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Brussels, 24th October

2007 European Enterprise Awards: 48 nominees for the most entrepreneurial region in Europe

This memo provides information about the 48 projects selected by the 25 participating countries to compete in one of the six categories of the European Enterprise Awards. They represent a wide variety of projects that are successful in facilitating business and supporting entrepreneurship across Europe.


Category I: The Entrepreneurial Trailblazer Award 3

Category II: Enterprise Support Award 7

Category III: Red Tape Reduction Award 11

Category IV: Investment in People Award 12

Category V: Responsible Entrepreneurship Award 15

Category I: The Entrepreneurial Trailblazer Award

The Entrepreneurial Trailblazer Award rewards actions that promote an entrepreneurial culture and mindset.

Regular updates for local entrepreneurs

Bruntál Regional Information Centre, Bruntál, Czech Republic

Daily distribution of an Internet journal for local entrepreneurs is a typical output of an untypical facility. Set up in 2004 and operating with no public subsidies, the Bruntál Region Entrepreneur Information Centre focuses on a particularly wide range of customers – from rural entrepreneurs to citizens, the non-profit sector and municipalities.


Ethnic coach for ethnic entrepreneurs

Vejle Business Development, Vejle, Denmark

Promoting enterprise and offering guidance on developing businesses is an important route to employment and integration of immigrants. The ethnic coaching project in Vejle focused initially on identifying role models and persuading immigrants to use business services available in Denmark. 45 guidance sessions with individual coaching by a consultant from an ethnic group have already led to 24 ethnic entrepreneurs starting independent businesses.


Ensuring continuity for successful businesses

Regional Organisation of Enterprises in South Ostrobothnia, Seinäjoki, Finland

This pioneering project has established a change-of-ownership process to maintain European competitiveness by facilitating transfers of businesses as successful entrepreneurs retire. The process is key to the promotion of entrepreneurship in the region with an established organisation facilitating this internet-based business-trading forum where buyers and sellers of companies can meet each other.


Springboard to employment in sports and culture

Profession Sport 34, Montpellier, France

An ambitious project in Languedoc-Roussillon supports the launch of commercial activities in the sports and socio-cultural sectors and is a first in France. Its key aim is to develop the local economy by favouring start-ups in these sectors through business coaching. First results are encouraging with 111 applicants assisted and 45 companies and associations set up, creating more than 70 jobs.


Local communities control regional programme for business start-ups

XperRegio, Arnstorf, Germany

A strategic alliance of 21 local communities focuses on entrepreneurship, creating jobs and improving the quality of life in a remote rural region. It is the first time that such a group of small communities has initiated and successfully managed an EU regional programme on its own, without the state. Key results include 170 entrepreneurs creating 300 new jobs. Venture-related costs of €14.3 million were supported with €3 million from the EU.


Carpathians Business Academy inspires cross-border entrepreneurs

Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County, Miskolc, Hungary

The Association of Carpathian Chambers encourages connections between North Hungary and cross-border entrepreneurs in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania. In 2006 and 2007, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized a series of one-week training sessions for such entrepreneurs. The Carpathians Business Academy attracted over 170 participants from a wide range of economic sectors, with 150 taking part in a final forum.


Enterprising Business Week drives entrepreneurship in rural area

Donegal County Enterprise Board, Letterkenny, Ireland

Enterprising Donegal Business Week supports the small business community and promotes entrepreneurship in a rural area of high unemployment. Over the past three years, average attendance has been 1 100 participants. Direct results have been an increase in the number of people keen to set up their own businesses and a significant rise in participants from existing companies taking part in the Board’s management development and training programmes.


Promoting business in schools and boosting start-ups

Centro Regionale Servizi per la piccola e media industria Spa, Udine, Italy

Imprenderò promotes entrepreneurial culture and development in the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, including communicating entrepreneurship in schools, as well as supporting regional business development and growth in self-employment. Since 2002, more than 12 000 people have benefited from various aspects of the programme, including training, seminars, one-to-one tutoring and support for some 428 business start-ups.


Spa town acts to increase tourism and cut unemployment

Druskininkai Municipal Administration, Druskininkai, Lithuania

Development of an aqua park – unprecedented in Lithuania – is just one action taken by the long-established spa resort of Druskininkai to enhance an economy hit by economic change. A broad package of measures is already paying dividends with unemployment down from 17.4% in 2004 to 9.3% in 2006, an increase in holidaymakers from 96 000 to 163 000 over the same period and a boost to entrepreneurship, investment and real estate prices.


