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SME Week Newsletter 2018: Issue #7

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Who is going to Graz? – Youth Essay Competition 2018

It is now October, meaning that the SME Assembly 2018 is just around the corner. Next month we will be travelling to current European Presidency country Austria to the beautiful city of Graz for the flagship conference of the European SME Week. As the SME Assembly gets closer, be sure to keep checking the News Portal and all the social media for updates, important information and exclusive behind the scenes content.

In this edition we will be looking at the EEPA 2018 European shortlist, and finding out more about the projects competing for a European prize. We are also proud to announce some of the younger guests of the SME Assembly 2018, the top three Youth Essay Competition finalists!

We hope you enjoy this edition and make sure to follow us on the journey to Graz and our live coverage from the SME Assembly.

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Youth Essay Competition 2018 – Who is going to Graz?

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Today is the day that we all find out who is going to Graz to the SME Assembly 2018 from the European SME Week Youth Essay Competition!

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone that submitted an entry for this year’s Essay Competition. The standard was very high and the jury spent lots of time and effort deliberating the shortlist, which was then narrowed down to the final top three candidates.

We would firstly like to give special mentions to the following entrants who made it onto the competition jury shortlist:

  • Antonios Vasilakis Kinalis
  • Babatunde Onabajo
  • Georgina Whiteman
  • Klemens Okkels
  • Roberta Dobra
  • Rory Daniels

These entries were of a high quality and received much praise from the judges, so congratulations on being on the shortlist!

Now comes the time to announce the top three finalists who will be joining us at the SME Assembly in Graz to present their essays and compete for the public vote. Please congratulate:

So who will be this year’s winner? We look forward to meeting the top three and finding out next month in Graz!

The Youth Essay Competition jury would also like to give a special mention to Vincent Straub from Germany. The jury were only able to select three finalists, but felt that his essay was very strong and well written and as such deserved recognition.

What are the YEC 2018 Jury looking for? – Mervi Pankalainen

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The 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition deadline is getting closer and we are still looking for more entries. But how can you be sure that the competition jury will like your entry? Promoting Enterprise is here to help! Today on the News Portal SME Week Youth Essay Competition jury member Mervi Pänkäläinen, Ideas from Europe 2017-2018 finalist, is sharing what she will be looking for in an entry, how she will judge an entry and very importantly what will make an entry stand out for her.

Want your essay to catch Mervi’s eye? Read what she has to say below:

What will you be looking for in an entry?

I am especially looking forward to hearing the person’s own voice. Through their essay, I want to learn about their own experiences, observations and learnings and how those have been combined into the bigger picture.

What are the top 3 criteria you will base your judging on?

When judging the entries I will be looking for the three following elements:

  • Personal insights and stories;
  • An understanding of the big picture; and
  • Passion and purpose, I want to know why this matters to you.

What will make an entry stand out for you?

An entry will stand out if it had a strong personal touch and insights that only a young person can deliver. I am really looking forward to learning from these young people!

What advice would you give for those still not sure about entering the competition?

Organising your thoughts and putting them down in words is always a great exercise for the mind. There is no “wrong” way of doing this. We want to know how you see the world, what you think about it and how it could work better. It’s your thinking and ideas that matter and we are eager to hear those! Avoid trying to sound like an experienced government official, let your own words be heard.

What steps do you think should be taken to foster and encourage innovation?

True innovation can only happen in a safe environment. “Psychological safety” is a term and state of mind that I pay a lot attention to. We can design an endless number of processes to boost innovation, but unless the culture actually makes people feel good and relaxed about themselves and others in the team, the processes are wasted. We need informal opportunities to bring different people and perspectives together, offer clearly framed challenges to work on and leadership – not management – to make it all happen. Humour is an asset that is rarely intentionally used, but that can be key to creating psychological safety.

Interested in entering this year’s competition? Find out more about the 2018 SME Week Youth Essay Competition right here! Keep coming back to the News Portal to find out more about the competition and all of the jury members, and don’t forget to submit your essays by 23 September 2018.

Catching up with Andri Pandoura – Youth Essay Competition

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Today on Promoting Enterprise we are catching up with 2016 Youth Essay Competition winner Andri Pandoura! At the age of 16 Andri won the competition two years ago during the first edition with her answer to “What can the EU do to encourage more young people to become entrepreneurs?”. Read on to find out what she has been up to since winning, her take on what it’s like being a part of the competition and her advice for the 2018 competitors.

