Web entrepreneurs and small businesses play a hugely important role in driving innovation and identifying new opportunities for economic growth and job-creation. Using the latest web and networking technologies and ideas they create new products and services and provide alternative solutions to the challenges we face at work, home and on the move. However, due to the inherent risk of marketing ‘novel’ ideas and technologies, startups often struggle on their way. The EU therefore is working on strengthening the environment for web entrepreneurs in Europe and the Startup Europe Leaders Club embodies this effort.  

Under the umbrella of the Digital Agenda’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation activities, the Member States have launched various initiatives to boost web entrepreneurship and help innovative businesses in Europe. As young entrepreneurs often lack experience and need guidance from experienced technology leaders, the Leaders Club was set up. The Leaders Club members will act as role models for European web entrepreneurs and advise the Commission on the conditions needed to encourage startups and grow web ventures across Europe.

Mentorship is a proven way to help web entrepreneurs navigate the critical growth stages of a new tech or web venture. The Founders Forum in London – a community of the best global entrepreneurs, inspiring CEOs and key investors in media and technology – is an example of this successful approach.

Members of the Startup Europe Leaders Club are respected leaders and founders of web and technology companies around Europe. Their manifesto for entrepreneurship and innovation aims to “power growth in the EU” and “help internet-driven economic growth transform the lives of millions”. Thousands of people all over Europe have already signed up.

The members 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). These founding members were brought together from the pool of combined experience of dozens of Europeans who have been lucky enough to imagine, build and grow successful businesses – businesses that have created thousands of jobs, according to the Leaders Club website.

Calling all tech leaders

In March 2013, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, challenged Europe’s tech leaders to come up with a series of recommendations to support entrepreneurship and drive the growth of the internet economy across Europe.

The Leaders Group are now calling on web entrepreneurs, investors, advisors and other stakeholders across the continent to take up the baton, engage in this dialogue and share their views on the 22 actions in the manifesto. Together, these actions offer European businesses the best chance of future success driven by advances in digital technology. The actions are grouped under several main themes: Skills and education, Access to talent, Access to capital, Data policy, Protection and privacy, and Thought leadership.

The Leaders 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 will refine their proposals ahead of a number of planned meetings designed to set policy priorities at the European Council on 24-25 October.


More info

Website – Startup Europe Leaders Group (manifesto)


Website – Startup Leaders Europe Club


Website – Startup Europe actions