Behind every great leader is a great team … or is it the other way round? Anyway, the EU is working on strengthening the environment for web entrepreneurs, and one initiative in particular – the Startup Europe Leaders Club – embodies this effort. Now is the time to get it started, challenges the European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.

Web entrepreneurs and startups play a vital role in driving innovation and seizing new opportunities for economic growth and job-creation. They use the latest networking technologies and ideas to create new products and services. But ‘novel’ ideas and technologies are inherently risky, so they can often struggle on their way to market.

Under the umbrella of the Digital Agenda’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation activities, the EU has put in place initiatives, such as the Startup Europe Leaders Club, to boost web innovation and help tech entrepreneurs, in particular. Mentorship is a proven way to help young managers and founders navigate the critical growth stages and it is one of the most requested inputs by entrepreneurs.

The Club draws on the combined experience of dozens of Europeans who have imagined, built and grown successful ventures – companies that have created thousands of jobs.

Members of the Leaders Club are thus respected entrepreneurial leaders of web and technology companies around Europe. These ‘Leaders’ are Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon (Spotify), Kaj Hed (Rovio, makers of Angry Birds), Lars Hinrichs (HackFwd), Joanna Shields (Tech City Investment Organisation), Reshma Sohoni (Seedcamp), Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten (The Next Web), Zaryn Dentzel (Tuenti), and Niklas Zennström (Atomico).

The Club’s mission is for entrepreneurship and innovation to “power growth in the EU” and to “help internet-driven economic growth transform the lives of millions”. Nearly 6000 people have already signed the online manifesto (


The leadership group is now calling on web entrepreneurs, investors, advisors and other stakeholders across the continent to take up the baton, engage in dialogue and share their views. The Club’s manifesto has been whittled down to 22 actions which, taken together, offer European businesses the best chance of future success using advances in digital technology.

These actions are grouped under several overarching themes:

  • Skills and education
  • Access to talent
  • Access to capital
  • Data policy, protection and privacy
  • Thought leadership

The group hopes to reflect the views and perspectives of as many entrepreneurs, investors, advisors – and other key figures within the digital and tech ecosystem across Europe – as possible. This will ensure that their final recommendations to the Commission will be as “robust and actionable” as possible. Show your support for this initiative, visit the website, join the conversation and sign the manifesto.

Based on responses received, the Leaders Club plan to refine their proposals ahead of scheduled meetings designed to set policy priorities at the European Council, late 2013.

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