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EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Business Generator – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Winner 2017

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The 2018 edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) is under way and the search for innovative European projects in the fields of enterprise and entrepreneurship has begun. Continuing the series of testimonials from EEPA 2017, Promoting Enterprise presents the 2017 winner in the category ‘Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills’ – Business Generator from Sweden, represented by Anette Rhudin.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

It was the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth that called and asked us to apply.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

Our main motivation for entering was that we wanted more people at the national level to know how we could make difference, and we wanted the national media to write about it. We decided to enter because Business Generator identified a gap in the strategic management process for SME companies, as well as a way to reach SMEs and provide them with useful skills for their daily lives as entrepreneurs. Our intention was to communicate this “gap”, not just in our region, but throughout Sweden. We thought that being National Winners could be a “shortcut” for us, meaning that the Swedish media would address the issue of SMEs and the potential they have in Sweden.

How did you prepare your application?

We spent a lot of time compiling and identifying the reasons behind our project. We wanted to make it easy to understand the complexity of what we do and, of course, to find out what exactly makes us successful.

One of our goals with this project was to actively communicate our results, so preparing the EEPA application was actually very useful and a good way to combine both our communication goal and competition preparation. We interviewed the participating companies and gathered their comments and thoughts about their experience in the project, which was of great help.

What was it like to win the award?

When we found out that we were the national winners we hosted a midsummer party, to inform everyone about the prize that we were competing for and to celebrate our national win. It´s in Swedish, but you can see how emotional everyone was, both laughing and crying. It was a great party! 

We really wanted to win the European prize, but just because we thought we were the best project didn’t mean that the jury would think the same thing. When Business Generator was announced as the winner, I had a pulse of 1000! Friends who have seen the video of us winning say that I look unmoved, but really I was shocked. Just hearing Sweden mentioned with our project was incredible, I was representing our country!

My own experience of the SME Assembly was overwhelming. There were so many people with the same interests, which gave us a lot of input and a chance to see the differences between countries. This experience gave me a lot to think about and made me realise that Sweden still has a lot of work to do. One evening we talked to representatives from Britain who told us about their own situation and how young entrepreneurs are leaving the UK. This conversation in particular really helped us to understand what the work being done by the EU can mean for all the people in Europe.

How did winning the award impact your work?

When we became National Winners there were big articles in our local newspapers, but the national papers wrote nothing. After speaking to national radio I learnt that EU issues are rarely covered in Swedish media due to their complexity. This is a shame because our region of Värmland is classified as one of the poorer growth regions in Sweden, meaning it needs some praise and attention in the Swedish media.

When we won EEPA, social media exploded. It was shared and there was so much gratitude and so many congratulatory messages that we were unable to follow all the threads! In addition, all co-financing municipalities and banks wrote about the win on their websites and social media. Wherever we were, there was always someone telling us how proud they were of our achievement. Even though the Swedish media did not pick up on it as much as we would have hoped, at least people in our sphere seem to really like it and appreciate our efforts.

Why should others enter EEPA 2018? What advice would you give them?

The prize itself is valuable, but so is the opportunity to see how projects in other countries deal with the same issues and questions. You can see differences in financial solutions, project launches and how each country has their own solutions and plans, all of which are the best across Europe.

Another thing to think about is communication. I was so impressed with the communication throughout the SME Assembly! It was really professional and each country was provided with perfect PR. However, there must be media in the home country that receives it, and that is where you need to plan before you go the SME Assembly. We experienced something very extraordinary and I am so grateful. All the people we met, all the information we got, all the big ideas we heard about were so interesting. But if I could do it again, I would have planned more beforehand and talked more to those people that could be useful in the future.

If you like to see how it is possible to change things in a society, then EEPA is a perfect event! I can´t see any better way to be exposed to these kinds of solutions and questions than the EEPA competition.

What are your plans for the future?

The project Business Generator ended in December 2017 and unfortunately the owner of the project, Inova, ended at the same time. Business Generator was completed as a project, but was far from ready to “fly” on its own. There is still a lot of work to be done in packing, launching and finding public funds in combination with the participating company’s own financing, in order to create a viable Business Generator. We have other programmes in our region, like mentor programmes which are based on people giving their time for free. Our project charged a very low fee for those involved in the Business Generator, meaning that we became a threat rather than an opportunity.

We were hoping that another organisation would take the concept further, but this has not happened yet. In Värmland there are around 7,540 SMEs, all of which need more support and resources, so even though the future of Business Generator is uncertain I hope there will be a way for our project to come back.