What have you been doing since winning the Youth Essay Competition?

Well, I am still in high school with one more year to go, so lots of stressing about homework, as well as preparations for my university applications. Apart from that, I am still trying to be active in different programs. For instance, I am currently a Youth Ambassador for Structured Dialogue in Cyprus, as well as the Youth Delegate for Cyprus at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Basically, I’m trying to keep myself busy.

Do you have any exciting projects that you would like to share?

A project that I am really excited and honoured to be a part of is “Children as Actors for Transforming Society” (CATS) that takes place in Caux, Switzerland. Every year children, NGOs, schools, youth groups and many more individuals with different levels of experience regarding child participation meet at Caux, stressing the key role of children as not only the future, but also the present. Specifically, all these people with vastly different backgrounds will come together under the umbrella theme of combatting violence in all forms, affecting children and working towards a safer world. It truly is an incredible project, promoting child rights and child participation at its best, in a similar way that the Youth Essay Competition promotes youth participation and allows young people to voice their views about topics that matter to them.

What was the best part about entering the Youth Essay Competition?

The chance to sit down and actually break down a topic such as Youth Entrepreneurship that at first glance appears to be a massive maze with no way out. The Competition gives all the participants, myself included, the chance to voice our opinions about a topic that is rarely discussed in the formal education system, but is of great importance. So really the best part of the competition was its role as an ‘amplifier’ that helps young people in being heard.  Having the chance to participate and speak at the SME Assembly in 2016 allowed me to meet so many incredible individuals, hear different perspectives and opinions on youth entrepreneurship that I never really considered and truly opened new doors for me back home.

What did you learn from the Youth Essay Competition experience?

Most importantly, I learned how significant it is to make an effort and submit an essay, despite any doubts; I never would have imagined that my essay would win and this attitude of ‘try, even if you might not succeed’ has stuck with me ever since. I overcame my stage fright and learned from first-hand experience that there are people who want to hear your opinions and, even if they don’t initiate a conversation, you can always approach them yourself.

Do you have any advice on how to approach this year’s question?

I think that the best advice I could offer is to take it easy. It is a very interesting question, but it can also be quite daunting. I would suggest treating it as if you were having a discussion with a close friend or relative. Don’t get caught up in the technicalities, just write as if you are talking to someone. We often say “If I were in charge, I would…” and I believe this is the mind-set that will really help in brainstorming. When you get your main points down you can work with that and edit accordingly.

Do you have any advice for the 2018 competitors?

To write from experience is very important in my opinion. I remember feeling uncertain about participating since I was only 16 at the time and obviously lacked the experience and expertise of a university graduate, for instance. My advice is, don’t let any feelings of ‘inferiority’ get you down. The topic of innovation in entrepreneurship and government is not something limited to young entrepreneurs and politicians, and it is not expected of the competitors to fake a certain perspective. Write sincerely and this will shine through.

Youth Essay Competition 2018 – Time to get writing!

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Calling all 18-25 year olds, the European Commission wants to hear your voice!  

The Youth Essay competition, organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, is launching for the third time and is looking for answers to the following question:

“What steps should entrepreneurs and government take to become more innovative?”

By taking part in the Youth Essay Competition you have a chance to share your thoughts and opinions with key policymakers and entrepreneurs on a European platform. Sound interesting? In order to win the prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 SME Assembly in Graz, submit an essay of no more than 2 500 words in English before 23 September 2018.

Don’t know what to write? Not sure where to start? Have a look at previous winning entries:

You can also have a look at the entries from the finalists:

To get started, read through the rules below, get writing and SUBMIT!

If you have any questions please contact smeweek@loweurope.eu.

Rules

  • The competition is open to all 18 to 25 year olds from European Member States or COSME partners countries (see the list)
  • Essays should not exceed 2 500 words in length
  • All essays must be in English
  • Only one entry per applicant
  • The deadline for submissions is 23 September 2018
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale in Graz as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote

Prize

  • An all-expenses paid trip to the SME Assembly in Graz, Austria for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering essay live on stage at the SME Assembly 2018
  • Promotion of essays across SME Week social media channels

See Youth Essay Competition 2018 Terms and Conditions.

Follow us for competition updates on Twitter (@EEPA_EU and @EuropeanSMEWeek), Facebook and Instagram and be sure to follow and use the hashtag #SMEWeekYouth

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2018 partners:

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