European Commission rewards entrepreneurial excellence in Denmark, Greece, Austria, Spain, Finland, Portugal and Germany


On the occasion of its annual SME Assembly in Graz, the European Commission announced the Winners of this year’s edition of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards, the scheme that rewards excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small business at a national, regional and local level.

The Winners are as follows:

A special prize awarded to the entrepreneurial initiative considered the most creative and inspiring in Europe.

 “Lean Landing” by Væksthus Sjælland – Denmark

The main objective behind this initiative is for small businesses to be able to test whether their products or services can be sold in foreign markets.  The project is unique for several reasons, including its design being inspired by the ‘lean start-up’ model. The main aspects taken from this ‘lean model’ are the ‘trial and error’ nature of entrepreneurship, which has been applied to Lean Landing and allows entrepreneurs to learn from experience, and if necessary failure, and to do so quickly. Other unique factors of Lean Landing are its focus points. In comparison to similar schemes, Lean Landing does not have a specific focus on export, but rather on partner-based internationalisation via knowledge collaboration. The project also focuses on micro SMEs and early internationalisation, as opposed to similar projects which tend to focus only on middle-sized SMEs. So far, of 190 SMEs involved, 80 have successfully been abroad with the Lean Landing project.


Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level that promote an entrepreneurial mindset especially among young people and women.

 Piraeus Blue Entrepreneurship – Greece

This project highlights blue entrepreneurship and economy, which cover the sustainable use of the sea and its resources for economic development.  The goal is to create new sustainable businesses and jobs in the Blue Economy and to promote a new innovative business ecosystem. So far the project has produced 20 new startups, 45 new jobs and 55 networking events.


Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level to improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills.

 i2c STARTacademy – Austria

The i2c STARTacademy is an innovative research commercialisation format for scientists of the Technische Universität Wien who want to transfer their technology and research results into successful products or services. It provides them with a personalised framework to plan their market entry by bringing them together with domain-specific national and international mentors, coaches, investors and industry representatives. Three years after it was launched the project has provided training and coaching to 91 researchers, which has resulted in the generation of 23 start-ups and 85 jobs.


Recognises innovative policies at national, regional or local level which promote enterprise startup and growth, simplified legislative and administrative procedures for businesses and implementing the “Think Small First” principle in favor of small and medium-sized enterprises.

 Open Innovation 4.0. – Spain

This public-private cooperation programme aims to improve the business environment of Asturias.  Selected start-ups join an acceleration programme featuring both group and individual tutorials with sector experts. As well as obtaining initial funding to prepare joint proposals, they have access to specific funding for Open Innovation to implement collaborative projects. To date, 123 ideas and solutions have been presented with 14 going on to form companies that implement technical solutions.


Recognises policies and initiatives at national, regional and 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.

 Kasvu Open – Finland

Kasvu Open offers sparring to companies interested in growth, free of charge.  The companies’ growth plans are challenged, adapted and supported by experts representing several different fields.  The experience also includes a tailored growth path, run by several partners who facilitate free participation at events, provide funded support for the participating SME and ultimately guide the enterprise in the right direction.


Recognises policies and initiatives that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency.

 Matosinhos Carbon-zero Living Lab – Portugal

The Matosinhos Carbon-zero Living Lab tests sustainable and innovative solutions, products and services to foster a local carbon market in an industrial coastal municipality. Local residents and businesses are encouraged to develop and propose projects, which are then implemented and made available for municipal use. The local carbon market uses CO2 emissions credits gained through the adoption of sustainable solutions such as bike sharing, sustainable lighting or artificial intelligence applied to building management. The credits can be exchanged for goods and green services and are an incentive for sustainability in the municipality.


Recognises national, regional or local initiatives by authorities or public/private partnerships which promote corporate social responsibility  among small and medium-sized enterprises.

 ProjectTogether – Germany

As the first contact for young founders of social projects, ProjectTogether identifies functioning approaches and builds bridges between the active young generation and social institutions in order to actively shape social development. The incubator empowers young founders by supporting and training them, but also by obliging them to play a decisive role in shaping our society. Project leaders receive digital coaching through webinars and an active online community of founders and experts, as well as access to networks to connect with government bodies, companies and foundations.

Commenting on the Winners, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, remarked: “The European Enterprise Promotion Awards continue to demonstrate and celebrate the pinnacle of innovation and entrepreneurship in the EU after 12 successful annual editions. Every year I look forward to discovering the participating projects, and to learn about their contributions to the European economy and sustained SME growth. The work of these projects, and the dedicated teams behind them never cease to inspire me.”


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