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SME Assembly 2021 – One Of The First EC Conferences Held In Person After Covid-19

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This year’s SME Assembly, which is set to take place in Portorož, Slovenia on 15-17 November 2021, will be one of the first major European Commission conferences to be held in person post-COVID.  With a programme packed with panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, and more, the SME Assembly 2021 promises to bring a sense of normality to the European and international enterprise ecosystems and celebrate European SMEs’ resilience.

The hybrid format will allow those unable to attend to follow online as sessions will be streamed live and made available on-demand later on. This virtual experience will be facilitated by an online host and participatory sessions, enabling active participation even without being on-site. Don’t forget to register in order to join online.

The Assembly will be subject to a strict COVID protocol coordinated by the European Commission and the Slovenian Presidency. All in-person attendees will be required to present a valid EU Digital COVID certificate demonstrating full vaccination, having recovered or a negative test not older than 24 hours. In addition, there will be on-site testing to provide additional assurance to all SME Assembly delegates and participants. 

This means that, in addition to being the number one event in the EU for SMEs and those who support them, this year’s Assembly will also send an important signal to the conference and convention industry, which has been hard hit by the pandemic that it has the unwavering support of the Slovenian Presidency and the European Commission.

What to expect

The 2021 SME Assembly will kick off with the highlight of the programme – the Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ Lecture. This year will be given by professor Lučka Kajfež Bogataj – the joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the United Nations – who will focus on the role of SMEs and enterprise in achieving the transition to a sustainable economy. Lučka Kajfež Bogataj is an Agrometeorologist, a professor at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana and a pioneer in researching the impact of climate change.  

This will be followed by panel discussions, policy workshops and masterclasses on a range of topics – from the role of SMEs in place-based industrial policies to new opportunities for family-run tourism or empowering girls and women through entrepreneurial and digital competences. At all the sessions, key experts will be on hand to share their experience and provide specialist advice.

This year the SME Assembly 2021 is also hosting two awards ceremonies, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards and the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards, where the most innovative projects in our Promoting Enterprise community are recognised.

Something for everybody

With its wide range of discussions and topics, there will be something for everybody at this year’s Assembly. Like in previous years, the SME Assembly 2021 will also offer networking opportunities, allowing participants to build on the valuable connections that they have made within our Promoting Enterprise community and to forge new links.

Make sure to visit the Promoting Enterprise portal regularly for future updates on the Assembly, its speakers, programme sessions and so on. We are very much looking forward to meeting you in person in beautiful Portoroz!

The SME Assembly is back. Live – and better than ever

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This year’s SME Assembly focused on Togetherness + Resilience = Recovery, will bring together actors from across the European and international enterprise ecosystems, including citizens, businesses and policymakers, to build a more sustainable and resilient future together.

From 15-17 November 2021, the beautiful city of Portorož in Slovenia, and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will play host to the flagship event of the 2021 European SME Week, the SME Assembly.

What is on the programme?

The SME Assembly presents a unique opportunity to bring together the brightest minds and actors from across the enterprise ecosystem to share, discuss and work towards solutions for problems European SMEs and their networks face. After the challenges brought around by the pandemic, and the need for SMEs to be resilient and resourceful, the SME Assembly will be focusing on how community and collaborative resilience are two important elements on the road to recovery.

Through a combination of high-level panels and interviews, expert roundtables, interactive workshops, and informative masterclasses, this year’s Assembly will explore how resilient SMEs can recover by working together towards a more digital and sustainable European economy.

The full programme will be released closer to the SME Assembly but in the meantime, we can confirm that the SME Assembly 2021 will feature:

For full programme details, and high-level speaker announcements, including the prestigious Schumpeter lecturer, keep coming back to the News Portal, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up for the SME Week Newsletter.

What will this year’s Assembly look like?

This year, the Assembly will follow a hybrid format, with the majority of the event taking place in-person, and key sessions also being available online, for global attendees to contribute. Due to the ever-changing health situation, in-person places will be limited, and all attendees will be required to present a valid EU Digital COVID certificate demonstrating full vaccination or a negative test. Further details about the upcoming SME Assembly, including the format and highly anticipated programme, will follow soon.

For any questions on this year’s SME Assembly, please contact the SME Assembly Secretariat.

