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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.

EU Industry Days 2021

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The EU Industry days will be taking place next week from 23-26 February and be an opportunity to listen to and be involved with discussions centring around the challenges facing industry, development opportunities and policy responses.

This year’s programme will feature sessions and speakers talking about green and digital transitions and the opportunities both transitions present for EU businesses and citizens. Top speakers will include European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton.  

The large variety of sessions will also feature the Pact for Skills, circular procurement, lessons learnt from the COVID crisis and several specific masterclasses and parallel sessions.

Alongside the main programme the first fully virtual EU Industry days will feature a virtual exhibition showcasing 43 EU projects. Conference participants will also have opportunities to vote for their favourite projects across categories in the #EUIndustryDays competition.

In addition to the EU Industry days, affiliated events will be taking place across Europe under the EU Industry Week.

Registration for the EU Industry days is still open and the full programme is available on the website.

IPA4SME – successfully protecting intellectual property at small businesses

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Since the first call launched in May 2019, the IPA4SME programme from the European Commission has been successfully accompanying small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) on their path to intellectual property (IP) valorisation, helping them to protect their valuable IP. To date, over 1.000 SMEs from 30 countries have benefited from the programme.

IPA4SME offers SMEs that have been awarded the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Seal of Excellence a unique opportunity to acquire IP valorisation and protection by co-financing a range of IP-related services, worth up to EUR 15 000.

These services include free IP pre-diagnostics, where a verified IP expert provides the companies with a customised report on their IP business strategy and advises on how to exploit their assets efficiently and securely. Beneficiaries can also have their IP protection costs reimbursed, particularly IP attorney and European patent application fees.

Cut-off closing date approaching

The closing date for the eighth cut-off in the current call is 25 February 2021. This is an excellent chance for eligible SMEs to receive up to EUR 15,000 to support their IP strategy or patent registration. Interested SMEs can apply here.

Feedback from beneficiaries in the previous cut-offs has been very positive – they found the action to be an excellent chance to summarise, reflect on and improve their IP strategy. In general, thanks to the programme they are more aware of their IP situation and view the recommendations in the IP Diagnostic Report as critical for their long-term business strategies. You can read some of their Success stories here.

Feedback from beneficiaries shows that:

  • 97% of applicants are interested in additional support;
  • 87% of beneficiary SMEs have a better understanding of their IP and its value than before;
  • 90% consider the IP pre-diagnostic report a useful resource; and
  • 91% would recommend the IP pre-diagnostic to other innovative SMEs.

Information available

IPA4SME also provides detailed information on the different IP valorisation services that are available, in addition to what actions selected beneficiaries should take to access these services. To view the webinars, click here.

For more information on IPA4SME and its services, visit the website. To keep up to date on IPA4SME actions and events, make sure to follow the programme on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

European Small and Mid-Cap Awards – 2020 winners

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This year at the SME Assembly 2020 the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) joined forces with the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards to bring you a bigger awards ceremony with more outstanding projects and initiatives to highlight.

The European Small and Mid-Cap Awards aim to promote best practices and to highlight the best European Small and Mid-Sized Companies that have gained access to capital markets via an Initial Public Offering (IPO). They showcase the diversity of European markets and aim to promote stock listings, in particular targeting SMEs and growth companies.

2020 marked the eighth edition of the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards which took place alongside the EEPA online at the first virtual SME Assembly on Monday 16 November.

The winners of the 2020 edition are as follows:

International Star: Diaceutics

Rising Star: Fodelia

Star of Innovation: Frequentis 

Star of 2020: Izertis

Special Mention: Lighthouse

Congratulations to the 2020 winners!

Watch the full ceremony and re-live all the winning moments right here:

For more information on the 2020 winners, please visit the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards website.

You can also follow the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards on Twitter.

INNOSUP funded open call DIGI-B-CUBE – SMEs against COVID-19

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The original article can be found on the EASME website.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives and presented new challenges across different sectors. One sector in particular that has had to endure, react and innovate is healthcare, and healthcare systems in particular have been under significant strain.