To find out more about Business Generator, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

Have your say on the SME definition!

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The European Commission is currently preparing for an evaluation and possible revision of some aspects of the SME definition and is inviting any interested actor to provide feedback on its evaluation and impact assessment.

The SME definition is a widely used tool in EU policies such as competition (state aid), structural funds, research and innovation (Horizon 2020).

Moreover, the SME definition is relevant for some European administrative exemptions and reduced fees, such as for Regulation on registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH).

If you would like to know more about this initiative please check the public consultation on the review of the SME definition. You can contribute until 6 May 2018.

Read the original article on EASME news here.

European Satellite Navigation Competition kicks off in Brussels

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The European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC) was launched, along with the Copernicus Masters, the leading innovation platform for commercial Earth observation applications, at a joint international kick-off event hosted by the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU in Brussels, on 5 April 2017.

From now until June 30, ESNC will be searching for the most forward‐thinking applications based on satellite navigation. The winners, which will be announced at a ceremony as part of European Space Week in Tallinn, Estonia, in November, will share in this year’s prize pool of more than EUR 1 million and will benefit from the ESNC’s unparalleled support network, including the ESA Business Incubation Centres and the brand new E-GNSS Accelerator, co-funded by the European Commission.

Speaking at the kick-off ceremony, Andreas Veispak, Head of the European Commission’s Space Data for Societal Challenges and Growth Unit, noted that the EU had invested a lot of money in satellites, and now stakeholders, including Member States, were looking for a return on this investment. “This can only be yielded through satellite applications that are of use to end users in the public and private sectors,” he said.

Return on investment

This is where the ESNC plays a key role. Since 2004, the Competition has been fast-tracking the most ground-breaking ideas for Galileo-related applications across Europe and beyond and transforming them into market-ready products and new ventures. Each year, the Competition helps promote over 400 business ideas and has already awarded prizes to more than 300 winners over the years, which represent just a fraction of the more than 3,700 innovative concepts submitted by over 11,000 participants.

                Also read: KYNEO project moves closer to commercialisation

This year is no different. With an impressive prize pool of over EUR 1 million, the Competition will give entrepreneurs and start-ups with services, products or business ideas that use satellite navigation in everyday life access to more than 160 space-related stakeholders and allow them to benefit from support from over 40 incubators and the expertise of more than 250 experts.

Copyright: ©GSA

GSA special prize

Within the ESNC, there is the GSA Special Prize for the most promising application idea for European GNSS. The European GNSS Agency (GSA) works with the European Commission on a range of activities aimed at helping European entrepreneurs and businesses – especially high-tech small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), business incubators, and related networks – take commercial advantage of European GNSS (EGNSS). This year the focus of the GSA prize is on connecting Europe.

                Watch this: Europe for space, space for Europe

Now that EGNOS is performing very well, Reinhard Blasi, Market Development Officer at the European GNSS Agency (GSA), noted at the ceremony, the focus is shifting from not only embracing EGNOS on a European level, but Galileo on a global level. “Since December 2016 we have been progressing from deployment to user service provision, which means that users can benefit from Galileo right now,” he said. “In light of the 60th anniversary of the EU, and a milestone year when Galileo starts to provide services with the Declaration of Initial Services, we have been thinking about how we can use satellite navigation to showcase how European GNSS helps connect European citizens.”

E-GNSS Accelerator

The ESNC is now additionally equipped with the brand new E-GNSS Accelerator. This programme is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and start-ups to accelerate their business case on a broad scale and bring their products and services to market. The E-GNSS Accelerator will run for three years and will directly support the winners of the ESNC 2017, 2018 and 2019. As a result, the participants will receive even more prizes, services and three further business incubations worth an additional EUR 500,000.

For more information on the ESNC, including all relevant information on prizes, partners, and terms of participation, visit the Competition’s official website: Information on the Copernicus Masters can  be found here:


Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link the article back to the GSA website (

EIT Health’s Product/Market Fit open to e-health companies looking to expand

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With a good idea, some investment and hard work, start-ups in the health and life sciences fields can get started in their local market. But if these firms are going to achieve meaningful growth, and if their innovations are going to benefit a wider audience, they will have to go abroad – which means understanding new regulations, a different culture and an unknown set of market realities.

This is where Product/Market Fit comes in. An EIT Health Accelerator programme, Product/Market Fit helps start-ups that have already established themselves in one market and are ready to expand beyond their borders. The support this programme offers has an estimated market value of EUR 25 000, but the opportunities it provides can be worth much more than that.

