Leading internet entrepreneurs unveil a start-up manifesto for Europe

4 Sep 2013

Skype co-founder and Atomico CEO Niklas Zennstrom, a member of the influential Start-up Europe Leaders Club

The Start-up Europe Leaders Club, consisting of Europe’s most successful internet entrepreneurs, such as Niklas Zennstrom, Kaj Hed and Daniel Ek, has produced a start-up manifesto for Europe in response to a task set out by European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes to develop a series of actions to support entrepreneurship and grow the internet economy in Europe.

The 22-point plan developed by Start-up Europe Leaders Club is in effect a call to action and an accompanying website is being launched alongside the manifesto where entrepreneurs, investors and other figures in Europe’s digital ecosystem.

The Club includes Spotify’s Daniel Ek, Rovio’s Kaj Hed, Atomico CEO and Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, The Next Web’s Boriz Veldhuijzen, Joanna Shields from Tech City UK, Seedcamp’s Reshma Sohoni, Zaryn Dentzel from Tuenti and Lars Hinrichs from Hackfwd.

Future Human

The Manifesto recommends a number of actions, in particular taking steps to increase education and skills amongst young people, widening and retaining access to talent, improving access to capital, modernising data and privacy policy and driving thought leadership.

“The days of relying on large businesses or the government for job creation are over,” said Tech City UK’s Joanna Shields.

“Entrepreneurship is an engine for growth and must be cultivated in Europe. To create more businesses and more start-ups requires not just the right policies, but a change in mentality. The launch of today’s manifesto sends a clear message to business leaders and policy makers on the necessary steps for achieving this goal.”

‘Let’s shake-up Europe’

The tech leaders point out that economic conditions in Europe remain challenging with euro-zone GDP set to shrink by 0.4pc this year.

But there is a potential silver lining if Europeans grasp the opportunity.

According to research from the Boston Consulting Group the Internet Economy in the developed markets of the G-20 is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 8 percent over the next five years. In developing markets, annual growth is expected to be 18pc. These rates far outpace traditional economic sectors. No longer confined to high-tech businesses, digital technologies are resulting in the re-imagination of every single industry, holding the promise of creating new jobs and new wealth.

“This rising tide can help Europe secure its prospects for the future, helping it emerge stronger, more agile and prosperous. But further  action is required to overcome a  number of roadblocks that threaten to hamper progress and undermine  the potential of this vibrant and thriving sector. We must ensure we have the policies, modes of operation and the ambition to succeed.

“We need to address the fact that continental Europe currently doesn’t create new businesses destined for growth as well as other parts of the world or produce.

“Many of the millions of jobs lost over the past five year will never return in their old form. Entrepreneurship, which has been the engine for growth in the United States, has not been cultivated in an effective or systematic way in Europe. To create more businesses and more start-ups requires more than a change in policy. It requires a change in mentality,” the digital leaders said.

The manifesto was welcomed by Kroes who said: “I am very happy to see successful entrepreneurs wanting to give back to the tech communities and make things better for entrepreneurs. This Manifesto is a wake up call. Let’s start up Europe, let’s shake up Europe, let’s connect Europe!”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years