evidence of successful on the ground initiatives: such as the eResidency Programme in Estonia allowed entrepreneurs outside of the EU to start a business no matter where they reside.

The event may be over, but the online discussion continues here.

Written by Jon Switters and Katarzyna Jakimowicz

Schumpeter lecture 2017 – Professor Jan Fagerberg

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The Schumpeter Innovation in Enterprise lecture is one of the highlights of the SME Assembly and is given by a different guest lecturer each year. This year Professor Jan Fagerberg, from the University of Oslo gave a lecture on the current status of European innovation and how this is closely related to the issues of economic transformation and climate change., Sabine Soeder

According to Professor Fagerberg, Europe is stuck in a partially self-inflicted stagnation and needs to transform accordingly. The European stagnation can be explained by globalisation, and the differing responses of European states, leading to a lack of homogeneity. The Euro in particular, meant that there was no specific need for policy coordination, which led to increased unemployment and different austerity policies. These outcomes mean that something must change, in order to rise out of stagnation, the economy must radically transform.

The need to transform the economy is particularly linked to climate change. European emissions are still at high levels, and must decline much faster than their current rates. This is where the link to renewable technology becomes relevant, both environmentally and economically speaking. Not only is it the answer to cutting down on emissions but due to: rapidly declining costs, unlimited availability, broad applicability and pervasive effects, it could arguably transform the current economy into a more sustainable model.

As both challenges are heavily influenced by each other, they require a coordinated policy response which should specifically have innovation policy at its heart. This entails innovation policy working across fields to promote, explore and provide opportunities in fields related to renewables. Through ICT and renewable technology there is a chance to not only transform the economy, but do so without causing further harm to the climate and possibly even remedy the current effects.

For photos from the lecture, please see the Flickr album.

For more information on his work and publications, please visit his website.

SME Assembly 2017 – Day 2

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Day 1 was exciting, and Day 2 certainly did not disappoint! The first full day of sessions and masterclasses was opened with keynote speeches from Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, and Urve Palo, Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, followed by insightful questions from the session chair Mari Vavulski, head of Startup Estonia.

The opening was finalised with the highly anticipated results of the Ideas from Europe semi-finals were announced. So many good ideas meant the Jury had a tough decision to make, but the following finalists were selected: Julien Penders of Bloomlife (Belgium), Klaus B. Pederson of Too Good to Go (Denmark), Steffen Preuss of Ichò (Germany), Fiona Edwards Murphy of ApisProtect (Ireland), Aida Nazarikhorram of LuxAI (Luxembourg), Mark Offerhaus of Micreos (The Netherlands), Artur Racicki of SEEDia (Poland), Francisco Duarte of PavNext (Portugal), Mervi Pänkäläinen of Mightifier (Finland). Another project received a special mention from the Jury, Refugee{code} and as such will also be going to the finals in the Hague.

One place has yet to be filled, and is now down to a public vote which opened online during the announcement. Voting will be open until early 2018 and will decide which of the remaining 19 semi-finalists will take the final spot at The Knights Hall in The Hague in the Netherlands!

With an exicting kick-off the day continued with several policy sessions and masterclasses, ranging from a focus on invest and finance, to teaching practical skills like basic coding and the basics of cybersecurity for SMEs. There was also the annual SME Performance Review, presented by Costas Andropoulos from the European Commission. Have a look at the Live Tweet feed for the highlights of each session.

The night kicked off with the European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony, where all national winners received a certificate from SME Envoy Viljar Lubi up on stage. The host, Andres Torm, then went on to present the shortlist and invite several distinguished presenters to award each prize. For more details on the EEPA winners have a look at the EEPA winners post, and be sure to read the 2017 compendium to learn more in depth about each of the awarded projects.The night was far from over at the end of the ceremony and continued on as Kultuurikatel transformed for the EEParty where winners, delegates and attendees had a chance to continue networking and enjoy what the DJ had to offer.

