Telefonica and Orange are among the supporters of two new European Commission-backed initiatives which aim to reinvigorate Europe’s start-up tech culture.
“Europe really needs thriving start-ups, no doubt about that. Politicians, governments, commissions are not creating jobs, it is the business world and everyone active in the outside world but we of course have a responsibility,” said Neelie Kroes, Europe’s digital chief, at a press conference this morning during the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Being launched is a new accelerator called the Startup Europe Partnership and a thinktank, the European Digital Forum.
“Europe needs successful stories of entrepreneurs because innovation was flying away from Europe. If you wanted to be successful in a start-up, it looked like Europe was not the place to be but this is starting to change,” said Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete (pictured), COO Telefonica.
“Open innovation is part of our DNA. We have already supported several initiatives that back start-ups,” pointed out Nathalie Boulanger, senior vice president, in charge of the Orange startup ecosystem.
In addition to the two operators, the initiatives have the support of Spanish bank BBVA, the European Investment Bank, Cambridge University, IE Business School, Humboldt University, the Lisbon Council thinktank, UK innovation foundation Nesta and Mind the Bridge Foundation, which backs entrepreneurism.
The aim is to grow European start-ups into global forces in the mobile and tech markets and also to address the continent’s chronic unemployment problem.
The two mobile operators already have their own initiatives. Telefonica’s include its Think Big School to teach coding in schools and the Wayra programme for start-ups.
For its part, Orange is backing a fund for start-ups with advertising firm Publicis and Iris Capital Management, as well as having its own Feb accelerator programme.