The Business Espoo business service network competed as one of the three finalists in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards’ “SME Assembly” event on 16 November. First place in the “Improving the business environment” category was won by the Basque Country acceleration programme Bind 4.0.
The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) recognises the most successful promoters of business and entrepreneurship across Europe, showcases the best entrepreneurial policies and practices, raises awareness of the added value of entrepreneurship and encourages people to become entrepreneurs.
"We joined the competition because our network, at the age of two, is still young and we want to raise our profile. Many entrepreneurs and companies do not know what type of completely free services are available to them, says Harri Paananen, Head of Economic Development of the City of Espoo.
“Making it to the final is proof that the measures taken to promote entrepreneurship in Espoo have paid off. We also believe that this service model has something to offer on a European level,” says Paananen.
The Spanish Basque Country acceleration programme Bind 4.0, selected as the EEPA winner, specialises in promoting Industry 4.0 projects. It is an open innovation platform where start-ups from around the world can collaborate with large industrial companies established in the Basque Country.
A unique network of business services offers services from a ‘one-stop shop’
The Business Espoo business service network supports the prosperity of enterprises and entrepreneurs in Espoo and surrounding municipalities. A service network of a similar scale, with public service providers and third-sector operators working together to serve companies in the region, has not been established elsewhere in Finland or, based on preliminary studies, the world.
The model is based on the City as a Service concept, whereby the intended benefits, cost-effectiveness, customer orientation and sustainable development are achieved through networked cooperation, sharing of resources and shaping the provision of services to meet customer needs. The boundaries between organisations are blurred, and the customer gets the service they need in a high-quality and timely manner – on a one-stop shop principle.
Business Espoo’s reputation has also been built during the coronavirus pandemic, as the exceptional situation has required not only rapid communications but also the development of new services. The close cooperation of the network has also contributed to the smooth management of tasks by remote connections, and the operators within the network have created new services and service channels, such as sole entrepreneurs’ operating-support application, processing and payment process; ChatBot Bertta, which serves 24/7 in Finnish and English; and the BE-Studio webinar series for the different service needs of companies.
The European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) are handed out annually at the SME Assembly event to the most successful promoters of business and entrepreneurship. SME Assembly is an event promoting small- and medium-sized businesses organised in cooperation between the European Commission and the EU presidency. Recognition can be applied for in six different competition categories: Promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, Investing in entrepreneurial skills, Improving the business environment, Supporting the internationalisation of business, Supporting the development of green markets and resource efficiency, and Responsible and inclusive entrepreneurship. The Grand Jury’s Prize can be from any category and will go to the entry considered to be the most creative and inspiring entrepreneurship initiative in Europe. Under the European Commission’s Green Deal, sustainable development aspects are taken into account in each competition category.
Maarit Viik-Kajander, Development Manager, Business Espoo
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EEPA 2020 – Meet the European shortlist