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Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Winner Sabine Kerssens

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition opened for the fifth time in 2020 to ask the youth of Europe for their opinions and solutions to the following:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

On Promoting Enterprise, we have already had the pleasure of interviewing two of our talented finalists: Pablo Pastor Vidal and Georgina Whiteman. Make sure to read their interviews and get inspired by their submissions!

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing the 2020 winner, Sabine Kerssens, who along with the other two finalists made it all the way to the SME Assembly 2020 to present her essay and ideas to hundreds of delegates. She first impressed the jury with her ideas around the importance of cross-border collaboration and how learning from different cultures allows innovations to be inclusive. Sabine then went on to win the live vote at the SME Assembly after presenting her ideas.

We asked Sabine about her experience entering the competition, attending the SME Assembly 2020 and being selected as the 2020 winner.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

Practicing something that you would like to be better at is always a good idea, and the great thing is: you don’t need to win to learn something. As an engineer, writing an essay for a European Commission competition was not an obvious thing to do. Nevertheless, I wanted people to hear my ideas and I knew that being eloquent could help me in this. So I set my fears aside, and I practiced a new way of making an impact, through writing and submitting my ideas. So, to all the young change makers out there: participate in events like this to make sure that you give yourself the chance to find your strengths and make your voice heard in different ways. You can do it!

What was it like to be announced as the winner of the competition?

I’m so honoured that people took the time to vote, listen and enjoy my message. In my essay I advocate for a single startup scaleup market, because I believe there’s a lot to win if innovation by startups is holistically supported on an EU level. Putting a new idea out there, an idea that requires change, is unpredictable. When my name was called and I realised that I had won and that my ideas had captured the attention of the audience, I just felt adrenaline rushing through my body. I hope that with my essay, and through this competition that my ideas can be a spark for change.

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?

Through the youth essay competition, the finalists shared the stage with some of the most fascinating speakers within and beyond the European Union. It was inspiring and uplifting to learn from the engaging sessions. Though I would always wish for an in-person meeting, as I’m very keen to meet and thank all the people that were behind the screens (literally), I was incredibly impressed by the professionalism of the organisation and the overall impact of the event.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?

The youth don’t see the corona crisis as something separate from the climate crisis. Therefore, both challenges were a reoccurring theme in this year’s competition. Throughout the Assembly, I saw a want to do things differently in the future, specifically to “build back better”. By bringing the youth, innovators and global leaders on stage together you don’t have to wait for the future.

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?

I work with a non-profit to help Dutch startups and scaleups rise with the best talent, markets, technology and capital by 2023. My goal is to make the journey for innovators to scale internationally data-driven. The aim is for risk-taking change makers to be able to rely on and accelerate through the knowledge and experience of generations. If you have ideas or thoughts on the single startup scaleup market, on what innovators need or on what I should be doing after 2023: please reach out via LinkedIn!

Congratulations Sabine! If you would like to watch Sabine’s winning presentation at the SME Assembly you can catch up on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to read her submission and learn about her ideas for the single startup scaleup market.

Watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Finalist Georgina Whiteman

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The fifth edition of the SME Week Youth Essay Competition, held in 2020, challenged applicants to present their answers and arguments for the following question:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing Georgina Whiteman, who was one of the three selected finalists that made it all the way to the SME Assembly 2020 to present her essay and ideas to hundreds of delegates. Georgina impressed the jury with her arguments on how EU policy should focus on entrepreneurship education in order to invest in a future generation of sustainable and resilient SMEs.

We asked Georgina about her experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
I’ve been entering the competition for the past few years now as I really love the idea of getting young people to discuss the future of entrepreneurship – I got a special commendation two years ago for one of my essays! I really loved the topic this year, and it was incredibly relevant to the next stage in my career journey – pursuing my PhD looking at how young people transition into entrepreneurship. The idea of developing a youth-centric entrepreneurship policy, and looking at entrepreneurship education as a core function of this, was too irresistible to resist writing on! 

