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SME Week Newsletter 2017: Issue #7

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The month of November is almost here, which means the countdown to the SME Assembly 2017 has begun!

The EEPA shortlist has been published and each project is being introduced individually on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal. Be sure to have a look at which projects are competing for the European prizes this year.

If EEPA finalists were not enough we have also announced the three Youth Essay Competition finalists on the Portal who will be competing for the 2017 prize in a live final at the SME Assembly in Tallinn.

What can we expect from this year’s Assembly? The line-up has been confirmed and there will be plenty of exciting sessions, exhibitors, speakers and masterclasses to enjoy, including the return of Ideas from Europe. Check out the programme here, and discover more about this year’s venue: Kultuurikatel.

We hope you enjoy all the latest updates and get ready to follow us for live Assembly coverage next month!

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Ideas from Europe: Semi-finals at the SME Assembly 2017

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© Ideas from Europe, 2016 finalists

Ideas from Europe are coming back to the SME Assembly, but this time with their semi-finals. During the SME Assembly on November 22, innovative entrepreneurs from across EU Member States will pitch their ideas for solutions to Global Challenges, with the aim of putting visionary entrepreneurs and their ideas under a European spotlight. After pitching the international jury will select the nine best innovators to compete in the finals in April 2018 in The Netherlands. The tenth finalist will be chosen via public vote, so be sure to attend the session at the Assembly or join us via the livestream to ensure your vote counts!

How does Ideas from Europe work?

Ideas from Europe is an independent foundation that believes in finding already existing solutions for current global challenges. How are these solutions found? Ideas from Europe looks across all the European Member States and organises national events and competitions to help select one representative per Member State. Once chosen these national winners go on to compete at the semi-finals, which will be held at the SME Assembly in Tallinn this year.

Who will be competing at the semi-finals in Tallinn?

So what kind of ideas can we expect to see? Have a look through the current list of semi-finalists below to get familiar with the pitches that will be seen and that you can vote on next month at the SME Assembly.

Finland: Mightifier Austria: RefugeesCode Slovenia: AgiliCity
Croatia: Balmaris Estonia: Hepta Slovakia: Virtual Medicine
Cyprus: SyndeSeas Sweden: Speak Up! Denmark: ‘Too Good To Go’
Belgium: Bloomlife Germany: Ichò-system Czech Republic: Sensbar
Malta: EasyPeasyCoding The Netherlands: Micreos

Be sure to check the Ideas from Europe website for more updates to this list.

Interested in what a national final looks like? Watch the Dutch finals:

Read more about Ideas from Europe right here on the Promoting Enterprise Portal.

SME Assembly 2017 countdown – Kultuurikatel & The 2017 programme

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The countdown to the SME Assembly 2017 is officially underway! With less than one month to go it is time to present the incredible Estonian venue that will host the assembly this year…Kultuurikatel.

Kultuurikatel is the official Tallinn Creative Hub and hosts many concerts, receptions, workshops, conferences and high profile events. Once part of the Tallinn City Central power Station, the building which now houses the hub used to be the power station’s boiler room and still contains two of the station’s original ten boilers. The striking 102.5 metre high brick chimney also has a story to tell, beginning life as the tallest chimney in the Baltic States at the time of its construction in 1948 and later appearing in the cult film ‘Stalker’ by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1977. For the film the United Nations initials (UN) were painted on the chimney, and still remain visible today. The building ceased to produce electricity in 1979, and went on to become a heat producer and distributor until the early 1990s, before closing its doors.

The modern day station, now Kultuurikatel, is a multifunctional space with state of the art facilities including a MakerLab, recording studio, FoodLab and a Creative Hub Garden. It is a predominantly creative space and is the host of the Estonian Presidency activities and events taking place in Tallinn this year.

Want to see more? Have a look at the website and the official Promoting Enterprise instagram!

 

But what about the SME Assembly 2017 itself? What can we expect this year? The 2017 SME Assembly Programme has now been officially released so have a look for yourself! Expect plenty of exciting policy sessions, interactive masterclasses and workshops and internationally renowned speakers from around the world.

Youth Essay Competition 2017 – Who is going to Tallinn?

