Vice-president of the European Commission and commissioner in charge of the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes is leading a group of nine successful entrepreneurs that will meet regularly to discuss how best to encourage more European start-ups.
Kroes’ assembled A-team consists of Zaryn Denzel, founder of Spanish social network Tuenti; Spotify founders Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon; Rovio chair Kaj Hed; Lars Hinrichs, founder and CEO of pre-seed investment company HackFwd; Joanna Shields, CEO and chair of Tech City Investment Organisation; Reshma Sohoni, partner at European micro-seed investment fund and mentoring programme Seedcamp; The Next Web founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten; and Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Skype, Joost and Atomico, among others.
“I want young entrepreneurs to have role models, and for them to have a real digital single market to grow their ideas in,” said Kroes. “These people didn’t just talk about doing something, they went and did it. That’s why young people and leaders should listen to them.”
This so-called Leaders Club stems from Kroes’ dream to have entrepreneurs start in Europe and stay in Europe, and is the first step in the EU’s Startup Europe campaign. It is hoped that this six-part plan to accelerate and connect entrepreneurship ecosystems in Europe will help European start-ups to establish themselves and grow to a global scale.
Other elements of the campaign include networking with venture capitalists, increasing awareness of accelerator programmes, trading skills among web entrepreneurs across Europe, and EU crowdfunding networks. The commission also plans to tackle the shortage of web developers by expanding the role of online education platforms
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