Tag ‘The Business Generator’
The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are looking for the next set of inspiring projects that support entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem across Europe. Every year there are hundreds of applications from across the participating countries, so how can you make your application stand out? What will catch your National Coordinator’s eye? What will draw the attention of the prestigious EEPA jury?
Promoting Enterprise has collated advice from both past winners on what they did to prepare their applications, and from past and present EEPA Jury members on what made projects stand out for them.
Making your application stand out
Ensuring that your application is unique and stands out amongst all the other strong projects it will be competing against is key to getting noticed by both your National Coordinator and later the EEPA jury. Being unique is important and can even lead to a Grand Jury Prize win.
“One of the main reasons behind our win was that we presented a new proposition (i.e. festivals as testing grounds for innovators) to add to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
- Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017
EEPA jurors in particular want to see unusual and innovative projects that creative contribute to the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“In my opinion, the most important characteristic for a project to be special is that it is innovative. It has to bring something new and show creativity.”
- Jesús Casado Navarro-Rubio – EEPA 2018 juror
“An outstanding project combines innovation and cooperation and supports enterprises throughout their life cycle. It has visible and presentable results and helps to improve the role of entrepreneurs in society or to start up a business.”
- Matthias Tschirf – EEPA 2018 juror
Your application is also a chance to tell your project story and give a full picture of your work, how far you have come and the journey that both you and your project have been on. Including tangible results, lessons learnt and successes will ensure your application is complete and robust.
“When applying it is important to ask yourself if others can replicate what you do. Success is always a combination of vision, strategy, trial and error, lessons learnt and results, so be sure to include your project story and journey.”
- Business Generator – Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills Winner 2017
Dedicate the necessary time to your application
Previous winners mention the need to take the necessary time when preparing an EEPA application, to not rush and ensure that all necessary supporting documentation is collected with enough time and included in the final application.
“Prepare well! Be aware that it requires quite a lot of work until your documents are “final”, so advice and help from the national body might be very useful, so make the most of it.”
- Internationalisation 2015 – 2020 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business Winner 2017
“We spent quite some time on the application to make sure that we got all the right and important information filled in.”
- Lean Landing – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2018
For more support with your EEPA 2019 applications be sure to have a look through previous EEPA winner testimonials for their advice and success stories and contact your National Coordinators for specific country information on your national EEPA competition.
Back in 2017, the project “Business Generator” from Sweden, won the EEPA Category “Investing in entrepreneurial skills” for their work in identifying the gap in the strategic management process for SME companies, as well as a way to reach SMEs and provide them with useful skills for their daily lives as entrepreneurs.
After initial struggles to keep the Business Generator going after the EEPA competition, this project, and specifically coordinator Anette Rhudin, are back with a brand new and improved ‘Navigator Scale-up’. The Navigator serves as a support for SMEs that need to have a board under Swedish law. Due to financial constraints it is normally a challenge for SMEs and entrepreneurs to have an external board not made up of family and friends, and thus miss the chance, to have that input, that the right matched, external competence can give. Having a competent board can help avoid bankruptcy, develop necessary company procedures and aid in the overall management of the SME.
Through the Navigator SMEs can be matched with externals that serve as a board or ‘navigators’, without taking away control from the SME. The Navigator is a particularly good option for SMEs looking to scale up, as the externals are there to coach, ask critical questions and offer guidance based on their extensive experience. Through their experience, external board members are able to make SMEs aware of ‘hazards’ and guide them so as to avoid expensive failures.
Positive changes can only happen in a safe environment, which is why a Navigator’s primary task is help the entrepreneur navigate a changeable environment and give them enough control to feel safe and be able to scale up their company. One of the crucial success factors in the Business Generator project was that the four external navigator members had all gone on their own scalable business journeys. Being able to understand the current entrepreneur’s experience enables externals to truly coach and give the best advice to the SME they are assisting.
The Navigator has already been helping several SMEs, specifically OptiPack, an SME in a typical small Swedish village which started last year. Optipack began with four young people who had no experience of owning a company and who required a bank loan to get started. In order to qualify for a loan they needed an external board with experienced members, which is where Business Navigator came in to help. After being assigned a Navigator team they began to advance, thanks to the collective experience of their external board members who between them are experienced businesspeople and own large international companies.
Thanks to help from their Navigator, Optipack were able to invest EUR 2 428 882 in their latest product and continue working and developing.
Optipak are a successful example of what a Navigator can do for an SME, and we hope to keep coming back with more success stories as the Business Navigator gets bigger and spreads its message, support and advocacy for SMEs.
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:
Past winners have shared their tips for how to prepare for an EEPA submission, and their application journeys and lessons. But what does it feel like to be announced the winner of an EEPA category after putting in so much hard work? How did our past winners feel when they were recognised as some of the best projects in Europe? Today our 2017 winners reflect on their winning moments and what it was like to win the award.
“Of course it was a surprise! Within an impressive group of finalists which included investor programmes, incubators and accelerators with a long track record, we felt like the underdog. We don’t have a long track record yet, although we have enough data to have an evidence-based method to help innovators. But still we were the new kids on the block, with a crazy new kind of entrepreneurial programme, involving festivals. So for us, winning was an encouragement to keep going and support other regions to make festivals part of their innovations ecosystem.”
Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017
“It was incredible! It was an amazing recognition and such a great source of motivation for us to continue our work! I later realised that winning and being identified in front of everyone was really important, because afterwards I was approached by several people who wanted to know more about the project. It was really interesting to be able to speak about our work with so many different people.”
ADIE – Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship Winner 2017
“When we take part in awards of this kind we always want to win or, at least, be a nominee. Due to the time it takes to prepare all of the necessary documentation we rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. The last time we participated in something similar was in 2012 when we participated in an EU Award after being nominated by Austria. This time around, with EEPA, it was even better as not only were we nominated but ended up winning in our category!”
Internationalisation 2015 – 2020 – Supporting the Internationalisation of Business Winner 2017
“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!”
Reempresa – Improving the business environment Winner 2017
“We really wanted to win the European prize, but just because we thought we were the best project didn’t mean that the jury would think the same thing. When Business Generator was announced as the winner, I had a pulse of 1000! Friends who have seen the video of us winning say that I look unmoved, but really I was shocked. Just hearing Sweden mentioned with our project was incredible, I was representing our country!”
Business Generator – Investing in entrepreneurial skills Winner 2017
“When you find out that you are shortlisted of course you start to think “what if…”, but we didn’t expect to win. We were really excited when we did win because it was a complete surprise!”
Enterprise Village – Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit Winner 2017
Watch all of the EEPA ‘winning moments’ and highlights from the SME Assembly 2017 here:
The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017 have come to an end, but what a journey it has been! From the opening of national competitions in early 2017, the announcement of all national winners, the long awaited publication of the shortlist and now finally the winner’s ceremony we have witnessed all of the hard work and dedication that goes into the outstanding projects submitted each year.
It is with great pride that Promoting Enterprise can now present to you the EEPA ‘class of 2017’, the projects that were crowned European winners at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia (click on the picture to see their video presentation).
What was their first reaction?
Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit: Enterprise Village, Estonia
Mehis Parn: “Now we know we do the right thing!”
Investing in entrepreneurial skills:
The Business Generator, Sweden
Anette Rhudin: “Hard working entrepreneurs need nutrition and that is what we do for them. Thank you!”
Improving the business environment: Reempresa, Spain
Albert Colomer: “We are just happy! Thank you for this fantastic award!”
Supporting the Internationalisation of Business:
“Internationalisation 2015 – 2020”, Austria
Johanna Mikl-Letiner (Governor of Lower Austria): “We now see that our strategy to internationalize is successful!”
Responsible and Inclusive entrepreneurship:
Adie (Association for Economic Rights Initiatives), France
Marine Viala: “It´s our birthday this year! Aide has a big potential and this prize “salut!” to our work!”
Grand Jury Prize: Innofest, The Netherlands
Anna van Nunen: “We thought you forgot us. But this, of course, is now a great surprise!”
Please find here the 2017 Compendium of winners: EEPA 2017 Compendium Brochure (in English).
Congratulations to this year’s winners and we hoped you enjoyed the ceremony (photos)! Be sure to keep following us here on the portal for winner interviews and updates to find out more about this year’s projects.
The EEPA 2017 shortlist introductions continue! Today is the turn of Category 2: Investing in entrepreneurial skills. This year candidates in this category come from Sweden, Estonia and Latvia, and the projects focus on supporting entrepreneurs, helping them start out and making technology and the digital world accessible to all.
The Business Generator focuses on bringing in external expert support systems for SMEs to add value to their business concepts. Few such support systems currently exist for SMEs as many consider bringing in external expertise as too time-consuming. Each Business Generator is staffed with four individuals: two men and two women, each with different profiles and skills, who have all experienced growth. Each team covers: analytical capability, financial expertise, empathy, customer benefits, development process management, creativity and innovation. Acting as coaches, Generator staff ask the challenging questions from an outsider perspective that result in new decisions and tangible change.
Tech Sisters is an Estonian non-profit run by women working in IT and/or studying IT with the mission to increase women’s digital literacy and interest in IT. This is done through organising meetups for women in tech and running entry-level coding and tech workshops for women. Workshops specifically for teenagers promoting IT activities are also organised with the participation of inspirational IT female role models. By inspiring, encouraging and educating women/girls about IT, Tech Sisters aims to bring more women into IT and create a more diverse environment in the tech field.
The University of Latvia (UL) Student Business Incubator has assisted students of the UL and other higher education establishments of Latvia to start and develop an enterprise during their studies. The business incubator provides free premises and office equipment, offers free counselling sessions, help from mentors and industry professionals in business development as well as individual and group coaching sessions in cooperation with the Coaching School of Riga. The incubator also organises entrepreneurship events to encourage youth entrepreneurship, during which participants go through an accelerated incubation process, meet active professionals and receive feedback on their ideas.
So who will win this year? All will be revealed at the SME Assembly 2017 in Tallinn this November! Find out about the Category 1: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit nominees here, and stay tuned for Category 3 introductions next week!