Kaunas Startups program recognized by the European Commission-organized competition
Photo: A. Aleksandravičius.
Kaunas Startups – the promotion program for small and medium-sized enterprises, which is in its sixth year, participated in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards organized by the European Commission and became the winner of the national selection in the category of “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills”.
European Enterprise Promotion Awards are held since 2005. The goal is to recognize and reward exceptional public and private sector partnerships that promote entrepreneurship and, in addition, broaden the concept of entrepreneurship, promote the policy of creating favorable business conditions, and highlight business success stories. It is these features that characterize the young and innovative business development program Kaunas Startups, which has been run by Kaunas IN for three years now. The program which has acquired a new format became the national winner at this year’s EEPA Awards in the category of “Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills”. This program, together with the Palangiškis Card, became the only two Lithuanian projects selected for the awards, and which, together with the finalists of other European countries will participate in the final stage of the European Entrepreneurship Promotion Awards competition in Berlin on November 16-17.
The winners of the EEPA competition are selected from the winners of the national selections proposed by 32 European countries in the following categories: Promoting the Entrepreneurial Spirit, Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills, Improving the Business Environment, Supporting the Internationalization of Business, and Supporting the Development of Green Markets and Resource Efficiency as well as Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship. A special prize is also awarded for the most creative and inspiring business initiative.
The jury, which selects the winners, is made up of representatives of the European Commission, business associations, academic organizations, European governing bodies, and the representatives of last year’s Grand Jury Prize winners.
“EEPA selects those projects that stand out with their uniqueness and innovation. Also, those that have a clear impact on the local business environment. In the context of COVID-19, we need, more than ever, innovative and successful projects that we could apply in other regions and countries. In evaluating the EEPA projects, I paid close attention to their impact on the local economy and small and medium-sized enterprises,” Sabine Hepperle, one of the members of the jury and Head of the Directorate-General of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, said.
A program that reflects the complex standpoint of the city
Kaunas Startups is a unique and the biggest program of this type in the city, which aims to promote entrepreneurship of Kaunas city residents, provide an opportunity for the most promising companies to receive professional recommendations, activate the startup ecosystem, increase the attractiveness of startups for private investments in Kaunas as well as increase the appeal of the Kaunas city to attract startups from other Lithuanian and foreign regions. “With these goals in mind, our startup development program has responded to the core aims of the EEPA Awards – to encourage and inspire collaboration, to share best collaboration examples and success stories; especially since Kaunas Startups has a lot of them: from Brite Drinks, which produces nootropic drinks, Dear Deer, which has started producing personalized glasses to Aciety, which has developed a search engine for IT professionals and a partner network and united hundreds of European companies. The success of the program is undoubtedly determined by the fact that it is an integral part of the city’s strategy. Kaunas promotes new ideas and pays great attention to the startup business community. It is no coincidence that Kaunas startup ecosystem received another significant evaluation this year – it took 112th place among 1,000 competing cities in the world in the Startup Blink Global rankings, which evaluate the environment for startups,” Tadas Stankevičius, the Head of Kaunas IN, says.
During 2015-2019, Kaunas City Municipality allocated over 443 thousand euro to Kaunas Startups and contributed to the development of 42 start-up ideas, most of which were in the field of health, education, and business solutions.