EU to pump €100m in grants into 1,000 digital start-ups around Europe

12 Jul 2013

European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes pictured in Dublin, Ireland, on 19 June 2013 at the launch of the Digital Masterplan for Dublin City

Calling tech start-ups around Europe! Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president, has announced that up to 1,000 European start-ups in the digital space are set to receive grants via a new €100m funding round from the European Commission’s Future Internet programme.

The goal of the funding, according to Kroes, who heads up Europe’s Digital Agenda, will be to help such start-ups and SMEs develop apps and other digital services in areas such as transport, health, smart manufacturing, energy and media.

The Commission announced the new €100m funding yesterday.

“I promised action at Le Web in Paris last December and now I am delivering,” said Kroes in a statement. “We need more innovation and a more digital economy in Europe and that starts with a better ecosystem for start-ups. We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” she said.

The Future Internet scheme is known as a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). The €100m funding announcement is the third and final segment of the €500m partnership that launched in 2011. The goal of the overall programme is to help businesses and governments capitalise on the mobile internet and data revolution and to spur innovation and jobs in Europe’s digital industries.

Shaping Europe’s digital economy

Just last month, Kroes was in Dublin for the European Digital Agenda Assembly. At the time she gave a media briefing in which she praised the digital innovations that are happening around the continent at the moment, especially from younger people.

Kroes also has a team of young digital advisers from around Europe who provide her with insights on how digital can impact sectors, ranging from medicine to education and commerce, and potentially create jobs.

A plethora of initiatives has spawned in recent times to help bring people into the digital age, especially Europe’s future generation. Think initiatives such as Women 2020, the CoderDojo coding club movement for kids, plus campaigns such as’s Women Invent Tomorrow to put the emphasis on women who are innovating around the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) areas.

Then you have the start-up explosion happening in cities from Dublin to Berlin where people are pooling their ideas to come together, form new digital ventures, and disrupt sectors such as energy, health, music and retail.

New internet applications and services

Yesterday, the Commission said that this €100m in grants will aim to help develop new internet applications and services for a wide range of areas.

The services and apps will be built around the technologies developed in the PPP programme.

Funding will be channelled through 20 consortia – teams from the digital ecosystem in Europe. This will include start-up accelerators, crowd-funding platforms, venture capitalists, co-working spaces, regional funding organisations, SME associations and technology companies.

The Commission said the successful consortia will be selected according to how they plan to maximise the economic impact of their funding across the internet ecosystem.

Already, the programme has spawned European-developed technologies and the foundation for tools and services in areas such as cloud, smart cities, big data, and the internet of things.

Five large-scale started in 2013 to validate the technologies developed in real user settings.

Open innovation 2.0

The Commission said that the sector-specific platforms developed by these trials will be made available to SMEs and web-entrepreneurs in order to help develop services and applications.

In an interview with in June, Kroes spoke about how high-quality human capital will be key to digital recovery in Europe.

She said that by 2015, Europe could be short nearly 1m skilled ICT workers.

On her Twitter account, Kroes describes herself as “fighting like hell for a EU you can believe in”. While in Dublin recently she also helped launch the city’s Digital Masterplan.

As for the €100m call under the Future Internet programme, this will remain open until 10 December 2013.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic