Startups and digital entrepreneurship in Europe

Breakfast Debate


"Start-up" or "startup" no longer is just a buzz word spreading globally thanks to the very many inspirational founder's videos available online, and to the pitching contests that more and more are on display on TV as part of a new wave of TV formats, such as Dragons’ Den (UK, Japan), Shark Tank (US, Italy), The Innovation Game (Italy), Den D (Czech Republic), "Leijonan Kita"/"Leijonan Luola" ("The Lion's Jaws/Den”) (Finland), "Dragon's Den — Jak zostać milionerem" ("Dragon's Den – How to be a millionaire” ) (Poland), "Tu Oportunidad" ("Your Chance”) (Spain).

Today "to become a startupper” is an aspiration among a growing number of talents, in particular within the younger generations. For instance 2014 data shows that in the UK the number of under-35s starting businesses has risen by more than 70% since 2006. 

At the same time increasingly various stakeholders are starting to lobby for startups as the new goldmine for the economy. 

Startups are nowadays high on the agenda of Governments and Public Institutions. A recent example is the introduction of the "Patent Box" in Italy, while similar national schemes have been already introduced in Europe in Belgium, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The concept was first introduced in 2000 by the Irish and in 2001 by the French Tax Authorities as a reduced rate of tax on revenue from IP licensing or the transfer of qualified IP. 

The Silicon Valley with its entreprenuerial successes is a global benchmark. Indeed the US still has a considerable advantage over their economic counterparts in the area of startups becoming global and sometimes dominant business. The digital revolution is considered as the biggest enabler of these successes, although today we must fully acknowledge that it is wrong to speak of a digital sector. "Digital" is a pervasive phenomenon and it's already one of the foundations of the future of our civilization.

"This should go hand-in-hand with efforts to boost digital skills and learning across society and to facilitate the creation of innovative start-ups." ("A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe", COM(2015) 192 final, European Commission Brussels, 6.5.2015).

The Startup Manifesto can be considered one of the first milestones for the current initiatives taking place in Europe, although continental Europe does not create new business destined for growth as much as Silicon Valley, and most of the high tech giants do not live in Europe. Even when born here, they grow elsewhere.

The good news is that in the last few years vital startup ecosystems have been growing in almost every European country. But they remain sort of disconnected and fragmented. More needs to be done to leap forward in the direction of a single European ecosystem. For instance the Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) launched by the European Commission aims at offering an integrated pan-European platform to help the best startups emerge from these local ecosystems and scale-up.

With this EIF event, we aim at taking stock of the data around the startup ecosystem in Europe, both from the public and the private eye. For this reason prominent speakers will spark the debate among the participants, sharing their experiences, their views and ideas on the way forward.

Programme - 16/09/2015

Welcome and introduction:

Neena Gill, MEP and EIF Steering Committee Member


Isidro Laso-Ballesteros, Head of Startup Europe Sector, DG CONNECT, European Commission

Julian David, CEO, TechUK

Gianpiero Lotito, CEO, FacilityLive

Jorin Aardoom, co-founder and CEO, Syneratio

Exchange of views with participants
Download programme


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