In response to this the INNOSUP funded DIGI-B-CUBE project “aims to unlock the cross-sectoral potential of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and generate innovative solutions to reconfigure patient-centred diagnostics towards a Health Economy 4.0.” In order to do so the DIGI-B-CUBE project offer direct financial support to projects focused on promoting and integrating digital innovations and disruptive technologies across the Medical Diagnostics and related value chains.

The project exists to support innovative SMEs that have developed solutions for the broad issues and challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and highlighted. The recently launched call is directed specifically at SMEs and new start-ups “to fight COVID-19 through transversal collaborative projects”. SMEs considering application are eligible for up to 60 000 EUR in direct support and can be from the following sectors:

  • Healthcare medicine;
  • Biotech;
  • Biopharma;
  • IT;
  • Robotics;
  • Automation;
  • Electronics;
  • Nanotech.

Application information
The first cut-off date is Wednesday 29 July 2020, after which an evaluation process taking up to 4 weeks will take place. The second cut-off date is Wednesday 3 February 2021.

For more information consult the EASME article and project website, or contact the project coordinators directly with specific questions.

More about INNOSUP 
The Horizon 2020 INNOSUP programme aims to test new approaches for better innovation support through funding opportunities for innovation actors across Europe. Funding opportunities exist for clusters, innovation agencies and other SME Intermediaries, as well as individual SMEs and researchers. More information can be found on the INNOSUP website.

Acts of solidarity – How a Belgian seamstress supported the medical sector and general public

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We are back with part two of the first of our ‘COVID Stories’ which look at how companies and people have been affected by the current pandemic and how they have adapted to their new business environments.

In this interview Catherine Lorent, a Belgian micro SME owner who has used her sewing business to aid the medical sector and general public tells us what happened next and where she is now. If you haven’t already, catch up with part one of her story here. In her last interview Catherine explained how she started making masks and hospital blouses for the medical sector, and her experience in learning how to make masks and being able to source the correct fabric.

Today Catherine is telling us more about the business, the need to diversify, direct impacts due to COVID, expanding her new products to the general public and where she sees her business in future.

How have you diversified your business in response to COVID-19?

I started with the call for masks and blouses for the hospital staff, but once the demand from hospitals began to decrease (due to the arrival of medical grade masks), I found myself becoming less busy and not having as much work again, which was worrying. I looked into making other Personal Protective Equipment, specifically the plastic visors for the hospital staff as I knew there was a shortage, but unfortunately I was unable to source the correct materials.

It was at this point that the government guidelines for citizen mask-wearing began to become clearer, and I started receiving orders from the general public, the spokesperson for the Belgian Prime Minister and the office of the Secretary General of the European Commission. These orders led to my business slowly picking up again, and saw a slow transition from providing fabric masks only for the hospitals to taking private clients. I have been lucky as I have not had to inject personal funds into my business and have been supported by the government bridge scheme for entrepreneurs.  

Diversification also happened with the way I get my products to my clients, which was a big problem during COVID specifically. There were times when it took up to 3 weeks for some of my clients to receive their masks in the post, which was simply not quick enough. To solve this, my son and I reached out to some cyclists to set up a delivery work, which now works to get the products to clients in a more reasonable timeframe. I cover the costs of the cyclists but some of them are volunteers that wanted to help me however they could.

What other effects has COVID-19 had on you and your business?

There is definitely a change in perception of my skills and industry. Prior to the beginning of this pandemic I did not feel as valued, and I think that in general my sector and my profession were not valued as much as they were a few decades ago. In general I think that manual labour is sometimes seen as ‘easy’, and that anyone can do it. The need for fabric masks highlighted our specific skillsets, and as a result people’s mentality has changed and I feel like my work is more appreciated.

With this appreciation I hope that there is another mentality shift towards valuing quality clothes, and investing in good pieces and repairing them over time to make them last. If a higher quality of clothes becomes the standard, then the value of repairing and tailoring them should also increase.

How do you see the future of your business?

I hope that I will not have to make so many masks! To date, I have made around 1600 in total. It is a product that I will continue to offer as there is a demand and a need, but I’m hoping that I will not have to make as many as I was producing at the beginning of the lockdown period. I’ve experimented with a few different models of masks now that it is a steady product that I offer, and I’m thinking about coming out with a summer collection!

