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European Commission

Press release

Cyprus, 16 November 2012

Enterprise Award Winners 2012: Most vulnerable empowered to become entrepreneurs

A unique approach to supporting start-ups by helping society’s most vulnerable groups to find work through self-employment and enterprise, created by the UK organisation Outset, was announced today as the winner of the 6th European Enterprise Promotion Awards. Cyprus, Sweden, Italy, Portugal and Turkey also received prizes for driving enterprise with new and innovative local solutions.

Jointly organised by the European Commission, the Cypriot EU Presidency and the Committee of the Regions, the Awards took place in Cyprus. 402 projects competed in this year’s national competitions for a chance to enter the awards, while 57 national winners were subsequently entered in the European level of competition. Competing countries included all 27 EU Member States, one acceding country, Croatia, as well as 2 associate countries in the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP): Serbia and Turkey. For more information on the winning projects, please see MEMO/12/870.

The Vice-President of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship said: "The remarkable work of this year’s entries proved just how crucial a time it is for Promoting Entrepreneurship across Europe. Entrepreneurship can be truly transformational for individuals and communities. It is important to recognise the value of organisations like the Outset project which help to create a platform for new start-ups. In the current economic climate we need more such initiatives. Therefore I am working on an action plan on entrepreneurship which will propose concrete actions to encourage more Europeans to become their own boss."

Full information about the awards, the jury and its collaborators

The Small Business Act

The six winners of the European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2012 are:

Grand Jury’s Prize: Economic development and business support organisation

Promoting and raising desire for enterprise among hard-to-reach groups (UK): Outset seeks to change beliefs about the ability of members of the most vulnerable societal groups to start a small business. Since the start of the programme, Outset has engaged with over 6,000 people.  Of those, 673 have started a business, together creating 890 jobs.

Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Boosting women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing (Cyprus): The Women’s Cooperative Bank, set up by female entrepreneurs, provides easy access to finance. Since the project started, women’s entrepreneurship has increased in Cyprus overall from 12% in 2001, to 28% today.

Investment in Skills

Fostering knowledge transfer and digital visualisation (Sweden): Campus i12 Visualisation Park, which offers a range of vocational courses, was created to foster a digital visualisation cluster and entrepreneurship in the small rural military town of Eksjö. Since its foundation in July 2009, the number of partner companies has more than doubled, to over 100 and most importantly, students are now more inclined to be entrepreneurs themselves.

Improving the Business Environment

Tackling difficulties faced by SMEs in urban areas (Italy): FaciliTO is a model adopted by the Municipality of Turin to tackle the difficulties that small enterprises encounter in struggling urban areas by providing access to advice or funding.  Over 200 businesses have accessed FaciliTO and 93 of them received financial support.

Supporting the Internationalisation of Business

Cooperating to export Douro wines (Portugal): Designed to exchange information and support each other in steadily improving the quality of the wines they produce, five small wine producers from the Douro region co-operated to develop a brand and bring Douro wines to the world. This resulted in an increase of 134% in wine exports from the producers.

Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Supporting disabled people in the workplace (Turkey): Disabled at Work is a joint Turkish-Dutch project designed to support disabled people in the workplace by providing job training and a mentor programme, resulting in 194 people being trained and 65 employed.

The jury also gave special mentions to three innovative projects:

  • Growing the spirit of enterprise in children (Netherlands): Over 500 children aged 10-12 in a Groningen neighbourhood participated in the De Torteltuinen B.V. project to set-up a garden to grow their own produce and build enterprise skills.

  • e-Annual reporting (Estonia): e-Annual reporting enables Estonian entrepreneurs to file annual reports via an e-Reporting mechanism from the Central Commercial Registry, which has led to a savings of over €4.5 million.

  • Establishing a unified approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (Lithuania): GATES was created by the UN Development Program in Lithuania to establish a unified approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), by offering training and support to over 500 SMEs. So far, over 2,500 people from over 500 SMEs in Lithuania have been involved.


Created in 2006, The European Enterprise Promotion Awards recognise successful and innovative ways of promoting entrepreneurship across the EU as well as in associate members of the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP). The Awards reward excellence in promoting entrepreneurship and small business at a national, regional and local level. Over 2 000 projects have entered since the awards were launched and together they have helped support the creation of over 10 000 new companies.

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52)

Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)

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