Helping startups and doing the best we can for digital innovation in Europe

If you don't already know, this week is Global Entrepreneurship Week This year, thousands of events will take place in more than 140 countries, including in the EU. #GEW2014 @StartUpEU. It's a tremendous global showcase of talent.

It's also a platform for European digital entrepreneurs to show the world what they have achieved and what they can do in the future.

Europe is full of entrepreneurship – in its valleys and villages, hillsides and city hubs. There is an amazing amount of diversity, ideas, talent and creativity here. The fact that Europe has seen 30 tech startups created since the start of the millennium that are each worth a billion dollars proves it. Some EU companies have become household names worldwide – Skype and Spotify – or gaming sensations CandyCrush and Rovio's Angry Birds, just to name a few.

Of course, everyone has to start somewhere. I think we can do more to make it easier for people to turn their idea into a company and then see if it takes off commercially. We can also help to explain and offer support, showing that it's not such a risk being an entrepreneur, especially in these challenging economic times with high youth unemployment.

I found that this video told some interesting and inspiring stories. The young people being interviewed were enthusiastic and brave enough to push their ideas forward. They are not afraid to fail and start again if they have to. I like that, because there is no stigma in failing - provided that you have tried first.

We can help by cutting red tape for smaller companies – with easier set-up, registration and cross-border business rules, for example – and by helping to adapt our business culture so that it's normal and natural to take the first steps to entrepreneurship.

After all, we need young innovators for the future because it will be small businesses and web startups that will create the ideas and jobs which Europe needs for its economic growth.

Europe needs to innovate better and faster with a focus on giving European startups an easier beginning and helping ideas to bridge the gap from lab to market. For this we have the StartUpEurope programme which looks at the resources that entrepreneurs need like venture capital and accelerators.

I know that Neelie Kroes was passionate about pushing this forward; I feel the same way and want to continue what we've achieved so far. A lot is happening already – take the EuropeanPioneers accelerator programme or the European Young Innovators Forum @EYIF, which is holding a campaign to 'disrupt Europe digitally' as part of this week's entrepreneurship events.

But I also know that we can do much more.

We can improve conditions for startups across the EU by creating an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship from school age onwards, by creating links to entrepreneurs, or by looking at ways to make it easier for entrepreneurs to access finance.

Their problem is not so much getting started but surviving and then expanding into a scaled-up business operation.

I've also just read the latest report from the Startup Europe Partnership where I learned a lot about the scaling-up issue. In Europe, the most popular startups are scaled-up in the UK.

The good news is that London is one of the world's most important startup hubs, surpassed only by New York City and San Francisco. Berlin also ranks pretty highly, and lots of other places around Europe are catching up.

The number of market exits in Europe has also been growing steadily since 2011. Scale-ups do need a solid pool of established companies interested in providing growth opportunities in order to flourish. These two sides are not coming together yet as much as they could, and it's something that I think we need to look at.

Helping and promoting entrepreneurs and startups in Europe's tech sector is a key part of my agenda. Startups can benefit the #DigitalSingleMarket, and vice-versa. And many more jobs are created than lost across the economy as a whole thanks to digital technologies.

Let's do our best to get everyone going digital. It's good for industry and business, and above all for people.




Tim's picture

Hear hear :)

Thanks, this is something that we really need across the EU!

Anonymous's picture

Also totally agree, but this

Also totally agree, but this is an area where the Commission could really lead by example.

Current financial rules prohibit us from spending our money with small digital start-ups where the real innovation and excitement is, favouring large framework contracts (often at a much higher cost for less favourable outcomes) instead.

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