“Based on our experience in the Accelerator, grownup start-ups start needing support with going to other markets,” according to Katrien Van Gucht, a Co-Coordinator of the EIT Health Accelerator Strategy and  Digital Health Program Manager at EIT Health partner IMEC. “We wanted to get in that sweet spot, right when they are ready to expand,’ said Johnny Waterschoot, who project manages European open calls for IMEC. “We are looking for companies that are ready to go beyond their borders, but lack the necessary funding to do just that. This programme will help them decide what markets to address next.”

According to Van Gucht, companies that are mature enough to qualify for this programme have typically raised about EUR 500 000 in investment and generally consist of two or three people. She said the companies obtain great value from the market testing that the programme can do. “The trial and error ratio of going out and seeing for themselves if they can make it in another market, we reduce this a great deal for them. They will see if they still need some work before they start growing in that market. Or the outcome could be that this market is not for them.”

If the entrepreneurs have the passion and drive to expand, the Product/Market Fit programme can provide them with many of the other tools they need.

Interested in finding out how to apply? Read more about the process here.

For more information:

Digital innovation – The online safety tools of the future

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Digital innovation has led to several technological advances, born in the minds of innovative entrepreneurs who go on to bring their ideas to life. With an increasing number of us online, both socially and professionally, cybersecurity is an issue that affects us all, consumers and entrepreneurs alike. How can you protect yourself? What information do you need to safely reap the benefits of our digitally innovative world? Today, Promoting Enterprise looks into the development of fraud detection systems, accessible cybersecurity and remote incident response platforms.

The tendency for people to be creatures of habit is being put to good use in the cybersecurity industry, thanks to new identification software that uses typical login times and locations, keystroke dynamics and in-app behaviour to verify if someone is who they say they are. It’s one of a series of innovations being developed by European businesses keen to claim their share of a growing cybersecurity market. Analysts predict that global spending in cybersecurity will be well over EUR 100 billion a year by 2021, yet according to a 2016 report despite being the most trusted area globally when it comes to data security and privacy, the European industry is only growing 6% annually, compared to growth of 8 % for the market as a whole.

One of the aims of the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO) – the association implementing a cybersecurity public-private partnership set up by the EU in 2016 – is to create connections between industry players, national public authorities and users of cybersecurity solutions to identify priorities and increase collaboration in research and innovation. That connection – particularly between providers and end-users – is crucial if Europe is to grow the industry and take its place in the market. European businesses such as Czech-based cybersecurity firm ThreatMark (advanced fraud-detection systems developer) and German cybersecurity company Applied Security (apsec), could benefit from this connection which could manifest as business-to-business platforms and direct interactions between SMEs and potential clients.

With the development of the cybersecurity industry, there are still three areas to be addressed:

  1. Cybersecurity tools need to be considered as integral parts of computer systems. EU funded projects like CyberWiz, where users set up a model IT network and carry out various kinds of simulated attacks, allow for system development whilst exposing weak points and giving an overview of the network security.
  2. Skilled technical experts are important for the overall success of the industry, but especially in the small- and medium-sized sector. According to chief executive of Secon Cyber Security UK Robert Gupta, ‘In general, there is a lack of the right skills and when you are recruiting, technical experts in cybersecurity are very hard to come by’.
  3. The costs of implementing cybersecurity. Between the costly search for experts, their employment and the implementation and upkeep of a security system, many smaller businesses simply cannot afford this integral part of their online presence. However, EU funded project ConnectProtect could be the answer; a remote incident-response platform helping small- and medium-sized businesses to combat attacks and security threats – at a more reasonable cost. Through such a system and economies of scale for cybersecurity software licences, the total cost of security could come down dramatically for small businesses – perhaps by as much as 75 % per member of staff.

For more information:

Digital innovation is a key theme for this year’s SME Assembly 2017 taking place in Estonia, so stay tuned for more digital innovation content right here on Promoting Enterprise.

If you liked this have a read of: 2017 and beyond: How digital innovation will impact the world

‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’ – SME Assembly 2017

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The SME Assembly is the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe, and gathers the best and most inspiring ideas with the potential to change the world for the better, from across the 28 Member States. The conference takes place once a year during the European SME Week. Together with the network of SME Envoys, the assembly creates the governance structure of the Small Business Act.

The 2017 edition of the SME Assembly will take place from 22 – 24 November 2017 in Tallinn, during and in cooperation with the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It will be the main event of European SME Week 2017. The opening ceremony will take place at the Seaplane Harbour Museum and the assembly itself at Kultuurikatel.

