During the yearly SME Assembly, the most important event for small and medium enterprises in Europe, the European Commission announced the winners of the 2022 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). The initiative recognises and rewards outstanding initiatives that support entrepreneurship at national, regional and local level.
GRAND JURY PRIZE
The Grand Jury Prize, which recognises the most creative and inspiring initiative promoting entrepreneurship, went to Belgium:
Project: Love to be Free by UNIZO
(also a Winner in Category 2 – see below)
The other Winners are as follows:
CATEGORY 1 – PROMOTING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level that promote an entrepreneurial mindset especially among young people and women.
Project: Entrepreneurial Kids by the Municipality of Lublin
Entrepreneurial Kids is an economic education programme that supports creativity and stimulates entrepreneurial skills among children aged 6-10. The aim of the project is to shape entrepreneurial attitudes and develop among children the skills that will be sought in the labour market which, in turn, contribute to the development of their professional careers. The project is innovative not only in the region but also in Poland.
CATEGORY 2 – INVESTING IN ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS
Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level to improve entrepreneurial, managerial and employee skills.
Project: Love to be Free by UNIZO (Organisation for SMEs and Self-Employed in Flanders)
Love to be Free connects and represents freelancers in Belgium, offering events and workshops. To give online events live experience participants receive a lunch at home. One event, Freelance Friday has become a live studio show. With the introduction of an online hourly rate calculator, the uncertainty of freelancers about their hourly rate was addressed. The initiative also represents the interests of freelancers to propose an optimal framework to policymakers.
CATEGORY 3 – IMPROVING THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT & SUPPORTING THE DIGITAL TRANSITION
Recognises innovative policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level, which render Europe the most attractive place to start a business, operate it, make it grow and scale it up in the Single Market, simplify legislative and administrative procedures for businesses and implement the “Think Small First” principle in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises and support the digital transition of enterprises enabling them to develop, market and use digital technologies, products and services of any kind.
Winner: The Netherlands
Project: LifeSciences@Work Venture Challenge by Health-Holland and Topsector LSH
LifeSciences@Work Venture Challenge helps life researchers translate their research into a solid business case that forms the basis for a biotech or medtech start-up. The Venture Challenge works with highly experienced business coaches with hands-on experience in the industry, life sciences start-ups and venture capital. Since 2008, more than 150 teams have participated and most of them have successfully started a biotech or medtech company.
CATEGORY 4 – SUPPORTING THE INTERNATIONALISATION OF BUSINESS
Recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level that encourage enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, to benefit more from the opportunities offered by markets both inside and outside the European Union.
Project: Diia. Business by the Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office
Diia.Business is a large-scale project for the development of entrepreneurship and exports. The project’s main objectives are to increase the level of entrepreneurial skills in conducting business both in Ukraine and in foreign markets through educational programmes and webinars. Another aspect is the innovative “hotline” to help Ukrainian forced migrants in neighbouring EU countries find a job, open a business, or temporarily move their business.
CATEGORY 5 – SUPPORTING THE SUSTAINABLE TRANSITION
Recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional or local level that support the sustainable transition and support environmental aspects such as the circular economy, climate neutrality, clean energy, resource efficiency or biodiversity through, for example, sustainable skills development and matchmaking as well as funding.
Project: Energy Cooperative WEnCoop by the Halkidiki Chamber and the Greek Association of Women Entrepreneurs – SEGE
Energy Cooperative WEnCoop, is the first energy community for women entrepreneurs in Greece. Their purpose is to develop female entrepreneurship whilst addressing energy poverty, promoting sustainability, and investigating how to produce and supply energy efficiently at a local and regional level. The cooperative operates a photovoltaic park; the energy produced is to be used in electromobility actions and free quantities are allocated to vulnerable population groups.
CATEGORY 6 – RESPONSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Recognises national, regional and local initiatives by authorities or public/private partnerships that promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium sized enterprises. This category also recognises efforts to promote entrepreneurship among disadvantaged groups such as unemployed, especially long term unemployed, legal migrants, disabled or people from ethnic minorities.
Project: La French Tech Tremplin by French Tech
La French Tech Tremplin is a programme that promotes social diversity by supporting aspiring entrepreneurs from tougher backgrounds with funding, training and mentorship. The project provides a gateway to these entrepreneurs otherwise being far from entrepreneurship, to create their start-up anywhere in France. This brings social diversity to the French start-up scene.