Europe prioritizes the digital area as a lever for a better society, where the startup ecosystem will play a crucial role in Europe’s economic sustainability and competitiveness.
What does this mean?
On the “2030 Digital Compass: The European way for the Digital Decade”, the European Commission identifies 4 axes for mapping out the EU’s Digital trajectory:
(1) A digitally skilled population and highly skilled digital professionals, (2) Secure and performant sustainable digital infrastructures, (3) Digital Transformation of businesses, and (4) Digitalisation of public services.
If we look to each one of the axes, we see that a skilled population and professionals are addressing the ever more demanding job market for a varied digital skill set, where startups are spearheading in this regard. The digital infrastructures and digitalisation of public services rely on some of the innovations and solutions that will be generated in the startup ecosystem. As for the digital transformation of businesses, they will come, in a way, from the upgrade of companies doing business through digital (processes, e-commerce, marketing, etc.) and through the renovation of the business fabric, by having a higher number of digital native companies.
This strategy indicates that Europe prioritizes the digital area as a lever for a better society, where the startup ecosystem will play a crucial role in Europe’s economic sustainability and competitiveness. With this mindset and knowing the fact that Europe is lagging in comparison to other competing regions, regarding its startup ecosystem indicators (lower number per capita of startups, employees, and market value), it is time to make a clear bet on this ecosystem.
One key step towards that objective was the creation of Europe Startup Nations Alliance – ESNA. This entity with a European scope was launched during the Portuguese Presidency of the EU, back in the first semester of 2021, being the result of a particularly important declaration that is the “EU Startup Nations Standards of Excellence”, which had wide commitment of Member States, where 26 countries plus Iceland signed it.
This declaration points out 8 best practices of “Startup friendly” public policies that aim to implement standards that go from facilitating business creation, addressing talent necessities, Tax incentives through Stock Options, better financing schemes or promoting innovation in regulation frameworks that foster innovation.
How will ESNA help Europe to reach this level?
ESNA will focus on four action areas: To monitor and support the compliance with the Startup Nation Standards; to disseminate the adoption and use of data platform that maps the ecosystem and compiles relevant information about each Member State; build a strong European brand; and stimulate economic growth through the internationalization of the ecosystem.
To execute this, ESNA’s governance model takes into account the representation of the different actors, in search of a common platform for dialogue between startups, incubators, investors, agencies, national governments for entrepreneurship, government, academia and R&D, which is something innovative in the European context.
ESNA thus emerges with the ambitious vision of placing Europe at the forefront of the global startup ecosystem with a mission to accelerate the growth of European entrepreneurship levels, improving European and national political contexts. Its aim is to continuously identify and develop best practices that support sustained policies, and based on the analysis of objective data collected by each Member state on a single digital platform, provide an important and up-to-date information ecosystem
As far as funding is concerned, the European Commission invested 1M€, via the Horizon Europe Programme, with Portugal as the main promoter of this structure, chipping in another 7,5M€ through its Recovery and Resilience Plan.