Spirit of enterprise competition focuses on women in business

The Malta Association of Women in Business, Msida, Malta

There are thought to be 1 200 business women operating in Malta and Gozo but statistics are difficult to find as culturally many businesses are registered in the name of a man. This project set out to raise awareness in local communities about women in business through an annual competition. Spirit of Enterprise works with local councils to collect nominations. Eight councils participated in the first edition, 20 in the second and numbers continue to increase.

Website address:

Academic incubators encourage youth start-ups

Academic Incubators of Enterprise Foundation, Warsaw, Poland

The ambition and drive of three young students from Warsaw led to the establishment of Academic Incubators of Enterprise (AIE) – the first such network in Central and Eastern Europe. With 21 incubators at universities throughout Poland, AIE offers young people the simplest, cheapest and least risky way in Europe to start a business. Over 600 companies have already left AIE; at present 252 companies function as part of AIE.


Driving the automotive sector into high value added markets

INTELI (Inteligencia em Inovação), Lisbon, Portugal
INAUTO is a public-private initiative moving the Portuguese automotive sector from low- to high value added products addressing niche markets in Europe. It involves a partnership of 30 automotive suppliers with the main engineering universities. Key results include a new automotive engineering centre creating 40 jobs, 50 engineers trained and 100 new product engineering and development projects in progress as well involvement of regional actors.

Reviving the wine trade in the Small Carpathians
Small Carpathian Wine Route Association®, Modra, Slovakia
The Small Carpathian Wine Route has paved the way for the revival of old traditions unique to the region, following the collapse of large-scale wine production in the area in the 1990s. Broad co-operation between smaller private producers has increased wine quality and individual participants have come up with a product capable of competing with wine routes in neighbouring Austria.

Bioincubator provides innovative development resource for biotech start ups

Parc Científic de Barcelona and Fundació Bosch i Gimpera, Barcelona, Spain

All five start-up companies in phase one of the PCB Bioincubator – the first biobusiness incubator in Spain – dramatically improved performance from 2002 to 2006. Employment increased from 27 to 98, sales grew from €370 000 to €5 million and R&D investment rose from €550 000 to €3.2 million. Phase two kicked off in 2007 and will host more than ten technology-based companies in 600 m2 of new premises in the Barcelona Science Park.


Ensuring local authorities understand entrepreneurial needs

West Götaland Region, Gothenburg, Sweden

The Entrepreneurial Organisation training project was developed to make public administration more entrepreneurial. The programme has been held twice with 250 participants from 14 municipalities in West Götaland. Participating municipalities that prioritised follow-up and ensured that its ideas lived on in their activities have all achieved significantly higher rankings in Swedish Enterprise’s tables two years after training.


Category II: Enterprise Support Award

The Enterprise Support Award rewards innovative policies that promote enterprise and attract investment, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

Removing the blocks to innovation

CATT Innovation Management GmbH/Chamber of Commerce Upper Austria, Linz, Austria

This project set out in 2000 to boost the particularly low research rate in Upper Austria. It focuses on removing blocks to innovation and providing access to the latest technologies and knowledge for SMEs through technology transfer from university and extra-university research facilities. Some 280 projects have been initiated in companies, resulting in around €3 million earnings for the 140 research organisations participating.


Brainstorming for entrepreneurial creativity

Flanders District of Creativity (DC), Leuven, Belgium

GPS for Companies raises awareness among SMEs about entrepreneurial creativity using a brainstorming method to generate ideas and then encouraging co-operation with knowledge centres. Flanders DC has distributed 1 500 do-it-yourself GPS kits and trained 500 facilitators to support GPS sessions. Moreover, half the mini enterprises run by the Flemish Association of Young Companies use GPS to look for new services or products to offer consumers.


Business incubator focuses on marginalised social groups

Regional Economic Development Centre, Sliven, Bulgaria

The Sliven business incubator provides comprehensive and integrated solutions to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners in an area with a rich mix of ethnic and cultural groups. It currently provides turnkey offices to 14 companies, and supplies more than 50 companies with a range of services. It has provided $38 000 of debt capital to more than 30 businesses, and 129 people have completed training courses in at least one discipline.