Stay up to date

Don’t miss out on any of the latest news from Promoting Enterprise and keep following us here on the News Portal, or over on Twitter via @EEPA_EU, @EU_Growth and the dedicated Facebook page. For all the latest on the SME Assembly, don’t forget to follow – #SMEAssembly2021.

EEPA 2020 Testimonial – Le Portail du Rebond

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We are back with our final European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we introduced you to Social Enterprise NL from the Netherlands, 2020 winner in our ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ category. Make sure to read their story if you haven’t yet!

Our final testimonial tells the story of our 2020 Grand Jury Prize winner, ‘Le Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ from France. ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ or ‘The Recovery Portal’, is made up of associations that together provide a nationwide service to entrepreneurs to help them through difficult times. The associations have unique specialisations across different areas, allowing them to cover the entire value chain, from entrepreneurial failure and its prevention to entrepreneurial recovery and its promotion. The portal provides a single online point of access so that entrepreneurs can choose the association that corresponds to their entrepreneurial recovery needs. The associations help the entrepreneurs navigate necessary measures and authorities, and remove obstacles to their recovery.

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

The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ was told about the competition by BPIFRANCE. Our work to help struggling entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs who find themselves in hard times bounce back, corresponded exactly to the EEPA competition criteria. After discussing further with BPIFRANCE and working with their teams, we decided to enter, which was the right decision!

How did you prepare your application?

The ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ is made up of six associations which create a ‘value chain’ that allows us to accompany the entrepreneurs we work with from the beginning when they are in difficulty, all the way through to when they have bounced back. We made this aspects of our work stand out in our application as we thought it was innovative and unique in the European setting.

We also decide to include a testimonial in order to illustrate our work and show how our unique value chain works. We presented one of our entrepreneurs who had successfully made their way through the entire value chain and managed to bounce back with support from one of our associations ‘Second souffle’.

What was it like to win the award?

Wining the Grand Jury prize was amazing! Firstly it was a wonderful recognition of our 10 years of work supporting entrepreneurs in difficulty. We also feel that winning this award and having our services recognised and spoken about during this period of health and economic crisis, will also help us reach additional entrepreneurs that may be in difficult situations.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning the award saw all the actors within the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ wanting to highlight this great prize and recognition, and this was done by increasing our communication activities and actions with entrepreneurs and public authorities to share the news.

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

Firstly, there is absolutely nothing to lose, but so much to win. Secondly, this competition allows for the work and initiatives we work so hard on to be shared with the public as well as other actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Participating in this competition was an incredible collective adventure for the Portail du Rebond community which helped further solidify the strong bonds that we have between the participation associations!

What are your plans for the future?

We hope to further open and expand the ‘Portail du Rebond des Entrepreneurs’ to new associations that carry out meaningful work in relation to our own. We also hope to develop more events dedicated to entrepreneurs. After that, why not see if we can bring our organisation up to European level, and see if we have the support to succeed with this challenge!

Congratulations to our 2020 Grand Jury Prize Winner ‘Le Portail du Rebond’ from France! Make sure to read all the inspiring EEPA winner testimonials right here on the News Portal and re-live the Grand Jury Prize winning moment right here:

EEPA 2020 Testimonial – Social Enterprise NL

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We are back with another European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last time we introduced you to Germany’s Greentech.Ruhr, the winner in our ‘Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency’ category. If you haven’t read it yet, there is no time like the present!

We now travel to the Netherlands for an introduction to Social Enterprise NL, the ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ winner. Social Enterprise NL is a national network and a key driver in the growing movement towards social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands. The network currently has 405 members, all of whom benefit from various workshops and growth programmes aimed at strengthening their business. Members also receive support from network coaches and experts and gain online visibility and publicity. Social Enterprise NL also aspires towards better regulation and legislation and, with this goal in mind, is active in promoting these objectives at the municipal, regional and national levels.

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

We received a call from RVO – the national Dutch Enterprise Agency – in which they informed us that Social Enterprise NL might be a suitable candidate for the EEPA award. The RVO call came at the perfect time; we had just started working on various projects to support social entrepreneurs and the EEPA had the potential to boost our work even more.

How did you prepare your application?

The RVO provided us with all the necessary information and documents, which, despite the short deadline, enabled us to send a complete and comprehensive application. Of course, it was not difficult for us to write about our work, as we feel so passionate about it and deal with it on a daily basis. We also used our past experience and our research carried out with partners, which is of great value for us in terms of the impact we have on the sector.