What was it like to be announced as a finalist for the 2020 Competition?
Really incredible – in my last year of being considered a ‘youth’ as well, it was nice to make the final on my final chance to enter! 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
I really enjoyed it – I particularly loved the Joseph Stiglitz talk – he’s an inspiration of mine. I loved getting to know the other finalists as well, everyone was rooting for each other and it was such a positive environment to be a part of. 

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020?
I love the idea of thinking local – concentrating on local impact rather than global impact, and it’s something I am taking forward with me in the work I am doing in the upcoming years surrounding youth social entrepreneurship education. 

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share?
I’m in the first few months of my PhD that is centred around youth entrepreneurship and how youth become entrepreneurs – so there’s that. I’m also working on a few social entrepreneurship related youth projects across Europe, so I’m looking forward to 2021 and getting started on all of these plans. 

Congratulations to Georgina on being one of the 2020 finalists! Did you miss Georgina’s presentation? Don’t worry you can catch up or watch it again:

You can also read through Georgina’s essay here.

Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens, and don’t forget to check out our interview with fellow finalist Pablo Pastor Vidal.

Watch the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

Voices of the future – Youth Essay Competition Finalist Pablo Pastor Vidal

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In 2020 the fifth edition of the annual SME Week Youth Essay Competition was launched and asked Europe’s youth the following question:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

Today on Promoting Enterprise we have the pleasure of interviewing one of the 2020 finalists who made it all the way to this year’s SME Assembly 2020 and presented his essay to the hundreds of delegates. Pablo Pastor Vidal from Spain impressed the jury with his ideas on sustainability and resilience, calling them the words of the next decade.

We asked Pablo about his experience entering the competition and attending the SME Assembly 2020.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?
Since I was a child I have always been very interested in how to come up with solutions to the social problems we face every day and I think that is why I ended up studying Law and Political Science. I remember that the day I discovered the SME Youth Week essay competition I had just had one of these big talks with my parents about how we need to innovate more and support each other even more because everyone has problems and, near them, there will always be another person with solutions. I think that is what we should do in Europe, especially in this era of our history where everything is more complicated than ever: we need to learn from each other and listen because sometimes we are just making the same mistakes that someone has made before us. 

What was it like to be announced as a finalist of the 2020 competition? 
I am a shy person, so at first, I just told a couple of friends and my family that I was a finalist because I personally thought my ideas would not change people’s minds that much. However, as soon as I told someone about it they loved reading my essay and told me that it made them think about topics that no one had pointed out to them before, and I loved to hear that! We all have the power to influence the people we know with our ideas but I just could not believe mine would captivate the attention of a jury composed of highly respected people in the world of SMEs in Europe as well. 

What did you think about the SME Assembly 2020?
It was probably one of the most enriching events I have attended. I know all the team was working really hard to make it possible, especially because all had to be transferred to an online platform this year. Although it was a pity that we had to go online, because I would have loved to meet each and every person face-to-face, that did not make me enjoy the overall conference and intense workshops any less. Now I am already looking forward to the next edition in Ljubljana and I plan to bring some experiences of the Spanish SME landscape with me.

What was your main takeaway from the SME Assembly 2020? 
First of all, needless to say, this event is a must for everyone that wants to communicate and learn about SMEs, because it is not only enriching but diverse: there were experiences from all over Europe and the world. Moreover, I think the experts confirmed very important points that Sabine, Geena and I stressed a lot in our essays: that, in a nutshell, we are going from a vertical vision to a horizontal one, with all the consequences that has, not only in the organisations themselves but in the values regarding the environment, their resilience and their capacity to look forward and think long-term. Therefore, I think we need to engage more people creating with their minds, hearts and hands and more academics to ensure we learn from the mistakes we might make along the way. 

What is next for you? Any exciting plans to share? 
Right now I am working with a team of lawyers from all over Spain to create an innovative startup that tries to solve the everyday problems of small and medium legal firms and guide them through their digital transformation. Our mission is also to promote more economically accessible legal help to the majority of the population. I am really excited about this project and I hope to share more news about it soon.