Hopefully you are not too tired from yesterday’s sessions, and see you around for Day 3…

Ideas from Europe 2017 – Finalists

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Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden are going to the finals of Ideas from Europe on April 24, 2018 in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, the Netherlands. The jury found these ideas the most innovative and believe these will have the most impact on our society.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The winners

This is what the jury, Kaupo Reede, Kristin Schreiber, Ulrike Rabmer Kollen and Cees Vermaas had to say about the ideas:

  1. Julien Penders of Bloomlife (Belgium): “If you are a mother the solution of Bloomlife will give you peace of mind.”
  2. Klaus B. Pederson of Too Good to Go (Denmark): “A practical solution to the second hand market of food.”
  3. Steffen Preuss of Ichò (Germany): “This solution is acknowledging the tremendous problem of dementia and provides a practical device that brings relief.”
  4. Fiona Edwards Murphy of ApisProtect (Ireland): “We need bees to make sure our food supply will last. This solution will help the bee population.”
  5. Aida Nazarikhorram of LuxAI (Luxembourg): “There is a big potential in technology that lets children interact more easily with robots.”
  6. Mark Offerhaus of Micreos (The Netherlands): “This solution is potentially a ground breaking alternative for antibiotics.”
  7. Artur Racicki of SEEDia (Poland): “The combination of something practical and modern that will help both us and the environment.”
  8. Francisco Duarte of PavNext (Portugal): “The combination of safety and energy has great potential.”
  9. Mervi Pänkäläinen of Mightifier (Finland): “This will really stimulate behaviour change and help children fight bullying.”

(Click on the links above to see the individual pitches)

The Jury have decided that due to them sharing a common objective and similar goals, but with slightly different target audiences, that the Speak Up solution from Sweden will share the stage with Mightifier from Finland at the finals in The Hague.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The Jury also wanted to highlight another project and give it a special mention. Stefan Steinberger the semi-finalist presenting Refugee{code}, will also be joining the finalists at the Hague due to his solution being so relevant to the current refugee crisis.


From November 23 onwards, the wildcard vote for the last finalist will be open to the public. They will be able to vote online via for one of the other nineteen solutions that were not chosen by the jury.

The innovator with the most votes will then go on to join the other finalists in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, The Netherlands on April 24, 2018.

To see photos from the Ideas from Europe semi-finale, please visit our Flickr. To see the whole competition, you can watch the video.

SME Assembly 2017 – Day 1

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What an opening! Yesterday on 22 November 2017, the SME Assembly 2017 officially opened and the long awaited programme of events finally got under way.

Three Estonian enterprises opened their doors to delegates to show us all what goes on behind the scenes of some of Estonia’s top innovators. From finding out what goes into the making and running of a digital state with the E-Estonia showroom, learning what goes into Estonian defence with top supplier and manufacturer Milrem, to learning about super capacitors with ‘Estonia’s oldest startup’ Skeleton Technologies, this year’s business tours were certainly diverse and showed us the entrepreneurial, innovative and e-spirit of Estonia.

The day continued with the long anticipated Ideas from Europe semi-finals, during which all 28 candidates made their three minute pitches in front of a live audience and a high level jury. The jury, made up of Kristin Schreiber of the European Commission, Kaupo Reede from the Estonian Presidency, Ulrike Rabmer Koller President of UEAPME, and Cees Vermaas CEO of CME Europe, asked tough questions and challenged the candidates to defend their solutions on stage. Both the Jury and the audience voted on who should go through to the finals in the Hague next year…be sure to follow our live coverage on Twitter to find out who they picked!

Ideas from Europe was swiftly followed by two more high level events to round off the evening, the SME Week Reception at the stunning Seaplane Harbour Museum, and the Schumpeter Lecture given by Jan Fagerberg at the beautiful Kadriorg Art Museum.