What was it like to win the award?

Winning the award filled us with optimism, especially during these COVID-19 times. We feel so very grateful! We were already extremely pleased with the national award and the nomination for the EEPA jury shortlist. And then there it was, the European award! It stands as a great recognition of the work we’ve done so far. I immediately called the team after the announcement to share my happiness and excitement. Unfortunately, we were not able to celebrate with each other directly, but we definitely will when we can come together again.

How did winning the award impact your work?

After winning the award, we received many compliments from an astonishing number of people and organisations all over the world! It led to so much engagement online. This is giving a great boost to the social enterprise movement in the Netherlands and to everyone involved with Social Enterprise NL. The prize represents recognition for all the work we have done, and we will keep on doing the best we can to support social entrepreneurs.  

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

EEPA is a great opportunity to showcase your work and its results and to present them at the highest level. It puts a spotlight on your business and on the work that you do, and it helps you to become more visible. We definitely recommend others to apply!

What are your plans for the future?

We will continue our work to improve and further develop the social enterprise sector and to make our network become even bigger. We will always have enough ideas and projects to support social entrepreneurs. We can also give you a scoop – we have a podcast coming up! As the representative of the social enterprise sector in the Netherlands, we want to continue to lobby at the local, national and even international level. The EEPA awards shows us that we have to keep going, hold our heads high and strive for more impact. We want to make Europe a better place: better for the planet and better for our people.

Congratulations to Social Enterprise NL! Keep coming back to the News Portal for more EEPA winner testimonials and re-live their winning moment right here:

You can also catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

SME Week Newsletter 2020-2021: Issue #7

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Welcome back to the Promoting Enterprise Newsletter. We hope that you were all able to enjoy some time off and are ready for some 2021 news from Promoting Enterprise.

To start the year we are celebrating our European Enterprise Promotion Awards winners from the 2020 cycle and getting to know them better. Read their testimonials to get an insight into their journey to the finals and their advice for future applicants.

2021 is also an opportunity for us to celebrate some other winners from 2020 – the SME Week Youth Essay Competition finalists and winner. These inspiring youth have plenty of ideas to share as well as what it was like to take part in the 2020 edition of the competition, all of which is revealed in their testimonials, now available on the News Portal.

We also want to hear YOUR stories, how are you overcoming these challenging times? Share your news and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue or on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.

Read more >>

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Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Winner Sabine Kerssens

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition opened for the fifth time in 2020 to ask the youth of Europe for their opinions and solutions to the following:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

On Promoting Enterprise, we have already had the pleasure of interviewing two of our talented finalists: Pablo Pastor Vidal and Georgina Whiteman. Make sure to read their interviews and get inspired by their submissions!

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing the 2020 winner, Sabine Kerssens, who along with the other two finalists made it all the way to the SME Assembly 2020 to present her essay and ideas to hundreds of delegates. She first impressed the jury with her ideas around the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures allows innovations to be inclusive. Sabine then went on to win the live vote at the SME Assembly after presenting her ideas.

We asked Sabine about her experience entering the competition, attending the SME Assembly 2020 and being selected as the 2020 winner.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Practicing something that you would like to be better at is always a good idea, and the great thing is: you don’t need to win to learn something. As an engineer, writing an essay for a European Commission competition was not an obvious thing to do. Nevertheless, I wanted people to hear my ideas and I knew that being eloquent could help me in this. So I set my fears aside, and I practiced a new way of making an impact, through writing and submitting my ideas. So, to all the young change makers out there: participate in events like this to make sure that you give yourself the chance to find your strengths and make your voice heard in different ways. You can do it!

What was it like to be announced as the winner of the competition?

I’m so honoured that people took the time to vote, listen and enjoy my message. In my essay I advocate for a single startup scaleup market, because I believe there’s a lot to win if innovation by startups is holistically supported on an EU level. Putting a new idea out there, an idea that requires change, is unpredictable. When my name was called and I realised that I had won and that my ideas had captured the attention of the audience, I just felt adrenaline rushing through my body. I hope that with my essay, and through this competition that my ideas can be a spark for change.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?

