And suddenly it’s December. Hello Europe! 2014 has been an intense, long and exciting walk. As the year comes to an end we thought it was the best time to look back and wonder: what has been done for the startup Europe land in the past 12 months? Short answer is: much. We at EYIF have worked hard to learn, promote and tell what innovators and entrepreneurs needed. And the EU as well. We’ve thought and launched our ideas for how we imagine the next 12 ones. The machine does not stop. But it feels good to recap. So here’s the long version: this is all 2014 had to offer. Don’t go too far, we’ll soon be back!
A more entrepreneurial Europe: an article in The New York Times, which was published in December 2013 but marked a beginning on what we thought it was needed. “We must create a culture that promotes risk-taking and entrepreneurship instead of dependency on state handouts – a culture that encourages young people to be innovative and assume leadership for change”. Kumardev, president of the EYIF, wrote. “This is how Europe will find a sustainable way out of its crisis”.
And then Innoyear was born. Innoyear is the name of how 2014 was conceived here at EYIF. Things were changing and European innovation needed to be boosted. With a pro-innovation approach and along with the Horizon 2020 funding program by the European Comission, it was time to make the voice “for greater entrepreneurship, innovation and risk-taking in Europe” heard.
In January this year, President and Founder of EYIF, Kumardev Chatterjee, was invited to join Davos Annual Meeting, where leaders from all over the globe gather together. He attended WEF’s European Entrepreneurship initiative, advocating the idea of Fostering Innovation-driven Entrepreneurship in Europe. This was a great start for what would become an intense year!
Europe 2020 and the action plan with a specific part dedicated for start-ups, which was called Startup Europe Initiative, was core in 2014. Launched by the EU, a fundamental part in this plan is funding. “Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) aims at accelerating early-stage companies to become global players and real job creators”. Led by other several foundations, the plan to bring alive the recommendations included in the Startup Manifesto was on its way.
So… What was going on in Europe? Innovation was not only “happeninng” in the minds of those making plans at the European Commission. In fact, several hubs emerged and we covered them. We went on a Startup Europe Roadshow to allow young aspiring entrepreneurs share their stories and vision for the future and, in the meantime, found out about their hubs. The whole Berlin is a startup. Athens, as its crisis gets most of the media attention, is more like a success story in the making. Madrid faces something similar. So does Budapest, Lisbon or Bucharest. And London feels, definitely, like Europe’s Startup Star: the growth of its tech/info sector from 2009 to 2013 was more than triple the previous four years.
2014 was not only about cities and hubs, but also about people. Because not all the great companies are born in Silicon Valley, Europioneers are awards for European web entrepreneurs. They “constitute a specific category that creates new digital services and products that use the web as an indispensable component”, as the EU describes. So during The Web Summit, in Dublin on November 5th, the awards were given to the winners: Peter Arvai, from Prezi, Guillermo García, from alumn-e, Javier de la Torre, from cartoDB and Sylvia Klein, from paji. With this initiative, born in 2013, Europe recognizes successful examples – to inspire others and as the “secret ingredient to innovate Europe out of crisis”.
Shortly after that, the European Digital Forum launched Digital Minds for a New Europe in e-book format, a book with essays of “the world’s leading thinkers” including one from EYIF’s founder and president on how Europe needs to innovate “better and faster”. The focus should be, according to him, on giving startups an easier start.
The Unconvention was the moment to sum everything up. During three days, we – by we, we mean more than 200 attendees- gathered at the Science 14 Atrium in Brussels together with experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and people from institutions to learn and discuss about youth entrepreneurship and innovation. There were 3 intense days (which we summarized in three different posts: here, here and here) and one big conclusion. It leads us to the conclusion of 2014 and our approach for 2015.
Disrupt Europe. How? By thinking digitally first. Why do we want so? “Europe needs to see innovation and entrepreneurship in a new way and through main actions as setting up innovators networks, improving the innovation in the member States and supporting risk taking”. So at the end of November, but with our minds in next year, Disrupt Europe Year and the Euromentors Association for Digital Entrepreneurs were launched at the European Parliament. From then and until the end of 2015, the program will work on mentoring activities, thought leadership and different projects, but all with a similar approach: it’s time to disrupt and it’s the year to do so.