I also hope that the outpouring of support for small businesses will continue and that people will value the SMEs in their community and take their business to them. It is important to champion entrepreneurs, and I think that one of the results of this pandemic is that people have discovered small businesses and want to support them however they can. In my case I was very moved by all the people wanting to offer their help to make me a website, help out with my social media, volunteer to help my business, and just showing their support for me and my work. Hopefully this kind of attitude continues in future.

It will also be great to see my clients again, and hopefully gain some new ones! The bigger contracts should also come back so that is something to look forward to as well. Overall I will continue to diversify my products, and perhaps transition my business back into a hobby in the future, we will just have to wait and see.

Don’t forget to go and follow L’Or en 4 on Instagram and Facebook to learn more about Catherine and her story.

Have you got a COVID Story like Catherine’s to tell? Do you know an SME owner that has adapted to COVID-19 and wants to share their story? We would love to hear about it and feature it right here on the News Portal. Contact us at: promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu

European Commission consults Member States on proposal to expand State aid Temporary Framework

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The original press release is available in the Commission Press Corner.

On Friday 12 June, the European Commission sent Member States for consultation and comment a draft proposal to further extend the scope of the State aid Temporary Framework adopted on 19 March 2020 to support the economy in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The Temporary Framework was first amended on 3 April 2020 to increase possibilities for public support to research, testing and production of products relevant to fight the coronavirus outbreak, to protect jobs and to further support the economy. On 8 May 2020, the Commission adopted a second amendment extending the scope of the Temporary Framework to recapitalisation and subordinated debt measures.

The Commission is now proposing to further extend the scope of the Temporary Framework by enabling Member States to:

  • Support certain micro and small enterprises, including start-ups that were already in difficulty before 31 December 2019, and
  • Provide incentives for private investors to participate in coronavirus-related recapitalisation measures.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said “Micro, small and start-up companies face specific challenges as a result of the coronavirus crisis. They are crucial for the economic recovery of the Union. That’s why we propose to extend the Temporary Framework to enable Member States to give further support to micro and small companies, including start-up companies. Furthermore, we propose to introduce conditions that provide incentives for private investors to participate alongside the State in recapitalisations. This is welcome as it reduces the need for State aid and the risk of distortions to competition. We continue to work closely with Member States to ensure that European businesses have access to urgently needed liquidity, to contribute to the economic revival post-coronavirus.”

Micro and small companies have been particularly affected by the liquidity shortage caused by the economic impact of the current coronavirus outbreak, exacerbating their existing difficulties to access financing compared to medium-sized and large enterprises. If left unaddressed, these difficulties could lead to a large number of bankruptcies of micro and small companies, causing serious disturbances for the entire EU economy. The new proposal would allow Member States to extend aid to SMEs that qualify as being in financial difficulty on 31 December 2019 and increase the possibilities for small and start-up companies to receive support.

The new proposal also includes adaptations that incentivise private investors to contribute alongside the State, and thus limiting the risk of competition distortions and preserving effective competition in the Single Market.

Check out other COVID-19 related news and updates here on the News Portal.

Hungarian agri-food SMEs to receive support under the Commission’s State aid Temporary Framework

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The European Commission has approved a Hungarian scheme to support the agri-food value chain in the context of the coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to mobilise at least approximately €314 million (approx. HUF 111 billion). The scheme will be open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in all sectors, but is aimed at the wider agri-food value chain. The objective of the measure is to provide those companies with financial means to cover their immediate working capital and investment needs, and help them maintain their activities during these difficult times.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This Hungarian guarantee scheme, expected to mobilise at least €314 million, will support the Hungarian agriculture and food industry, as well as the wider agriculture and bio-economy value chain. This measure will improve the liquidity of businesses and help them continue their activities in these difficult times. We continue working closely with Member States to ensure that national support measures can be put in place quickly and effectively, in line with EU rules.

