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The European Union as an Innovation Hub: A Vision

Innovation is a key driver for growth and it is the key to a united European Union. European countries are dominating the “Global Innovation Index” in 2016. Seven out of the top 10 are member states of the European Union, eight countries are European.

Startup Innovation

Innovation is a key driver of economic growth and a key aspect of startup success. For Europe, it is important to invest in scientific and technological research and development. Europe needs to encourage creativity and new business development. The current innovative landscape in Europe is shaped by company-internal and scientific university innovation. Where Europe can still improve is the ability of its startups to bring new innovative concepts and patents to the market.

Highly Educated, Hungry European Youth

The European youth is not only highly educated, they also see themselves as European and they tend to take off their national identities.
Still, we are suffering a quite high youth unemployment in Europe. For tertiary educated people from Spain, France, Greece, etc it is quite hard to find a job suitable for their qualification. So they end up applying and looking for jobs in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands. These are all countries which are leading the Global Innovation Index. What can we do to (1) raise the European self-identity, (2) lower youth unemployment, (3) create jobs, and (4) boost innovation in Europe?

The answer is supported entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship creates a sense of Community

In 2016 I participated in an EU startup accelerator program whose attention and idea is absolutely great. The realization, on the other hand, was a catastrophe. The EU startup accelerator program is called EUXCEL and it intends to create cross-national European startup teams. This is the part I truly love. Now the part which is badly executed: teams are formed/forced within hours and startup teams are working remotely on the company. I know that the organizers are tremendously capable guys and that the perfect realization was rather a matter of the budget. What EUXCEL did was to create a sense of community by bringing together people from all around the European Union. This is great! Usually, you stay within your own country to start a business which means that you are very likely about to start a startup team which consists of only one single nationality.

Creating a European Innovation Hub

Here comes the ultimate thing: A European Innovation and Startup Hub. We can also call it “Innovation Accelerator” or “Startup Accelerator 2.0”. I am truly confident that by bringing together European people we can achieve things we cannot achieve as a single nation. So here is my idea of the ultimate European Startup accelerator, let’s call it UESA.

Layout

The UESA consists of three pillars:

  1. Cheap Accommodation for Entrepreneurs
  2. Free office and co-working spaces
  3. Access to an innovative infrastructure

Cheap Accommodation

The European youth oftentimes lives at their parents home. Oftentimes this has financial reasons. It’s simply a sad truth that highly educated and qualified under 30’s cannot afford an own apartment. Cheap accommodations are therefore a necessity for the UESA. I personally don’t think it is a good idea to give away the accommodation and bread and butter for free. The UESA shall not become a social contribution.

Free Office and Co-Working Spaces

As long as entrepreneurs of the UESA are unprofitable they will get an office and co-working spaces for free. All offices and co-working spaces will be located on a single campus where several hundred or even thousands of European entrepreneurs can work, chat, and innovate.

Access to Innovative Infrastructure

This is also a prerequisite to innovate. If UESA startups really want to innovate they need free access to innovation labs. These innovation labs will also be part of the UESA campus and they will allow research and development in the following areas:

  • Networks and Sensors
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Robotics
  • Infinite Computing
  • Medicine
  • Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology
  • etc.

Location

The UESA campus may be located in Southern regions such as Sicilia, Malta, Crete, or Cyprus. Why? Don’t criticise the positive effects of the sun! Remember the Silicon Valley is also a quite sunny place. Furthermore, Southern states are struggling with higher youth unemployment and a UESA campus would highly up value the regions.

Financing

First of all, the UESA campus shall benefit European countries but it should never be limited to EU countries only. I would suggest making the UESA infrastructure free to EU citizens while charging fees for non-EU citizens or commercial use.

The EU as a governmental body should ethically never take shares of a company (and it would also make no sense). Instead of taking 1%–10% of company shares – as usual, startup accelerators are doing it – startups which are formed in the UESA campus will have to sign an agreement in which they declare that their companies headquarter will always be located in the European Union.

The Perfect Startup Environment

By establishing an Ultimate European Startup Accelerator (UESA) we will create the world’s most attractive startup environment. The Silicon Valley is overhyped, extremely expensive, and the outputs are oftentimes boring internet startups. Startup hubs in Paris, Berlin, and London are still quite expensive for entrepreneurs with an income of zero. By taking away the biggest worries of entrepreneurs which are the living costs, and bringing the brightest minds of Europe together in one single place we can truly create bold things.

Entrepreneurs are not forced into teams, and they don’t have a time limit as long as they are showing some progress.

Let’s discuss this on a European level!

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