You know my regular mantra that startups could be given an easier beginning and helped more to bridge the gap from lab to market. It is why the EU has the Startup Europe @StartUpEU programme, which aims to strengthen the business environment for web and ICT entrepreneurs so that their ideas and business can start and grow.
Besides this kind of support, we should not underestimate how regional diversity and local policymaking can help European startups to develop and grow.
Regions can inform and advise new businesses; they can help entrepreneurs to incorporate a company; they can often help on the financial side; they can link with other regions to create new networks and ecosystems.
They can be a useful hand to help entrepreneurs - more than a bureaucratic hurdle.
These are the reasons for launching the Startup Europe Week initiative, taking place throughout Europe during the first week of February 2016 - to bring together entrepreneurs and dozens of European regions. The benefit will be mutual.
Stronger, broader support for startups and new business creation at local and regional level complements the work being done by EU institutions – particularly the European Commission's Digital Single Market (DSM) project – as we progress towards a single and connected European ecosystem.
In the DSM strategy, we address many of the problems that startups face today. The aim is to reduce the obstacles so that they have more freedom to innovate and scale up in Europe, while operating across the EU's borders within the internal market.
I encourage everyone to make the most of the Startup Europe Week and help Europe's many startups to grow and succeed.
Helping Europe's startups to get off the ground and grow: the role of the regions
New companies create over four million new jobs in the EU each year, which makes them the most important source of new employment in Europe. The high-tech startup phenomenon in particular has the potential to boost the economic recovery of Europe.
Digital trends – cloud computing, mobile internet and social media to ecosystem thinking and speeding up globalisation of businesses – have become the single most important catalyst for market-based innovation.
As policy-makers, we have to create the right conditions for the emergence of strong entrepreneurial ecosystems. This includes promoting an innovative mind-set, cutting red tape and improving regulation as well as addressing the funding gap for businesses that are ready to scale up and go global.
To make our efforts as efficient as possible, EU, national, regional and local authorities have to work together in a spirit of partnership and to get everyone actively involved: from individuals and academia to the public and business sectors.
One of our key objectives for 2015-2020 is to boost the entrepreneurial spirit, working from the ground up.
To be successful in driving innovation and creating growth and jobs, cities and regions have to put an even stronger focus on putting measures and policies in place that help businesses get started, take risks, enhance their performance and grow.
Simultaneously, the cities and regions themselves also have to learn to function in a more entrepreneurial way by rewarding initiative, innovation, experimentation and development.
Each year, three award-winning EU territories commit themselves to implementing cutting-edge, future-oriented strategies to promote SMEs and businesses. Applications are open for the EER 2017 award up to 18 March 2016.
The good practices developed by the EER winners can provide a very useful toolkit for other EU territories. Our study "Fostering innovation at regional level: lessons from the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) experience" formulates policy recommendations that can help EU regions and cities strengthen the innovation capacity of their SMEs and entrepreneurs.
The #SEWeek16 – and in particular the numerous grass-roots events organised in cities all across the EU – will make a very important contribution to this bottom-up process.