During the yearly SME Assembly, the most important event for small and medium enterprises in Europe, the European Commission announced the winners of the 2019 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). The EEPA are an initiative which rewards entities promoting entrepreneurship and small business at the national, regional and local level.
The Grand Jury prize went to GreenPAC iLab, an innovative hub created by two Dutch Universities, which helps local entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for plastic products or services. It provides help and access to a network of professionals, facilities and trainings increasing the young entrepreneurs’ skills and knowledge. Since 2006, the Awards saw entries of over 4260 projects, which have supported the creation of thousands of new companies in EU.
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.
Belgium – Haven Incubator CVBA-SO, a safe port for young experimentation
Haven supports and strengthens enterprising young people who want to develop a project, and offers a safe testing ground to encourage creative youth entrepreneurship to grow into socially relevant companies. By offering a risk-free environment Haven encourages entrepreneurial youth to learn, experiment and fail, and thus enhance their competences for their future enterprises. As a result, these young people will be able to address the evolving societal challenges with their ideas, and have the experience to carry them out. The project has been active for two years and has 49 young affiliates that have benefited from the scheme.
CATEGORY 2 – INVESTING IN ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS
Recognises initiatives at national, regional or local level to improve entrepreneurial and managerial skills.
Cyprus – IDEA Innovation Centre & Incubator, Cyprus
IDEA is an innovation centre and incubator that acts as an accelerator for start-ups. In order to invest in entrepreneurial skills, IDEA undertakes a cluster of activities that focus on providing an entire spectrum of business support, positively altering perceptions of entrepreneurship, facilitating cross-sector cooperation, developing investment networks, promoting volunteering, and ensuring entrepreneurship is open to all regardless of gender, age or ability, therefore, promoting Cyprus as an innovation hub . Social inclusion is put into practice through inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically opening doors to entrepreneurs with special needs. To date, IDEA has developed 48 New Businesses and created over 70 new jobs.
CATEGORY 3 – IMPROVING THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
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 favour of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Spain – Fomento de la Contratación Pública con Pymes
Since 2015, the City of Valladolid has adopted specific measures to promote and facilitate the participation of SMEs in public sector contracts. The city adapted contracts to the capacity of SMEs, allowing them to acquire valuable experience and credibility that could be re-used when competing in other tenders from other awarding authorities. According to municipal data, the awarding of contracts to SMEs is twice the national and European average, reaching 75% of contracts awarded in 2016 and 2017, and even 81% in 2018, with 51% of the total amount of the municipal expense managed through contracts awarded to SMEs.
CATEGORY 4 – IMPROVING 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.
Sweden – HealthTech Nordic, Sweden
HealthTech Nordic is a community of over 230 Nordic start-ups offering digital healthcare solutions designed to empower patients and revolutionise healthcare services. The project provides knowledge and initiatives to accelerate start-up development, in order to tackle healthcare shortages and unite pioneers in Health Tech and eHealth. The community creates connections between innovative solutions, healthcare and the global market by advancing ideas and pooling resources, and provided support is based on members’ immediate challenges and on state-of-the-art research in international scaling of start-ups. Through their work, HealthTech Nordic helps drive regional development and facilitates new job creation in Health Tech start-ups.
CATEGORY 5 – SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF GREEN MARKETS AND RESOURCE EFFICIENCY
Recognises policies and initiatives that support SME access to green markets and help to improve their resource efficiency.
Greece – TILOS
The TILOS initiative created an integrated energy solution with innovative features to help island regions transition to new models of production and management of electricity energy. The solution uses clean, renewable energy sources and the application of modern energy storage technologies to reduce dependency on cost-intensive and polluting oil. The solution was successfully implemented on TILOS and a toolbox of innovative products was created to facilitate international and community adoption of smart energy practices. TILOS has been able to penetrate up to 75% of the renewable energy sources and exports additional clean energy to the island of Kos.
CATEGORY 6 – RESPONSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Recognises national, regional or local initiatives by authorities or public/private partnerships which promote corporate social responsibility among small and medium-sized enterprises.
Germany – Start-Up Your Future
“Start-Up Your Future” is a pilot project of the Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland (WJD), funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. It aims to help refugees in Berlin-Brandenburg to set up their own businesses by giving them support and offering them the option of self-employment through mentoring partnerships with Gründerpaten. The partnerships invite voluntary mentors to guide refugee entrepreneurs through the startup process, from brainstorming ideas to writing a business plan. Since the project began, 185 start-up sponsorships have been implemented, 207 refugees have been helped in their business ventures and 22 startups have received support.