The path from idea to entrepreneurship

South Moravian Innovation Centre (JIC), Brno, Czech Republic

Since 2003, JIC has supported innovative firms with funding, consultancy, contacts and space. In addition to its www.INOVACE.CZ website, the first Czech site to cover innovation, innovation enterprises and inventions, it focuses on biotechnology. Activities include the website; BIOTEC, the only biotechnology conference and tradeshow in Central Europe; and helping establish the first biotechnology cluster in the Czech Republic.


Putting entrepreneurship into practice

Udviklingspark Nord, Bogense, Denmark

Udviklingspark Nord set out in 1997 to boost new business and promote employment in North Funen, an area in South Denmark with high unemployment and a declining population. The board now has 1 510 m2 of space and turnover in its development park has grown from DKK 6 000 to DKK 2 million/year with net earnings of DKK 1.38 million in 2006.


Strengthening the high potential metal, machine and engineering sector

Tallinn City Enterprise Board, Tallinn, Estonia

A series of development projects, each with its own tasks and objectives, aimed at strengthening productivity and efficiency in the metal, machine and engineering industry. This sector has the highest potential in Estonia, involving a quarter of the workforce and 26% of exports. Concrete results included a new development model applicable also in other sectors, new databases to share information and creation of new jobs and work places.


Technology transfer drives innovation in high tech park

Science and Technology Park of Epirus (S.TE.P), Ioannina, Greece

In three years, 14 companies – mainly SMEs – have set up in the park to develop innovative products and services based on technology transfer from research institutes in the region. New buildings are planned for another 30 companies. Facilities include a business incubator, consultancy and access to research from the University of Ioannina. Sectors include healthcare, renewable energies, information technology and small industries.


Enterprise centre encourages local job creation

Wicklow Enterprise Centre, Wicklow Town, Ireland

Wicklow Enterprise Centre set out 12 years ago to offer support, services and workspace to entrepreneurs setting up in the locality and to encourage job creation. Since its inception, it has helped 178 businesses including serviced industry, manufacturing units, food units and technology companies with the creation of over 790 jobs. All these businesses have grown from small one-person companies to businesses employing up to 12 people.


Pilot project helps women entrepreneurs create new technology companies

Society Integration Foundation, Riga, Latvia

Latvia has little experience of entrepreneurial support and gender equality. Now, a pilot project is helping women start their own businesses in technology and knowledge-based sectors. The project offers a wider range of services than in other European support programmes. Some 16 women were provided with training, consultancy, mentoring and a financial grant. This has already resulted in the set up of 12 new companies.


Business plan support promotes cross-border business

Business Initiative asbl, Luxembourg, Luxembourg

In seven years, 1,2,3,GO has contributed to drafting 750 business plans with the creation of 160 start-up companies and 900 jobs. The project aids innovative business starters draw up successful business plans by providing free coaching from a network of professionals. A key strength lies in its interregional nature, helping project initiators to develop cross-border contacts quickly and expand business beyond their home region.


Childcare facilities build businesses in the home

Groningen provincial centre for social development, Groningen, The Netherlands

Stichting Thuishuis was established in 2002 to provide small-scale child day-care facilities in the countryside, where large-scale childcare centres are not feasible. Using a franchise system, the foundation offers people the chance to start a fully-fledged business in their own home, while offering them the opportunity to combine work and family better. There are already 28 Thuishuis, averaging 115 care hours each a week.


Transforming research into cutting edge products

Tehnopolis Science and Technology Park, Iasi, Romania

TEHNOPOLlS focuses on transforming research results into cutting-edge industrial technologies and involving universities in social and economic development. Since 2005, 13 companies have been set up, creating 400 jobs. Initial activities were in information technology and multimedia; the second phase will cover biotechnologies and food. The project was co-financed by PHARE 2000, as part of the Romanian programme for pre-adhesion to the EU.


Council-driven development attracts new business to old city centre

Lan Ekintza-Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao City Council has taken an original approach to urban redevelopment by setting up as business property developer to attract newly started and established businesses to its old town. Some 17 premises have been renovated and then auctioned off to companies in leisure, the arts, culture, fashion and technology. The whole area is benefiting with 129 new companies creating 286 jobs.