I am also looking forward to graduating from my current studies. I know for sure I want to become a leading young voice in the promotion of small and medium enterprises, but at the same time, I do not know where my passions will take me! Until then, I hope we can make 2021 one of the best years for the growth and promotion of the SMEs. 

Thanks to everyone that made this competition and experience possible! 

Thank you Pablo and congratulations on being a 2020 finalist! You can read Pablo’s essay and watch him present at the SME Assembly:

Keep coming back to the News Portal to read our interview with fellow finalist Georgina Whiteman and the 2020 winner Sabine Kerssens.

Catch up with the SME Assembly 2020 highlights:

What is on the 2020 programme? – Virtual Reality and Youth Essay Competition final

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The SME Assembly 2020 is getting closer and still accepting registrations. Make sure that you don’t miss out on the online edition taking place from 16-17 November and register now to secure your place.

This year’s programme promises to be high-level and diverse with many famous faces such as Peter Altmaier, Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy in Germany, and Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, and renowned economist Maja Göpel.

Here on the News Portal we have already introduced our distinguished 2020 Schumpeter lecturer Professor Joseph Stiglitz, and looked into the joint EEPA and European Small and Mid-Caps Awards ceremony. But what else is on the programme?

There’s truly something for everyone in the range of policy workshops and masterclasses that will be on offer, with topics ranging from SME’s leading the EU’s digital sovereignty to discussions about Women Entrepreneurs in times of COVID. As always, each session will see leading European experts convene to discuss the matters at hand from a specialist perspective. The highly anticipated Youth Essay Competition finals where our top three finalists will compete for YOUR vote will also be taking place LIVE as part of this year’s programme.

The SME Assembly 2020 will also offer networking opportunities, to ensure that the valuable conversations between delegates and the connections built throughout our Promoting Enterprise community are not lost. Make sure to register as soon as possible to secure your chance to network in dedicated online spaces and sessions during this year’s Assembly.

In addition to traditional networking there will also be ‘Virtual Worlds’ available for a small number of Assembly attendees to experience an innovative and immersive networking session. These sessions will transport participants to other worlds and demonstrate how SMEs can use ground breaking opportunities that the digital and technology expanse offers for economic growth and resilience. In order to secure one of these additional limited places first, register for the SME Assembly event, then contact the SME Assembly Secretariat with VR Event as the subject line to register your interest. Please note that only registered delegates will be able to secure spots for the VR sessions.

Register for the SME Assembly 2020 and join us for THE event for SMEs and those who support them.

Youth Essay Competition 2020 – Who is going to the final?

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Are you ready to find out who will be competing in this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition final? After narrowing down the entries to the top 8 our jury met and discussed their selections for the top 3 candidates who will present during this year’s SME Assembly.

After much discussion our jury are proud to announce their selection for this year’s Youth Essay Competition final:

Congratulations to our finalists!

Make sure to read through what Georgina, Pablo and Sabine have written and don’t forget to join us at the SME Assembly 2020 to participate in the live vote to choose which one of them will be the 2020 winner! Make sure to register for the online SME Assembly 2020 right here and we will see you there.

More about the SME Assembly 2020

The SME Assembly 2020 will feature a combination of high-level panels and interviews, expert roundtables, interactive workshops, informative masterclasses, and innovative networking opportunities to help answer the difficult questions facing our community post-COVID. Top speakers include Nobel Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz Commissioner Thierry Breton, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, and the distinguished economist Dr. Maja Göpel.

Register for the SME Assembly 2020 here.

YEC 2020 – How to write a winning entry

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There is still time to submit your essay to this year’s SME Week Youth Essay Competition. Still a bit stuck? Need some advice? Look no further! Here on the News Portal we have brought together valuable advice from past winners to help you write the best entry you can.

So have a read, think about their advice and don’t forget to submit!

There’s a trick I use whenever I have to write something. I leave my phone and laptop behind and go to the park with a pen and a small notebook. Ideas come when I don’t allow myself to be distracted by other things, and putting pen to paper is an essential first step. Even if you scribble over twenty ideas, or an idea doesn’t work at first, write it all down. Underline each idea, develop it, put it into clearer words. Soon enough, you’ll have a winning essay.

  • Radu Dumitrescu, 2019 winner

My advice is pretty simple: plan ahead! Do not wait till the last days of submission to draft your entry. Remember that the earlier you start planning for and writing your essay, the more time you have to research the topic, structure your thoughts and review the final product. Also, I highly recommend that you give your essay a personal touch – it is ultimately the key to ensuring that your entry stands out above the rest.

  • Marija Elena Borg, 2018 winner

I am convinced that our thoughts influence our actions in a material manner. That is why my advice would be to think practically. Let me demonstrate this. There is a young Ukrainian performing artist that uses the motto “Brave, Love, Freedom”, which I would use in a practical way to prepare my entry.

Let’s take firstly the point “Love” I would interpret it in the following way: look around you, define the persons you care about, think about their needs and what innovative steps are required to improve the lives of your loved ones. Now let us look at “Freedom”: get rid of prejudice; let your critical mind absorb and analyse information around you; be open to any topic no matter if you agree with it or not, because firstly you have to listen to opposing opinions, then gather data and facts about the argument and finally build your own opinion. Finally, “Brave”: do not be afraid to talk with experts about topics like: Innovation, Political and Social strategies, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, do not be intimidated by their experience and look for seminars and conferences at which these topics are discussed. Finally, do not doubt yourself, sit down and write down all of your own ideas, because these ideas will one way or another influence the behaviour and way of thinking of those who will read or listen to them!

  • Oksana Vedminska, 2017 winner

Read more about the 2020 competition here and send any questions about the competition to smeweek@loweurope.eu

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2020 – 5th edition launch

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Do you have an opinion on the role that entrepreneurs can play in reshaping our future economy? Perhaps you have interesting ideas about what the EU needs to do to help entrepreneurs? Then this is the opportunity for you!

The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is launching for the fifth time with a brand new question for the youth of Europe to answer:

What do SMEs need to become sustainable and resilient, in the context of COVID-19 and other global challenges? How can EU policy best aid entrepreneurs?

The Youth Essay competition is organised by the European Commission Directorate General for Single Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and is an opportunity for 18-25 year olds to share their ideas and viewpoints with key figures and stakeholders in the spheres of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Sound like an opportunity for you? All you need to do to have a chance at winning a trip to the SME Assembly 2021 in Slovenia is to submit your essay of no more than 2 500 words in English, before 25 September 2020.

Make sure to read through the rules, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu if you have any questions, and to SUBMIT before the deadline!

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 25 September 2020
  • The three finalists will be announced in October ahead of SME Week and will compete at a grand finale as part of the SME Assembly, where they will present their essays
  • The final winner will be chosen via a public vote

Prize

  • An opportunity to attend and present at the SME Assembly for the three finalists, to present their essays to 500+ Assembly delegates
  • Presentation training before delivering essay live at the SME Assembly 2020
  • Promotion of essays across our communication channels
  • A trip to the 2021 SME Assembly in Slovenia

See Youth Essay Competition 2020 Terms and Conditions.

Follow us for competition updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and be sure to follow and use the hashtag #YEC2020.

Youth Essay Competition – What can you expect from the SME Assembly?

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is an opportunity to make your voice heard in front of the people that matter for entrepreneurship and industry. Once a year, entrepreneurs, policy makers, innovators and other SME stakeholders, gather at the prestigious SME Assembly, to tackle issues facing industry, gather new ideas and share experiences to help create a more robust, innovative and SME friendly European ecosystem.