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The Youth Essay Competition results are in! After a lot of deliberation and discussion, the Jury have selected their top three submissions who will go on to compete for first place at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn!

So who wrote the top three submissions? Congratulations to:

Evlampia Karavangeli

Evlampia Karavangeli is 22 and from the small town of Drama in northern Greece. She is currently studying at the Democritus University of Thrace Medical School and is very enthusiastic about her studies. She is multilingual and speaks Greek, English and German and is also studying Spanish, which she combines with her love for sketching and literature.

Find out what her essay ‘Checkmate in Entrepreneurship’ is all about when she presents it live at the SME Assembly 2017 next month!

Oksana Vedmidska

Oksana Vedmidska is from the small town of Pryluky, not far the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. After finishing her studies in Technical Translation, she went on to work as a translator of medical texts, working in English, German and Russian. She then went on to win a scholarship that took her to Germany to study a Masters in the areas of dubbing, subtitling, audio descriptions for the blind, and easy language. Earlier this year she was also selected to represent her home country of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly in New York as a winner of the 2017 edition of the Many Languages One World competition.

What skills does Oksana think an entrepreneur needs? And why does she think “entrepreneurship is one of the most effective tools, which our global society has to transform the world into a better place”? We will find out during her live presentation in Tallinn in November!

Pavle Kostic

Pavle Kostic is from Nova Pazova in Serbia and is currently in the third year of his Management studies at the University of Belgrade. He has been actively involved in several art, essay, photography and debate competitions, including the Serbian competition for ‘Best business ethics essay’ which he won in 2014.

What can we expect from Pavle’s essay ‘Ethics and a system as a prerequisite of regular competition’? Find out next month at the SME Assembly when he presents it live!

We would also like to thank all the other writers who submitted their work. This year the quality was very high and the Jury had a very difficult decision when narrowing it down to the top three. Be sure to follow Evlampia, Oksana and Pavle on their journey to Tallinn as they get ready for the live finale where the Youth Essay Competition 2017 winner will be revealed...

EEPA 2017 Jury – Meet Thomas Wobben

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Our next Jury member also has previous EEPA jury experience and joins us as a representative from the Committee of the Regions. Since March 2012, Thomas Wobben has been Director for Horizontal Policies and Networks in the Committee of the Regions. His responsibilities include monitoring the Europe 2020 strategy, relations with the OECD and Eurostat, and prospective works of the Committee of the Regions. Today he shares with us what kinds of projects got his vote.

 

What will make an EEPA project stand out for you? What will make it special?

Above all, a successful project should demonstrate how it responds to specific local needs. Rather than adopting an unimaginative “one-size-fits-all” approach, it should lead the way by tackling the specific challenges of its territory – which could include a lack of entrepreneurial activity in a rural or economically less-developed area, low numbers of SMEs that are ready to scale-up and exploit the opportunities of the Single Market or global markets, or factors such as high unemployment or a low level of education — through innovative, forward-looking and sustainable solutions.

What top 3 qualities should a project have to make it onto the shortlist?

In my view, the most convincing EEPA applications are those driven by a strong partnership – involving business, public authorities, research and educational institutions, etc. – that can act both as a guarantor for the project’s continued sustainability and as a vehicle for sharing good practices and lessons learnt.

It is also crucial that the project contains an innovative element that goes beyond merely replicating established methods, but rather introduces new ideas and finds new ways to adapt existing methods to the specific context of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Last but not least, a strong project should of course make a tangible contribution to economic growth and job creation in its territory.

What makes a project worthy of the Grand Jury Prize?

Beyond merely contributing to a specific area of entrepreneurship development, a project worthy of the Grand Jury Prize should attest to a strategic vision that integrates the project activities into a broader objective and creates an additional added value for society in areas other than business development in the narrow sense. Lisbon’s micro-entrepreneurship programme, which won the Grand Jury Prize two years ago, is an excellent example in this respect:

After being selected for the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) label a year earlier thanks to its outstanding and forward-looking entrepreneurial strategy, the City of Lisbon went on to prove the success of this strategy by presenting some of its first results in its EEPA application. The Lisbon micro-entrepreneurship programme demonstrates how an intelligent policy implemented at local level can create synergies between entrepreneurship development, economic integration of disadvantaged groups such as migrants and unemployed people, and urban rehabilitation of disadvantaged neighbourhoods. A number of Lisbon’s entrepreneurship support actions have since been scaled up at national level in Portugal.

