Senior Enterprise, which was funded by the EU through INTERREG IVB NWE from 2010-2013, was specifically designed to encourage a greater involvement with enterprise by those aged over 50. This may be through starting a business, alone or with others, acquiring or investing in a business, advising an entrepreneur or supporting innovation within a business owned by another.
In this way Senior Enterprise addressed the concerns of the European Union with regard to the challenges posed by an ageing population, and the need to increase productivity, competitiveness and entrepreneurial activity across the EU. As a result of Senior Enterprise, it was found that the number of businesses started by people aged 50+ increased and the entrepreneurial potential of seniors was recognised.
The initiative was led from within Ireland by the Mid-East Regional Authority, alongside partners in the UK (Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise) and France (inno TSD) and nine observers across NW Europe.
Senior Enterprise was highlighted for good practice in the OECD Policy Brief on Senior Enterprise. It was also featured in the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan published by The European Commission: “Europe could take inspiration from programmes such as ‘Senior Enterprise’ encouraging motivated seniors to serve as voluntary mentors and potential buyers of or investors in businesses.”
In November 2013, Senior Enterprise won the Investing in Entrepreneurial Skills category at the European Enterprise Awards in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Having been closely involved in its design and development, Paula Fitzsimons was very active as the Communications Manager for Senior Enterprise. The project was co-ordinated by Fitzsimons Consulting. To learn more about the Senior Enterprise initiative, please click here.
Raising Awareness of Senior Enterprise
Paula regularly brings the message of Senior Enterprise to audiences in Ireland, Europe and internationally. For example, in May 2013, she spoke at the Silver Economy Summit held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. INTERREG IVB NWE selected Senior Enterprise to showcase as an example of an innovative project addressing the issue of demographic change in an innovative way and Paula was invited to address the delegates. This provided another opportunity to raise awareness of Senior Enterprise with a very wide audience of policy makers throughout Europe.
The profiles of Senior Enterprise role models which are featured on the website were instrumental in breathing life into what Senior Enterprise achieved. Paula and team were instrumental in devising this approach and in writing many of the profiles featured.