InnoApps Launching Today! A new competition for young app developers

PRESS RELEASE

A competition challenges youth developers to design innovative mobile applications to foster social inclusion.

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The competition, entitled ‘InnoApps, Huawei Apps Developers European Challenge, Powered by Microsoft’, is open to university students and young professionals under 27 who are EU residents. The contest aims to contribute to a more inclusive society by fostering ‘e-skills’, increasing ‘e-participation’ and promoting entrepreneurship among young people.

“Through the competition, we hope to attract young talent and empower young people to develop their ideas while also fostering more youth entrepreneurship in Europe,” explains Leo Sun, President of Huawei’s European Public Affairs and Communications Office in Brussels.

“Technology is a vehicle of opportunity, moving beyond its everyday use and solving some of the world’s toughest problems. This competition challenges young people to make Europe a more inclusive society by creating technology-based solutions, whilst encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity.” Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman, Microsoft Europe

Contributions will be accepted until 8 September 2013. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Brussels during Global Entrepreneurship Week, which will take place from 18 to 24 November 2013.

The winner of the first prize will be awarded €5000 and will enjoy full commercialisation support to help them promote their app and to further foster youth entrepreneurship.  The developers who come in first and second place, and the top female developer, will be taken by Huawei on a trip to China’s innovation centres. These developers, along with the audience’s selected winner, will all have their apps promoted in Microsoft’s Windows store. The six finalists will receive technical and marketing mentoring at a Brussels workshop, as well as promotion on the organisers’ websites. They, and six runners-up, will also receive a Huawei phone each.

In order to retain talent in Europe, opportunities need to be created for the next generation of ICT leaders: it is expected that between now and 2015, the EU will be unable to fill approximately 900 000 IT job vacancies. The competition forms part of the organisers’ efforts to address this challenge, in line with their commitment to the EU goal of creating a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020.

The European Young Innovators Forum is the leading foundation for youth innovation in Europe. The EYIF’s Founder and President, Kumardev Chatterjee explains, “It is vitally important for the future of Europe and to exit the current crises, that its youth are given concrete opportunities for self-empowerment and supported to take risks for innovation and entrepreneurship. EYIF remains committed to creating such opportunities alongside partners and supporters across all sectors of society, government and business.”

Microsoft supports the European Commission’s eSkills strategy and is working hard to partner with EU stakeholders on the development and implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

Huawei also supports a number of schemes to promote ICT education in Europe. Its successful flagship initiative in this field, the Undergraduate Work Experience Scheme, provides students with the opportunity to get hands-on work experience at Huawei’s headquarters in China.

Find out more: www.innoapps.eu

About Huawei

Huawei is a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. We are committed to creating maximum value for telecom operators, enterprises and consumers by providing competitive solutions and services. Our products and solutions have been deployed in over 140 countries, serving more than one third of the world’s population.

Huawei currently has over 7 500 staff based in Europe, of whom 800 are working in R&D. We run 13 R&D sites located in 8 European countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the UK) and operate numerous joint innovation centres in partnership with telecom and ICT partners.

Further information is available at: www.huawei.eu

Follow us on Twitter @HuaweiEU

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

Microsoft has operated in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) since 1982. In this region, Microsoft employs more than 16 000 people in over 64 subsidiaries, delivering products and services to more than 139 countries and territories.

Further information is available at: www.microsoft.eu

Follow us on Twitter @MSEurope

About the European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF)

The European Young Innovators Forum is an independent, non-profit, pan-European, bottom-up association dedicated to promoting youth innovation. EYIF has rapidly become the leading foundation for youth innovation in Europe reaching more than 350 000 participants across all EU member states. EYIF gives a voice to a community of young innovators and experts who believe in taking risks, changing mindsets for innovation and valuing shared ideas and professional mentorship.

Further information is available at: www.eyif.eu

Follow us on Twitter @EYIF

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The Unconvention 2013 Rocked!

Written by Jana Vecerkova, Project Manager, EYIF

The 2nd Annual EYIF Young Innovators Unconvention Unconvention 2013 audience witnessed fruitful and inspiring discussions on the state of innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe on the 6th and 7th of June in Brussels at the European Parliament, the magnificent Palace D’Egmont and EYIF HQ at Science14 Atrium.

