The fifth edition of the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards took place on the eve of 22 November 2017 at the Theatre du Vaudeville in Brussels, with Mazars acting as a leading sponsor for a third consecutive year. EuropeanIssuers and FESE presented the awards in cooperation with the European Commission (DG GROW). The event gathered European policy makers, stock exchanges, business associations, investors, as well as representatives of the nominated SME’s.
Showcasing the diversity of European markets, the aim of the ceremony is to promote, every year, stock listings by celebrating the successes of SMEs — successes that are vital to the growth of the European economy
Beginning the night with a key note speech and lively discussion
Kay Swinburne, Member of the European Parliament, delivered a keynote speech followed with a lively discussion where she highlighted the role of European politicians in helping SMEs to access capital. She recognized the paramount importance of European SMEs for the economy and offered insight into the Parliament’s efforts to alleviate the burden of regulations and legal hurdles. In her view, the creation of a solid Capital Markets Union (CMU) would help SMEs to easily access funding, and grow in volume and size. Ms. Swinburne also acknowledged the European institutions’ responsibility to increase European SME’s competitiveness globally. Finally, she remained positive and underlined the importance of the awards as a chance to discuss the realization of a robust CMU in Europe and Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) as reliable sources of funding.
This speech was followed by a panel discussion, with our very own Global Head of Entrepreneurial Business, Joe Carr, and Hans-Ole Jochumsen, Vice Chairman of Nasdaq. Both speakers engaged in a well-rounded discussion, moderated by Lee Hodgkinson, CEO of Euronext London, exchanging views on the challenges encountered by European SMEs. In their discussion, they highlighted the significance of IPO’s for SMEs, considering it not only a solution for the liquidity issues SMEs often face, but also as a means to promote their brand on a larger scale. When asked about the prospect of the European SME market in 10 years’ time, the speakers offered the audience two sets of views, while remaining optimistic about the future. For Mr. Carr, SME growth has decreased in the past ten years. He emphasized the need to give SMEs more possibilities for growth by making funding more accessible and less burdensome in terms of costs and bureaucracy. In his view, their growth is pivotal for a thriving European economy tomorrow. Mr. Jochumsen underlined the crucial role Europe will play as the driving market place for SMEs to grow, and recognized the potential SMEs have to foster innovation. Both speakers provided the audience with relevant insight on the current state of the SME market, coupled with suggestions on how to create a stronger environment for SMEs in Europe.
Announcing, as well as celebrating the nominees & winners of 2017
The rest of the night was dedicated to presenting the awards, and like previous years, the contenders were vying for four different distinctions: International Star, Rising Star, Star of Innovation and Star of 2017. A “Special Mention” category was also introduced, meant to reward an individual or a company that has played a significant role in helping SMEs access capital markets.
The International Star award, presented by Martin Hock, Finance Editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, was given to ABEO— a French company listed on Euronext. ABEO is one of the global leaders in sports and leisure equipment. Olivier Esteves, CEO of the company, expressed his gratitude and advocated for “more Europe, not less” to become more competitive at an international level.
The second award, Rising Star, was given to Poulaillon by Barclay’s Managing Director, Laura Muir. Poulaillon— specialized in the baking, catering and snacking sectors with over 40 years of know-how— is a French company listed on Euronext, with operations in Eastern France. CEO Paul Poulaillon welcomed the award and lovingly thanked his wife with whom he started the company.
The Star of Innovation award, for companies that place innovation at the center of their business strategy, was presented to Blue Prism by two members of the jury: Jean Pierre Paelinck, President and Secretary General of World Federation of Investors, and Phaedon Tamvakakis, Co-founder and Vice-Chairman of Alpha-Trust. Blue Prism, listed on the London Stock Exchange, is a pioneer and market leader in delivering Robotic Process Automation (“RPA”) software solutions. Chairperson Jason Kingdon, accepted the award by congratulating the other contestants, thanking their clients, and highlighting the impact their software has made since its creation in 2001.
And lastly, the Star of 2017 award— presented by James Wood, Corporate Analysist of Winterflood— went to the Finish SME, Kottipizza. Listed on Nasdaq, Kottipizza operates not only as a pizza chain, but also runs the Mexican-style restaurant chain Chalupa Oy, and the logistics company Helsinki Foodstock Oy. CEO Tommi Tervanen welcomed the award, emphasizing his company’s mission to remain sustainable in all essential parts of their business, while promising to make the world a better place, one pizza at a time.
As this year’s novelty, Ciprian Cirstea, Head of Unit for COSME Financial Instruments, European Commission’s DG GROW, handed out the Special Mention award to Foro Capital Pymes, a Spanish company that serves as a reputable organization that helps SMEs go public. CEO Miguel Costas accepted the award and stated the company’s thrive “to grow and to be better”.
Ending the night with words of encouragement
Deidre Sommers, President of FESE, wrapped up the evening with a closing speech, thanking all the runner-ups, and applauding their courage and ambition. She also mentioned the importance of continuing the search for solutions to help SMEs grow and succeed, all the while developing sustainable sources of funding. Finally, she brought the ceremony to a close with an encouraging message and words of gratitude to all the participants, judges and persons involved.
Mazars has supported the growth of European SMEs for many years, and we know first-hand the challenges they face as they strive to expand. We support Europe’s initiative to create an environment that fosters the growth of SMEs, and consider the European Small and Mid-Cap Awards as a contribution to that future ecosystem.
Please refer to our related content for more insight on SMEs and check out the highlights of the event on the video below.
The Economist Intelligence Unit wrote a series of articles sponsored by Mazars focusing on five challenges facing SMEs venturing abroad for the first time. Indeed, the challenges of operating in an unfamiliar environment are daunting, but offer tremendous potential.