Uplift Albania is an early-stage startup accelerator programme focused on growing business and increasing valuation. Founded by ICTSmedia publishing house in cooperation with SOVVA and SlovakAid, Uplift Albania is a golden opportunity for Albanian startups but also a regional innovation ecosystem and attracted startups and young entrepreneurs from nine different industries and six regional countries.
On Friday 29 January 2021, Uplift Albania hosted ‘Demo Day’ during which the latest winners from their programme were announced after 4 months of training and mentoring. The second batch winners were Crossplag, Hermex and Udhë.
Demo Day is the final step in the Uplift Albania acceleration programme and features an Investor Connect session where startups meet a panel of investors, as well as startup pitches to an audience of investors, partners, and experts from Israel, Slovakia, Germany, the US and startup communities in Albania. Within the acceleration programme startups are mentored and trained and learn how to attract investors, to protect their intellectual property, to improve their business models, and to build a better future by transforming themselves to successful businesses.
Read more about the Uplift Albania event here.
Uplift Albania comes as a close cooperation of a broad network of partners and supporters led by ICTSmedia, SOVVA and SlovakAid with the support of Vodafone, Raiffeisen Bank, Huawei, Albvision, EU for Innovation, Municipality of Tirana, Swissep, ICTSlab, PCWorld Albanian, CIO, SCAN TV and Geek Room.
ICTSmedia co-founder founder, Kushtrim Shala was featured in the 2018-2019 European Commission Secrets of Success brochure. Make sure to follow his entrepreneurial journey and learn about the birth of ICTSmedia and his story of success.
Would you like to feature on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal or in the SME Week newsletter? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear your stories!
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.
The PARSEC Accelerator invites SMEs and start-ups to meet the 100 winners of Open Call 1 to jointly develop Earth Observation-based business solutions for the food, energy or environment sectors and apply to the Open Call 2.
The PARSEC Open Call 2 will distribute €1.5 million equity-free funding to 15 winning consortia and provide access to business support services (investment readiness program, export promotion and coaching) and the PARSEC Business Catalysts in order to help their solutions enter the global market.
The PARSEC Accelerator is uniquely positioned to help SMEs and start-ups benefit from the rapid evolution of the Earth Observation sector, enabled by new, maturing and converging technologies such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence. The PARSEC Business Catalysts, three tools supporting big data processing, in situ data access and access to an Earth Observation marketplace, represent an exceptional opportunity for start-ups and innovative SMEs looking for efficient ways to launch their innovations.
In order to apply for the second Open Call, external SMEs or start-ups have to team up with one of the winners from Open Call 1 and form a cross-sectoral and/or cross-border consortium of 2-4 organisations. The PARSEC Accelerator will facilitate networking for interested SMEs and startups via the online PARSEC matchmaking platform. To join the matchmaking register for free here. You will receive an invitation to join within 48 hours of registering.
The deadline to apply is 20 June 2020 at 17:00 CET. Eligible consortia will be invited to pitch their business ideas in front of a jury of experts at the PARSEC Demo Days on 2-3 July 2020.
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
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.
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.
The EU Startup Monitor Survey is open, and the European Commission wants to hear your voice! The Commission is looking for inputs to create more effective and meaningful policies that support young enterprises who have recently started a business or are in the process of scaling up. Through hearing what Europeans in the sector have to say, the European Commission can drive better evidence based policies to help startups in Europe.
The Commission is looking for founders and managers of European startups to take a few minutes of their time to provide their valuable input to the survey. After completing the survey, all participants will have the chance to win great prizes, such as: an exhibition stand at TOA Berlin, tickets to Pioneer’s 18, Bits and Pretzels and a personal invitation including travel and accommodation to the VIP SME Assembly 2018.
What are you waiting for? Contribute today!
Access the survey here.
Who chooses the projects for the EEPA 2017 shortlist? Curious about who makes the decisions? Time to meet the EEPA Jury 2017! Today Promoting Enterprise is introducing the first two members of the EEPA 2017 Jury: Karen Boers and Lisa Steigertahl, who shared with us what they will be looking for in a project and what they are looking forward to at this year’s SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn.
Karen Boers is co-founder and Managing Director of Startups.be, which brings hundreds of startups together with incubators, accelerators, investors and public actors in a local startup ecosystem. She also runs the European Startup Network, which aims to help create a truly pan-European bottom-up startup ecosystem.
Lisa Steigertahl is co-founder and and CEO of the European Startup Network (alongside fellow jury member Karen Boers). Previously she also worked at the German Startups Association as both Head of Research and International Strategy and European Relations Manager.
What will make an EEPA project stand out for you? What will make it special?
Karen: I am looking out for projects that have made a real impact on entrepreneurs’ lives, either by helping to change the rules of the game in the local ecosystem or by providing entrepreneurs with better access to (national and/or international) customers, financing and talent.
Lisa: For me a project that creates a new solution for a demand that we did not know we had yet, or has found an innovative way of solving a problem will stand out. I am also interested in European applicability and projects that could be transferred to other markets.