The Unconvention was not just another technology conference, nor a policy or business event; it was all three at the same time, and that’s what made it unique. The Unconvention brought innovative and entrepreneurial youth from across Europe together with established entrepreneurs, global business leaders, investors, experts and leading policy and decision makers, joining forces to mobilise for innovation and growth.

Under the High Patronage of the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, the Unconvention was a unique two-day event featured motivational keynotes by prominent speakers, lively panel discussions, interactive workshops, and informal networking opportunities to meet with leaders of innovation and entrepreneurship from Europe and the USA. The Unconvention also hosted the final of EYIF’s InnoPitch competition for European Young Innovator of the Year.

Watch short videos of the Unconvention to get a feel for what it was like, here.
First set of Photos
are available too, here

Read below to immerse in the great Unconvention spirit! Why is Europe lagging behind and what are the outcomes and lessons learned from the Unconvention 2013 to address this?

DAY 1, 6th June: Morning at Science14 Atrium | Afternoon in the European Parliament (Video – Day 1 Morning, Video – All of Day 1)

It all started (blog post) with the InnoCoffee on Thursday morning at Science14 Atrium in Brussels. Moderator Nina Fowler from Venture Village, asked how could we improve the innovation ecosystem in Europe. “You need 1 or 2 game changers, they get funding and develop the cycle, start the ecosystem”, said Derek Holt of the Startup America Partnership. Projects such as Seedcamp and Startup America Partnership help young entrepreneurs to develop the ecosystem collectively. Networking is crucial: “Get out of the building and meet people, don’t just read the website. You have to act”, advised Mr Holt. Do not focus on the impossibility of your idea, be passionate and take a shot: “Failure is a means to an end. Micro-experiments and micro-failures are part of the process to success”, concluded Carlos Eduardo Espinal, Seedcamp.

Three workshops followed after the InnoCoffee, one being the Big and Open Data Workshop (video) with EYIF open data expert Johann Stan, Université Jean-Monet and Matthew Bassett, Universal Pictures. The InnoPitch Workshop was reserved for the InnoPitch – competition for the European Young Innovator of the Year – finalists, where they acquired valuable advice on their startups and upcoming pitches from Carlos. The third workshop featured Jack Lang, University of Cambridge, who explained why he named his $25 computer a Raspberry Pi: “Computers and similar have to have a fruit name – look at Apple and Orange.” His recipe for success is straight-forward: “You have to make what people want rather than what you think they want”.

TH a Morning

Only a short walk away, the European Parliament hosted the afternoon’s political and policy sessions. Bearing in mind the ongoing crisis in the EU member states, the high-level political panel discussed innovation, youth unemployment, growth and whether the US is still a role-model for innovation-driven growth? After encouraging opening messages from Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, MEP Sean Kelly enquired how can politicians encourage people to be more innovative. He reminded the audience of the current EU initiatives and said: “EU will be there to support you, so go for it.” Click here (blog post) for more on the opening panel.

The Innopitch Finalists then presented short previews (blog post) of their start-ups in front the risk finance and venture capital leaders panel – Anne Glover from Amadeus Capital Partners, Carlos Eduardo Espinal from Seedcamp and Bjorn Tremmerie from European Investment Fund, chaired by MEP Eider Gardiazábal (who is chair of the European Parliament’s Youth Intergroup). Mr. Espinal described the ingredients for enhancing the entrepreneurial culture: “1. Entrepreneurial education, 2. Highlight best company methodology, 3. Supporting programmes, 4. Better angel networks”.

Kicked off by Harri KoponenRovio Entertainments (creator of Angry Birds), the next panel discussed the implementation plan for innovation ecosystems in Europe. Mr Koponen advised young people to “love, believe and think big, find resources inside yourself to be the greatest”. He said Angry Birds “have fans, not customers, we delight and excite them and they come back!”. Martin Bruncko, World Economic Forum, added that Europeans are “too modest, which leads to poor performance”. Both MEP Maria Graca Carvalho and Gavin Starks, Open Data Institute, agreed that what we lack in Europe is the celebration of success, we need to highlight and cherish our top companies and start-ups.

