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EEPA 2017 Testimonial: Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are back for 2018, and Promoting Enterprise has the honour of presenting the first EEPA 2017 winner testimonial from Innofest – Grand Jury Prize Winner 2017. The Innofest project will be sharing their EEPA story as well as their advice for other planning to submit their projects and embark on the EEPA journey.

How did you first hear about the national competition?

The Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs contacted us to ask us if we were interested in joining the competition. We didn’t hesitate and joined straight away.

Why did you decide to enter the national competition?

That’s twofold. First we were having some plans to expand within the rest of the Netherlands, but also to other regions in Europe. The EEPA provided us with the opportunity to get to know other regions, but also to get in touch with policymakers and entrepreneurs throughout Europe. Secondly, we felt that after two years of learning and pioneering it was time to share the first successes with The Netherlands. We felt that EEPA and the publicity around EEPA were a great way to do that.

How did you prepare your application?

Part of our preparation involved speeding up some of the research we were doing, to make sure that we could provide the jury with accurate numbers on Innofest. We also made sure that we were ready to talk to other European regions, entrepreneurs and festivals and prepared our international strategy. Getting ready for this was very helpful, because quite a few regions contacted us in order to work with us after the EEPA. We were happy that we were well prepared and knew what we could offer them.  

What was it like to win the award?

Of course it was a surprise! Within an impressive group of finalists which included investors programs, 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 program, involving festivals. So for us, winning was an encouragement to keep going and support other regions to make festivals part of their innovations ecosystem.

How did winning the award impact your work?

Winning had a big impact on Innofest. The media coverage was great, both locally and internationally. But the impact on our network was more important. Our funders were recognised for supporting Innofest, and many new partners wanted to connect to Innofest. At our latest festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag in January, a delegation from Finland came to learn from Innofest and is aiming to set up their own Innofest model. We have also been contacted by other festivals and regions to join the Innofest program. The number of applicants has also increased in comparison to previous years, so it is possible that the award may have helped with that as well.

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

EEPA has helped us to gain more brand awareness and it contributed a lot to our position in the Dutch and European start-up ecosystem. But even if we had not won, it was very helpful to get pitching experience and advice on our Innofest-proposition. 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. Based on this, our advice for future applicants is to make sure that you highlight why your initiative isboth effective and unique.

What are your plans for the future?

This year we are researching how we can connect festivals on a national level to Innofest and we hope to scale up in 2019. We are also working on an international proposition to help other regions and festivals in the world set up their own Innofest model. In the future we hope to have white-label Innofests throughout the world!

To find out more about Innofest, read about them right here in the 2017 compendium, and be sure to watch their winning moment from the EEPA 2017 ceremony in Tallinn here.

Keep coming back to Promoting Enterprise for more EEPA 2017 testimonials and don’t forget to check all the social media channels (Twitter: @EEPA_EU and Facebook: @PromotingEnterprise) for the latest EEPA updates.

EEPA 2016 and beyond – The Rotterdam Business Case

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), provide a chance for many projects to gain recognition on a European stage across a variety of categories. During the selection process and the awards themselves, we get to meet all of these interesting projects and witness their winning moments, but what happens after the awards ceremony? What comes next for EEPA winners? Today on Promoting Enterprise we bring you the story of EEPA 2016 winner ‘The Rotterdam Business Case’, winner of theResponsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurshipcategory. Two years on and the Rotterdam Business Case is scaling up and looking to become a European Business Case, but how have they been working to scale up a successful project to support struggling entrepreneurs? Read on to find out…

Every country needs entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are ambitious, they take risks a  nd create most of the wealth, jobs, and prosperity in a nation. Who helps them however, when they are in difficulty? Who gives them a second chance or the advice they need to be successful? Who makes sure they have options like the customers they serve?

Economic Sustainability

The Rotterdam Business Case, founded in The Netherlands, provides help to struggling entrepreneurs. The project began with the initiation of a pilot in Rotterdam in 2012 to support entrepreneurs operating below the poverty line. The goal was simple; help entrepreneurs to help the economy! Or, in other words: “To increase income and economic sustainability by improving entrepreneurial skills and vision.” The pilot soon became a project – The Rotterdam Business Case – which since then has supported more than 800 entrepreneurs in the Rotterdam region  to get their enterprises back on track. In November 2016 The Rotterdam Business Case was awarded a European Enterprise Promotion Award in the category ‘Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship’. Since being awarded the project has been scaling up, in both the Netherlands and in Finland, where pilots are starting.

