Let’s make music together: interview to Lisa Lang

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, become tomorrow’s gatekeeper

To better understand the meaning and the evolution of the programme, we interviewed Katerina Nejdlova, EYE programme coordinator.

The latest figures published by Eurostat estimates that in May 2023 the eurozone unemployment rate was 6.5%, around 12.937 million people 14% of which were under 36. Supporting Member States in reducing unemployment and especially youth inactivity has always been one of the EU’s biggest and last longing projects.

Among EU’s initiatives there is one, which has seen the participation of Materahub from the very beginning, that we want to talk to you about. It is called Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs and, in short, is a cross-borders exchange programme where the mobility of young entrepreneurs or young professionals includes on-the-job training, for a duration of 1 to 6 months, at companies located in other EU countries.

To better understand the meaning and the evolution of the programme, we interviewed Katerina Nejdlova from the DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs,  European Commission and EYE programme coordinator.

What is and what is the political meaning of the EYE?

Well, the EYE  is a cross-borders exchange programme which aims to help new and aspiring entrepreneurs, but also professionals, to acquire relevant skills by working with experienced entrepreneurs in another country.

Launched in 2009 as a pilot project, in 2014  the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs became a structural action of the Single Market, the biggest success story of the European project, which this year celebrates its 30th year anniversary.

Especially critical for our SMEs and entrepreneurial system, which represents 99% of European business accounting for more than half of Europe’s GDP, the Single Market allows people to start, grow and go across borders, making them ready to compete on a global level adding value in every sector of our economy.

In this direction, enabling young professionals or entrepreneurs to benefit from networking opportunities stemming from the Single Market itself is a priority for the European Commission – and this is where EYE comes in to help.

How has the programme changed over the years?

The programme is highly appreciated by participants because it gives them tangible help to boost their business or to set up new carrers, while hosting entrepreneurs benefit from new ideas and insights from motivated young professionals. And this in turn can lead to future collaboration after the exchange, including with other new business partners.

Except for a minor decline at the beginning of the pandemic, the programme has grown steadily progressively increasing its budget and the number of countries covered, and in turn leading to more applications, relationships built and new jobs and companies created.

With over 33,000 applications and 11, 000 business exchanges already established in 41 countries worldwide, the programme has addressed youth unemployment, delivered tangible entrepreneurial education, offered practical support to SMEs, strengthened Single Market connections, helped create new businesses as well as encouraged resilient companies, business development and innovation. 

The feedback from participants shows a high satisfaction rate of over 95%. Equally, evaluation in 2018 has proven the programme’s economic value with over 240 companies and over 1000 jobs created between 2014-2016 and generating additional turnover of €5m

In addition, thanks to extra financial support from the European Parliament, since 2018 the programme has been testing new destinations beyond Europe – EYE Global – allowing new entrepreneurs to work with host entrepreneurs from parts of the US and Canada, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan and now also Armenia and Ukraine. 

Are there any future developments we should wait for?

This programme is still relatively young and has a lot of potential to grow further and reach more countries. Under the Single Market Programme, we are building stronger networks of partners, and establishing stronger synergies with existing networks such as Enterprise Europe Network, and cluster alliances. And we are helping entrepreneurs to become more sustainable, digital and resilient.

What makes the programme great is that the participants come from very different backgrounds and sectors: from horse trainers, farmers and bakers to high-tech company owners creating applications to track signs of thrombosis, building panels to harvest solar power, or creating new fashion designs.

Applications are open and running

If you have a business idea or if you want to upskill your career being mentored by your favourite professionals or entrepreneurs while exploring a new country, this is your chance.

To gather more information about the grants and apply, follow the instructions on our website www.erasmus-entrepreneurs.eu/.

All you need to participate is a European format CV and a motivational letter. For more information on host companies or how to apply, write directly to eye@materahub.com

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