Fighting industrial and environmental decline

North Staffordshire Regeneration Zone Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
Branded in 2003 as the worst place in the country to start a business after 30 years of manufacturing decline and environmental dereliction, the North Staffordshire Regeneration Zone set out to develop a new generation of entrepreneurs. It has already helped create more than 1 000 jobs and 500 businesses. In addition, over 20 sustainable social enterprises have been set up in local schools. And 7 500 young people have had a real taste of enterprise.

Category III: Red Tape Reduction Award

The Red Tape Reduction Award rewards measures to simplify administrative procedures for businesses, in particular for start-ups.

Making event organisation easier

Bezirkshauptmannschaft (chief local government office), Neusiedl am See, Austria

Organisers of large events around the Neusiedler Lake in Austria have a much easier task since the chief local government office developed a project manual covering procedures and deadlines required to speed granting of permits from myriad different authorities and experts. Licenses for the Nova Rock festivals in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) world championships in 2006 were all granted within four to six weeks.


Online service speeds company registration

Centre of Registers and Information Systems, Tallinn, Estonia

Entrepreneurs in Estonia can now register a company in 12 minutes without leaving home. All they need is an identity card and an Internet connection. The process uses digital signatures and online bank links. The Company Registration Portal (CReP) enables entrepreneurs to handle all communications with the Commercial Register through the portal without any extra paperwork. Since the beginning of 2007, 27% of private companies have registered this way.


Enterprise credit card scheme aids SME start-ups

KAVOSZ, Budapest, Hungary

The Széchenyi Card Scheme offers a highly successful state-subsidised electronic credit facility that assists most newly launched SMEs. Over the past five years, the system has been reviewed regularly both to increase the availability of funding and reduce the administrative burdens by simplifying entitlement and use, and overcoming practical problems such as the acceptability of documents.


Category IV: Investment in People Award

The Investment in People Award recognises initiatives to improve entrepreneurship education and training.

Captaining your own project

ICHEC-PME (ICHEC SME Department), Brussels, Belgium

Cap’Ten stimulates entrepreneurship in children from 10 to 12 using resources that sharpen their creativity, independence, openness, responsibility and communications skills. Participants pick their own challenge and exploit their personal talents with the support of a kit of project management tools specially adapted to their age. Since its launch in 2004, more than 30 000 pupils in the French Community in Belgium have been involved in the project.


Investing in people in area of high unemployment

Entrepreneurship Promotion and Support Centre/Business Centre, Devin, Bulgaria

This programme focuses on micro- and small businesses to create better jobs in a region beset by structural unemployment. It complements efforts of local authorities and NGOs for sustainable local development and improved quality of life, and also contributes to sustainable tourism development in the region. Since 1998, it has provided vocational training for 1 500 people, capacity building and organisational development for 75 businesses .


Instructing young people in basic work skills

West Tampere Region Joint Municipal Authority for Education, Parkano Adult Education Centre, Parkano, Finland

Finding people with the right attitude for summer jobs can be a headache for local service companies. This Youth Service Card (YSC) training scheme teaches young people the basic skills required for working life, with a specific focus on the service sector, giving them more confidence. More than 170 young people have taken part in the one-day courses since 2005, and some 40 instructors were trained in 2007 to help extend the scheme around Finland.


Fund for business start-up leave helps drive business creation

CAP Création Sarthe, Le Mans, France

The Sarthe business centre offers financial support during the business start-up leave available in France to give wage earners the chance to show the potential of a business idea. During or after their leave, the project initiators may launch their company or return to their former employment. Some 28 companies have been or are being setup since 2002 and 96 jobs have been created. Without such a structure, this may not have been possible.


Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit in rural schools

Schüler-Institut für Technik und angewandte Informatik (SITI), Havelberg, Germany

SITI is pioneering entrepreneurship in a rural area, linking curricular and extracurricular education and offering activities for 40 to 50 school pupils a week. It provides students with a multitude of courses and projects in technology, information technology, natural sciences and economics not otherwise available. SITI has also developed an extensive contact network that includes universities, companies, technology centres and trade associations.


Encouraging entrepreneurship in students

University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece

Over the past four years, more than 1 000 students have participated in this partly EU funded project that familiarises students with current entrepreneurial reality, provides them with critical entrepreneurial skills and promotes an entrepreneurial mentality and culture. Some 200 complete business plans resulted from the course, three of which have already evolved into active projects.