The Assembly focuses on how to make SME policy work in the everyday European context, in order for Europe’s SMEs to really thrive. In this, the sixth year of the SME Assembly, the programme will again include:

  • the Schumpeter ‘Innovation in Enterprise’ lecture, which will be held at the House of Blackheads;
  • the 11th European Enterprise Promotion Awards ceremony;
  • keynote speeches from high-level politicians and dignitaries;
  • interactive sessions where participants get an opportunity to drive the policy agenda;
  • practical masterclasses and boot camps;
  • and an interactive expo to promote start-ups and scale-ups and those that support them.

There will also be the Ideas from Europe semi-finale, which will showcase the conclusion of a member state wide competition to find the ‘Top 10’ ideas from visionary entrepreneurs across Europe.

Entry to the SME Assembly and European Enterprise Promotion Awards is by personal invitation from the European Commission only. If you would like to register your interest, please contact:

So prepare yourselves to ‘Start. Scale. Spread your wings’, like the iconic barn swallows of Estonia, and follow us on the journey to Tallinn!

In order to keep up with updates, deadlines and news about the SME Assembly 2017, and the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, make sure to follow all the different social media and information channels:

Twitter: @EuropeanSMEWeek, @EEPA_EU

Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise

YouTube: Promoting Enterprise

Instagram: @promotingenterprise

Positive discrimination for national SMEs – Portuguese EEPA winner supports national enterprise

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be sources of employment and innovation in a national economy, yet conditions are not always favourable when these enterprises compete against larger competitors. The winner of Category 3 (Improving the Business Environment) at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2016, strives to create these conditions and an SME supportive environment. The Leader SME programme is a mechanism to qualify enterprises that aims to highlight the merits of the most successful  national SMEs by creating conditions to strengthen their market reputation and fast-track access  to funding. The goal is to promote growth strategies and consolidate their competitiveness.

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

We first heard about the competition through several public and private entities that promote and encourage participation in the competition throughout Portugal, and applied using our public/private partnership. We felt that our project was a good and strong example of what EEPA represents. Our results from previous years were also very successful, so we thought that our project had good replication potential and could serve as a European example.

How did you go about preparing your application?

The preparation of an EEPA application is quite “heavy” in terms of the work involved. We did not prepare something special for EEPA, but instead created a working group for the preparation of the application as soon as the period of application was announced.

What was it like to win the award?

It was a surprise, considering the quality of other applications. However, we felt that we had a very good chance in this competition, since we were strongly convinced of the quality of our application. Just being included in the shortlist gave as a sense of achievement! Winning the competition was very important to us, and it was an extraordinary feeling: a reward for the work done, and concrete proof that we are on the right track.

How did winning the award immediately impact your work and what kind of response did you receive?

Winning the award helped us not only externally, the increased visibility helped with publicity and will also help us in the future, but also internally. Internally the win helped to solidify our relationships with partners and make us a stronger network. It also resulted in overall better general knowledge of the objectives and better understanding of the technicalities of the project. The response was great and made us feel like we have an increased sense of responsibility, now we just have to maintain and increase the impact of the project. Whilst it was fantastic to represent our project, it was also very satisfying to be able to represent Portugal.

Can you already see a long-term impact or do you have any expectations?

Yes. Considering the results of the initiative, and the relevance of the award, we think that the partners will be able to approach companies more easily in order to tighten the network links and increase the impact of the SME Leader initiative.

Why should others enter EEPA 2017? What advice would you give them?

It is important to evaluate whether a project has the following: quality, results, strong partnership, and replicability. Our advice would be that if your project has all of the above, then you should definitely compete! The preparation for EEPA stimulates evaluation, strengthens partnership, and gives visibility, all of which can only help strengthen your project.

What are your plans for the future?

Our project has the potential to increase the level and scope of impact on the companies, through a tightening of the network. We hope to raise awareness and increase knowledge about the companies considered to be SME Leaders, and disseminate their best practices to help others achieve the same leader status. Our whole project is about helping SMEs get access to finance, whether it be through creating the right conditions or helping them comply with requisites, in terms of the future we want to keep doing just that and increase the number of enterprises that we help and who can benefit.

SME Assembly 2016 – Refresh your memory with presentations

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As we prepare for SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, let us not forget about the success of the SME Assembly 2016 in Bratislava! The presentation from the SME Assembly 2016 is now available for you to look at here.

