European Business Summit: How can Europe foster its start-up and scale-up potential?

This contribution forms part of a series of articles which One Policy Place will publish in the next few days. We report from the European Business Summit which took place from 22 to 23 May in Brussels. Our articles summarise some of the sessions and detail the developments for policy and business which were highlighted by the speakers.

How can Europe foster its start-up and scale-up potential? with Tom Flanagan, DIT Hothouse, Centre Director and Lenard Koschwitz, Allied for Startups, Director for European Affairs

For start-ups, two things are necessary: easy access to launch into new markets and easy access to talent.

But, of course, entrepreneurial culture also plays a big role.

The three of those things combined are the perfect mix to make it easier for start-ups to flourish, says Lenard Koschwitz from Allied for Startups.

There is so much research happening in Europe, and inventions come out of it says Tom Flanagan from the Dublin Institute for Technology. He adds that the crux of issue is that these innovations, although happening, were invisible.

There are issues with intellectual property rights, but the inventions could be summarised in a non-confidential manner and put on a centralised database. Companies could search through this to find new investment opportunities or to pick up on new, useful inventions.

He mentioned some projects – sponsored by the EU’s Horizon 2020 funding – which would produce up to 10 patents each, but never end up being commercialised.

A search platform for inventions would be vital for helping start-ups in Europe to launch into the market – Google alone is not good enough.

Horizon 2020 was a good programme, but the problem was how the funding could be shifted from research institutions to start-ups or SMEs, and then to corporations.

Flanagan worked in a Tech Transfer Office in Dublin, which helps to connect corporations with the existing inventions. In Ireland, US and European multinationals also have their own incubators, or are supporting others, to ensure they do not miss new inventions. The EU also has to facilitate this in some way.

The moderator then asked how Flanagan and Koschwitz saw “disruption”, a term often heard in connection with start-ups and has a negative connotation. Koschwitz said that “disruption for the sake of disruption was not a good thing,” but that it was equally important that newcomers to the market were on a level playing field, and should not suffer from newly introduced barriers.

He also highlighted that the European legislative process in itself was not fast enough, but it did not have to be fast. It was not all about fast-track laws, but rather about a technologically neutral and flexible framework that allows new technologies to exist under the same consumer protection and fundamental rights.

Koschwitz concluded the discussion, saying that the Commission still had a lot to do to boost start-ups in Europe.

On the continent, we have no shortage of innovative ideas, and entrepreneurs, he said. Achieving the leap from the business idea to the business of scale that contributes to European GDP was predicated on the single market, talent, capital, education, innovation policy and monitoring and evaluating those policies.

These aspects formed part of the Scale Up Europe Manifesto, which was given to the previous Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Günther Oettinger, in September 2016.

Source: One Policy Place

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