Recently I have found a new movement in EU – to increase entrepreneurship & innovation to power growth in the EU. You can learn more on the site of the movement – www.startupmanifesto.eu – where the contributors have focused on five pillars to drive growth through innovation and startups in the EU.
The manifesto focuses on the importance of the internet-driven economic growth, which would aid the transformation of lives not only in EU but around the globe. After all, technology is one of the main factors why so many industries are undergoing fundamental transitions, with new jobs and requirements that have not existed even 5 years ago are coming to the forefront, while many of the previous jobs are either outsourced or obsolete.
The manifesto cites a study that “According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, in 2010 “early-stage” entrepreneurs made up just 2.3% of Italy’s adult population, 4.2% of Germany’s, and 5.8% of France’s compared to America’s 7.6%, China’s 14% and Brazil’s 17%”.
Therefore, steps are required to remove many problems that lie before the new digital economy. The manifesto states the 22 actions in 5 major points to be taken, that could drive EU business growth and success in the new economic climate:
1. Education and skills – in order to provide qualified working force, first EU need to educate the teachers for the new digital world: “If we want the next generation to use digital technologies to build a better world, we need to ensure the individuals responsible for guiding and instructing them are as comfortable and capable using such digital technologies themselves.”
Furthermore, EU needs to provide the necessary framework to teach children the principles, processes and passion for entrepreneurship – because every child should be aware what is necessary to take an idea and develop it in a product or a service. When it comes to university students – a framework should be set to encourage students to start their own business before they graduate:
“Universities should create more entrepreneurship courses and set up a network of Student Entrepreneurship Centres/Incubators (through partnerships if needed) that can provide students with support and funding to translate their ideas into reality.”
2. Access to talent – change the regulatory framework in a way that allows skilled people to start a business. If they are not part of the EU zone, than EU should allow for pan-European Startup visa, which will serve dual purpose – to give non-EU citizens the opportunity to start their own business in the EU, or to be hired by EU based company.
Special attention is given to the brain drain problem: “Virtually every country in the EU has watched helplessly as some of its best and brightest minds leave for the US. This ‘brain drain’ has made a negative impact on all aspects of our economies, creating a vacuum in thought leadership, advanced research and basic academia, to name a few.”
3. Access to capital – this is probably one of the areas that the contributors align themselves closely with the US ideas for tax breaks, reliefs for investors that invest in high-risk companies. But they also propose the creation of a Internet and Mobile category in EU stock markets, as well as decreasing the incentives for EU entrepreneurs to go through IPO in USA.
Moreover, the manifesto calls for governments and EU institutions to buy more from smaller EU businesses instead of huge multinational corporations.
4. Data policy, protection and privacy – I have to admit that this section raised some flags when I was reading it. I am more for data privacy and the proposal of the manifesto is vague as to how exactly a new data protection policy should be instituted and what it should cover. What I agree with them on is that there should be a unified data protection law throughout EU. The contributors rightly point that EU countries lag behind in the efforts to open up their data:
“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…The irony of public data in the EU is that so little of it is actually public…unlocking public data from its shackles allows innovative companies to introduce new products and services that can further reduce the dependence on central government and create new businesses at the same time.”
5. Thought leadership – this pillar encompasses the promotion the path of entrepreneurship as viable career path for young people. The manifesto also proposes the establishment of a Chief Digital Officer position in every government, who will be responsible for aiding the digital innovation initiatives in the respective country and throughout the EU zone.
And lastly, one of the many useful ideas in the document is the creation of a Digital European forum – where entrepreneurs, politicians and policy makers could discuss and set common goals to achieve the points outlined in the manifesto.
All in all, I really like most of the points in the document. We really do need a change in EU when it comes to entrepreneurship. Another question is how the massive bureaucracy of EU and the various countries could achieve that. I know that one of the things we should watch with great interest in the upcoming months is the Horizon2020 framework of the EU that is focused toward research and business and has a budget of about 70 billion euro.