Three European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have won the Enterprise Europe Network Award for 2021, announced by the European Commission and the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) at the Network's annual conference on 1 October, in Stuttgart, Germany.
The Award is given to companies who show an inspiring vision, an ability to adapt in challenging times, and effective use of EU business support services to internationalise. It is awarded in three categories: 'Stepping Ahead', 'Recovery' and 'Inspiring Client Journey'.
This year’s finalists included start-ups and SMEs over a wide range of industries, including the textile and fashion industry, robotics, pharmaceuticals, the agro-food sector, wastewater treatment, and cutting-edge laser technology.
Meet the winners
BeefyGreen, a Dutch company manufacturing a mushroom-based meat substitute from the stems of oyster mushrooms received the award in the 'Stepping Ahead' category. This visionary enterprise showed the best example of positive results, focusing on digitalisation, sustainability and innovation. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), the local member organisation of the Enterprise Europe Network, advised BeefyGreen on achieving a successful presence in other European markets. Through the Network’s international contacts in the agro-food sector, the company managed to distribute sustainable meat substitutes and half-meat, half-vegetarian products abroad, thus making the food chain more sustainable in the rest of Europe.
In the 'Recovery' category, the award went to Nuvisan, a French pharmaceutical company active in research & development services for the development and production of topical medicines. They showed a remarkable adaptation to change and flexibility to recover from the COVID crisis. CCI PACA, the local member organisation of the Enterprise Europe Network in France, advised the company on funding programmes, access to capital and how to grow its business abroad. Thanks to the Network’s support, Nuvisan got in touch with many pharmaceutical companies, especially in the US and Japan, and now they develop new projects together. This international cooperation has become so successful that more than 80% of Nuvisan’s clients are now foreign companies. Nuvisan has also received funding for the expansion of its chemistry laboratories.
The Italian UBT SRL (Umbria Bioengineering Technologies) received the 'Inspiring Client Journey' Award. This biomedical company, which develops and commercialises innovative medical imaging devices based on cutting-edge microwave technology instead of dangerous ionizing radiation (X-Rays), was the best example of positive results for SMEs, successfully benefiting from the Network's services to internationalise and grow. Sviluppumbria, the local member organisation of the Enterprise Europe Network in the Umbria region of Italy, guided UBT along its journey from their first steps six years ago, on how to access regional and European programmes’ grants, prepare business plans and win pitches for entering the market. The Network also assisted with the international launch of MammoWave, UBT’s innovation of an X-Ray-free mammogram, and thanks to European Union funding, international clinical trials have started in prestigious Italian, Spanish and German hospitals.
Pioneers and drivers of sustainable growth, resilience and recovery
Ulla Engelmann, Acting Director, Networks & Governance in the European Commission explained: "Today’s awards recognise the amazing achievements of European businesses during the crisis. These companies are pioneers and real drivers of sustainable growth, resilience and recovery, offering solutions for today’s challenges in Europe and beyond. We are proud of the hard work that the members of the Enterprise Europe Network have put into assisting companies in this difficult period. As we launch a new Enterprise Europe Network in 2022, we are looking to support more such companies across Europe to fully exploit the benefits of the Single Market, create new commercial partnerships and expand internationally."
Jean-David Malo, Director of EISMEA said: "We are proud that through the Award we could honour creative entrepreneurs, some with digital and sustainable ambitions. All of these companies are European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), making the most of the opportunities in the single market, through services and support of the Enterprise Europe Network, helping businesses grow faster through tailored support, new commercial partnerships, and access to finance. Combining international business expertise with local knowledge the Enterprise Europe Network helps SMEs take their innovation into new markets."