SUCCESS STORY: Strategic partnership for accessing European research programmes with the support of the Enterprise Europe Network

ICT sector is one of the main contributors to innovation and growth to both, the Macedonian and overall European economy. At the same time, the sector faces several challenges including the need for intensifying the RDI (research, development and innovation) activities within the companies.

One of the Macedonian companies that builds its competitive advantage on such activities and development of innovative solutions is 4Virtus, software developer with expertise in web solutions, mobile applications, Internet of Things solutions and digital marketing services. Being awarded with several international awards in the field over the last years, the company has already established itself as an example of an innovative and successful IT company in Macedonia. For the purpose of better utilizing its innovative potential and increasing its international activity, 4Virtus is a respected client of the Foundation for Management and Industrial Research, one of the 600 branches of the largest network for SME support, present in 66 countries – the Enterprise Europe Network (http://een.ec.europa.eu/).

„We support SMEs to commercialise their innovative solutions through providing advisory services, partner search activities and facilitating access to programmes for research and development” – explains Aleksandar Filiposki from Enterprise Europe Network in Macedonia. Network’s clients are offered a broad range of services including support for participation in EU projects, brokerage partnering services for establishing business collaboration, technology transfer and research cooperation, as well as organizing educational and B2B events.

With the support of the network, in October 2015 4Virtus participated in the SICILY4EXPO Brokerage event in Milan, Italy, having meetings with numerous companies from different parts of Europe. One of these companies was PFM SRL, an Italian company specialised in e-learning, knowledge management technologies and semantic web services. Their initial meeting held during this network event mark the beginning of a strategic partnership between the companies, nowadays jointly focusing on accessing the European funds for research and development, suitable for SMEs. Having no prior experience in this regard, 4Virtus allowed the Italian company to lead the overall process for project preparation, including creation of the consortia, a project that was submitted under the SME Instrument from the programme Horizon 2020, the largest EU programme for supporting R&D activities in Europe.

„Thanks to the Enterprise Europe Network we were given an opportunity to find new strategic partner who has opened new horizons for us. We have never before explored the possibility or have been fully aware of the opportunity of reaching international markets through the support programmes of the EU”, stated Igor Hristov, owner and CEO of 4Virtus.

Go International – Open innovation in ICT Brokerage Event

Enterprise Europe Networking in Macedonia announces the “Go International – Open innovation in ICT” conference on 17 and 18 November in Skopje that will bring together interested companies, research organizations, education institutions and innovators of ICT-enabled products and services interested in presenting their innovative ideas and keen to initiative new partnerships.

The two-day conference aims to provide better understanding of the key organizational dimensions and the best open innovation practices used to characterize the collaborative innovation mode in order to find way to capture the value of investment in knowledge creation. Registered participants at the conference will be able to pitch their innovative products in 3 minutes in front of their technology peers for the purpose of assessing the impact of open innovation strategies on their innovation procedure. Pre-scheduled b2b meetings will allow the participants to speed the process of establishing international partnerships in the scope developing ICT-enabled projects based on open innovation approach.

More information available at: http://goict2016.talkb2b.net/

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Enriching international experience through Foundation MIR and YES Network

One of the key aims of the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Network (www.yes-network.org) is the dissemination of useful information about possibilities for strengthening the capacities of its members. YES Network is mainly consisted of civil society organisations that work in the field of youth entrepreneurship, on the territory of Republic of Macedonia. However, its membership permanently extends with various other stakeholders, such as entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs, educational institutions, local authorities, other NGOs, students, as well as many young entrepreneurially-minded people.

Alongside the implementation of the regular activities and networking on local and national level, a large number of the network members are directing their focus towards the transfer of knowledge and experience, as well as networking within the European Union. The Foundation for Management and Industrial Research (Foundation MIR) which is a partner of the YES Network project and much experienced in the field of implementing international EU projects, has enhanced the network’s platform by launching the first success story of knowledge transfer and capacity building for one of the network members, in cooperation with EU partners.