But what is it like to attend? What can you expect from the SME Assembly as a Youth Essay Competition finalist? We asked the finalists from last year’s edition what they thought of the SME Assembly 2018 to give you a sneak peek of what it is like to attend! Curious about what they thought? Have a read through their answers below:

“This year’s edition of the SME Assembly provided an excellent learning and networking platform for European entrepreneurs and policy-makers. The organisation of a variety of activities, including business tours, matchmaking sessions, debates and participatory workshops, sparked the interest of attendees and prompted their active participation.

My highlight of the SME Assembly was the Mentoring Workshop, during which experienced entrepreneurs spoke about promoting start-up mentoring. Considering that in comparison to other continents such as North America, entrepreneurs in Europe seem to be more reluctant to enter into a mentor-mentee relationship, this workshop showcased real success stories, proving that mentoring can be equally rewarding for both parties. ”

Marija Elena Borg, 2018 winner

“The SME Assembly was a fantastic event, with people from all over Europe (and indeed, the world) coming together for the purpose of supporting business, ideas, and innovation in Europe. People from all industries, and all different career levels, shared their stories with me, and it was a very humbling experience to be able to gain so much knowledge just by simply getting to know people. I made some great friends too! The speeches, debates, and policy sessions were varied and incredibly useful, my favourites were The Big Debate and Bridging the Skills Gap. The App made sure I knew exactly where to go and when to be there, and Graz was such a beautiful city to explore during my free time. Overall it was a life-changing experience that has inspired me to work on an entrepreneurial venture.”

– Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, 2018 finalist

“It was a fantastic opportunity to listen to many interesting debates and speakers, and to network with policymakers, SME leaders, and other interesting people. I left the event filled with inspiration and ideas which made it such a wonderful trip. Moreover, I had never been to Austria before so I was also glad to have the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Graz!”

Joakim Davidsson, 2018 finalist

For any questions on the SME Week Youth Essay competition, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu, read the competition launch post for all of the information on this year’s edition and don’t forget to SUBMIT before 16 August 2019.

SME Week Youth Essay Competition 2019 – Why should you enter?

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The SME Week Youth Essay Competition is open for the fourth time and is asking applicants to:

“Write the speech that you would give as the new Commissioner for SMEs and entrepreneurship to Europe’s entrepreneurs”

If you are between the ages of 18-25 and are a citizen of an EU or COSME partner country, then this is your chance to have your voice heard. The Youth Essay Competition is a chance to share your thoughts and opinions with key policymakers and entrepreneurs on a European platform within the domains of enterprise, entrepreneurship and SMEs.

The competition is a great opportunity to voice your opinion, and should you be a finalist, to visit the SME Assembly 2019, but why else should you enter? Here on Promoting Enterprise we asked last year’s finalists and winner why they entered the competition. Read through their answers below, get inspired and be sure to submit your entry before 16 August 2019.

What made you enter the SME Youth Essay Competition?

I have always believed that innovation – in its holistic sense – is the gateway to creating a smart and sustainable future. Therefore, when I came across the competition advert on the Promoting Enterprise News Portal, I decided to put pen to paper and give this opportunity my best shot!

  • Marija Elena Borg, 2018 winner

I just happened to be surfing the web and looking at upcoming events in Europe, and came across the essay competition information by chance. At the time it was the middle of August and I was enjoying a break from my studies, but after reading the question I thought it would be an interesting challenge. I am very passionate about the EU and its values, and I wanted to discover what I thought about innovation. Truthfully, it was not something I had thought about a lot, but after my research it has really grown on me, and I’m now very interested in how I can create and find innovation in my career path.

  • Ngaio Olsen-Stahl, 2018 finalist

The topic was very interesting, and one that I had thought a lot about beforehand. Therefore, I felt very inspired to write a contribution to the competition. It was a good opportunity to address questions about sustainable and environmental innovation, which are quite dear to me, and the chance to attend the SME Assembly was one that I also did not want to miss.

  • Joakim Davidsson, 2018 finalist

For any questions on the SME Week Youth Essay competition, contact smeweek@loweurope.eu and read the competition launch post for all of the information on this year’s edition.

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.

Read more >>

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