How to change European startup policy

November 25, 2016

One of the things that makes the U.S such a great place to launch a startup is the ease at which a company can scale up. Launching a startup in one part of the country is, in a lot of respects, the same as launching it another part of the country. However, in Europe it’s a little harder; although the EU has been working to create a single market, entrepreneurs still cite the fragmentation of the European market as a stumbling block for their startups. In order to create a better, more fertile environment, where our fantastic entrepreneurs can build the global champions we need to compete internationally, we must streamline the process of scaling up.

Well, I can tell you, over the last few months I travelled from the Beta-i office in sunny Lisbon to rainy Brussels, to meeting with researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders in the European startup scene. We have been labouring away but I think that it has all been worth it:  we are happy to finally announce the release of the Scale Up Manifesto!

What is the scale up manifesto?

The Scale Up Manifesto is a document that we can give to policymakers, startups, entrepreneurs, think tankers and other stakeholders as something to rally around and set as a road map to improve conditions in the European startup ecosystem. It effectively acts as a tool to help us understand the challenges and guide us forward. The manifesto is broken down into 6 chapters that each address a different part of the issue. These chapters are titled 1) Complete the single Market, 2) Mobilise Capital, 3) Activate Talent 4) Power Innovation 05) Broaden Education, 06) Monitor, Measure and Evaluate.

The Scale Up Manifesto brings forward recommendations such as the idea to use a “policy sandbox” to test the impact of new regulations on startups. This would allow the European Commission to become more effective at supporting startups in Europe by understanding the effects of new legislation before passing it. Among the 49 actions proposed, the Scale Up Manifesto also proposes the creation of an online European VAT clearing house- a one-stop (online) shop, where VAT can be declared and recovered for all 28 EU member states. This measure would support smaller businesses navigate the complicated maze of VAT schemes in Europe and support international expansion of businesses within Europe.

This Manifesto is the result of a lot of work and collaboration from the Lisbon Council, Nesta, Open Evidence and, perhaps most notably, the European Commission. These organizations consulted with the startup communities from most member states, through startup associations and organizations such as Beta-i, to gather ideas and feedback that would enrich the Scale Up Manifesto.

What needs to happen next?

We are very excited about what this manifesto could achieve but the truth is, we need help to make things happen! By bringing down the barriers for startups to scale up across the EU, we make it easier for the next unicorn to find its root in Europe and for new businesses to operate at economies of scale. That could be your startup, your investment, your community. Sign and share to raise the voice of startups in Europe: