Dear Mr President, Dear Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to congratulate the Slovak authorities for the intensive job you have been doing for the last year working on a national start-up strategy, as well as the active involvement of the entrepreneurial community and ministries that have contributed to it.

Europe faces challenges, and has a tradition of solving them through innovation and working across borders.

The young, mobile and adaptive ecosystem in this part of the economy is a perfect example of how Europe can redefine itself and take on the race with other economic powers.

All forms of entrepreneurship play a critical role in the economy, and evidence shows that it is the young, high-growth firms that are the key drivers of innovation and job creation.

Europe took the lead in the mobile telephone revolution and has established itself in the app economy. Approximately 2 million people work in this economy in 2015, the prediction is that 4.8 million people will in 2018.

The highest gains will come when the EU startup ecosystem looks at synergies and removes barriers. We need human and financial capital, as well as exchange of technical expertise to happen

We need to tackle the main barriers standing in the way of a digital single market to stimulate these young, technology based firms with a high innovation and growth potential. Content produced in one European country should be accessible in another, possibly paid through a company based in a third one.

One of the aims of the Digital Single Market strategy we have recently published is to ensure that businesses can seamlessly conduct their activities cross-border, irrespective of their location in the EU, and with as few administrative burdens as possible.

All the three main pillars of the new strategy on DSM are interesting for start-ups: start-ups need better access for both consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe; they also need the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish; and will greatly benefits from actions aimed at maximising the growth potential of the European digital economy.

The European Commission is also making efforts to address these issues with several projects that are running under our Startup Europe initiative in support of Tech entrepreneurship and start-ups.

The main objectives of this initiative are to unite start-up ecosystems throughout Europe and to create a movement to build a start-ups-friendly Europe in term of culture, attitude and regulation.

At Member State level, different measures in support of startups are also being introduced  based on the EU Startup Manifesto recommendations. In addition to the EU startup manifesto, 6 national ones have been written (Greece, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and Belgium).

This is the start of a European dialogue and network, where national startup initiatives participate. What we need is a truly European startup friendly space, allowing digital entrepreneurs to start, grow and scale up throughout Europe and globally.

The digital startup scene is truly of crucial importance as a long-term viable job engine for Europe. Young people taking risks and choosing running own business over safer ways of employment need our full support.

I also want to note that Slovakia is an active member of the Visegrad 4 group and it is useful to encourage this regional form of integration in order to achieve critical mass for ecosystems, investors and member states. It is a positive step toward creating hubs of excellence in Europe, which simplifies cooperation and creates growth conditions.

Cross border is especially interesting in this sector, given the mobility and young age of its workforce. It further strengthens the European integration of languages, knowledge and culture.

Tapping into the dynamism of entrepreneurs who create a different path to growth, is rewarding for the traditional European industry that has a lot to teach from them.

Indeed, digital startups can act as “digital enablers” for non-digital businesses.  The latter should take advantage to review their performance, innovate, increase their global competitiveness, acquire specific technologies and know-how, become platforms in their own right, achieving network effects, securing new revenues and turning their industries into ecosystems.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we succeed in our efforts in creating a truly Single Digital Market in Europe – and we are determined to do so – then we will create one of the most open and dynamic market-places in the world. And we can only succeed by using all our different – and complimentary – talents, including the vibrant start-up community.

Thank you for your attention.