After that it was time for networking and socialising over a cocktails and dinner. An informal InnoPitch session ensued over glasses of wine and then everyone set off to Place du Luxembourg to enjoy the – not so often – warm Brussels night!

TH afternoon parl

DAY 2 (Video – All of Day 2)

Intense sun and historical Egmont Palace created beautiful surroundings for continuing the discussions on Friday. Big and Open Data coupled with Digital Social Innovation session featured several inspiring speakers. Emphasising the scale of this topic, Bruno Schroeder, Microsoft, stated: “This year we are producing every 10 min the same amount of data that entire humanity ever produced until 2003.” Sharing their insights on the safety of online content, Ulrich Atz, Open Data Institute, said: “If you do it properly, you can find ways of anonymising data”. Transforming data into trusted, governed information that leads to smarter and faster decision is an action to be pursued. “Use statistical algorithms helping machines get better insight, the amount of volume is an issue for humans”, recommended Herman Nielens, IBM. Tiit Paananen, Skype shared the story of Estonia becoming a fast adapter and leader in digital services: “Estonian government services are completely digital, voting, ID, tax declarations, census…Technology creates transparency! People started to trust the tax system and the government in Estonia. We show that you can change stuff if you want!”

Smart Cities and Space Services for citizens were the topics for the next expert panel, with speakers including Maryline Marilly from IER. Cornelis Eldering, European Space Agency, creatively started his presentation about space and start-ups with a riddle, bringing matches, pins and candles, asking the audience about the so-called Candle problem. Smart cities from the energy point of view were touched upon by André Bouffioux, Siemens: “Energy production is the most important condition for investment”. In order to succeed he claimed “you have to be either much better, or much sexier than the rest”.

Friday Morning

The Unconvention also hosted the presentation of the World Economic Forum Innovation and Entrepreneurship project through the panel “Fostering innovation-driven entrepreneurship in Europe”, chaired by Nicholas Davis,  World Economic Forum and moderated by Christophe Leclercq, EurActiv.com who identified the four general barriers to success to be “finance, culture, motivation and engaging people.” EYIF is co-leader for the work-package on “Promotion of Entrepreneurship” of the project. EYIF leaders Kumardev Chatterjee and Nicholas Zylberglajt emphasised the need for bottom-up engagement coming from young people and the role that policy makers must play to support the building of this ecosystem through focused, concrete actions. Martin Bruncko explained one of the drivers behind the work package “Access to Capital”, when he said “WEF identified lack of information about seed capital and angel financing even out of large financial centres.” Co-Founder of the StartUp Britain initiative and CEO of Enternships, Rajeeb Dey, talked about the options for the best UK practices being extrapolated to the rest of the EU.  He considers “relaxation of access to seed finance, accessible loans of up to 10k, tax breaks encouraging SME to hire” to be key success stories that should be extrapolated.

The much awaited European Young Innovators Awards Finals followed after the lunch. Our venture capital jury observed five-minute pitches of all Innopitch finalists, asking them afterwards targeted questions about the feasibility of their projects. Being the first, Lukas Kampfmann presented Mentor Works, an application inspiring people to change their habits with a social context through a community. Sharebox is all “about sharing your passions and doing what you love”, said its founder Sébastien Vandersteen. Christian Nielsen presented Vidzor, an interactive easy-to-use video platform. “A secure knowledge-sharing platform may sound like a dream, but Stample have turned it into reality”, was the topic of the Stample pitch by Edward Silhol. With Urban Grow’s João Melo the Innopitch went green and he talked about growing your own vegetables at home using hydrophonics. Finally, helping young people find more quality employment and overcoming the young professionals trap is the mission of InternsGoPro, presented by Pierre-Julien Bosser.

An easy task to decide who was the best? Not at all! The jury even extended their allocated decision time, later admitting they had real difficulties on agreeing just one winner. More on the award ceremony here but sincere congratulations to the winner Vidzor, the runner-up Mentor and Urban Grow, selected by the audience!

Froday Aft

All good things come to an end, and we were soon at the last Unconvention session. Whoever expected just a few summing up remarks and thank you speeches was disappointed as the closing panel was full of energetic debates and great recommendations! Harry Van Dorenmalen, Chairman Europe of IBM pointed out the importance of young people in changing the mindset: “The bottom dictates. And the bottom is you!” Change of culture was also the concern of Kai Engel, A.T.Kearney: “We should have more young innovators in Europe. This Unconvention has the potential to become a movement of thousands of EU innovators.” Tiit Paananen, Skype, added: “You are giving a voice to those who do not usually have it. Unconvention is lobbying for guys who cannot afford lobbyists. That’s great!” In the presence of Leo Sun, President for European Public Affairs and Communications at Huawei, Kumardev Chatterjee announced the launch of a new pan-European app competition in collaboration with Huawei and Microsoft, managed by EYIF. Anne Glover, Co-Founder and CEO of Amadeus Capital Partners, concluded on a very positive note “It is a fantastic time to be an entrepreneur!”

The overall message of this year’s Unconvention is that young Europeans need to be more daring and pursue their vision despite the fears of failure. Connecting with others is the key to success! Thus, we would like to invite you to keep up with our upcoming activities on our Facebook and Twitter .

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We would like to thank all our participants, speakers and partners for helping us make the Unconvention happen! Special thanks go to our supporters and partners, the European Parliament, European Commission, US State Department, US Mission to the EU, European Investment Fund, Brussels Region, Microsoft, Facebook, A.T. Kearney, Science14 Atrium, Siemens, IBM, Amadeus Capital Partners, Seedcamp, IER, Quruu and our media partners Euractiv, Venture Village, Whiteboard Mag, Horizon Media and Grupo de Medios TV.

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Innopitch winner – congratulations Vidzor!

After a tough competition, we have the Innopitch winner and European Young Innovator of 2013 – Congratulations Vidzor!

The winner was announced and awarded by Thibaut Kleiner, Senior Advisor to European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes, shortly before the closing session of Unconvention, in the magnificent Egmont Palace. Earlier that day our six finalists did amazingly good pitches in front of the Innopitch jury – Anne Glover of Amadeus Capital Partners, Carlos Eduardo Espinal and Bjorn Tremmerie from ERP-EIF Dachfonds at EIF.

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Vizdor is a project for an interactive and easy-to-use video platform, where users can create and share beautiful videos. The idea is to take everything that users can do online and integrate it in the video experience. The team behind it say they have the ambition to change and revolutionize the video landscape on a global basis. Vidzor is currently in private beta, doing a lot of working and testing, but there is no doubt we are really looking forward to seeing it launch and making a blast.

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An interesting did-you-know fact is that the Innopitch award is going to the same country for a second year – Vidzor is a Hungarian project, just like last year’s winner Handiscan. The co-founder of Vidzor, Cristian Nielsen, however, denied any pro-Hungarian conspiracy stating that he is Danish.

In fact, the Innopitch jury were just so impressed by the pitchers that they spontaneously decided to also award a runner-up – this award went to Mentor, the app letting you follow your goals and share them in a community. Mentor has already gone live and has quite a presence on the app market, so you can check their website.

With a majority, Unconvention audience voted for Urban Grow and awarded them the Innopitch public award. Urban Grow is a Portuguese project dedicated to encouraging people to easily and quickly grow their own vegetables at home using hydroponics. We anticipate the next steps on making this happen, because it sounds exciting.

Unconvention team would like to cordially thank all our Innopitch contestants, semi-finalists and finalists for their performance and great ideas. You proved that the European startup scene is alive and kicking. You, young innovators, make it happen, so congratulations to all of you. We wish you every success in your future growth!

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Anticipating Innopitch

Before pitching in front of our highly renowned jury this afternoon, Innopitch finalists had the opportunity to present their ideas in front of policy makers and Unconvention audience at the European Parliament.Imagement.

