Youth of Europe, we are looking for your opinions! The SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2018 is underway and looking for inspiring and creative answers to:
Not sure how to tackle the question? Deciding whether to enter or not? In order to help anybody thinking about entering the 2018 competition Promoting Enterprise spoke to 2017 winner Oksana Vedmidska about her experience and her advice for the 2018 applicants. Read on to find out what she has been up to since winning the competition, what it was like to compete last year and finally her tips and tricks for answering the 2018 question.
What have you been doing since winning the Youth Essay Competition?
Back when I won the Youth Essay Competition, I had started pursuing my second degree in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Applied Science in Darmstadt, Germany, which I am still doing. In addition, I am currently one of the volunteer translators in an international non-profit organisation “Global Voices”. This NGO is an international community of writers, bloggers and digital activists, whose aim is to translate and objectively report on what is being said in citizen media worldwide.
I am also continuing to improve my French and in March 2018 I began learning Portuguese. I actually had to put my knowledge to the test shortly after having started Portuguese. I was approached by Isabel Recavarren, an editor of an informative Euro-Latin American platform “Panorámica”, who invited me to participate in the seminar “Challenges of Euro-Latin American Women: Digital Agenda and Access to Markets”. The seminar was organised by the Women’s Forum of the Euro-Latin-American Parliamentary Assembly in the premises of the European Parliament, where I had an opportunity to listen to very interesting and informative presentations, but without much interpretative help. During the seminar I spoke in Spanish about the European youth’s visioning for digital economy.
What was the best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition?
The best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition was that I could present and share all my ideas that I had obtained from my observations. Moreover, I was able to read the ideas and visions of other young people and find out more about the way they think.
Do you have any advice on how to approach the 2018 question?
In my opinion, first of all, governments and associations of entrepreneurs have to agree to organise a round table let’s say every six months, so that governments can take into consideration issues that are important for entrepreneurs. For example, in December 2017 I visited one local seminar in Darmstadt which discussed topics such as: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Science. Participants included entrepreneurs, scientists, students, a local politician and those who were just interested in the discussion. During this seminar local start-uppers complained that because of a long and complicated bureaucratic process it is difficult for them to obtain a state subsidy for their innovative projects. I think that politicians should take this criticism seriously and develop ways to solve the problem mentioned. It is obvious that in the modern developed world we need regulations and a red-tape in order to guarantee that taxpayers’ money is put to good use and to control levels of corruption. However, politicians could reconsider, for instance, the necessity and effectiveness of certain bureaucratic steps, whether these steps be done online and perhaps whether more staff should be hired in order to process applications more quickly.
Secondly, the future of our economy lies in digital markets, so that governments need to make sure that the majority of their population has access to the Internet and is able to pass through the red-tape via secure Internet channels. Small and medium-sized enterprises, on the other hand, have to pay attention to their presence on the Internet and social media platforms. At the same time SMEs should carefully use the personal data of their customers, employees, suppliers, partners and make sure that their innovative ideas are not misused.
Thirdly, I believe that both parties have to open more opportunities for youth. For example, by providing more scholarships, cooperating with local educational institutions, creating new internship positions or mentoring programs.
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 come back to the Portal next week to read more about 2017 winner Oksana and her advice for the 2018 competitors!
EEPA 2017 winner Business Generator from Sweden may be on a temporary pause, but they still have many company success stories from the people they helped. Today, project director Anette Rhudin tells us about some of the women involved in Business Generator and their entrepreneurial stories.
A local food application connecting farmers and customers
Kicki is a farmer from Värmland, who had the idea to create an app to make it easier for people to buy food directly from the farmers that produce it. Currently there is no “easy” connection between customers and farmers, and customers are forced to drive to several different farms to get the produce they are looking for. Kicki’s app creates that connection and allows farmers to directly communicate with their audience and promote their goods.
A local hotel benefitting local industry
When Marianne first came to Business Generator she was having a tough time with her hotel business and really needed help. During her time in the generator she learnt a lot and developed great skills surrounding customer questions and marketing. She worked hard and put a lot of money and her time to define her customers and “talk” to them.