The Reception included opening remarks from Costas Andropoulos of the European Commission, some SME insights from Kaupo Reed of the Estonian Presidency, and a showcase of Estonian culture, traditional folk dancing, music and a performance from Veronika’s Portsmuth Academy Concert Choir and Uppsar dance show. The Schumpeter Lecture allowed Professor Jan Fagerberg to share his insights on the evolution of innovation policy and what it means for Europe’s future, which was complemented by speeches from SME Envoy Viljar Lubi, European Commissioner Bienkowska and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

Day 1 certainly had a lot to offer, but this was only the beginning of this year’s SME Assembly activities. What is in store for today? Follow us on Twitter for live coverage, and for those of you that are here…see you in Kultuurikatel!

What a difference an investment platform makes – What to expect of the EIPP session during the SME Assembly 2017

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Nowadays, apps and digital platforms are everywhere and have become a part of everyone’s lives: from ordering one’s takeaway dinner, to monitoring one’s fitness progress and well-being, to make romantic relationships and the entire process of going out and meeting new people much easier. Digital tools are also increasingly being used for business and work situations, and that is no exception when talking about SMEs and venture capital investments. Enter EIPP.

Sometimes referred to as “the Tinder for investments”, as European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen once put it, the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) is an online matchmaking platform hosted by the European Commission (EC) – namely, DG ECFIN. As part of the Investment Plan for Europe initiative – which seeks to mobilise investment, promote economic growth and create jobs across the EU – EIPP is a database of viable projects with investment opportunities across the EU in virtually all industry areas. As with most platforms under EC tutelage, EIPP has a free-of-charge registration and bridges the gap between users: entrepreneurs can find potential investment partners with just a few “clicks”.

In 2017, EIPP will be one of the key initiatives during the SME Assembly in Tallinn (22-24 November 2017) and of Invest Week, a series of stimulating events that will examine the impact of investment on sustainable growth.

More specifically, a policy and matchmaking session dedicated to EIPP and its added-value in fostering venture capital investments for small and medium companies will take place on 24 November at the Kultuurikatel. After a panel discussion with experts on how to make a perfect venture capital pitch, participating SMEs will have the opportunity to put their pitching skills to the test by presenting their business ideas to a selected group of high-level investors in a small matchmaking session.

Each investor will be able to meet up to eight projects: three “preferred” ones – to be picked from a list of proposals – and five random others who will be given the benefit of their advice.  In order to maximise the opportunities for the attending SMEs, each participant will have the opportunity to meet at least three investors.

Participation in this EIPP policy and matchmaking session has been restricted to SMEs with projects which, after a careful screening process, have proven to be interesting to potential investors for their potential to tackle global challenges. This selected list of participants includes EIPP-listed projects; SME Assembly attendees; finalists from the Start-up Nations summit and the Ideas from Europe competition; and finalists from other EC awards schemes such as the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) and the European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE).

For the complete EIPP sessions agenda at the SME Assembly 2017, please click here. For more information, please contact Guendalina Cominotti,

Youth Essay Competition 2017 – What’s next?

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The Youth Essay Competition 2017 submission period is now closed. Thank you to all the participants for all your hard work! This year the competition is getting even tougher, with submissions from across 23 countries and triple the number of entries from 2016. This year the top three countries were Ukraine, Serbia and the United Kingdom. We also received entries from Russia, Egypt and Nigeria. Unfortunately we can only accept submissions from citizens of COSME countries, but thank you for sending us your ideas!

So what happens now?

The Essay Competition jury will now deliberate and read through the entries to determine the top three submissions. These top three finalists will be announced right here on Promoting Enterprise and across all our social media in the middle of October, so make sure to follow us to be the first to know!

The final step of the competition involves a live finale in Tallinn at the SME Assembly 2017. Each of the three finalists will present their essay to the 500+ Assembly delegates and the winner will be selected via a public vote.

What could you win?

Each finalist will win an all-expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, be given special presentation training before the event and finally have their essay and ideas promoted right here on Promoting Enterprise and across all our social media.

Who were the 2016 finalists and what did they have to say? Read about Andri, Katie, Frici and Francesco.

Curious about who will be judging your entry? Meet the Jury!

Follow our social media so you don’t miss any news about the competition:

Twitter: @EEPA_EU and @EuropeanSMEWeek

Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise

Instagram: @promotingenterprise

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