Through the youth essay competition, the finalists shared the stage with some of the most fascinating speakers within and beyond the European Union. It was inspiring and uplifting to learn from the engaging sessions. Though I would always wish for an in-person meeting, as I’m very keen to meet and thank all the people that were behind the screens (literally), I was incredibly impressed by the professionalism of the organisation and the overall impact of the event.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?

The youth don’t see the corona crisis as something separate from the climate crisis. Therefore, both challenges were a reoccurring theme in this year’s competition. Throughout the Assembly, I saw a want to do things differently in the future, specifically to “build back better”. By bringing the youth, innovators and global leaders on stage together you don’t have to wait for the future.

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

I work with a non-profit to help Dutch startups and scaleups rise with the best talent, markets, technology and capital by 2023. My goal is to make the journey for innovators to scale internationally data-driven. The aim is for risk-taking change makers to be able to rely on and accelerate through the knowledge and experience of generations. If you have ideas or thoughts on the single startup scaleup market, on what innovators need or on what I should be doing after 2023: please reach out via LinkedIn!

Congratulations Sabine! If you would like to watch Sabine’s winning presentation at the SME Assembly you can catch up on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to read her submission and learn about her ideas for the single startup scaleup market.

Watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

EEPA 2020 Testimonial – Mobile Workshops

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We are back with another European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) winner testimonial! Last week we brought you the story of our ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’ winner – Promoting Entrepreneurship from Denmark. Make sure to read their story if you haven’t yet!

This week we travel to Estonia to learn about our ‘Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills’ winner – Merkuur Mobile Workshops from Estonia. Merkuur has developed a series of mobile workshops to introduce young people to the various professions, work practices, and tools to be found in the metal and woodworking sectors. It provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in these professions, increasing young people’s career awareness and competitiveness in the fields of technology and engineering. In mobile classrooms equipped with modern technology, students can test their engineering skills, try various techniques and tools, and make exciting products. In three years, the Merkuur team has organised over 700 science, technology and engineering workshops for about 7000 young people.

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

This year, Estonia’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications organised the 14th edition of the ‘Recognise Entrepreneurship Promoters’ competition in Estonia. Many very interesting and exciting projects have been recognised every year as part of this competition.  Our team was encouraged to apply by the success stories of other Estonian business projects and out of a desire to promote the ‘Mobile Workshops’ project in Estonia and internationally.

How did you prepare your application?

Filling in the application was an interesting process which gave us the opportunity to summarise the important activities and challenges of the ‘Mobile Workshops’ project and to define future plans with the team. It was like a journey through our three years of operations; it gave us the chance to map the current situation of our company and look towards the future.

What was it like to win the award?

It was a great honour! The whole team was thrilled. Any recognition, whatever form it takes, encourages you to put in even more of an effort and to accept even greater challenges. Thank you very much for the award and the recognition!

How did winning the award impact your work?

We are happy our project was noticed in Europe and we feel that international recognition will open more doors to our team, give us support and help us find new fans outside of Estonia. We hope the ‘Mobile Workshop’ service will become an important link in the Estonian education system, making it possible to introduce new technologies and methodological approaches to technology classes.

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

Applying is a great way of introducing the general public to the best business initiatives and projects from different European countries and to gain international attention and recognition. During the application process, we advise any applying projects to note down all of the goals, challenges, results and social problems encountered by your project, along with the social problems to which solutions will be sought when implementing the activities.

What are your plans for the future?

It has been great to offer youngsters the opportunity to study in a mobile technology class and to encourage them to be creative and enterprising. Our team’s goal is to create a concept and methodological materials for future mobile classrooms for both students and teachers, in order to expand within Estonia and into the sphere of international education. We want young people to be encouraged by the opportunities in the fields of science, technology and engineering and for them to be able to create cool products and services with which they can conquer the world in the future.

Congratulations to the Mobile Workshops project! Keep coming back to the News Portal for more EEPA winner testimonials and re-live Merkuur’s winning moment right here:

You can also catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Finalist Pablo Pastor Vidal

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In 2020 the fifth edition of the annual SME Week Youth Essay Competition was launched and asked Europe’s youth the following question:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing one of the 2020 finalists who made it all the way to this year’s SME Assembly 2020 and presented his essay to the hundreds of delegates. Pablo Pastor Vidal from Spain impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience, calling them the words of the next decade.