Which is your favourite category and why?

While I do not have a favourite category as such, some of the most inspiring projects in recent years have been submitted in the category “Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship”. In addition to the project from Lisbon, which I just mentioned, the Swedish project “Entrepreneurial West Hisingen“, which won last year’s Grand Jury prize, is another outstanding example. Through actions such as the Syrian Fast Track Incubator for refugees who had businesses in their home country, this project responds to the vital challenge of integrating refugees and migrants into our societies and has produced extraordinary results, including the creation of hundreds of new companies in a socially divided and economically disadvantaged area.

What are you looking forward to at the SME Assembly 2017?

For me, the SME Assembly is a unique opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with the principal European actors in the area of SME and entrepreneurship development: policy-makers from the European, national, regional and local levels, stakeholders, academics, and of course entrepreneurs.

Moreover, the SME Assembly illustrates not only the excellent cooperation between the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), but also the complementarity of our actions in the field of entrepreneurship promotion: while the EEPA recognizes actions that have already proven successful, the CoR’s European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) label encourages cities and regions to develop their entrepreneurial potential even further in the future. I am therefore particularly looking forward both to the EEPA 2017 award ceremony and to the launch of the EER 2019 edition in Tallinn.

Is there anything you want to say to the applicants waiting for the shortlist announcement?

By being successful in the national selection round, you have already demonstrated the outstanding quality of your projects. Even if not all of you will be selected for the EEPA this year, you are doing important work on the ground that directly contributes to boosting growth, jobs and innovation in Europe.

Read about other Jury members Karen Boers, Lisa Steigertahl, Daniela Ölmunger, Thomas Cooney and Viljar Lubi.

Meet the shortlist! – Who is competing for ‘Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit’ at EEPA 2017?

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The EEPA 2017 national winners have been announced, and the 2017 shortlist has now been published…but what do we know about the projects competing to win an EEPA 2017 prize? Promoting Enterprise will be introducing you to each project on the shortlist and telling you all about their work over the next few weeks so get ready to find out! Kicking off the introductions are the shortlisted projects of Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, which come from Estonia, Finland and France.

Enterprise Village, MTÜ Ettevõtlusküla – Estonia

Enterprise Village promotes education about economics, entrepreneurship and finance for children between 4 to 18 years old, and their teachers. Through role play games on both IT platforms and in person, players are placed in a simulation where they must divide into groups and run their own companies. Trained facilitators take players through different tasks that require creativity, cooperation, entrepreneurial and financial skills, and are there to encourage players to experiment within the simulation. Different adapted games exist for varying ages and difficulty levels, so as to focus on age-appropriate knowledge and skill sets.

 

Pikkuyrittäjät – Mini company program for primary school, Nuori Yrittäjyys ry (JA Finland) – Finland

The Pikkuyrittäjät programme is a free 18-hour study programme designed for primary schools to encourage children to establish their own mini companies. During the programme, the children develop a business idea, company name, logo, slogan, elevator speech, web pages and finally sell their self-developed products or services to real customers with real money. The children are encouraged to be brave, try new things and discover their own strengths through the program led by specially trained primary school teachers. The program is transferable across schools, and requires only some additional training for the leading teachers.

 

Start’Up Lycée, VISIONARI – France

Start’Up Lycée is an entrepreneurial programme focused on secondary and higher education establishments. It aims to give all students, and youth in general an equal chance at following an entrepreneurial career path. Specifically designed programmes, varying from 2 days to 3 years in length, develop necessary entrepreneurial skills such as creativity, teamwork and digital know-how. Programme participants experience design training, team-building and expert assessment, and have access to specialised coaching. To date Start’Up Lycée has organised 51 educational events, which have benefitted over 3 700 young people, and aimed to facilitate implementation of specialised and tailor-made entrepreneurial programmes in different establishments.

