Parallel to the Campus Party Europe celebrated last week in London, The Lisbon Council and Telefónica hosted the StartUp Europe Forum on Monday 2 September 2013. Convening under the timely theme Powering Web Entrepreneurship and Innovation to Drive Growth in the Digital Economy, StartUp Europe Forum brought together the doers and shapers of Europe’s digital community. Among others, Neelie Kroes, José María Álvarez-Pallete, Eva Castillo and Lord Puttnam addressed the Forum, which Telefónica also used as the occasion to launch a new research on The Accelerator and Incubator Ecosystem in Europe, which offers a fascinating look at how Europe is faring in cutting-edge new vehicles to help and promote business entrepreneurship (the report, presentations, speeches and other materials presented at the Forum are available here). The StartUp Europe Forum, as one of Telefonica’s pledges to the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative, served as a platform where Joanna Shields, CEO of Tech City introduced ‘A Manifesto for Entrepreneurship and innovation to Power Growth in the EU’.
The manifesto is a proposal for remaking Europe to drive growth and create jobs in the digital age. It was written by the Leaders Club of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative (an independent group of founders in the field of tech entrepreneurship who provide guidance on strengthening the business environment for web entrepreneurs in Europe) and puts forward policy recommendations in five key areas:
- Education & Skills: “A recent study made up of 190,000 responses from 27 European countries[i] highlighted that 20 per cent of secondary-level students have never (or almost never) used a computer in their school lessons and IT training for teachers is inadequate. Accordingly, we recommend to:
- Make teachers digitally confident and competent to rise to the challenge.
- Teach our children the principles, processes and the passion for entrepreneurship from a young age.
- Encourage university students to start a business before they graduate.
- Prepare graduates for a radically different marketplace.
- Encourage large companies to provide training for the general public.”
- Access to Talent: “McKinsey[ii] has identified a growing gap between the needs of employers and skills of employees – 26 per cent of employers in Europe have difficulty filling jobs for lack of talent. Many aspiring entrepreneurs simply leave Europe to seek their fortunes elsewhere […]Accordingly, we recommend to:
- Turn Europe into the easiest place for highly-skilled talent to start a company and get a job by rolling out a pan-European Startup Visa.
- Make it easy for companies to hire outside their home countries.
- Make it easier for companies to let employees go.
- Bring the best brains back home.”
- Access to Capital: “The scale of decline in VC investment is staggering — it has approximately halved in both the Euro area and the European Union as a whole since 2008. The aggregate decline in later stage investment is even steeper, for both the Euro area and the EU as a whole. Accordingly, we recommend to:
- Increase private and institutional investment in startups.
- Make it easier for high-growth companies to raise capital through public markets.
- Buy more from smaller businesses.
- Institute an E-Corp: a new type of cross- European corporation.
- Tax share options as capital gains, not income.”
- Data Policy, Protection and Privacy: “Data regulations in Europe are outdated, making it easy for companies to fall prey to privacy breaches (and thus deterring them from entering the EU to begin with). While more needs to be done to consistently and effectively protect consumers, most EU governments lag in providing access to their own data — a cornerstone of improving their services and lowering their operating expenses. Accordingly, we recommend to:
- Revise and normalise data protection laws.
- Remove the requirement for data providers to store information in any given country.
- Make government data public.
- Make governments think digitally.”
- Thought Leadership: “Europe has many entrepreneurial success stories, some incredible talent and some amazingly innovative ideas. In many countries, there are dozens of IPO-ready tech companies today poised to capitalise on the global internet economy but we need more and we need those we have nurtured to thrive and grow in the EU rather than seeking their fortunes in America. Accordingly, we recommend to:
- Initiate a mentality shift across Europe in terms of how we define success.
- Appoint a Chief Digital Officer for every country in the EU.
- Create a ‘best practices’ repository.
- Establish a Digital European Forum.”
Commissioner Kroes wants to promote the Manifesto and include entrepreneurship in the agenda of the October Council of the Heads of State and Government. You can also support this Manifesto by signing here. Let’s make all together these recommendations become real!
[i] A survey of schools, ICT in Education, February 2013 [ii] McKinsey Global Institute – Help wanted: The future of work in advanced economies, March 2012 byJames Manyika, Susan Lund, Byron Auguste and Sreenivas Ramaswamy