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European Innovation Council pilot to support 257 SMEs with 13 million EUR

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The EU will support 257 small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) from 31 countries who aim to get their innovations faster to the market. The companies have been selected in the latest round of the SME Instrument, which is part of the recently launched European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot. The funding of €12.65 million in total comes from Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme.

Examples of the projects selected to receive EU funding include solar street lights, software that uses augmented reality to help industrial plants monitor their production chain, a diagnosis tool for sleep apnoea, an innovative mobile payment technology, a custom-made paint vending machine and a wrapping machine for sustainable packaging.

In this phase of the SME Instrument (the so-called Phase 1), each project will receive €50 000 to draft a business plan. There are 253 projects in total as several companies can team up to propose one project. The companies will also get three days of free coaching and business acceleration services.

Most companies selected for funding work in the field of health, engineering and information and communication technology (ICT). Most companies are based in Spain (45), Italy (28) and Israel (23).

The European Commission received 2009 proposals for this first Phase 1 cut-off of the SME Instrument this year. The next application deadline for SME Instrument Phase 1 is in May 2018.

Applications for phase 1 or phase 2 can be submitted at any time, as the SME Instrument is managed as a permanently open call with several cut off dates per year. Applications are evaluated as soon as there are submitted.

For more information, read the full article here and consult the Horizon 2020 online participant manual.

SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #3

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The future of European startup policy – Have YOUR say

Interested in finding out what the most innovative Europeans are up to? What about a chance to have your say in European startup policy making? Or perhaps you have an entrepreneurial project that deserves recognition on European level? You are in the right place!

In this edition of the SME Week Newsletter find out about the latest EEPA 2018 updates, the recent Ideas from Europe finals, an opportunity to contribute to EU startup policy and more.

Read on to find out more and don’t forget that we want to hear YOUR stories, so get in touch to see yourself featured in upcoming editions.

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Joint development, social conversation, shared purposes – The second edition of Ideas from Europe

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© Twycer / www.twycer.nl

This week on 24 April in the Hague, ‘Ideas from Europe’ kicked off the joint development of shared purposes to take on global challenges. 12 inspiring entrepreneurs showcased their solutions and the audience, consisting of 500 European guests in the venue and many more watching via the livestream, elected the following three solutions as most relevant: Micreos, with the world’s first targeted antibacterial product; ApisProtect, using in hive-sensors, retrofitted into existing beehives to unobtrusively monitor honey bee colonies; and Too Good to Go, a smartphone application that helps restaurants and food sellers sell their surplus food instead of wasting it, thereby fighting food waste.

State Secretary Mona Keijzer of the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy opened this second edition of Ideas of Europe. “The new market model of Ideas from Europe brings together and encourages stakeholders to develop not just one, but rather groups of innovators to bring their solutions to market faster and more effectively. I am very enthusiastic about this approach.” European Commissioner for SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska reiterated that message, saying that even though “the challenges that we are facing today in regards to the environment, energy, health and demography are enormous, we must treat them as opportunities. All twelve solutions presented here today have been shared purposes and are all very good examples of sustainable solutions to global challenges.”

Watch the key note speeches below:

Independent Platform

Ideas from Europe is an independent platform that facilitates the development of an idea into a mature, sustainable solution and connects all parties needed in this process. During biennial validation cycles, ground-breaking solutions to global challenges are scouted and validated in the EU. Part of this ongoing process are podium events throughout the EU, where innovators present their solutions and stakeholders participate.

Value Tracks

Sustainable initiatives are first validated by Ideas from Europe on their basis of their benefit to society, taking into account all perspectives at once: societal, economic viability, feasibility and scalability. Once validated by the public, these ideas are subsequently launched by Value Tracks. The Value Track method focuses on joint development by market parties such as government agencies, innovators, investors, companies, scientists and citizens. The main advantage of this method is that it helps make mutual dependencies transparent, which allows for collaboration and new agreements.

But what about new value tracks? Ideas from Europe are taking their question global, and asking the general public what shared purpose they feel is the most relevant from their perspective. To vote for your favourite solution, go to the Ideas from Europe website and leave your opinion. The global choice will be announced on 6 July 2018, during the SME Envoy week in Cyprus.

© Twycer / www.twycer.nl

Missed out on the finals? Or want to relive the excitement all over again? Watch the recorded livestream of the entire event here.

Could you be the next EBAN Scaleup of the Month?

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Are you looking for an opportunity to present your scale up on a European stage? Think you have what it takes to be recognised as a European best practice? Then look no further than the EBAN (the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds and Early Stage Market Players), Scaleup of the Month webinar!

The SME Instrument and EBAN are looking to invite participants to the first joint EBAN Scaleup of the Month webinar, where SMEs can present their innovations to a Jury of investors and get a pass and a pitching slot at one of EBAN’s flagship events!

Every month, EBAN holds a one-hour webinar where selected entrepreneurs and the investor who backs them present their projects to a jury of investors and an international audience, for a chance to become the Scaleup of the Month. Each Scaleup of the Month and their investor receive complimentary passes and a pitching slot to one of EBAN’s flagship events as well as premium visibility within the EBAN network.

This month the webinar is organised with the SME Instrument to give visibility to companies that have received investment from an early stage investor or have received an SME Instrument grant.

Companies looking to apply to the Scaleup of the Month initiative need to satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Have received investment in the form of a seed round OR are a beneficiary of SME Instrument 1/SME Instrument 2;
  2. Were incorporated no later than 5 years ago (exceptions made for companies certain industries like life sciences);
  3. Are looking for a follow-on round of equity investment between 1 Million Euros – 5 Million Euros;
  4. Can come from all sectors and industries.

