The word “entrepreneur” originates from early 19th century French, meaning one who undertakes an endeavour. However aside from the words origins Europe for a long time saw what in comparison to other global markets has been little activity in creating new Enterprise. Long established firms on the continent have for the most part ruled the enterprise scene, and entrepreneurship activity has been for the most part stagnant until recently.
In the past few years things however have been on the move, the UK, typically the centre of European Entrepreneurship has the scene has taken a second seat to the area around the Baltic sea, typically, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Poland. New enterprise is popping up nearly everywhere you look funneled by media reports of new tech startups such as Spotify, clean tech, sustainable energy and life sciences.
So why the change? It can be attributed to a number of factors, these being greater European Integration, open labour markets, or even initiatives such as the Baltic Entrepreneurship Partners whose aim is creating co-operative research and study in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education field, members are;
– Århus Business School
– University of Tartu, The Faculty of Economics and Business Administration
– Kaunas University of Technology Regional Business Incubator
– Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship
– Institute of Business Administration at Tallinn Technical University
– Tampere University, Research Centre for Vocational Education
– Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management, Warsaw
And while there has been a shift is this to say the least enough. The short answer is no. The longer answer is that while there are initiatives on the continent, and they are making an impact the fundemental truth is that the state entrepreneurship lies in societal perception or risk, and the sad truth is that most european societies are risk averse.
The Danish, have a word for being too ambitious, the Spanish say that the best local entrepreneurs take an idea that worked in America and copy it for the local market, the Business Angel activity in many networks sees sometimes at most one deal year. Are these things normal in an society that is pro-entrepreneurial, no, they are counterproductive and act against those of us who are trying to innovate and create enterprise. At the same time, you have a portion of the continent with high national debt, where taxpayer euro’s are going towards intiatives such as government sponsored – socialist designed programmes to create work and lower unemployment, and if we must utilize taxpayer euro’s to create jobs would it not be better if we did it though the creation of new companies?
Then it comes to initiatives, assistance, help, etc… the taxpayer at the end it often paying for European Innovation, which in a way is fine, however, governments at the core of their nature are inefficient due to the lack of a distinctive profit motive, notwithstanding, those individuals in charge of distributing those funds, are they specialists, are they venture cap? No, they are not. And what about EU money dedicated to new enterprise, it’s there but how do you get to it? Information is not only lacking, but the little that does exist requires a PhD in bureaucracy to understand.
Where does this all lead to? Simple, we need to work on changing mindsets while fighting against the grain of society, there is no Silicon Valley (SV) in Europe, there are pockets such as Sophia Antipolis, but as much as the French would like, it’s no SV, but it’s getting there, and this continent if anything needs more initiatives such as Sophia, it needs to embrace new ideas, and put aside its misconceptions of pro-risk behaviour. Only if we do that and work together to foster entrepreneurship on the continent will we truly become a more successful and more efficient society.