Want to have a look at some of the presentations from the SME Assembly 2016? Browse the list below to refresh your memory:

Day 2 – Thursday November 24

Day 3 – Friday November 25

10 Years On

Ladislav Ambrovics (MINIT Slovakia)

Kenneth Ryan

Scale Up Lab

Pieter Waasdorp (NLGroeit)

Policy Session Skills for SMEs

Rosanna Kurrer (Digital Leadership Institute)

Alberto Onetti (Mind the Bridge, SEP)

Masterclass – Crowdfunding: Yannig Roth (Marketing Director, WiSEED)

Policy Session – Single Market Lab

Stefan Vratny (EEN)

Policy Session – Creating a Collaborative Economy

Marco Torregrossa: Rethinking Work in the Collaborative Economy (Secretary General, European Forum of Independent Professionals Managing Director, European Sharing Economy Coalition)

Julia Rzepecka (VVA – Europe)

Policy Session – Accessing Alternative Finance

Pim de Bokx (Founder PIONEERZ Chairman DIA – Dutch Incubators & Accelerators)

Kristof de Buysere (Eucaps)

Philippe Gluntz (Business Angels Europe)

Policy Session – The Growth of Social Enterprise

Roger Spear (OU&RUC)

Nils Dreyer (Hilfswerft GmbH)

Joseba Sagastigordia (Mondragon corp.)

Ariane Rodert (EESC)

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

This year the SME Assembly 2017 will take place in Tallinn, Estonia! Keep up with all the latest information, preparations and exciting announcements right here on Promoting Enterprise and we hope to see you in Tallinn…

European SME Week – Learning from Portugal’s 2016 strategy

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Are you an SME Week National Coordinator? Need some inspiration for your campaign? Look no further! Start your planning for European SME Week 2017!

Today we share the action plan developed by the Portuguese Coordinator for the European SME Week 2016 to present some ideas and best practices. The action plan covers various topics, from communication tips and communication strategies, to possible target groups, dissemination practices and how to reach the audience using social media.

The report, which you may find here, resulted in a total of 39 Portuguese organised events being posted on the SME Week Event Calendar. Use the calendar as a European platform to get international exposure for your events, get posting and see the results!

For more information:


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Have you had a chance to read the Annual report on European SMEs 2015/2016 yet? We recommend that you do!

Have a read of our quick report summary below:

The main themes of the report can be summarised as follows: employment and growth, performance and population and the second chance principle.

Employment and Growth

SMEs are a vital part of the EU28 economy, in 2015 they employed 90 million people (an employment increase of 1.5%), accounting for two thirds of EU28 employment. Many of these SMEs are micro enterprises, with less than 10 employees, which form around 93% of all enterprises in the non–financial business sector. SMEs have also continued to grow, showing steady growth in value added both in 2014 (3.8%) and 2015 (5.7%). Growth varied across Member States but was generally positive.

Figure 1:  SME employment and value added growth in 2014 and 2015, EU28



Performance and Population

Overall EU28 SMEs have performed better than previously, indicating better macro-economic conditions in 2015. However there are differing trends across small (e.g. legal and accounting services, advertising and marketing research) and large sectors (e.g. retail trade, construction). Smaller sectors experienced over 5% growth in employment, contrasting with only 2% growth or less in the larger sectors.

Figure 2:  EU SME value added annual growth by Member State, 2015  


The second chance principle

The SME population is in constant fluctuation, as many new businesses are born and others cease to operate every year. New firm creation in the EU has caught up with USA rates, however the strengthening of second chance public policies to encourage startup dynamism after failure, would certainly counteract the barriers faced by those starting afresh for the second time. This would also ensure that potential entrepreneurs are not deterred by the prospects of bankruptcy or that existing entrepreneurs are not disheartened from trying again. This is where the SBA second chance principle could be every effective, not only for improving the environment and procedure for those businesses that do fail, but also by putting in place mechanisms to avoid businesses falling into such situations.

However, the latest SBA reviews highlight some areas for improvement:

  • in only slightly more than half of Member States can the discharge from bankruptcy be achieved in 3 years or less;
  • half of EU Member States treat re-starters on an equal footing with new start-ups; and,
  • all the other SBA second chance policy measures are implemented in less than half of Member States. Moreover, the SBA second chance principle is the one showing the least progress since 2008.

Progress has been made but more can be done, especially on the SBA second chance principle, so that SMEs can continue to recover and thrive, in turn strengthening the EU28 economy.

Figure 3: Forecast growth of SME value added and employment from 2015 to 2017 in Member States  


Read the full report here.

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