Which is your favourite category and why?
Karen: Investing in entrepreneurial skills, as I believe investing in human capital – youngsters as well as adults – is the best way to boost entrepreneurship and counteract poverty and extremism through a more inclusive approach.
Lisa: Supporting the internationalisation of business, since I believe that moving from national borders to international markets will not only tremendously determine the success of a business in times of globalisation but further shape a strong European market
Finally, what are you looking forward to at the SME Assembly 2017?
Karen: To meet all the highly motivated people across Europe that are putting their best efforts to make a difference and create opportunities for others.
Lisa: To meet and engage with the people behind the projects.
Interested in finding out who else is on the Jury with Karen and Lisa? Come back next week to meet another juror!
Karen Boers, co-founder & CEO of Startups.be and European Startup Network; is our current entrepreneur in residence. This week she shares the story of the European Startup Manifesto and the ongoing developments in the world of policy affecting Europe’s entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs provide the oxygen in our economy, creating new businesses and new jobs, new ways to look at the world and to interact with everyone around us. They invent and they build, they wreck and replace. In doing so, they often come up against the boundaries of legislation and regulation that have yet to adapt. Although creative ways can often be found to overcome such obstacles, this can slow them down considerably, allowing companies from more forward-looking regions in the world to snatch the market from right under their noses. Sometimes they chose to flee the country or even the continent, moving to places where experiments are welcomed and policy adapts more agilely to changing circumstances.
You may think that entrepreneurs have formed a powerful lobby to counteract all this, but they are already slaving away 24/7 to safeguard and build their businesses and teams, putting out today’s fires. Fighting for a better policy framework for entrepreneurs is often the last thing on their minds. They are scattered across smaller businesses, across regions, and have little structured organisation, meaning little changed for a very long time.
In 2013, Neelie Kroes as Commissioner for Digital Agenda called upon the Startup Europe Leaders Club to craft a European Startup Manifesto, a set of high-impact recommendations to create a better entrepreneurial climate in Europe. Yet many of the recommendations touched upon areas in which European Commission has little or no impact. It was up to the Members States to implement the change. The startup community rose to the challenge and got organised. An entire Startup Manifesto Movement emerged – with entrepreneurs across countries voicing their solutions and suggestions!
Now three years later, almost every European startup community has created their very own Startup Manifesto – often crowdsourced – and many have had considerable impact on local policy makers, as demonstrated by the Startup Manifesto Policy Tracker. Tax shelters were introduced, legislation on e-commerce was modernised, crowdfunding was eased, governments and corporations started buying from startups, the procurement legislation was adapted, a startup test is under development to stress test all new legislation for impact on startups, and much more!
The European Commission continued with its support, developing a Startup Europe program to connect startup hubs across Europe and allow more business to start and grow in the EU – and “startup managers” have emerged at all levels of policy making, from city to international. Some of the collaborations that grew out of these efforts grew into long-term sustainable platforms and networks. The European Startup Network unifies over 20 national startup associations to create a common voice and provide data analysis, facilitate an international go-to-market and build strong national ecosystems. Allied for Startups acts on behalf of startups worldwide. Entrepreneurs have also stepped up to the challenge individually and started sharing their stories of success, but also on (how to learn from) failure. Understanding that challenges were shifting from starting business to fast-growing companies scaling across Europe, a European ScaleUp Manifesto was once more crowdsourced from all those different communities, with clear action points for all involved at any level.
It is clear that the entrepreneurial voice is here to stay. Hopefully this voice will help construct a more inclusive and tolerant world, one in which change and diversity can be embraced rather than feared. We’re on the barricades for all those who wish to develop their passion into their profession – their dreams into reality. If you’re a dreamer, make sure no one holds you back, for there is always a way to change whatever is in your way! So what you can do? Sign the ScaleUp Manifesto and join the movement!
Our current entrepreneur in residence Karen Boers, co-founder & CEO of Startups.be and European Startup Network; has returned with a second blog post. This time she gives us her views on the current European education system and whether it really prepares the youth of today for the challenges they will face.
We’re always talking about the fast moving societal changes and how digitalisation is changing every aspect of our private and professional lives and will continue to do so. This is absolutely true – digital technologies have connected and empowered nearly every citizen on earth. After the industrial revolution, this trend could very well be the paving the way for different societal and economical models, which in their turn could lead to severe power shifts from the happy few, to the well-connected within the next decade.
Some very striking images have been circulating social media recently, showing the differences between what we called a ‘telephone’ a century ago and today, and the huge difference between what we called a ‘vehicle’ (i.e. horse & carriage) and modern cars and transport. There was also a comparison between what a classroom looked like 150 years ago – and its modern equivalent, it is unchanged!
We are preparing today’s youngsters for their future in very much the same way we have been preparing labourers to go into the factories for the past decades. We are training them to be silent, listen carefully and not question orders but rather execute them in the efficient, large-scale way we have grown accustomed to. We are training them to think hierarchically and obey – day after day and year after year. The reason being this is the way our society was structured for many years and how our economies thrived in the mass production age.
