The big start-ups propose a European fund of 100,000 million to end the dominance of the United States and China
Brussels has been forging a strong competition policy, an industrial strategy and a program to promote research over the past three decades. But the EU is still in tow of the United States and China in creating startups And only today it only houses 7.2% of all the technologies valued at more than 1,000 million euros, known as unicorns by the sector. The founders and executives of the 33 majors startups Europeans will meet this Tuesday with the commissioner of the sector, Mariya Gabriel, to ask her to deploy a strategy on innovation and the creation of a large fund of 100,000 million euros for technology companies dedicated to key areas such as biotechnology, artificial intelligence or fight against climate change.
The leaders of the largest startups will bring a document in Brussels this Tuesday, to whose draft this newspaper has had access, in which they warn that Europe is entering a new technological era. And proof of this is the success of the first RNA-based vaccine developed by the German BioNTech. Apart from that case, the companies that will meet Gabriel consider that Europe is in a state of “technological dependence” due to a lack of alternatives that the EU has tried to permanently rebalance through its powerful competition policy.
That diagnosis is signed, among others unicorns, the Spanish Cabify, the French Blablacar, the Italian FacilityLive, the Dutch Bookig.com or the German Zalando. The companies recall that “the emergence and leadership of private non-EU competitors, with unprecedented financial means, may end up erasing the existing innovation dynamics and the position of the EU industry”. This concentration of “leadership” and “financial weight” in the United States and China, they add, is allowing them to buy potentially disruptive companies, consolidate their industrial power, scale and “direct the digital and technological agenda.” “This poses a risk to Europe’s growth, jobs and influence in key strategic areas.”
The founders of that group of startups propose a plan to reverse this trend based on five major trends: the green transformation, the so-called digital decade – ensuring the EU’s preeminent place in health and education – digital sovereignty, leadership in deep tech – ranging from synthetic biology to robotics and artificial intelligence – and digital cohesion to ensure that no European country is left out of that leap. From there, they believe that each of those big five categories should include two more specific “flagships”.
Contrary to what the “myth of the young entrepreneur in a garage” proclaims, the executives of these companies argue that a company needs about ten years, a team of founders of about 45 years and hundreds of millions of euros of patient capital. According to the document, executives will propose “flagships” on Tuesday. An example will be a fund for European technological sovereignty that allows investment in companies of a strategic nature. This instrument should be for public and private participation for long-term investments. The founders of startups Those who put part of their assets in that fund claim that it pivots around them in order to create an innovative system in the EU. That is the idea that has matured the most, according to the draft, but they have also outlined a proposal for the ecological transition.
“Europe is not the United States or China,” says the document. For better and for worse. Therefore, they believe that the European model should be based on diversity and effort and create a network of “small valleys” in medium-sized cities that would be connected. According to this idea, it would be a question of uniting cities with historical universities, such as Pavia, Louvain, Salamanca or Uppsala. The idea is to find spaces for innovation in which city councils, universities and companies are within walking distance of each other. “These places offer the best opportunity to experiment with new technologies, using the local community as a testing ground, especially if local authorities are open-minded about the principle of innovation,” the document adds.
European Commission sources argued that this document will be followed up, since the underlying objective is shared. In fact, in the meeting invitation letter, the curator for Innovation and Research, Mariya Gabriel, indicates that it expects a “two-way conversation”, in which the entrepreneurs explain how they can contribute to the construction of “a true European Innovation Area”. Business leaders will also convey to Brussels the need for countries to commit to the startups, for example, in their recovery plans if they want to move towards the challenge of digitization.