Come back next week to find out about the projects competing in Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills…

Who is our Estonian EEPA 2017 Jury member? – Meet Viljar Lubi

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Ready to find out who the Estonian representative on the EEPA 2017 Jury is? Meet Viljar Lubi, Deputy Secretary General for Economic Development for the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Today Viljar shares what he is looking for and also what it has been like to be involved with the organisation of this years’ SME Assembly 2017!

What will make an EEPA project stand out for you? What will make it special?     

A project that has the capacity to achieve greatness and to create something innovative with limited resources will always stand out for me. It is special to see the passion and perseverance the people nominated for this award have had to show. I am often amazed at the regional and national differences that I see and how diverse the projects are.

What top 3 qualities should a project have to make it onto the shortlist?

First of all, it should be something unique and inspirational to be a good example for others. It is also important for the project to be transferable so that it would be possible to create something similar in other countries. Last but not least, the project should have a real and preferably measurable positive impact.

What makes a project worthy of the Grand Jury Prize?      

A project that is worthy of the Grand Jury Prize must be truly excellent. It must offer a true positive influence and exhibit a remarkable achievement together with an innovative approach. I am glad to see that there is tough competition in this respect.

Which is your favourite category and why?

Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit. In my job as the Deputy Secretary General for Economic Development a lot of my daily tasks revolve around entrepreneurship. It is the government’s job to help create the best possible conditions for enterprises to flourish. But this would be nothing without the enthusiasm and hard work of the entrepreneurs themselves. Therefore, I find it extremely important to have initiatives that help to promote this, especially among young people and women. However, it is difficult to just pick one – all categories highlight invaluable criteria.

What are you looking forward to at the SME Assembly 2017?         

As I have been involved in the process of creating the SME Assembly in Tallinn, I am sure it will offer participants a varied programme that is exciting, offers new ideas and of course has an Estonian twist to it. We will hopefully be offering some innovative ideas and new ways of looking at things, while still keeping the traditions of the excellent forum that the SME Assembly is.

Is there anything you want to say to the applicants waiting for the shortlist announcement?

Good luck! You have already achieved a lot by getting this far and I hope that you take this experience as a positive reinforcement – vision, perseverance and, of course, a little luck, is the key.

Read about who else will be joining Viljar on this year’s Jury: Karen Boers, Lisa Steigertahl, Daniela Ölmunger, and Thomas Cooney.

Ecoscooter – The brain child of 24 year old entrepreneur Getrin Reesar

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Time to meet the last entrepreneur in our ‘Meet an Estonian entrepreneur’ series! Why Estonian entrepreneurs? 

This year the SME Assembly 2017, the flagship event for European SME Week,  will be held in Tallinn under the Estonian presidency from 22-24 November 2017. In order to get ready for the event, Promoting Enterprise will be exploring Estonia as a digital pioneer as well as meeting the exciting entrepreneurs it has to offer! The last of our entrepreneurs is 24 year old Getrin Reesar who co-founded small family business Ecoscooter.

At the age of 24 Getrin, from Tallinn in Estonia, already holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, is currently studying graphic design and is an entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of a small family business called Ecoscooter, which has been running for one and a half years, and distributes electric self-balancing vehicles in Estonia. Ecoscooter started small but is now present in Finland, Spain, Latvia and Lithuania.

What motivates you?

Hands-on experience and gaining knowledge is inspiring, and the idea, that one day I (hopefully) do not have to work from 9 to 5 is also very motivating!

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Although I am not working for Ecoscooter full-time right now and it is a side-business, I can work for myself. All the effort that I put in for me, meaning I do not mind working the extra hours, dealing with complicated clients and navigating difficult situations. At the end of the day, everything I do is for myself and for my family.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

Firstly, languages like Chinese, Arabic and German. Learning a foreign language is a great and necessary investment. Knowing the language of your market is a good way to break down walls and make connections, a having a good network is everything.

Secondly, the idea of starting a side-business can be challenging in many ways, so actually the best advice is having the courage to start. You can always go back to a 9 to 5 job!

Youth Essay Competition 2017 – What’s next?