We asked Pablo about his experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
Since I was a child I have always been very interested in how to come up with solutions to the social problems we face every day and I think that is why I ended up studying Law and Political Science. I remember that the day I discovered the SME Youth Week essay competition I had just had one of these big talks with my parents about how we need to innovate more and support each other even more because everyone has problems and, near them, there will always be another person with solutions. I think that is what we should do in Europe, especially in this era of our history where everything is more complicated than ever: we need to learn from each other and listen because sometimes we are just making the same mistakes that someone has made before us. 

What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2020 competition? 
I am a shy person, so at first, I just told a couple of friends and my family that I was a finalist because I personally thought my ideas would not change people’s minds that much. However, as soon as I told someone about it they loved reading my essay and told me that it made them think about topics that no one had pointed out to them before, and I loved to hear that! We all have the power to influence the people we know with our ideas but I just could not believe mine would captivate the attention of a jury composed of highly respected people in the world of SMEs in Europe as well. 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
It was probably one of the most enriching events I have attended. I know all the team was working really hard to make it possible, especially because all had to be transferred to an online platform this year. Although it was a pity that we had to go online, because I would have loved to meet each and every person face-to-face, that did not make me enjoy the overall conference and intense workshops any less. Now I am already looking forward to the next edition in Ljubljana and I plan to bring some experiences of the Spanish SME landscape with me.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020? 
First of all, needless to say, this event is a must for everyone that wants to communicate and learn about SMEs, because it is not only enriching but diverse: there were experiences from all over Europe and the world. Moreover, I think the experts confirmed very important points that Sabine, Geena and I stressed a lot in our essays: that, in a nutshell, we are going from a vertical vision to a horizontal one, with all the consequences that has, not only in the organisations themselves but in the values regarding the environment, their resilience and their capacity to look forward and think long-term. Therefore, I think we need to engage more people creating with their minds, hearts and hands and more academics to ensure we learn from the mistakes we might make along the way. 

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share? 
Right now I am working with a team of lawyers from all over Spain to create an innovative startup that tries to solve the everyday problems of small and medium legal firms and guide them through their digital transformation. Our mission is also to promote more economically accessible legal help to the majority of the population. I am really excited about this project and I hope to share more news about it soon.

I am also looking forward to graduating from my current studies. I know for sure I want to become a leading young voice in the promotion of small and medium enterprises, but at the same time, I do not know where my passions will take me! Until then, I hope we can make 2021 one of the best years for the growth and promotion of the SMEs. 

Thanks to everyone that made this competition and experience possible! 

Thank you Pablo and congratulations on being a 2020 finalist! You can read Pablo’s essay and watch him present at the SME Assembly:

Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with fellow finalist Georgina Whiteman and the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens.

Catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

SME Week Newsletter 2020: Issue #6

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SME Assembly 2020 – Time to catch-up

This month was very exciting with the very first virtual online SME Assembly taking place on 16-17 November. Co-hosted with the German Presidency, the Assembly was opened by German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier and European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who prepared everyone for the exciting programme ahead.

If you missed out on the Assembly don’t worry – we have got you covered! Keep reading for some of the highlights and information on where to find exclusive photos, videos and other SME Assembly 2020 content.

We also want to hear YOUR stories, how are you overcoming these challenging times? Share your news and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue or on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.

Read more >>

SUBSCRIBE AND DON´T MISS ANY UPDATES

EEPA 2020 Compendium

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One of the highlights of this year’s SME Assembly 2020 was the finals of the 14th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) which took place on Monday 16 November.

The EEPA recognise the best of the best, with six individual category awards, 1 Grand Jury Prize and Special Mentions. We got see all of the winning moments on screen but it is now time to learn a little more about these winning projects and why the EEPA jury selected them!

The 2020 EEPA compendium is now available for you to read and explore here.

The EEPA Compendium is an annual publication that compiles all of the shortlisted projects to celebrate their achievements and provide an insight into the Awards process. This year’s Compendium features introductions to all of the shortlisted projects, as well as additional information on the Grand Jury Prize winner.

Learn more about each of our EEPA jury members as well as the EEPA judging process that goes on behind the scenes. This year’s compendium also contains

In addition you will find out more about this year’s prestigious jury, their experience being behind the scenes of EEPA, testimonials from previous winners and a focus on how SMEs are leading the recovery.  

To find out more about the EEPA, visit the EEPA website, and look through the previous compendiums from 201920182017 2016201520142013, and 2012.

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