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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
News blog22 November 2023Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs2 min read

SME Assembly 2023: The Highlights

maria munoz

The SME Assembly 2023 in Bilbao unfolded over three days, showcasing innovation, celebrating success, and charting a course for a sustainable future. Let's take a look back at some of the highlights of each day and the exciting events that unfolded.

Day 1: A Grand Start at the Guggenheim Museum

The assembly kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony at the iconic Guggenheim Museum, setting the stage for a week of innovation and collaboration. The "Opening Ceremony of Basque Open Industry 4.0" highlighted the region's commitment to advanced manufacturing and smart industry applications. Attendees engaged in insightful business tours and site visits, exploring the thriving innovation ecosystem of Bilbao.

A captivating Schumpeter Lecture by Professor Saras D. Sarasvathy at the Guggenheim Museum's Auditorium enriched participants with perspectives on fostering innovation within businesses. The day concluded with the SME Week Reception, fostering networking and idea exchange in the inspiring setting of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.


saras fine


Day 2: Celebrating Success in Bilbao

The second day was a true celebration of entrepreneurship and sustainable business practices. Keynote addresses from European Commissioner Thierry Breton and Maria Muñoz, Director General of Industry and SMEs set the tone for the day. Engaging workshops and policy discussions covered topics such as sustainable enterprises, upskilling for a data-driven future, and the digital transition.

The highlight of Day 2 was the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA), recognising outstanding achievements across six categories. The Grand Jury Prize in this year’s competition went to the MAP | Early Warning Mechanism project by IAPMEI, supporting early-stage companies and building the capacity of entrepreneurs. It is possible to read more about the winners in the six EEPA categories on this blog.


eepa awards


Day 2 concluded with a Networking Dinner, providing a relaxed environment for participants to share experiences and forge new connections.

Day 3: Charting a Course for a Sustainable Future

The final day focused on mentorship, economic performance, and policy discussions to empower Europe's SMEs. Activities included discussions on new skills for mentors, support for European enterprises by the European Enterprise Network (EEN), and a policy workshop on achieving sustainability and mitigating climate change.

The day also marked the announcement of the winner of the Youth Start-Up Competition, with Mariia Alipatova taking the spotlight for her Solar Optic project, revolutionising building illumination. In an interview after her win, Mariia shared some insights into her journey, the problem Solar Optic aims to solve, and the significance of winning the Youth Startup Competition. She emphasised the importance of raising awareness of entrepreneurship in young generations and the financial challenges faced by youth entrepreneurs. Asked for a final comment about the day, Mariia said "Youth Startup Competition rocks!" You can read our interview with Mariia on this blog.

The assembly concluded with the opening of the EEN Annual Conference, highlighting the network's role in supporting European businesses.




The SME Assembly 2023 in Bilbao was a testament to the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in Europe. From captivating lectures and workshops to recognising outstanding projects and empowering young entrepreneurs, the assembly provided a platform for collaboration and growth. As participants left with fresh ideas, new connections, and a shared commitment to sustainability, the assembly marked another successful chapter in the journey of European SMEs.

welcome sme


Read more about Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of the 2023 SME Assembly and stay updated on the event by visiting the Promoting enterprise news portal and also via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also find photos from the event on the Promoting Enterprise | Flickr.

Promoting Enterprise - categories
  • EU SME Week
  • EU SME Assembly
Promoting Enterprise - tags
  • SME Assembly