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The Youth Essay Competition 2017 submission period is now closed. Thank you to all the participants for all your hard work! This year the competition is getting even tougher, with submissions from across 23 countries and triple the number of entries from 2016. This year the top three countries were Ukraine, Serbia and the United Kingdom. We also received entries from Russia, Egypt and Nigeria. Unfortunately we can only accept submissions from citizens of COSME countries, but thank you for sending us your ideas!

So what happens now?

The Essay Competition jury will now deliberate and read through the entries to determine the top three submissions. These top three finalists will be announced right here on Promoting Enterprise and across all our social media in the middle of October, so make sure to follow us to be the first to know!

The final step of the competition involves a live finale in Tallinn at the SME Assembly 2017. Each of the three finalists will present their essay to the 500+ Assembly delegates and the winner will be selected via a public vote.

What could you win?

Each finalist will win an all-expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia, be given special presentation training before the event and finally have their essay and ideas promoted right here on Promoting Enterprise and across all our social media.

Who were the 2016 finalists and what did they have to say? Read about Andri, Katie, Frici and Francesco.

Curious about who will be judging your entry? Meet the Jury!

Follow our social media so you don’t miss any news about the competition:

Twitter: @EEPA_EU and @EuropeanSMEWeek

Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise

Instagram: @promotingenterprise

From leather design to Quality Assesment – Find out about Stella and Kristel

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We are back with the next two entrepreneurs in our ‘Meet an Estonian entrepreneur’ series! Why Estonian entrepreneurs? This year the SME Assembly 2017, the flagship event for European SME Week,  will be held in Tallinn under the Estonian presidency from 22-24 November 2017. In order to get ready for the event, Promoting Enterprise will be exploring Estonia as a digital pioneer as well as meeting the exciting entrepreneurs it has to offer! Today it is time to meet Stella Soomlais, a sustainable leather accessories designer and studio owner, and Kristel Kruustük, co-founder and CEO of Testlio – an end-to-end Quality Assessment management platform.

Stella Soomlais

Stella Soomlais is a leather accessories designer and studio owner, who designs and creates bags made to last. In 2004 she began making custom orders whilst at Tartu Art School, and set up her own company in 2011. In 2014 she began recruiting employees and now has over 10 people working for her. Her vision, and that of her company, is a sustainable one, and champions the idea of reusing leather after its first life cycle so as to maximise material use.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by the ability to make things better and to improve situations. It makes me happy when I see that my actions are making a difference.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Freedom – I can pick the projects and people I love to work with and be the boss of my own time.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

I would say that tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need to treat others as they would like to be treated. This includes everybody and everything, clients, colleagues and Mother Nature as well. Understanding different characters, the way they work and feel motivated, and the importance of sustainability is the key to success. In addition, good old patience is still necessary – it takes years of 24/7 work to implement your dreams and visions. But it’s worth it!

Find out more about Stella and her sustainable products: www.stellasoomlais.com

Kristel Kruustük

Kristel Kruustük is co-founder and CEO of Testlio – an end-to-end Quality Assessment management platform and community of highly vetted testers that help businesses deliver amazing customer experiences. At the age of 23 she came up with the id ea of building a platform that would appreciate the work of testers and elevate the importance of Quality Assessment within organisations.  Since launching in 2012, the company has raised $8M in funding, hired over 60 employees, and established offices in Tallinn and San Francisco. Clients include Salesforce, Lyft, Microsoft, CBS Interactive, Flipboard and Strava.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by my vision for Testlio which is to change the way Quality Assessment is done and to help businesses create successful products with a great team, community and customers. Even when things get very challenging and hard, I know that there’s always a solution for every problem.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Making your vision and dream come true. Testlio began because of my own frustration about how software testers were treated in the industry. Testing was often perceived as an afterthought and testers were often blamed when things didn’t go as expected.

What’s especially rewarding about being an entrepreneur is when things move in the right direction. It is so inspiring when the people around you are happy, excited and motivated to make a difference. I have written more on what I love about entrepreneurship here.

What skills do tomorrow’s entrepreneurs need?

Putting people first and not treating business like a machine. Businesses are all about people (your team, your customers, your community) and in today’s world, ideas don’t matter anymore, what matters is people, making connections and building long term relationships.

Read more of Kristel’s ideas and thoughts on her entrepreneurial journey: https://medium.com/@kristelkruustuk

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