But now we are facing different challenges. Mass production is suffering in the western economies. Hierarchical icons are being disrupted by flexible, agile businesses. Collaboration, creativity and the ability to change are becoming ever more dominant in the new business paradigms, and it’s clear that there is no way back. Millennials are already exhibiting signs of not caring too much about steady careers, future-proof choices or life-long guarantees. They think very differently about ownership, citizenship, sharing, learning and professional careers. They are self-organising, always connected and pay it forward much more than previous generations.
There is no way that the education that we are currently providing Generation Z youngsters is preparing them properly for what is ahead, and there is growing consensus that future generations might not put up with the inertia of the current system, eroding it from the inside out. The information overload is growing, and we need to urgently transition into a system that educates youngsters to deal with that, to find their way in an ever-connected and saturated network of information sources, opinions and potential expertise. Self-learning and life-long learning are gaining in importance. Additional skills are often acquired outside of the school system at present, through volunteer programs and alternative schooling. Learning how to learn is therefore growing inherently more important than any kind of knowledge transfer.
I would not argue for a total disruption of our school system, though. Europe has been on the frontlines of (free) quality education, equal opportunities for all and innovation for a long time. Let’s now make sure Europe initiates a power shift in traditional education, slowly steering the heavy tanker towards a coaching environment, with expert inputs from all societal angles, project and applied learning and a wide range of soft skills on top of purely academic knowledge transfer. That way I am sure we will keep nurturing generations of renowned business and academic leaders, as well as a flexible and future-proof workforce.
Read Karen’s last blog post: Failing is not contagious, but success is
Petar Isirov an entrepreneur who formed part of the creation of Kartner-M, a privately held label printing company. They are based in Skopje in the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) of Macedonia and were founded in 2014. In this blog post, Petar talks about his motivation for starting a business and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
After talking with friends in the food and beverage industry, we realised that many local companies had problems with the quality of their labels. They couldn’t do marketing campaigns properly, and the quality of the labels made it difficult for them to export their products around the world. We saw an opportunity to bring something new to the printing industry in our country, something that would help many businesses.
We found the money we needed by pooling our resources and getting loans. We used it to buy the necessary machines and organise ourselves to work efficiently. Europe is a great place to be an entrepreneur because the business environment is always developing and improving. There are countless opportunities for entrepreneurs; all you need is the right idea. I believe Europe is very supportive of young entrepreneurs, which helps motivate young people to consider becoming entrepreneurs. However, more EU involvement in countries like FYR of Macedonia would benefit small and medium enterprises to develop their business more efficiently, and expand operations outside of their countries.
Persistence is essential for entrepreneurship because it’s difficult to succeed and even more so when you are a young, aspiring company. For me, a great leader is committed to a cause, outgoing and able to take responsibility and risks. They are able to motivate, have a vision for the company, have objectives and be aware of their surroundings.
For more information: www.kartner-m.mk
Businesses across Europe already benefit from the European Single Market, but there are still challenges to tackle before SMEs and start-ups can fully gain from it. This was discussed during the final Single Market Forum, held in Amsterdam in June. Start-ups, SMEs, experts and government officials all agreed that it should be easier for businesses to start-up, hire talent, comply with administrative issues, win public tenders, scale-up and trade cross-border in Europe.
These were the main takeaways for start-ups and SMEs:
Strengthen cross-border trade in the EU
A services passport will be created to harmonise and unify procedures, in particular for business services such as accounting, architecture and engineering, ensuring they only need to complete them once and can cross-borders. This will make it easier for service providers who want to offer their activities in other Member States. There is also an ongoing plan to tackle VAT in E-commerce. This means business owners will have an easier time selling online with less paperwork. Additionally this means customers will receive a better service and lower prices when shopping online. A double win!
Start-ups and SMEs to have an easier access to public tenders
Public contracts and tenders offer many opportunities for SMEs to grow, yet many SMEs rule themselves out due to burdensome and diverging national rules on public procurement. This should not be the case! SMEs and start-ups’ participation in public tenders means that public money is better spent, but also results in better competition for public contracts, which essentially boosts growth, transparency and accountability.
A single information info point for all businesses
How do businesses find the information they need to navigate cross-borders? A single digital gateway is being developed to allow for business owners to access all the information they need to benefit from cross-border trade in a one-stop-shop. In order to know what information is needed, a collaborative discussion needs to take place. We need you on board to help us develop it.
Better education and access to finances are needed
Finally, how to support entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools they need to grow in the Single Market? Let’s talk about lifelong learning. In today’s economy it is clear that learning skills by itself is no longer enough for a successful career, and entrepreneurs need to hire staff that are adaptable. Additionally, we should support capital markets, making it easier for investors to invest in businesses cross-borders, and for start-ups to get more cross-border funding opportunities.
Let’s not stop here. Let’s continue debating and finding the right solutions for start-ups and SMEs. What more do you think can be done to support start-ups, SMEs and entrepreneurs trade cross-border? Join the discussion in LinkedIn Group or tell the Commission what you think.
More photos from the event on Flickr.