‘Young and Old is Gold’

The concept is based on a tripartite cooperation between the University of Applied Sciences, the City of Rotterdam and a foundation made up of successful retired entrepreneurs (OKB). The retired entrepreneurs act as senior coaches for the struggling entrepreneurs by providing  advice and mentoring to overcome obstacles and challenges. Their role is to encourage the struggling entrepreneur to regain control, (re-)captain their entrepreneurial ship and help draw up a re-start plan. The students from the University of Applied Sciences act as junior coaches, and provide practical assistance for the re-start (streamlining/sorting out the administration, drawing up a cost-calculation), drafting of reports to plan out the various aspects of the re-start (business plan or acquisition plan). This successful cooperative approach is described with the slogan ‘Young and Old is Gold’.

Triple Helix for win-win-win

The triple helix cooperation with education, entrepreneurship and government results in a win-win-win-situation on all sides. The university offers internships to students who can practically apply their theoretical knowledge (Win 1), the city/region support entrepreneurs to strengthen the regional/city economy (Win 2) and finally former entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to use and re-use their knowledge and experience to help entrepreneurs in need (Win 3). But the biggest Win of all is of course for the struggling entrepreneur who gets a fair chance to overcome problems and become successful again.

Scaling up in the Netherlands & beyond

Due to the project attracting interest of other cities and regions the founders of The Rotterdam Business Case decided to set up a new foundation: The Dutch Business Case for Entrepreneurs, with funding from a Dutch National Foundation (GAK). The newly formed foundation works with a ‘reversed franchise concept’. New Business Cases in other cities/regions receive methods, systems, support and a 25% subsidy on the condition that they work within the concept of The Rotterdam Business Case. So far six new projects and pilots have started in the cities of Nijmegen, Amsterdam and Eindhoven and the provinces of Friesland, Friesland and Drenthe, with discussions underway for additional cities and regions to start in 2018.


First European Step

In 2016 the concept received the EEPA prize, which provided a European ‘stamp of approval’ for the foundation. Since receiving the award, professionals, decision makers and politicians who are enthusiastic about the concept make reference to the EEPA recognition of the Rotterdam Case. This has also helped other cities and regions come forward with their own proposals for applying the concept in their individual contexts.

One of the first results from scaling up is the start of a Finnish project in the City of Tampere. The City, the University of Applied Sciences and a Foundation of Former Entrepreneurs started a partnership to assist first time entrepreneurs using the Rotterdam Concept. The experiences of tweaking a successful Dutch project into a successful Finnish project will be shared later this year so that other cities and regions in other countries can also profit from the concept of ‘Young and Old is Gold’.

For more information on the Rotterdam Business Case and project scale up activities, please contact

European Enterprise Promotion Awards – ‘Class of 2017’

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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.

Ideas from Europe 2017 – Finalists

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Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden are going to the finals of Ideas from Europe on April 24, 2018 in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, the Netherlands. The jury found these ideas the most innovative and believe these will have the most impact on our society.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The winners

This is what the jury, Kaupo Reede, Kristin Schreiber, Ulrike Rabmer Kollen and Cees Vermaas had to say about the ideas:

  1. Julien Penders of Bloomlife (Belgium): “If you are a mother the solution of Bloomlife will give you peace of mind.”
  2. Klaus B. Pederson of Too Good to Go (Denmark): “A practical solution to the second hand market of food.”
  3. Steffen Preuss of Ichò (Germany): “This solution is acknowledging the tremendous problem of dementia and provides a practical device that brings relief.”
  4. Fiona Edwards Murphy of ApisProtect (Ireland): “We need bees to make sure our food supply will last. This solution will help the bee population.”
  5. Aida Nazarikhorram of LuxAI (Luxembourg): “There is a big potential in technology that lets children interact more easily with robots.”
  6. Mark Offerhaus of Micreos (The Netherlands): “This solution is potentially a ground breaking alternative for antibiotics.”
  7. Artur Racicki of SEEDia (Poland): “The combination of something practical and modern that will help both us and the environment.”
  8. Francisco Duarte of PavNext (Portugal): “The combination of safety and energy has great potential.”
  9. Mervi Pänkäläinen of Mightifier (Finland): “This will really stimulate behaviour change and help children fight bullying.”

(Click on the links above to see the individual pitches)

The Jury have decided that due to them sharing a common objective and similar goals, but with slightly different target audiences, that the Speak Up solution from Sweden will share the stage with Mightifier from Finland at the finals in The Hague.

2017 SME Assembly: Ideas from Europe semi-finalists

The Jury also wanted to highlight another project and give it a special mention. Stefan Steinberger the semi-finalist presenting Refugee{code}, will also be joining the finalists at the Hague due to his solution being so relevant to the current refugee crisis.


From November 23 onwards, the wildcard vote for the last finalist will be open to the public. They will be able to vote online via for one of the other nineteen solutions that were not chosen by the jury.

The innovator with the most votes will then go on to join the other finalists in the Knight’s Hall in The Hague, The Netherlands on April 24, 2018.

