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News article17 March 2023European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency3 min read

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) Innovator Awards 2023: winners announced

At the 30th Network Meeting of all EYE beneficiaries, which took place in Santiago de Compostela on 7 and 8 March 2023, one new and one host entrepreneurs were awarded the EYE Innovator Awards.

EYE Innovator Awards winners

Among the four finalists pitching to receive the EYE Innovator Award, Ukrainian, Berlin-based New Entrepreneur Mariia Alipatova and Italian Host Entrepreneur Gianpietro Calai received the deserved recognition for their involvement and success in the EYE programme.

The ceremony took place during the 30th Network Meeting of all Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs beneficiaries, which took place in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) last 7 and 8 March 2023.

Winning New Entrepreneur

The award winner in the category New Entrepreneur, Mariia Alipatova from Ukraine, currently based in Berlin, said: “Without the EYE programme, I would never receive the confidence to become an entrepreneur of the 21st century!" Since a very young age, Mariia had dreamt of taking the rays of the sun to illuminate the house of her grandparents. She studied mechanical engineering and pursued her dream. She developed a technology, which transmits sunlight over long distances in spaces without a window. However, she was lacking experience how to translate this idea into practice, into a viable business. She gained this know-how via teaming up with the Absolicon company, which specialises in the mass production of solar thermal collectors. For Mariia, “this was the best way to understand how to start a renewable energy company.” Thanks to this EYE exchange in 2022, she was able to set up Solar optic, a business which will offer solutions to illuminate buildings sustainably with natural warm and sunlight directly when the sunlight is available.

Solar Optic technical solution contributes value to the customer in all “three dimensions of sustainability”: economically, environmentally, and socially. She was matched by the Kyiv based EYE intermediary Civitta Ukraine. Mariia described her experience like this: “With the help of the Erasmus Young Entrepreneurs opportunity and Absolicon’s experience, I know which type of equipment is needed, which competences of team members are important in the first stage, and on which aspect to focus at the beginning to run a renewable energy business.” Check Mariia’s short video testimonial about her EYE experience.

Winning Host Entrepreneur

The award winner in the category Host Entrepreneur, Gianpietro Calai from Italy, has launched a project for a drone capable of dealing with emergency situations that can be faced with light vehicles and low operating costs. He developed this together with new entrepreneur Óscar Ruiz. In Gianpietro’s words: "The exchange between me (HE) and Oscar (NE) was satisfying in many ways. We both studied engineering, but with different specialisations, and we both are inclined to work in multidisciplinary teams and to share our skills. We both want to address our skills and use our time to improve the quality of life of people, seeking innovative and sustainable solutions. We are both pro-European and we believe in the opportunity to share different cultures and experiences to draw best practices for everyone. Thanks to EYE, Oscar and I met, we worked together, we expanded mutual knowledge as well as work, we decided to tackle an entrepreneurial path together that, without EYE, it would not have been possible to start. EYE confirmed and expanded my entrepreneurial skills and laid the foundation for those of Oscar.” Gianpietro was matched to Oscar with the help of the EYE local contact point Unione Regionale delle Camere di Commercio, I.A.A. del Veneto - Eurosportello Veneto. Check Gianpietro’s short video testimonial about his EYE experience.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs for Ukrainian new entrepreneurs Call and Info Session

To promote the matching especially of Ukrainian entrepreneurs, the Agency has launched the call for proposal SMP-COSME-2023-EYEUA - Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs for Ukrainian new entrepreneurs (ReadyForEU) on 28 February. The submission deadline is on 11 May 2023, 17:00 CET. This call aims at selecting five international consortia, each with a maximum grant of €600 000. At least one business support organisation must be from Ukraine in each project. A call specific online info session will be organised on 27 March at 14:00 CET, providing info on the programme as such, the call requirements (consortium eligibility, funding etc.), and financial provisions. Registration is open.


Publication date
17 March 2023
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency