Last night the European Commission awarded the 6th round of European Enterprise Promotion Awards to public bodies and public-private partnerships who have successfully promoted enterprise and entrepreneurship in 2102. One of the main themes of the 2012 competition was SME funding for entrepreneurs that want to extend their business and enter new markets. SMEs are acknowledged to contribute to economic growth and their job creation potential is impressive; 85% of all new jobs in the EU are provided by SMEs. With this in mind, European public authorities support SMEs with a large number of initiatives. The most impactful measures were chosen by an expert jury and received their awards during last night's 2012 SME Assembly in Cyprus.
Competing countries included all 27 EU Member States, one acceding country — Croatia —as well as 2 associate Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) countries: Serbia and Turkey. Entries were made under five different award categories:
- Promoting entrepreneurial spirit
- Investing in skills
- Improving the business environment
- Supporting businesses internationalisation
- Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship.
The full set of winners, runners up and organisations receiving special mention are:
Grand Jury 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 Entrepreneurial Spirit
Winner - Boosting women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to financing (Cyprus): The Women’s Cooperative Bank aims to boost women’s entrepreneurship by providing easy access to finance through a cooperative bank set up by female entrepreneurs. Since the project started, women’s entrepreneurship has increased in Cyprus overall from 12% in 2001, to 28% today.
Women’s Cooperative Bank, www.womenscoopbank.com.cy
Runner-up - Supporting pre-start-ups in Belgium: The Bryo initiative supports pre-start-ups in Flanders and is dedicated to creating optimum conditions for successful entrepreneurship. The project has led to the creation of over 200 new businesses.
Investment in Skills
Winner - Fostering knowledge transfer and digital visualisation (Sweden): Campus i12 Visualisation Park 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.
Visualisation Park, www.vispark.se
Runner-up – ‘PROGRESS’ for social and solidarity economy (France): Public policy initiative PROGRESS was created to support the social and solidarity economy. Over 1,000 people have participated in training since 2008, and since 2006, 74 projects have received funding, representing 880 jobs.
Région Champagne-Ardenne, www.cr-champagne-ardenne.fr
Improving the Business Environment
Winner - 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.
Municipality of Turin, www.comune.torino.it
Runner-up – Assisting businesses in crisis (Denmark): A professional B2B service, Early Warning assists businesses in crisis by supporting entrepreneurs with their business needs. Assistance is offered via a network of 120 volunteer advisers with extensive professional experience.
Early Warning, www.earlywarning.dk
Supporting the Internationalisation of Business
Winner - Cooperating to bring Douro wines to the world (Portugal): Designed to exchange information and support each other to steadily improve the quality of the wines they produce, five small wine producers from the Douro region cooperated to develop a brand and bring Douro wines to the world, resulting in an increase of 134% of exports of wine from the producers.
Runner-up – Helping female entrepreneurs cross borders (Slovakia): The REGIONFEMME project supports women entrepreneurs to work cross-border by offering resources and best practice exchange. The project also offers resources including seminars, language courses and access to a database of female entrepreneurs.
Bratislava Regional Chamber of Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI),www.bl.sopk.sk
Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship
Winner - Supporting disabled people into 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.
Denizli Municipality, www.denizli.bel.tr
Runner-up – Recognising commitment to socially responsible business (Luxembourg): The INDR created a nationally recognised label ‘Socially Responsible Company’ available to companies, particularly SMEs who demonstrate a commitment to socially responsible business. Since 2010, the INDR has promoted over 600 companies and awarded the label to 51.
National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility,www.indr.lu
The Jury also gave special mentions to three innovative projects from the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia.
- ‘Growing’ the spirit of enterprise in children (Netherlands): Over 500 children aged 10-12 in a Groningen neighbourhood have participated in this project to set-up a garden to grow their own produce and build enterprise skills.
De Torteltuinen B.V., www.petteflet-groningen.nl
- 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.
Centre of Registers and Information Systems, www.rik.ee
- 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.
UN Development program in Lithuania, www.undp.lt
Jointly organised by the European Commission, the Cypriot EU Presidency and the Committee of the Regions, this year’s competition saw 402 projects compete in the national competitions for a chance to enter the awards. The 57 national winners were subsequently entered in the European level of competition, which was narrowed down to 14 shortlisted projects.
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