To see photos from the Ideas from Europe semi-finale, please visit our Flickr. To see the whole competition, you can watch the video.

European Innovation Scoreboard

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Ever wondered how innovative your country is? What about in comparison to its neighbours or overall in the region? The European Innovation Scoreboard is a European Commission initiative that provides a comparative analysis of innovation performance in EU countries, other European countries, and regional neighbours. It assesses relative strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems and helps countries identify areas they need to address.

The Regional Innovation Scoreboard is a regional extension of the European Innovation Scoreboard, assessing the innovation performance of European regions based on a limited number of indicators.

European Innovation Scoreboard 2017

The 2017 edition of the Scoreboard presents a refined analytical framework. Rankings are therefore not directly comparable with previous editions, but time series using the new analytical framework allow performance to be tracked over time. New indicators capture investments in skills, digital readiness, entrepreneurship, and public-private innovation partnerships. In addition, a new toolbox with contextual data can be used to analyse and compare structural differences between countries.

The new scoreboard reveals that EU innovation performance continues to increase, especially due to improvements in human resources, the innovation-friendly environment, own-resource investments, and attractive research systems. Sweden remains the EU innovation leader, followed by Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany. Lithuania, Malta, the UK, the Netherlands, and Austria are the fastest growing innovators.

In a global comparison, the EU is catching up with Canada and the US, but South Korea and Japan are pulling ahead. China shows the fastest progress among international competitors.

Interested in finding out more? Have a look at country profiles, an interactive online score board and find out who is leading innovation in Europe.

Five finalists, two winners…who will represent the Netherlands at EEPA 2017?

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Congratulations to Innofest and IMC Weekend School who will represent the Netherlands at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017! The EEPA 2017 finals will take place in Tallinn, Estonia during the SME Assembly 2017 and feature the most original and successful initiatives of governments and public-private partnerships from the EU and COSME participating countries.

On the 11th of May, during the Dutch Entrepreneurship Week, the Dutch national finals for EEPA 2017 took place. Five projects pitched their initiatives to a jury and an audience of more than 100 SME entrepreneurs. After an exciting ceremony, Innofest and IMC Weekend School were chosen as the national winners, and the public award was awarded to Day for change.

Innofest is an innovative concept: the idea is to use festivals as live testlabs for new products and services. The audience is wide ranging as there are millions of festival goers every year in the Netherlands. The idea is transferable and applicable in other European countries. The jury liked the originality of Innofest as they really satisfy a need and effectively make use of the test environment at the final stage of development.

IMC Weekend School is a school for supplementary education in which youth from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, aged from 10-14, attend courses for three years every sunday given by passionate professionals, usually volunteers. The program comprises 15 subjects including: journalism, enterprise, philosophy, politics, law, medicine and arts. They have a large reach, with around 1 100 students attending and over 4 000 guest teachers each year. The jury praised the initiative, which is starting to roll out this inspiring design across the Netherlands and Europe.

Public Award

In addition to the jury prize there is also a public award, which this year went to Day for change. Day for Change is committed to a fair economic system, with (social) entrepreneurship and where inclusive finance is central. With the Day for Chance Activities, the Dutch youth are operating with a microcredit. Their profits are supporting entrepreneurs in developmental countries. Each academic year between 5 000 and 6 000 pupils participate in the Day for Change in the Netherlands

For more information on EEPA in the Netherlands:

Read the full press release (in Dutch):

Dutch national finalists compete for EEPA 2017

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The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2017 national campaigns are all underway across Europe. Some of the national deadlines have passed but some are still open so be sure to check whether your country is still accepting applications here!

Today we travel to the Netherlands for the Dutch EEPA 2017 final, where the top five national candidates will compete to represent the Netherlands as national winners. The final is part of the entrepreneurial week currently taking place, during which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial experts share their knowledge and insights.

The candidates will be judged by a jury which includes: Pieter Waasdorp (Ministry of Economic Affairs, DG Entrepreneurship and Innovation), Toon Buddingh (Incubator entrepreneur) and Hendrik Halbe (Co-founder Get in the Ring). For the first time the jury’s decision will also be supported by an audience vote, which will determine the two winners that go on to compete at European level.

 The five candidates are competing across three categories:

Category 1: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit

Day for Change


Category 3: Improving the business environment



Restart Fund MKB Flevoland


Brightlands Innovation Factory


Category 5: Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship  


IMC Weekend School


Be sure to follow the latest updates about the ceremony on Twitter and stay tuned to find out who the Dutch national winners will be!

Empowerment through entrepreneurship – Meet guest contributor Daisy da Veiga

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Today Promoting Enterprise welcomes guest contributor Daisy da Veiga, a self-employed entrepreneur who balances motherhood, travel and family life alongside running her own business. Over the next few weeks Daisy will be giving insight into the life of an entrepreneur and how to best communicate your ideas effectively.

