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SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Why should you enter?

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is open for the fourth time and is asking applicants to:

“Write the speech that you would give as the new Commissioner for SMEs and entrepreneurship to Europe’s entrepreneurs”

If you are between the ages of 18-25 and are a citizen of an EU or COSME partner country, then this is your chance to have your voice heard. The Youth Essay Competition is a chance to share your thoughts and opinions with key policymakers and entrepreneurs on a European platform within the domains of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

The competition is a great opportunity to voice your opinion, and should you be a finalist, to visit the SME Assembly 2019, but why else should you enter? Here on Promoting Enterprise we asked last year’s finalists and winner why they entered the competition. Read through their answers below, get inspired and be sure to submit your entry before 16 August 2019.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I have always believed that innovation – in its holistic sense – is the gateway to creating a smart and sustainable future. Therefore, when I came across the competition advert on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, I decided to put pen to paper and give this opportunity my best shot!

  • Marija Elena Borg, 2018 winner

I just happened to be surfing the web and looking at upcoming events in Europe, and came across the essay competition information by chance. At the time it was the middle of August and I was enjoying a break from my studies, but after reading the question I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I am very passionate about the EU and its values, and I wanted to discover what I thought about innovation. Truthfully, it was not something I had thought about a lot, but after my research it has really grown on me, and I’m now very interested in how I can create and find innovation in my career path.

  • Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, 2018 finalist

The topic was very interesting, and one that I had thought a lot about beforehand. Therefore, I felt very inspired to write a contribution to the competition. It was a good opportunity to address questions about sustainable and environmental innovation, which are quite dear to me, and the chance to attend the SME Assembly was one that I also did not want to miss.

  • Joakim Davidsson, 2018 finalist

For any questions on the SME Week Youth Essay competition, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and read the competition launch post for all of the information on this year’s edition.

Five Good Reasons To Boost Your Business with Erasmus For Young Entrepreneurs

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SMEs represent 99% of businesses in Europe and contribute to 60% of European private sector employment, creating 85% of new jobs. Enabling them to benefit even more from the Single Market is a priority for the European Commission. And in this light, it has been already 10 years since the European Union-funded program Erasmus For Young Entrepreneurs was launched as an initiative of the European Parliament. As a critical action of the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, the program aims to reignite entrepreneurial spirit in Europe, support new businesses in crucial phases of their lifecycle and help them to grow.

In essence, Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a cross-border programme facilitating the exchange of entrepreneurial and management experience. The exchange is implemented by a stay of a newly established or potential entrepreneur with a well-experienced entrepreneur running a small or medium-sized enterprise in another country.

The two main actors are 1. The New Entrepreneurs (NE), understood both as nascent entrepreneurs, who are firmly planning to start their own business and entrepreneurs who have recently launched their own business with less than three years of operability and 2. The Host Entrepreneurs (HE) or successful and experienced entrepreneurs directly involved in entrepreneurship at SME level with more than 3 years of entrepreneurial experience.

The exchange is facilitated by national Intermediary Organisations (IOs) that have been officially appointed to establish contacts between NEs and HEs and to ensure successful relationships between them. They exist to provide with the perfect match and help both parts with everything related to promotion, information, induction, validation or improvement of applications, arranging contacts, issuing contracts, logistical support, or simple advice and guidance through the process.

Seems like a good deal,  right? But if you still need a thought, get convinced by these five additional excellent reasons to boost your business with Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs.

1. It brings fresh air to your business

3. It doesn’t entail any extra cost

4. It is flexible

5. It is easy

Numbers speak for themselves! With more than 21,000 applications and 7000 established relationships set up, 61% of new entrepreneurs and 54% of host entrepreneurs have reported an increased turnover after participating in the programme. No magic wands, just hard work, and brilliant ideas! Ready?

Read the full original article on Forbes

Meet 20 pioneers transforming the future of healthcare

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On 28 and 29 November 2018, the European Innovation Council (EIC) and Medtronic, a leader in the world of medical technology, gathered 20 companies to discuss the transformation of healthcare and promote business partnerships.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been playing an increasingly crucial role in the development of new products in the medical device industry. Quick adaptability, the capacity to identify market niches and intrinsic innovative potential, have turned these companies into relevant players in the healthcare industry worldwide.

However, at the stage when SMEs are growing, they need considerable financial resources to continue investments in product development and clinical trials, in order to bring their products to market faster. To tackle these challenges the EIC pilot and Medtronic promoted a matchmaking and business acceleration event in Tolochenaz, Switzerland, home of Medtronic’s EMEA headquarters.

20 companies backed by the EIC pilot took the stage and shared their innovative health care solutions for medical devices and therapies, mobile and remote health, patient engagement, diagnostics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, data analytics and robotics.

At the event, we talked to Ger Hill, Senior Director Global Innovation at Medtronic, about Medtronic’s innovation strategy and learned that “For a company like Medtronic who has currently reached around 30B$ in revenue, maintaining revenue growth requires us to draw on innovation not only from our substantial organic internal innovation, but also from external partners. There are a lot of smart people who don’t work at Medtronic, and we want to collaborate with them to turn their ideas and concepts into products and solutions for patients and Medtronic.”