As a result of her training with the generator she changed her trademark and developed cooperative relationships with other tourist attractions in this area. Her success has allowed her to expand the number of rooms and bring significant investment to her village. She also makes sure to use décor from the area and offer local food from farmers close to the hotel.
Generational business passes to a female entrepreneur
Anna is now a successful entrepreneur who is the fifth to run the Sahlströmsgården. Anna came to the Business Generator to successfully handle the generational shift and receive assistance with the associated legal changes. She handled all of this whilst still running the company and overseeing daily operations.
At the beginning of Business Generator it was not easy to attract women to take part as they prioritised their businesses and did not see how to make time for generator activities. Eventually some saw the benefits of the generator and joined in to benefit from the support.
Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with European Enterprise Promotion Award (EEPA) 2017 winner Business Generator, from Sweden, specifically project coordinator Annette Rhudin. The European Enterprise Promotion Awards reward those who promote entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.
The “Investing in entrepreneurial skills” category winner shares the future of Business Generator and what winning an EEPA prize and participating in the EEPA process meant to them.
In an ideal world all European issues would be looked at from a European perspective, like those of SMEs being considered by the European Commission. Through initiatives like the EEPA competition, SMEs have been identified and celebrated as the backbone of European economy and key sources of employment.
The EEPA competition also brings out certain issues that several SMEs face, and the support that projects, like Business Generator, are offering to entrepreneurs and enterprises across Europe. One thing that stood out for me, that has certainly been an issue for Business Generator, is disparity between regions and the need to adapt different strategies. Some regions are experiencing growth and have access to funds and resources, whereas others are struggling to grow and have little to no access to the same resources, like my own region of Värmland in Sweden. The EEPA competition is a fantastic opportunity to see what is going on in Europe, to meet others striving to help SMEs and ultimately gain visibility for the work you do.
The future of Business Generator remains uncertain, and despite coming “top of the class” in Europe, will not continue, for now. The Business Generator team had several meetings at both regional and national level, but the budgets have already been defined and there is no surplus to fund the continuation of Business Generator. Municipal budgets have also been defined, and due to how tight they are, unfortunately there is no room for Business Generator. This is not to say that there is no interest in Business Generator, but for the project to continue interest alone is not enough.
The project itself is new and innovative, and challenges old ways of thinking. Whilst this is the way forward for SMEs it is a daunting investment to make, and when budgets are tight means that it is less likely to receive support. This also represents the current situation in Sweden, where SMEs receive almost no government research and development funding, which is largely distributed to universities, large companies and the public sector.
In comments from the Swedish National Audit Office, SMEs and innovation were recognised “as keys to Sweden’s future growth”, yet the body also stated that only “a minor part of total state aid to the business sector is directed at R&D and innovations as well as at small and medium-sized enterprises”. Whilst this is somewhat disheartening I believe that the solution is to take care of SMEs, and show this through concrete actions.
I hope that there is a future for Business Generator and would be interested to know more about the situation in other countries regarding SME funding. Currently in Sweden, SME’s receive 3,7 % of the state aid, but deliver four out of five new jobs. My wish is that the funding statistics will change and that SMEs can continue to deliver jobs and receive the support they need both at national and European level.
Whilst the Business Generator journey may have temporarily come to an end, I would like to thank the European Commission, for helping to highlight the good work that is going on across Europe through the EEPA competition. Finally, my message to potential future applicants, apply for EEPA 2018, this is an important opportunity and you should take it!
Interested in finding out what happened to some of the companies helped by the Business Generator? Come back soon to find out right here on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal.
Watch the ‘winning moment’ for Business Generator from EEPA 2017:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Missed out on the finals? Or want to relive the excitement all over again? Watch the recorded livestream of the entire event here.
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:
- Have received investment in the form of a seed round OR are a beneficiary of SME Instrument 1/SME Instrument 2;
- Were incorporated no later than 5 years ago (exceptions made for companies certain industries like life sciences);
- Are looking for a follow-on round of equity investment between 1 Million Euros – 5 Million Euros;
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the original article on EASME news here.
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.
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.
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!
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!