05 November 2015

Connecting European Young Innovators with China

European Young Innovators Forum President and Innovation Luminary, Kumardev Chatterjee, has been invited by Boao Forum for Asia to write an expert article in his capacity as European Commission awarded Youth Innovation Champion, for their official journal Boao Review. He is the first and only Young Innovator from Europe to be accorded this honour. The article has been published in the October issue.

The Boao Forum for Asia is the region’s most prestigious platform for leaders in government, business and academia to share visions on the most pressing issues in this dynamic region and the world at large. The 2015 forum was opened by the Chinese President and focused on technology and innovation with Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Robin Li as high-level speakers at the forum.
Previous invited writers for Boao Review have included French President François Hollande, Dutch President Mark Rutte, Mexico President Enrique Nieto, previous Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. Other regular contributors include Noble Prize winner Prof. Edmund Phelps, the late Prof. Roald Coase and  Prof. Rober Mundell.

This article draws on the core actions of EYIF’s #GrowGlobal initiative for 2015-2016 where we where we look at how we will connect young entrepreneurs in Europe to global markets to implement the vision outlined in the European Startup Act 2020.

Here is an excerpt of the article below:

Boao Review Cover OctoberIn the last five years, the European Innovation Ecosystem has been steadily growing with more than 900 European startups having raised more than 20 billion Euros in five major markets.

In 2014, thirteen European tech companies were valued at more than a billion dollars each, thereby becoming so-called “unicorns”. Though not all thirteen are necessarily innovation leaders, they do signify a growing trend of innovative companies in Europe garnering significant influence within a short time frame.

Innovative European startups come from a number of growing local ecosystems spread over the continent, with the UK, Germany, France and Sweden leading the field. Funding is largely concentrated on these ecosystem leaders.

European startup domains so far are primarily software (solutions), e-commerce and enterprise services, with the future trends pointing to more hardware startups, specifically around IoT, drone and automated vehicle technology.

Innovation cannot flourish without sustained funding and the fundraising landscape, which has been historically challenging in Europe, has now improved. In 2015, European startups raised more than 3 billion Euros of funding, led by Spotify’s massive 526 million Euros round. During the same period, European venture capitalists have raised more than 2 billion Euros for new investments.

This burst of innovation activity has not gone unnoticed around the world, with European ecosystems featuring prominently in global rankings of innovation and competitiveness, in particular those from the World Economic Forum. […]

The challenges for European innovation

Europe continues to lag behind in innovation performance vis-a-vis the U.S., Japan and now even South Korea. Perhaps most telling is the continuously decreasing innovation gap between Europe and China. 

Unicorns notwithstanding, Europe still lacks a global tech giant in pole position like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, Microsoft, Apple or Samsung, to name a few. Nor are there a statistically significant number of startups today in Europe that are seen as worthy future claimants for such scale, reach, or global ranking, even in areas that Europe has traditionally led, such as telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, heavy machinery, fashion, food, home design and furnishings, enterprise software or industrial hardware. […]

Socially, Europeans have grown increasingly risk-averse in the last 30 years. Innovation and entrepreneurship principally require a mindset with two main elements: fear of failure is no reason for not trying and a simple idea can be developed intro a successful project. Yet by tradition, young people in Europe are encouraged to eschew risks and follow safe paths to jobs and security. 

Read the full article in English here. 

Read the full article in Chinese here.