Brussels, 4 October 2012
European enterprise promotion awards 2012: Best projects shortlisted
Fourteen projects have been shortlisted for the 2012 European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA). Over 402 projects competed in this year’s national competitions for a chance to enter. Slightly more than in 2011, the Awards also received entries from a record-breaking 30 European countries – all 27 EU Member States as well as Croatia, Serbia and Turkey. A high-level jury representing business, government and academia reviewed the 57 national winner entries and established a shortlist of 14 nominees in five categories. The winners for each of the five categories will be announced at the first ever SME Assembly on 15 November 2012 in Cyprus, to which all nominees will be invited. One project will also receive the prestigious Grand Jury Prize.
Category 1: Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit
Belgium: Supporting pre-start-ups in Belgium
The Bryo initiative aims to support pre-start-ups and was developed and run by Voka, an enterprise network based in Flanders. The initiative helps inventors, researchers, developers and business specialists make their projects not only more ambitious and innovative but also more realistic. In order to help its participants succeed, Bryo carefully matches them with experienced entrepreneurs who volunteer to act as a sounding board and coaching group. So far, Bryo has had over 600 participants and helped create over 200 new companies.
Cyprus: Boosting women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing
The Women’s Cooperative Bank seeks to boost women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing. The organisation identifies gaps in the economy, promotes support programmes for female entrepreneurs and provides free advice and guidance, as well as loans that are tailor-made to the needs small business owners. Since the project started 11 years ago, women’s entrepreneurship has increased in Cyprus overall from 12% in 2001, to 28% today.
Women’s Cooperative Bank, www.womenscoopbank.com.cy
Netherlands: ‘Growing’ the spirit of enterprise in children
Children in a Groningen neighbourhood were the inspiration for the Turtle Dove Gardens. They wanted to set-up a garden near their school to grow their own produce. De Torteltuinen took up the project, giving children aged four to 12 years the opportunity to build enterprise skills. Children run the business and local companies provide seeds and sell the produce. Now a registered business, 500 pupils have worked in the Torteltuin and the children feel they are taken seriously as entrepreneurs.
De Torteltuinen B.V., www.petteflet-groningen.nl
UK: Promoting and raising desire for enterprise among hard-to-reach groups
Outset is designed to show the unemployed that self-employment and enterprise is a realistic alternative to unemployment. Specifically created to help the most vulnerable groups, including the long-term unemployed, recently redundant, and people with disabilities, the programme takes a unique approach to supporting start-ups. It seeks to change beliefs about their ability 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.
Category 2: Investing in Skills
France: ‘PROGRESS’ for social and solidarity economy
Against a challenging economic climate in Région Champagne-Ardenne, the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) was identified as a sector that could help the region emerge stronger from the crisis. The Region set up PROGRESS, a public policy initiative. It included two complementary plans: supporting the creation of socially useful economic activities and offering training opportunities to employees and volunteers. Over 1,000 people have participated in training since 2008, and since 2006 74 projects have received funding, representing 880 jobs created with €1,331,330 of funding committed.
Région Champagne-Ardenne, www.cr-champagne-ardenne.fr
Sweden: Fostering knowledge transfer and digital visualisation
Visualisation Park in Sweden focuses on the commercial application of digital visualisation technology. Using a business park model, the location in Eksjö offers a home to a cluster of businesses with expertise in this emerging field. They are gathered around Campus i12, which offers a range of vocational courses. 50 partner companies support the educational programmes and the Park provides a meeting place for the educational environment and industry to identify and develop projects. Since its foundation in July 2009 the number of partner companies has more than doubled, to over 100. Most importantly, students’ attitudes shifted. More of them are now inclined to be entrepreneurs themselves, either by launching their own start-up or freelancing.
