10 amazing European startups will join the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW)
Interview with Peteris Zilgavis, Head of Startups and Innovation and at the EC.
What is your background?
I’m a barrister, with my J.D. from University of Southern California, and a B.A. in political science from UCLA. I started addressing international law issues in several Latvian ministries (environment, foreign affairs) then moved to private law and then to the World Bank, the Council of Europe and finally the European Commission, working in areas of new technologies, policy and the law.
Is it a logical progression to what you do now?
Yes it is. The Digital Single Market and entrepreneurship in this area follow on my work on how policy and regulatory frameworks can adopt and adapt to innovative solutions rapidly while upholding principles of respect for the environment and our citizens’ interests.
What are you working on now? What are your plans for 2017?
Several important initiatives are implementing the European Commission Communication on the Startups and Scaleups Initiative (innovation procurement, regulatory sandboxes, Startup Europe and ICT standards), and Co-Chairing the European Commission’s Task Force on Financial Technology – FinTech.
What will you be talking about at RVS? / Why are you attending?
I’ll be talking about how Startup Europe aims at mission-based networking between Europe’s Startup ecosystems. We don’t have a single Silicon Valley dominating Europe but different cities that are strong in artificial intelligence, Deep Tech, gaming, FinTech, Insurtech etc. As policymakers, we also are conscious of needing to address societal challenges. The aim is to enable Europe’s entrepreneurs and tech to be part of the solution on the basis of an innovation and investment-friendly business climate.
It was a great year for me because I moved to the Startups and Innovation dossier, which I am very motivated by, but it was a year in which we saw that many voters in the World were dissatisfied with the status quo and were looking for answers. I believe that innovation and entrepreneurship can provide some of the opportunities that have been missing so I’m glad to be working with Europe’s startup communities to ensure that the next scaleups come from the EU and that jobs and growth are generated.
Which influencers and websites do you follow to keep up to date with the latest developments?
Too many to make a choice here (and to show favouritism). Always glad to hear about new sources of info.
How can people find out more about what you are working on?
The Startup Europe websites and social media, the European Commission websites and social media and my own Twitter account ( @PZilgalvis ).
Peteris Zilgalvis, J.D.
Head of Unit, Startups and Innovation
Digital Single Market Directorate
Directorate General Communications Networks, Content and Technology
Co-Chair, FinTech Task Force
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
I’m looking forward to a great event in beautiful Riga, Latvia, where I’m always glad to be!
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Talent, imagination and innovation: helping Europe’s tech startups to succeed
It was called Startup Europe Week. It was the largest ever multi-event of its kind for startups, certainly in Europe.
Now, to build on last year’s pioneering success, we are doing it again.
Throughout this week across Europe, a wide range of events will take place in more than 40 countries to raise awareness about resources and opportunities that are available locally for tech entrepreneurs and to help startups to create new networks and ecosystems.
Five years ago, we were just scratching the surface regarding startups with the early awareness initiatives of Startup Europe.
This programme’s main objective is to strengthen the business environment for web and ICT entrepreneurs so that their ideas and business can start and grow.
Since then, we have expanded and diversified the list of campaigns and programmes held under the Startup Europe umbrella – like the many events, around 200 expected, being held during this week.
Vibrant startup scene
And so the European startup scene has grown steadily.
Europe has now seen its first $10 billion companies emerge.
Deep tech is thriving, with investments and acquisitions going strong in this area.
European tech shows real diversity across industrial sectors, creating jobs faster than other industries. New tech hubs, where companies are succeeding in areas like fintech, healthcare, cybersecurity and the Internet of Things, are sprouting up to challenge more traditional centres like London and Berlin.
In short, Europe is home to a vibrant startup scene. And that is something we can really be proud of.
But we also know there is still more to do to help startups get off the ground and scale up.
Some familiar problems remain, such as linking up tech hubs, communities and ecosystems.
Networking them closer together would help to unlock their potential, and offer them some scale to compete in the international marketplace. This is exactly the kind of area where Startup Europe Week can help, especially with the local and regional support networks that it can provide.
We still need to encourage more women into tech and overcome what the Atomico/Slush report calls an “alarming gender imbalance”: 80% of companies that raise funding have all-male founding teams.
The Digital Single Market strategy directly addresses many of the problems faced by startups. We are already making changes to remove regulatory and administrative barriers that are holding them back.
To encourage cross-border investment, for example, we have proposed simplifying and modernising EU rules for online and digital cross-border purchases.
The aim is to help e-commerce startups by making it easier for them to comply with laws across the EU. In turn, they will be able to expand across national borders more quickly and offer their services to more customers.
Better public services – fully online and joined up across administrations and borders – will make life easier for startups keen to expand beyond national borders.
I want a “once-only principle” for businesses in their dealings with the public sector to be a reality soon; more e-procurement, and more procurement from startups – a great investment support.
Then, of course, there is financing. This is often – if not usually – the most tricky issue for startups, at whatever stage of the investment cycle, from seed money to late-stage funding.
Here again, we are working to improve the situation, especially with the startup and scale-up initiative that the Commission presented in November 2016.
This puts a new focus on venture capital investment, insolvency law and taxation, bringing them together with all the possibilities that the EU already offers.
Along with improving access to finance, the initiative aims to make it easier for entrepreneurs to have a second chance if they fail.
Last year, Startup Europe Week was a resounding success: the largest Europe-wide event dedicated to local support for startups that want to go global.
I wish this year’s week of events the same success, if not greater. Please get involved and help make Europe a connected continent for tech entrepreneurs: for them to imagine, to innovate, to succeed.
Another blog soon.
European Commission press release on launch of #SEW17!
Startup Europe Week brings together tech startups in 40 countries
For the second year, Startup Europe Week will bring together tech entrepreneurs in different cities all over Europe.
During this week, 200 events will take place in 40 countries across Europe, including countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaijan in addition to the EU Member States. The aim is to inform startups about the available support and resources both at local, regional and EU level.
Startup Europe Week is a grassroots movement promoted by the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative. It is part of the Commission’s efforts under the Digital Single Market and Single Market strategies to boost economic growth and create jobs by helping startups. Last year more than 15,000 startups took part in the first Startup Europe Week which reached over 4 million people on social media.
Vice-President Andrus Ansip said: “Europe is home to a vibrant startup scene, but some problems remain, such as linking tech hubs, communities and ecosystems. Bringing them closer together would help to unlock their potential, and offer them some scale to compete in the international marketplace. This is exactly the kind of area where Startup Europe Week can help, especially with the local and regional support networks that it can provide.” The Vice-President’s blog post on the Startup Europe Week is available online.
For more information:
Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel: Inga Höglund – Tel: +32 229 50698
Originally published on EC daily news bulletin