Hello everyone, my name is Daisy da Veiga and I live in Rotterdam.  I am 32 years old and a happy mom to Isaiah and wife of Mark. I am a self-employed entrepreneur in the empowerment sector since 2008.

With my enterprise Daisy da Veiga Coaching & Consultancy I get to empower people to make choices from the heart and live a victorious life. In 2007, after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in International Communication Management, I read the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. I had felt stuck for a while because I could not find a job in the field of work I studied for. After reading this book I was triggered to use the insights gained and put them into action. I had learnt that we create our own reality with our thoughts. The first dream I realised through applying the Law of Attraction, was to work abroad, in Abu Dhabi as an international media consultant. This meant daily interaction with CEO’s and chairpersons of the biggest companies in Abu Dhabi. In the two following years, I fulfilled my second dream, which was to meet inspiring people, like the social rights activist Desmond Tutu, the football player Clarence Seedorf and life success coach Tony Robbins.

With the realisation that we have the power to create our own reality, I decided to dedicate my life to communicate this message to as many people as possible. I do this as a life coach, author, empowerment trainer, blogger, vlogger and motivational speaker.

My biggest success is the thousands of people I have positively impacted with my work over the years, and my biggest challenge is balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. I’d like to spend all my time with both my son and my work.

One of the things I love to do is travel, as I believe that it is extremely important that I feel balanced between my social and professional life. I am very happy that I have found that balance, mainly due to my great husband.

My latest trip was to Lisbon in Portugal for an empowerment exchange project that I will tell you more about in the near future. In the video below I introduce myself, according to an introduction exercise we did on the first day of the project. Yes, sometimes I am a blue communicating Smurf!

Interested in Daisy and her work? Come back to Promoting Enterprise for her next post and be sure to visit her website for more information:

Winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2016 prove diversity of entrepreneurial spirit in Europe

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30415999933_56c9c9d966_zCongratulations! The seven winners of the 10th edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) were announced by Peter Varinský with the Grand Jury Prize being awarded to a Swedish city project.

The six projects that each won their category came from France, UK, Portugal, Finland, Serbia, and The Netherlands. The categories covered the broad areas of entrepreneurship, enterprise start-up and growth, international market opportunities, and green markets. Three projects from Latvia, Ireland and Greece received Special Mentions from the EEPA jury, which comprised seven representatives from government, business and academia from the EU.

The top prize was awarded to the district of West Hisingen in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The  project supports the city district’s reputation as a hub of opportunities and entrepreneurship. It is divided into three parts: Entrepreneurship in education; Start your business, a course for newly arrived refugees with a business background in their home country; and Develop your business, a comprehensive business training programme.


To see photos from the yesterday´s joyous ceremony, visit our Flickr. We will present all projects fully in coming weeks, but if you can´t wait, you can have a look at the EEPA 2016 Compendium.

Speaking of the awards, Ms Kristin Schreiber, chair of the EEPA jury and Director for COSME programme at Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission, said: “The 57 projects selected to compete at European level, not just the winners, runners-up and special mentions, are a testimony to the passion and innovation that puts ideas into practice. These are examples that can inspire the creation of an ecosystem that helps entrepreneurial spirits, nurtures enterprises and helps them grow. All these projects have tangible results: they help to create new companies and new jobs. I hope they will be an inspiration to authorities, organisations and individuals across Europe to do more for entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Next year’s awards ceremony will take place during the 2017 SME Assembly in Tallinn, under the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

And by the way – the cake for the 10th EEPA´s birthday was delicious! 🙂

EEPA 2016 shortlist announced!

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In total, 343 National EEPA entries were received from 31 participating countries in 2016, which were then narrowed down by the national EEPA coordinators to 57 projects put forward for the European level of the competition.

At a meeting in Brussels on 27 September, the EEPA Jury drew up a project shortlist for each of the EEPA’s six project categories.  Let´s meet 18 shortlisted winners for EEPA 2016!

The winners are spread pretty evenly across Europe, with only Serbia featuring on the list more than once, with winning projects in the Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency categories. We will present all of the shortlisted projects, category by category, on the Promoting Enterprise blog over the next six weeks.

The winner in each category will be revealed at the EEPA Awards Ceremony during the SME Assembly on 24 November in Bratislava, Slovakia, when the Grand Jury prize-winner will also be announced. All of the national winners will have their costs covered to send one representative to attend the SME Assembly, while shortlisted projects will be able to send two representatives.

Congratulations to all of the shortlisted projects – they are all worthy winners, and the EEPA Jury will have a difficult task in selecting the winning projects in each category. We wish them all the best of luck at the SME Assembly in November.


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