Global Innovation Summit
18 February 2015

Global Innovation Summit: the US & EU connection


There is an invisible bridge crossing the ocean. It goes from Europe to the US, from our vibrant and varied start-up hubs to those that sit there. From London, Berlin, Budapest or Madrid to New York, Boston and, of course, SF.

“The feeling here in Europe reminds me of San Francisco when I moved there in 2007”, wrote Adam Wiggins, who describes himself as a “wandering CTO”. He is the founder of Heroku, a cloud application platform that began as a startup and was later acquired by Salesforce. After that, Wiggins decided to leave the team and moved to Berlin to advise other founders and projects.

One can feel the invisible bridge when reading how he described his journey some months ago. “I believe in the Silicon Valley / startup approach to problem-solving. I think there are a vast many ways that the human condition can be improved by applying this approach, and that we’ve only just scratched the surface with the startups that exist today. I’d love to see a diaspora of startup thinking and startup culture spread around the world. That culture is one that believes things can be better; believes that “user experience” is found everywhere; and believes that small teams of dedicated people can make breakthroughs not possible via the established institutions of big companies and governments”.

The situation applies the other way around. Wiggins moved to Berlin to discover a smaller community of entrepreneurs, while others from Europe go to the US to discover the big one. Perhaps obsessed with the idea of cash flowing like wine and an open ecosystem that allows you to succeed easier and faster than in Europe, there are many startups that move to Silicon Valley.

Fitness app BitGym was one of those ones. Reasons include more than economics – “founders are more likely to attempt to bootstrap”, founder Alex Gourley says. In fact he talks about the labor pool  all over the Bay Area and the startup culture and environment. “San Francisco is an amazing, diverse city. It is unquestionably cool, and its nightlife and culture are commonly credited with the influx of tech workers and tech startups”.

Culture.Because that is what matters and what we see here. Wiggins and Gourley are just a couple of examples of what has become a shared culture of doing, learning and building solutions. No matter the geography or where you do innovate, innovation is now global and that is exactly what Global Innovation Summit celebrates.

And that is why we are writing this post. “Over 500 builders of the new economy. From 50 countries”, its description reads. “Applying the newest tools for accelerating innovation, entrepreneurship and impact at scale. Summit is the world’s largest gathering for building ecosystems of innovation and entrepreneurship”.

As EYIF is a founding member and active contributor of the Global Innovation Summit, being there represents our commitment to build bridges – those invisible bridges that one can already see – between EU startups and the Silicon Valley ecosystem. For the second consecutive year, we are bringing a handpicked delegation of young innovators and entrepreneurs to connect there.

Want more? A second post on this will follow. Stay tuned!