We also spoke with Charity Kufaas, Vice President, Business Development & Strategy EMEA at Medtronic, who shared her view on the quality of the companies attending: “The technologies of the companies I’ve seen today are truly innovative and address unmet needs. There were a number that we found really interesting and which I’m sure we’ll follow up after the event.”

Sourced from EASME.

Read the original article on the EASME website.

Over 1750 small businesses seek funding under the EIC SME Instrument

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The European Commission received 1752 proposals for the European Innovation Council pilot’s SME Instrument Phase 2 before the latest cut-off date on 9 January 2019. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 37 countries submitted proposals. Selected projects will be announced in early March 2019 at the latest.

In this phase of the SME Instrument, each project will receive up to €2.5 million to finance innovation activities like demonstration, testing, piloting and scaling up. The companies will also benefit from 12 days of free business coaching and acceleration services.

The biggest number of proposals for this batch were submitted by Spanish applicants (266), followed closely by Italian (182) and Israeli applicants (136).

Since 2018, the SME Instrument is part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. A novelty under the EIC pilot is that applications are fully bottom-up. Therefore as there are no longer set topics, proposals are classified according to keywords introduced by applicants. The top keywords introduced were Health, ICT and engineering and technology.

In addition, applications are evaluated in two steps, a remote evaluation and a face-to-face interview with a Jury of business and innovation experts. These interviews will concern around 135 companies, approximately half of which will get the funding. The interviews will happen in Brussels during the week of 11-15 February 2019. For more information read the tips for applicants.

Results are expected to be announced in early March 2019 at the latest.

Read the original article on the EASME website.

START2ACT Energy Saving Challenge

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New year, new resolutions, even for your office! By entering the START2ACT Energy Saving Challenge, you could reduce energy use in your office by up to 20% by using the simple and low cost measures recommended by START2ACT.

Entering the challenge only takes a couple of minutes and could result in not only important energy savings, but several exclusive prizes.

How to enter?

Step 1: Take a photo or film a video clip of how your company saves energy

Step 2: Write a description of the action(s) – just a sentence or a short paragraph

Step 3: Email step 1 and step 2 to info@start2act.eu or send it to @START2ACT using #S2Achallenge on Twitter or Facebook

The competition is open now and will close on Friday 15 February 2019. The earlier you enter, the more chances you have to win through the monthly prize draw.

For more information about the challenge, read the original article here.

About START2ACT

START2ACT is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and aims to support young SMEs and startups to save energy and cut costs at their workplace. The objective is to provide young SMEs and startups with the tools and knowledge to become more energy efficient and cost effective through free mentoring programmes, online support and training activities across nine European countries.

For more information on START2ACT have a look at their website.

SME Performance Review 2018

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The SME Performance Review is one of the main tools the European Commission uses to monitor and assess countries’ progress in implementing the Small Business Act (SBA) on a yearly basis. With an emphasis on the measures from the SBA Action Plan, the review brings comprehensive information on the performance of SMEs in EU countries and other partner countries. It consists of two parts: an annual report on European SMEs and SBA country fact sheets.

Today, on 20 November 2018, the latest SME Performance Review for 2018 was published by the European Commission and presents encouraging news, the SME recovery continues.

The annual report, prepared on a yearly basis, provides a synopsis of the size, structure and importance of SMEs to the European economy and an overview of the past and forecasted performance of SMEs from 2008 to 2019. Comparisons with partner countries outside the EU and with the large enterprise sector are also included.

Read the full report here.

Find out more about the SME Performance Review and read supporting documents here.

COSME helps modular building business go big

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CUBESPACE, an SME from the Czech Republic, has been building schools, family houses, sport halls and hotels using the modular building system. In 2017, the company decided to expand and produce rental fleet containers. As CUBESPACE Managing Director Martin Kokta makes clear: “We wanted to start cooperating with foreign investors who want to rent property in the EU. CUBESPACE builds and remains the owner of these buildings (usually offices), and rents them to investors.”

To invest in more properties and attract more investors, CUBESPACE needed a loan.

Equa Bank offers a range of retail and corporate banking services. The bank agreed to lend CUBESPACE Kč35 million (ca. €1.4 million), 50% of which was guaranteed by COSME, the EU programme established to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Thanks to this, CUBESPACE increased its production by half, doubled its number of employees, started 2-shift production and gained access to a wider client pool.

The loan was possible based on a 2016 agreement signed between Equa Bank and the European Investment Fund (EIF). This agreement will allow Equa bank to provide Kč1.8 billion (ca. €66.5 million) in loans to Czech SMEs over 2 years.

Take it from Cubespace, the agreement brings results. As Equa Bank’s Head of Business Banking Department Vojtěch Záškodný explains: “We have provided loans to about 75 SMEs, backed by the COSME Loan Guarantee Facility so far. Many of the clients would not have reached the requirements had it not been for the guarantees provided by the EIF.”

Businesses can contact selected financial institutions in their country to access EU financing: access to finance website.