Visualisation Park, www.vispark.se
Category 3: Improving the Business Environment
Denmark: Assisting businesses in crisis
Early Warning is a hybrid of a professional B2B service and an organisation of experienced volunteer professionals. Together they offer a unique skill-set to provide free, confidential and impartial assistance to businesses in crisis. This can mean helping them to regain economic viability or close operations in a way that causes the least damage. After an initial assessment to identify businesses in need, assistance is offered via a network of approximately 120 volunteer advisers with extensive professional experience.
Early Warning, www.earlywarning.dk
Estonia: e-Annual reporting
e-Annual Report enables entrepreneurs in Estonia to file annual reports via an e-Reporting mechanism from the Central Commercial Registry. This initiative represents a significant reduction in bureaucratic process and about 99% of the more than 140,000 companies registered in Estonia now use the system. It offers a significant saving for taxpayers and the Estonian Ministry of Finance found the time saved amounts to €4.6 million.
Centre of Registers and Information Systems, www.rik.ee
Italy: Tackling difficulties faced by SMEs in urban areas
FaciliTO is a model adopted by the Municipality of Turin to tackle the difficulties that small enterprises encounter in struggling urban areas. Micro and small businesses in Turin have faced particular difficulty in accessing credit, which is often due to the absence of project expertise. FaciliTO attempts to meet these needs by providing free consultations to support the development of business plans as well as direct financial support. Over 200 businesses have accessed FaciliTO and 93 of them received financial support.
Municipality of Turin, www.comune.torino.it
Category 4: Supporting Business Internationalisation
Portugal: Cooperating to bring Douro wines to the world
A group of five small wine producers from the Douro region worked together to create the Douro Boys brand. Designed to exchange information and support each other to steadily improve the quality of the wines they produce, the group also aims to coordinate a marketing strategy centred on promoting the Douro region and its wines to the world. Between 2002 and 2011, the exports of wine from the five producers rose from €4.7 million to €11 million, an increase of 134%.
Slovakia: Helping female entrepreneurs cross borders
After the accession of the Slovak Republic to the EU, entrepreneurs, especially in the border area between Austria and Slovakia, were interested in finding ways to build relationships and develop business opportunities. Both countries had an interest in encouraging women's entrepreneurship so these interests came together in the REGIONFEMME project. Offering resources including seminars, language courses and access to a database of female entrepreneurs, the project give entrepreneurs the opportunity to exchange best practice and find business partners for new ventures.
Bratislava Regional Chamber of Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI),www.bl.sopk.sk
Category 5: Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship:
Turkey: Supporting disabled people into the workplace
Disability is a major cause of social exclusion and poverty, primarily due to the lack of employment opportunities. Disabled at Work, a joint Turkish-Dutch project, seeks to change attitudes and support the integration of physically disabled people into the labour market. The group consists of 16 organizations from Turkey and the Netherlands. The projects provides training as well as a matching service which offers disabled people mentors as they prepare to enter the workforce. At the end of the programme, 194 people had been trained and 65 were employed.
Denizli Municipality, www.denizli.bel.tr
Luxembourg: Recognising commitment to socially responsible business
The National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility (INDR) created a nationally recognised label – ‘Socially Responsible Company’ which is available to companies wishing to be recognised for their socially responsible approach. A pragmatic way of raising awareness of the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR), particularly within SMEs, they created an electronic self-assessment tool, which companies use to analyse their CSR activities before applying to the INDR for approval. Since 2010, the INDR has promoted CSR to over 600 companies and awarded the label to 51.
National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility,www.indr.lu
Lithuania: Establishing a unified approach to CSR
Analysis of CSR in Lithuania indicated that CSR approaches had developed and been implemented in quite distinct ways. As a result, there was a lack of cooperation and coordination between institutions. This need was the basis for the creation of GATES, a social and environmental business innovation project. The project created a single network and offered training and practical support to companies. The network includes experts, over 500 companies, and CSR organisations. So far, over 2,500 people from over 500 SMEs in Lithuania have been involved.
UN Development program in Lithuania, www.undp.lt
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