 

MEP and president of the Youth Intergroup Eider Gardiazábal Rubial, chief executive and co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners Anne Glover, Carlos Eduardo Espinal – the managing partner of Seedcamp, and Bjorn Tremmerie, head of ERP-EIF Dachfonds in European Investment Fund saw the presentations of our six Innopitch finalists. Each startup had three minutes to explain the idea behind the innovation, how it works and what makes it unique. Our six finalists are:

Mentor from Germany – an app that lets you follow your goals;

Sharebox from Belgium – a platform for sharing your passions;

Vidzor from Hungary – an advanced interactive video platform;

Stample from France – a secure distributed social web platform;

Urban Growth from Portugal – a system to grow vegetables at home;

And InternsGoPro from Belgium – a community for sharing internship experience

 

One of them will become the Young Innovator of 2013. Let’s wish good luck to all of them at the pitching competition today!

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How does policy support young innovators? Unconvention political panel answers

Unconvention 2013 just closed its high level political panel in the European parliament – a dynamic conversation on how we can boost European youth innovation, entitled “Innovation, Youth Unemployment, Growth – does Europe have a plan? Is the US still a model?” Our speaker panel consisted of Kumardev Chatterjee, president and founder of European Young Innovators Forum, MEP Sean Kelly, Elena Bryan – senior trade representative at U.S. Mission to the European Union and Yves Goldstein – head of cabinet of the Minister-President of the Brussels Region.

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The political panel took place under the high patronage of the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz who sent a message to young innovators. Our audience heard Sean Kelly’s inspiring opening speech: “If you fail, try again and again. Make that phone call. Do that pitch. Europe will be there to support you, so go for it.”

We saw a great pro-active young audience, eager to ask questions and get answers – young entrepreneurs are not afraid to make a stand and have their voice heard. Our dynamic discussion looked for answers to questions such as: how do we provide the best atmosphere for the bright minds in our economies to produce? How, as policy makers, do we encourage people to be innovative? What does the EU framework on innovation and entrepreneurship look like and how can we put it in place? All tough questions, but all the panelists showed their passion and commitment to youth innovation and greatest desire to solve problems.

Our policy makers agreed on the pressing need to close the gap between innovation and production. They discussed that green jobs, big data and ICT are crucial for fighting European crisis and developing innovation.

With these controversial topics to discuss the political panel was sure to have an open ending, leaving space to continue with the discussions. Unconvention audience will have the chance to communicate with our amazing panel of speakers and exchange ideas today and tomorrow, in various Unconvention events.

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The Young Innovators Unconvention 2013 has been launched!

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We have successfully launched the Young Innovators Unconvention 2013 at the Science 14 Atrium! The day started off with an InnoCoffee dedicated to Startup experts. Carlos Eduardo Espinal of Seedcamp and Derek Holt of Startup-America. The discussion was moderated by Nina Fowler of Venture Village.

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Derek and Carlos gave an insight to what their companies are focusing on. Both are advocates of the Startup economy. In general they beleive the crucial points are to pull together existing networks of entrepreneurs to create an ecosystem. In addition a lot was discussed on what it really means to be a Start-up. They both agree that being a Start-up is not only trying to do something impossible, but it’s about being passionate and taking a shot. These people are a crucial component of the economy that pushes it forward. This relates to creating ecosystems as well, as in order to create it you need 2-3 entrepreneurs that will go out there and look for money, which triggers other people to step up their game and follow creating a snowball effect. The VCs will also be attentive to that and they will search for alike people from the same region or area, creating a new ecosystem.

 

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Innopitch Finalist Runner-ups

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Today we will present to you the 7 runner-ups for our Innopitch competition! They have also brought new innovative ideas that we would like to share with you. A great part of them will be present at the Young Innovators Unconvention 2013 for you to meet them.

They are: EUdream, Reverbeo, Vitalidi, MyJobCompany, iValueHealth.NET, Magnomics. Check out their profiles to learn more about their interesting start-up. We hope you will be able to meet them at the Unconvention 2013, 6-7th June in Brussels. Follow our Social Media links #unconvention13, Facebook page and also our blogs for more information.

 

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