The joint EBAN/EASME Scaleup of the Month webinar is scheduled for the last week of May. The date will be announced shortly. Don’t miss this great opportunity to give your company a boost – apply here or send your investor deck to director@eban.org.

Read the original article on EASME news here.

EEPA 2017 Testimonial: “Reempresa” – ‘Improving the business environment’ Winner 2017

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Promoting Enterprise is back with yet another EEPA 2017 winner testimonial for you to be inspired by. Today is the turn of Reempresa, winner of the ‘Improving the business environment’ category with their project for ‘re-entrepreneurs’, represented by director Albert Colomer.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

We have participated in the SME Assembly conference for many years and have always been interested in the EEPA awards ceremony because it is a very important event where interesting initiatives for all Europeans are showcased. 

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

Reempresa was started in 2011 and throughout the years we have worked to implement the market for business transfers in Catalonia. Now that we have finished the development phase with great results, we thought that presenting our candidature to the EEPA awards was an opportunity to share our results with all the participating countries and to raise awareness about the importance of facilitating business transfers to support SMEs and to prevent the loss of jobs.

How did you prepare your application?

Reempresa works with a wide network of collaborators. We involved them and asked them to gather all their results and stories to explain them to the rest of Europe. Once we won the Spanish award, we launched a special website and social media campaign to share the award with all our partners, the team and, of course, with all our users who were able to sell and buy their businesses thanks to Reempresa.

What was it like to win the award?

It got my heart racing! We arrived in Tallinn without knowing at all what would happen and for us it was a big surprise. It is an honour to receive this award and we want to share it with everybody who made it possible!

How did winning the award impact your work?

For Reempresa, this award marks a before and after in the organisation! To appear on the EEPA blog and social networks, and the coverage given to us by EuroNews has been very important because it has allowed us to reach all of Europe and has allowed many people and organisations to get to know us. It has definitely helped us to be very motivated and keep working hard in the future!

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

I would recommend working on the tangible results of your projects. Showing that the submitted project has a positive impact on their territory and that it can help other European countries and citizens!

What are your plans for the future?

We are currently having talks with many countries to implement this initiative that has worked so well in Catalonia. Together, we hope to build a European business transfer market with the aim of helping European SMEs.

To find out more about Reempresa, 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.

Life after EEPA – MADEIRA VINTNERS on Euronews

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All the way from the sunny Portuguese island of Madeira, Promoting Enterprise is bringing you a story from a former European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) nominee…Madeira Vintners!

Over the last five years, the all-female team at MADEIRA VINTNERS have been working to establish their Madeira wine brand, the first Madeira wine firm to be founded in over 80 years . The team is not only nationally innovative, but unusual across the sector. The first harvest in 2012 helped with Madeiran grape distribution, producing added value for Madeiran grape producers and vineyards. As an isolated EU territory, the success of this venture, which saw more than 100% increase in sales in 2016-2017, is important for the island’s agribusiness sector, which is a key source of revenue after tourism.

Since competing in the 2017 edition of EEPA, the project has gone on to be interviewed by Euronews about their work in the wine production sector. Watch their interview below and visit their website for more information on this innovative project!

SME Week Newsletter 2017: Issue #8

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

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

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

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What are the most entrepreneurial cities and regions in Europe?

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The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has opened the call for applications for the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2019 award on 23 November in Tallinn, at the European SME Assembly organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The EER 2019 edition was launched by Johanna Mikl-Leitner (AT/EPP), CoR Member and Governor of Lower Austria, one of the three EER winners of the current year. The EER award is open to all EU regions and cities that are ready to implement an ambitious strategy to support their SMEs and entrepreneurs. The deadline to apply for the EER 2019 label is 17 April 2018.

Each year, the EER label is awarded to three EU territories with an outstanding, future-oriented strategy to promote entrepreneurship and support small and medium-sized enterprises in their territories. The forward-looking orientation of the EER initiative means that the EER label is open to all EU territories – not only to those that are already among the top performers, but also to regions and cities that may still be less prosperous, but that have an ambitious entrepreneurial vision to reinvigorate their economy and a credible action plan to transform this vision into reality.

Over the past seven years, the EER winners have demonstrated how cities and regions can successfully strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems. During the SME Assembly’s first day, Lower Austria (EER 2017) was awarded the Commission’s European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) in recognition of its outstanding achievements in supporting SME internationalisation.

“SMEs, start-ups and scale-ups are a motor for life quality and sustainable development in our cities and regions. I strongly believe that, as regional and local decision-makers, it is our responsibility to set up the right conditions for the emergence of flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystems. Through the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) label, the European Committee of the Regions contributes to this objective. We identify and reward EU regions and cities that create an environment in which entrepreneurial initiative can unleash its full potential”, stated CoR Member Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

The implementation of the awarded regional and local strategies will be monitored throughout 2019 by the EER jury, which is composed of CoR members, representatives of EU institutions and social partners. At the end of the award year, the jury will visit the awarded territories in order to verify the progress made, provide them with an objective outside appraisal of their policies and gain new insights and inspiration for the further development of the EER scheme. The main results and achievements of the EER 2019 winners will also be shared and discussed among regional and local authorities through the EER network, which since its inception in 2010 has grown to include 24 territories, giving it the critical mass necessary for a fruitful exchange of good practices, peer-learning and successful cooperation among past and present EER winners.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 17 April 2018. The application form and detailed information about the assessment criteria are available on the EER web page: www.cor.europa.eu/eer

Contact:
Carmen Schmidle
Tel. +32 (0)2 282 2366
Mobile: +32 (0)494 735787
carmen.schmidle@cor.europa.eu

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

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CoCreativeFlow.com, Sabine Soeder and Johanna Ballmann

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

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

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

Written by Jon Switters and Katarzyna Jakimowicz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    • SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #3 May 1, 2018
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