Startup Europe from the European Commission´s perspective

Startup Europe is an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology that aims to strengthen the business environment for tech entrepreneurs, so that their ideas and business can start and grow in the EU. Here, three coordinators of Startup Europe projects, Eurico Neves, Andrés Iborra and Alberto Onetti, explain their work and how they are helping to improve the business environment for EU entrepreneurs.

Different perspectives

“Capitalist” is a word that has slightly different connotations depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on. While in the US capitalists are revered, Europeans have more mixed feelings about them.

But after years of envying the US entrepreneurship system from afar, Europe seems to be  waking up to the importance of capital – in both its human and currency forms – for the creation of companies and, consequently, jobs. And if human and currency capital come in one single package, even better! After all, business angels are both talented capitalists and powerful business accelerators.

At EU level, there is a new focus on investment. As President Juncker’s Investment Plan is moving towards implementation, the Capital Markets Union pursued by the Commission will reduce fragmentation in financial markets, diversify financing for businesses, including start-ups, and offer better opportunities for investors. A Capital Markets Union will make it easier for these capitalists to meet, invest and support promising business.

At a more practical level is the Commission’s Startup Europe initiative. Working bottom-up, it funds projects that interconnect start-up ecosystems and links entrepreneurs in one country with investors in another.

Facilitating access to capital

The five main “connectors” projects, which encompass 16 cities across Europe, are working to facilitate access to capital (both currency and human) for start-ups that are aiming to expand and compete in the global market. They are, among other things, working with local partners to identify and engage the most relevant players in the techstart-up ecosystem, providing services for tech entrepreneurs hoping to scale up and helping them navigate through the main challenges.

One example of a business that has been helped by these projects is Spanish online cleaning start-up Wayook. Launched a year ago out of Salamanca, a small Spanish town known mostly for its university, the start-up is now active in 40 cities across Spain. In part thanks to the help and advice of one of the connectors projects, Wayook recently managed to raise its first funding round – a €640,000 investment.

Connecting start-ups is not enough, however. SEP Investors Forum aims to bring together investors from all over Europe and open an internal communication channel with the European Commission and the European Investment Fund. Startup Europe Partnership helps create bridges between start-ups and established corporates, providing concrete business, investment and exit opportunities.

On top of these ventures, the Startup Europe Partnership initiative is connecting the European Ecosystem to Silicon Valley through Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley (SEC2SV).

With these kinds of projects, Startup Europe is helping Europe become a place-to-be for new businesses and finally grow to be proud of its entrepreneurs, business owners and – who knows – even its capitalists.