The European Commission is to set up a new Web Entrepreneurs Partnership as part of an offensive to catch up with the US on technology innovation, according to the EU's Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.
The announcement came in a message delivered by Kroes’s adviser Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau at the ‘UNconvention’ staged by the European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF) in Brussels last week.
“Over in the US, start-ups create three million jobs per year – even during a recession,” she said in the relayed statement, calling for more recognition for entrepreneurs, better resources, and “the right rules”.
The European Web Entrepreneurs Partnership will be composed of private companies offering resources for online businesses such as free hosting and advertising and mentoring support.
The European Commission is currently putting together a core group of private partners to provide stimulus for a launch later this year.
Clinton innovation adviser warns of tech dangers
The forum also saw a top US official make the case for the internet industry's innovation and job potential in Europe.
Alec Ross, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior advisor for innovation, said that internet technology was providing a fertile space for entrepreneurial opportunities.
But he also underlined the dangers, telling delegates that cyber security and defence were both areas where there is much demand for innovation.
In a speech that underlined difficulties in the US-China relationship relating to technology, Ross claimed that most cyber attacks were coming from Russia and China, and challenged demands by Chinese companies for US contracting partners to hand over their technology source codes.
The technology revolution is not sapping power away from the US to China, but from all “hierarchical systems”, Ross said, remarking that that social networking sites were increasingly exposing corruption in hitherto remote Chinese communities.
However, delegates at the ‘UNconvention’ expressed some doubt about the benefit to European innovation of some big names in the US tech industry.
Following a presentation by Facebook’s global public policy chief, Marne Levine, delegates were straw-polled by moderator and EURACTIV publisher Christophe Leclercq. Only a quarter of delegates at the plenary session said they believed Facebook “innovates enough in Europe and for Europe”.
“First, you should have a culture that recognises you, supports you and gives you more credit for the work you do, Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, said in a statement at the Unconvention.
“ A culture where people see that this is a valid career, that it's OK to take risks and fail – and indeed that this kind of enterprise is essential to our future. From my position I'm going to do what I can to make that change happen, and give you the profile you deserve,” Kroes added.
“Innovation is not just about jobs, growth abnd prosperity. Innovation is about you: dreaming new ideas, realising them with your peers, and driving change: think – do – change!” Kumardev Chatterjee the founder and president of the European Young Innovators Forum told delegates at the UNconvention.
Innovation has taken centre stage in EU policymaking, with Brussels placing research, education and the Innovation Union flagship at the heart of the 'Europe 2020' plan for growth and job creation.
New sources of finance were at the heart of the EU's innovation strategy, published in October 2010 by the Commission.
- 2nd half 2012: Commission to launch Web Entrepreneurs Partnership