Read the original article on the COSME website

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

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EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

The fourth category of the EEPA “Supporting the Internationalisation of Business” recognises initiatives that encourage enterprises and particularly small and medium-sized businesses to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets, both inside and outside the EU. This year the category has nine different projects competing to win, so who will make it onto the European shortlist? Find out at the end of September after the EEPA 2018 Jury meeting!

Bulgaria: Supporting the internationalization and digitalization of SMEs in Bulgaria and Europe

Denmark: Lean Landing

Estonia: Development of the Estonian timber sector as the biggest exporter of wooden houses in the European Union

Finland: Kasvu Open – company growth sparring programme

Hungary: Startup Budapest Programme

Malta: Enabling the digital transformation of Maltese SMEs

Slovenia: Innovative business model 2COUNTRY

Spain: Misión Inversa del Vino y la Alimentación

Turkey: Cyberpark Accelerator Program (CAP): An Internationalization Pathway Business

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to discover the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spiritInvesting in Entrepreneurial Skills, Improving the business environmentSupporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.

Want to know who will be judging the 2018 projects? Meet the EEPA 2018 Jury here on the Portal!

Youth Essay Competition – Advice from 2017 winner Oksana Vedmidska

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Oksana Vedmidska, most recent winner of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition in 2017, is back on the Portal! Last week she shared what she has been doing since winning the competition, the best part about entering and her advice on how to answer the 2018 question. Haven’t read it yet? Have a look here.

Today Oksana shares with us her advice for the 2018 competitors, what she learnt from her competition experience last year and finally her projects for the future.

Do you have any advice for the 2018 competitors?

I am convinced that our thoughts influence our actions in a material manner. That is why my advice would be to think practically. Let me demonstrate this. There is a young Ukrainian performing artist that uses the motto “Brave, Love, Freedom”. I would use this motto in a practical way in order to dwell upon the topic of this year’s competition.

Let’s take firstly the point “Love” I would interpret it in the following way: look around you, define the persons you care about, think about their needs and what innovative steps are required to improve the lives of your loved ones. Now let us look at “Freedom”: get rid of prejudice; let your critical mind absorb and analyse information around you; be open to any topic no matter if you agree with it or not, because firstly you have to listen to opposing opinions, then gather data and facts about the argument and finally build your own opinion. Finally, “Brave”: do not be afraid to talk with experts about topics like: Innovation, Political and Social strategies, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, do not be intimidated by their experience and look for seminars and conferences at which these topics are discussed. Finally, do not doubt yourself, sit down and write down all of your own ideas, because these ideas will one way or another influence the behaviour and way of thinking of those who will read or listen to them!

What did you learn from the Youth Essay competition experience?

The essays I read raise very important issues concerning the promotion of entrepreneurship, for example, questions about ethical norms or the way businesses and European officials communicate with youth. These ideas spoke to me and I will keep them in mind in order to use and implement them in terms of my future career and volunteering activities.

Furthermore, while at the SME Assembly 2017 I learnt a lot about the needs, problems and wishes of small and medium-sized enterprises and their suppliers. In addition, thanks to the diversity of the topics discussed I received information that helped me to identify issues that may become problematic and worth discussing in future.

In addition, I must admit that I miss the discussions that I had during the SME Assembly 2017 with the other finalists of the Youth Essay Competition 2017 Evlampia Karavangeli and Pavle Kostić.

Do you have any exciting projects that you would like to share?

For the time being my greatest project is to graduate on time and to carefully study the new EU General Data Protection Regulation about which everyone, and especially entrepreneurs, is anxious. I am also interested in seeing how relations between the EU and Latin American countries develop. My interest comes from both having friends in Latin America and my personal conviction that the development of relationships will only benefit both sides and especially youth from countries with emerging economies.

Interested in the 2018 competition? Find out more right here and read the 2018 advice from 2016 winner Andri Pandoura for more inspiration. Don’t forget to read Oksana’s first post here and don’t forget to keep coming back to the Portal for more exciting content on this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition.

EEPA National Winners 2018 – Improving the Business Environment

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EEPA – The European Enterprise Promotion Awards, recognises outstanding projects from across Europe that are working to support entrepreneurs and small businesses across six different categories.

The next EEPA category is “Improving the Business Environment” which recognises initiatives that support enterprise start-up and growth, and simplify both legislative and administrative procedures for businesses. Have a look through the national winners in this category below and stay tuned until the end of September to see which of these makes it onto the European shortlist!

Austria: Industry-Startup.Net

Finland: Kakola – from a Prison to an Etrepreneurial Base

Iceland: Electronic Company Register

Italy: PLL – Piani Locali per il Lavoro

MaltaSetting of a one-stop-shop customer care service to facilitate simplification for SMEs

Poland: Entrepreneur Package

Romania: Start up Nation Romania

Slovakia: Better Regulation Center

Spain: Open Innovation 4.0.

United Kingdom: Anchoring economic growth in the Tees Valley

Come back to Promoting Enterprise every week to find out about the national winners across the other five EEPA categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, Investing in entrepreneurial skillsSupporting the internationalisation of businessSupporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.

Want to know who will be judging the 2018 projects? Meet the EEPA 2018 Jury here on the Portal!

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