Namely, a representative of the Youth Entrepreneurial Service Foundation (YES Foundation) has taken participation at „ЕCO-OIKOS: Sustainable Options”, a 10-day training course where around 30 youth workers from 9 countries explored the ideas of sustainable development through research and exchange of concepts. This Erasmus+ training, financed by the European Commission, took place during the month of July 2015, in Molfetta, Bitonto and Bari, in the Puglia region of Southern Italy. The participants representing civil society organisations that deal with sustainable development concepts from various perspectives, had an opportunity to present their identified good practices and discuss possibilities for future international cooperation. We share some of their statements regarding the experience:

„The ECO-OIKOS initiative was an exceptional experience for me due to the opportunity to observe and practically experience sustainable development good practices in several Italian cities, and get connected with other creative young people from different EU countries. In my opinion, the most impressive part of the experience was the visit to the organic waste treatment and composting plant – Tersan, the presentation held by the Slow Food movement and sustainable transportation solutions in the region. In addition, I found the practical workshops for innovative recycling solutions of paper, plastic and other types of material, very useful. As a representative of the Youth Entrepreneurship Service Foundation, the project coordinator of YES Network, I had the opportunity to present our networking platform, the projects implemented by the collaborating CSOs and related to sustainable development, as well as the social entrepreneurship projects in the focus of our foundation. Eventually, we have initiated multiple discussions for future collaboration among the participants.”

Olivera Aritonoska, YES Foundation, 29 years old, Macedonia

 „I learned about YES Network by the presentation held by Olivera. I work in the field of raising sustainable development awareness through civic engagement. I believe that the attention of young people should be directed towards the important problems we are facing today in order to inspire them to become active protagonists in the improvement of our attitude towards our environment, our work and our fellow citizens, for a better future for all of us. We would like to establish cooperation with organizations from Macedonia for a future project on sustainable development though innovation and entrepreneurship, which we plan to submit to the next open Erasmus+ call in 2016. The contacts available through YES Network will be very useful for establishing communication with various relevant partners.”

Valerio d’Amici, Brindisi, 28 years old, Italy

„I work on multiple projects for rural entrepreneurship development in several regions in Spain. The Youth Entrepreneurship Support Network and the Youth Entrepreneurial Service Foundation represent an ideal partner for developing innovative projects that contribute to sustainable development via entrepreneurship. I got to know better quite a few practices and projects implemented in different regions in Macedonia. We already had several creative discussions for future cooperation, which I believe we will put into practice as soon as possible. ECO-OIKOS represented an excellent opportunity to meet up and design international concepts for sustainable development that we can implement through our organizations’ platforms.”

Juam Pablo Perez Gomez, Sende – rural entrepreneurship, 36 years old, Spain

 The Youth Entrepreneurship Support Network and its partners’ consortium will keep up the internationalization of its activities in order to offer new opportunities for cooperation and networking to its members and also to strengthen its platform of promoting youth entrepreneurship development and other related areas, such as sustainable development.

Youth Entrepreneurship Support Network competition – Grant agreements signed

Foundation for Management and Industrial Research signed grant agreements with the Association Konechanka, Konche and Volunteers Centre Skopje. Both associations are among nine organizations whose projects are funded under the grant competition for funding of civil society organizations in the field of entrepreneurship for youth for 2015 published by the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Network (YESNetwork). Foundation for Management and Industrial Research will follow the implementation of these two projects.
The main objective of the project “Challenges and opportunities for rural women” of  the Association Konechanka, Konche is to encourage and promote rural women’s entrepreneurship, business initiatives and self-employment of young unemployed women. Training courses, exchange of experiences and organization of traditional bazaar are some of the planned project activities. Volunteers Centre Skopje will develop local strategy for entrepreneurial learning for the municipality of Kisela Voda.
We wish them successful work and achievement of project goals.

More information about the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Network (YESNetwork) and the grant competition can be found here: yes-network.org.

Open Call for Grants and Promotion of the Network’s Action Plan

The Open Call for Grants for financing programmes and projects of CSOs in the area of youth entrepreneurship for 2015 has been published on the 3rd of April 2015 and can be found at the following link (available only in Macedonian):http://www.yes-network.org/?p=127913&lang=mk.

Please confirm your presence at the Info Day by sending an e-mail at emilija@mir.org.mk, by 14th of April 2015 (Tuesday), at the latest. For more information you can reach us at: 02/3077008 and 02/3103660.

All participants who do not live in Skopje have the opportunity to request for a refund of the expenses for travelling and accommodation. To get more details on this matter, please make a note in your e-mail for participation.