Female entrepreneurs exploit rural crafts online

Latvian Rural Woman Association, Riga, Latvia

Combining entrepreneurship training for women with practical support for rural craftspeople is playing a positive role in developing rural areas in Latvia. Some 900 women were involved in the training while nearly 400 craftspeople have acquired entrepreneurial skills. Creation of a network of resource centres has facilitated co-operation between rural entrepreneurs, already leading to the establishment of an Internet shop offering goods made by rural craftspeople.


SME business incubator drives growth

Administration of Klaipėda City Municipality, Klaipėda, Lithuania

An incubator for medium to high technology SMEs in the Klaipėda Science and Technology Park is already attracting foreign interest in the region. It provides 20 workplaces together with training and consultancy to assist newly set-up enterprises to grow while reducing their business risk. In the first year, 403 people attended 20 training seminars and 37 companies benefited from consultancy services. Training was also provided for 540 university students.


Developing independent business skills in the over forties

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Dutch Department of Work and Income, Centre for Work and Income and Employee Insurance Agency joined forces to overcome prejudice against older workers. Eigen Werk focuses on the unemployed aged 40/45+ in and around Amsterdam to provide support and guidance in independent entrepreneurship. In the first 18 months, 390 candidates took part in the programme, and 130 have successfully started their own businesses or have found a job.


Vocational training helps integrate the under-privileged

The Town Hall and the Associação para o Desenvolvimento e Formação Profissionat de Miranda do Corvo (ADFPMC), Miranda do Corvo, Portugal

The ADFPMC works closely with the local Town Hall to support integration of the disabled, chronically ill, young people and senior citizens in society. Specific activities include the Quinta de Paiva recreation facility, which is associated with the Equestrian Centre of Miranda do Corvo that also promotes the teaching of therapeutic horseback riding for the disabled, iII or socially maladapted – even supplying a participant in the Athens Special Olympics.


Developing entrepreneurship through the Economic Schools Network National Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Development, Bucharest, Romania

The aim of ECO NET is to develop high school student competences and entrepreneurship through training firms – an innovative teaching process communicating economic realities. The project started with 10 schools and was extended to the whole economic high school network. By the end of 2006, there were 596 firms in 111 schools. And 480 students and 170 teachers/training firm co-ordinators had represented Romania at 11 international fairs.


Businesses and schools need each other

Tingsholmsgymnasiet Entrepreneurial Programme, Ulricehamn, Sweden

This project offers a three-year programme to develop enterprise, entrepreneurship and a businesslike approach among young people at school. It works closely with local businesses to provide a picture of how an enterprise operates, with all pupils having their own host/work experience company in year three. The ten original host companies are still involved and the total list has grown to 32.


Category V: Responsible Entrepreneurship Award

The Responsible Entrepreneurship Award honours corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices.

Finding employment for vulnerable groups

Municipality of Spišský Hrhov, Spišský Hrhov, Slovakia

The Hrhov Services municipal company helps find employment for vulnerable groups, especially those such as the Roma facing discrimination, in an economically backward region. The company finances its operations from its own resources and cultivates a stimulating environment for co-operation in production and sale of products that include sheep’s milk derivatives, wine, tiles and local crafts.


Developing corporate social responsibility

Tuscan Region Production Activities Councillorship, Florence, Italy

As a direct result of the activities of Fabrica Ethica, Tuscany now has the largest number of enterprises certified to the international corporate social responsibility standard (SA8000) both in Italy with 32% of all certified companies and in the world with 13%. This programme, launched by the Tuscan region in 2001, promotes corporate responsibility at a regional level.

Websites: ;

Opening up employment for autists

The Commune of Lesznowola, Lesznowola, Poland

A model social enterprise providing a workshop for stained-glass windows, ceramic, wood and typography has been set up in Wilcza Góra to employ 24 autistic adults, supported by 20 therapists, administrators and service employees. Around 20 000 children and teenagers and 10 000 adults suffer from autism in Poland. This project included developing methodology and a manual to help set up similar enterprises throughout the country.


Paper heritage centre drives enterprise development

Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom

A unique centre for education and innovation based around paper media is being developed at Frogmore Mill, where paper’s industrial revolution began 200 years ago. The Paper Trail rescue package has saved an important part of Britain’s industrial heritage and sparked an economic revival in the surrounding area. This includes creating an enterprise centre from disused buildings that provides office space to over 26 local start-up businesses.


See also IP/07/1589

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