EU launches Startup Europe and Leaders Club to bolster support for entrepreneurs

European Commission
European Commission

European Commission

The German government isn’t the only one acknowledging the influence and impact of startups – European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes has launched initiatives Startup Europe and Leaders Club to foster web entrepreneurship across the continent.

Startup Europe is a six-part plan aimed at connecting local ecosystems, growing startups to global level and illustrating that European entrepreneurship can be as “cool and sexy” as Silicon Valley. The campaign wants to ensure that great ideas not only start in Europe, but stay in Europe.

“Europeans need to be creative and fearless. That’s how dozens of the world’s most exciting web and tech companies were born in the EU – and I want the world to know it,” said Kroes. “I want young entrepreneurs to have role models and for them to have a real digital single market to grow their ideas in.”

The Leaders Club – formed to encourage entrepreneurial activity and startup culture – is the first part of the campaign and consists of nine star entrepreneurs including Spotify founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, HackFWD CEO Lars Hinrichs and Seedcamp Partner Reshma Sohoni, among others.

Neelie Kroes

Other elements of the Startup Europe campaign include: a Startup Europe Partnership focused on unlocking mentorship potential, an accelerator forum to increase awareness of existing programmes, a EU Crowdfunding Network, strengthening ties with venture capitalists and fostering web talent by expanding the role of education platforms.

Is it a publicity stunt?

According to Whiteboard Mag, Kroes responded:

No. But if you see a problem, you start by getting it to people’s attention. I’m fighting for an EU economy that’s future-oriented – we need farmers, but it’s probably not where the future employment will be. The future is ICT-related and job creation is mainly a thing of SMEs – that’s where startups come in. So yes, I want more attention there and I want to change the mindset. It’s attractive for people to see what they can do – to have role  models.”

In the US, startup companies collectively create three million jobs each year during their first year of business, according to the EU press release. With the economic recovery still underway, there’s no doubt that Europe wants to match that level of activity.

Image credit:
European Commission: flickr user tiseb

Neelie Kroes: flickr user Campus Party Europa

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