Startup visas and new data laws: Startup Europe Leaders Club reveals manifesto

Neelie Kroes
Neelie Kroes

Neelie Kroes

The growth of the internet-driven economy in developed markets of G20 countries is far outpacing traditional economic sectors, according to research from the Boston Consulting Group – and Europe is determined to boost it further.

Today the new Startup Europe Leaders Club – with members such as Spotify founder Daniel Ek, Seedcamp partner Reshma Sohoni and serial entrepreneur-turned-VC Niklas Zennström – have revealed a manifesto at the Founders Forum in London outlining key areas that need to be addressed for tech entrepreneurship to get to the next level in Europe.

In a stagnating economy, the European Commission and its Leaders Club see the rise in digital activity as an opportunity to create jobs and reimagine existing industries. In April, European Commission VP Neelie Kroes (below) went so far as to say “tech entrepreneurs are the secret ingredient to innovate Europe out of crisis“.

Recently, the European Commission has set up a number of new initiatives aiming to inspire and foster web entrepreneurship in the region – including a €100m fund for SMEs and web entrepreneurs.

European Commission

Tech entrepreneur’s manifesto – fixing Europe’s “roadblocks”

Launched in March alongside the Startup Europe initiative, the Leaders Club is a group of industry experts providing guidance to the European Commission on actions to strengthen the region’s entrepreneurial environment.

“There are a number of roadblocks that threaten to hamper progress and undermine the potential of this vibrant and thriving sector to generate prosperity and create jobs,” states the group’s newly-released manifesto. “Its future success is far from assured and we face a number of challenges exacerbated by some suboptimal policies and outdated modes of operation.”

Here are the five focus areas outlined in a draft of the manifesto sent to media on Tuesday:

  • Skills and education – Prepare graduates for the digital job marketplace and teach entrepreneurship from a young age
  • Access to talent – Roll out a pan-European startup visa to make it easy for non-European entrepreneurs to start a business or get a job in the region and make it attract/fair to give employees equity
  • Access to capital – Increase private and institutional investments in startups, make it easier for high-growth companies to raise capital through public markets, encourage M&A activity, and develop a European version of a limited liability company for small companies
  • Data protection and privacy  – Revise and unify data protection laws across the EU to allow for more innovation
  • Thought leadership – Celebrate entrepreneurial success stories, promote the path of entrepreneurship as a credible career alternative, appoint a Chief Digital Officer for each EU country and create a “best practices” repository for local/national government

With the manifesto and recommendations out, it’s now up to governements to react and develop policies accordingly.

Image credits:
Neelie Kroes: flickr user Sebastiaan ter Burg
European Commission: flickr user tiseb

For related posts, check out:

EU launches Startup Europe and Leaders Club to bolster support for entrepreneurs
EU announces €100m fund for entrepreneurs and SMEs to boost the European startup scene
European Commission’s Tech All Stars – top three new startups in Europe announced