The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020, as amended on 3 April 2020. The Temporary Framework enables Member States to combine support measures, with the exception of loans and guarantees for the same loan and exceeding the thresholds foreseen by the Temporary Framework.

The Framework allows Member States to provide the following types of aid:

  • Direct grants, equity injections, selective tax advantages and advance payments
  • State guarantees for loans taken by companies
  • Subsidised public loans to companies 
  • Safeguards for banks that channel State aid to the real economy 
  • Public short-term export credit insurance 
  • Support for coronavirus related research and development (R&D) 
  • Support for the construction and upscaling of testing facilities 
  • Support for the production of products relevant to tackle the coronavirus outbreak 
  • Targeted support in the form of deferral of tax payments and/or suspensions of social security contributions 
  • Targeted support in the form of wage subsidies for employees 

More detailed information on the Temporary Framework can be found here.

The full original press release can be found here in the Commission Press Corner.

Event spotlight: Useful advice and information for SMEs

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During these unpredictable and uncertain times we have seen an explosion in the number of events and the amount of content and advice available online. Whilst this wealth of knowledge can be valuable for businesses, the volume can sometimes be quite overwhelming and it can be difficult to find what you are looking for. At Promoting Enterprise we have collected information on a few different events covering various topics of interests for SMEs to help in your search.

Let us know your thoughts on the events and get in touch (promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu) if you want us to feature your event in an upcoming post!

Blockchain for SMEs–Hype or Opportunity?

This discussion focused on blockchain from the perspective of SMEs and featured entrepreneurs Petko Karamotchev , Jeroen Perquin and Enrico Talin, who presented their visions for the development of blockchain technologies and demonstrated their own use cases and applications. In addition, Mikuláš Peksa, Member of the European Parliament, addressed the issue of regulation surrounding blockchain. The discussion was moderated by Sebastiano Toffaletti, Secretary-General at European Digital SME Alliance.

Watch the webinar here.

Project meetings online

On 12 May at 10:00 (CET) Interreg Europe project partners will share their experience in using online meetings in their project work as well as their tips and tricks for navigating different tools. Find out more and register here. You can also access their previous webinar and summary on online meetings here.

Digitalising the commercial lending process in times of crisis

On 19 May at 15:00 (BST) expert speakers will discuss the digitalisation of commercial lending and how it could help small businesses during the current pandemic. This webinar will cover useful topics such as: ‘How e-signatures can help meet the urgent need for small business loans’ and ‘How ID document verification can help prevent fraud in the digital channel’, as well as security and authentication tips.

Register and find out more here.

Mind the Bridge Influence Virtual Summit

Looking for information on how to optimise your accounting? Perhaps you want to find out more about responsibly incorporating AI into your accounting? At the Mind the Bridge Influence Virtual Summit accounting professionals will have opportunities to exchange, learn best practices and listen to knowledgeable speakers on how to adapt and move forward with finance.

Visit the event website for more information.

Reviewing and re-setting your marketing strategy during the COVID-19 outbreak

The AD:VENTURE programme, supported by the 2014 – 2020 European Regional Development Fund, has invited guest speaker Jonny Ross (founder and digital marketing specialist at Fleek Marketing) to provide insight and share advice and techniques on all forms of marketing, including planning and strategy for these difficult times.

Find out more and register here.

Running an online event you think we should feature? Or perhaps you have seen another event you think should be on this list? Then please leave a comment or get in touch with us: promotingenterprise@gopacom.eu

SME Week Newsletter 2020: Issue #3

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Welcome to the April edition of the SME Week Newsletter.

This month has certainly been different, and for some in our Promoting Enterprise community it has been particularly challenging. April has seen many policy changes and updates, Commission initiatives, hackathons and further actions. We have seen SMEs pitching in and doing their part, pushes and drives to make funding available to those in need, and a strong commitment to keeping the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit alive.

On behalf of the Promoting Enterprise team we hope that you continue to stay well, healthy and safe, and we are committed to bringing you the latest updates and inspiring stories.

Thank you for continuing to subscribe and do not forget to submit your news, articles and updates to be featured in an upcoming issue.

Read more >>

SUBSCRIBE AND DON´T MISS ANY UPDATES

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