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Europe walking the talk on innovation

Roland Strauss writes about the 10th European Innovation Summit – and EUtop50 Founders & Tech Festival – taking place in Brussels next month.


Europe’s innovation strategy is a long-term one, and one the 10th European Innovation Summit this November will strive to advance. Following on from last year’s discussions and debates, participants can expect to connect with the latest insights on future technology trends, venture funding and policy developments. They will also be able to tap into the knowledge of Europe’s innovation leaders, and most importantly, have the opportunity to meet their future business partners and investors

It is true that Europe is a great place to live and work but we are only a small region on our planet. And while we must cooperate closely with the rest of the world on sustainability issues, for example, when it comes to global competitiveness, leadership in future and emerging technologies will be the determining factor, and the race for the next global technology leaders is on. Looking around, everybody seems to agree that AI and big data are the key drivers transforming the ways we live and work. Given the amounts of investment made in China, the best talent hired and big salaries paid by the big five US tech companies, Europe’s position needs strengthening. For me that means continuing to invest in science and emerging technologies. Though to bridge Europe’s innovation gap we will need to do more than this, we must also join forces and create better synergies between our human capital and financial assets. We must support Europe’s innovation leaders to scale-up quickly at the global level. The challenge is not only to develop world class technologies but also keep the business and talent in Europe. The 10th European Innovation Summit will be an occasion to progress these ideas.


Earlier this year the European Commission tabled several proposals that will determine the support innovation and innovators will get during the years between 2021-2027 from the EU. For Horizon Europe, the next Framework Programme for research and innovation, €100 billion was proposed by the Commission, with the European Parliament likely to suggest an even higher budget. While the support from the next European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Policy, which has helped create 140,000 start-ups and brought 15,000 new products to the market, is expected to be even more game changing. The Common Agricultural Policy, the other big budget line, is likely to increase with substantial investments in agricultural innovation.

EUtop50 Founders & Tech Festival

The EUtop50 annual festival is going to celebrate and support young founders from all over Europe by bringing together the continent’s leading innovation actors, technology developers, incubators and accelerators, investors, corporate venture organisations, family offices and all those who contribute to the development of a globally competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Learning from last year’s EUtop50 event, and to achieve maximum impact, the 2018 edition will be built around young founders, R&D innovators from Horizon 2020 and university technology developers from across Europe. A particular highlight this year will be a selection of Europe’s future innovation leaders, young talented entrepreneurs who have developed breakthrough technologies and raised substantial amounts of venture capital. That’s because accessing funds is a critical step for young pioneers delving into the jungle of innovation financing in Europe to get right. The challenge is to make sure enough capital is available during the different cycles of company development; from the early stages, through growth stages that can reach the ultimate unicorn market capitalisation level. This is why we decided to dedicate an important part of the EUtop50 programme to the subject of innovation financing. When it comes to the early stages of innovation financing, there are an abundance of resources in and across Europe. The problem is that the various funding opportunities are scattered around European, national, regional and local funds making it very difficult, in particular for SMEs and start-ups, to find their way. What is currently available just isn’t fit for purpose; a simplified, open alternative, is desperately needed. So we are currently discussing with the European Commission ways we can effectively join forces to make it easier for innovators to navigate through the funding jungle.

Take Silicon Valley type ecosystems, like we have in places like Berlin, London, Paris, Stockholm and Madrid. The recipe for their success is the proximity to, and availability of, the most important ingredients in the innovation kitchen cook book: talent, university technologies, large corporations and venture capital: all working together in an atmosphere where everybody wants to invent the next Google. In this sense, Europe still suffers from a lack of venture capital and scale-up capital in general, along with a reluctance to take risk. Therefore, the support and freedom for Europe’s founders and young entrepreneurs to try out, fail and start over again is very important and will be championed by the EUtop50 festival, which will take place over two days at the Palais des Academies, located near the European Parliament. Event partners can actively shape the programme. Booth space is made available for start-ups and corporates, while 1:1 appointments can be made through our matchmaking application. Start-ups and tech innovators are invited to apply for a mentorship programme, run by Europe’s innovation leaders, throughout the year.

The real strength of our EIS and EUtop50 networks is that we are connecting the dots across Europe, and along the value chain through our events, while also providing intelligence for knowledge owners and on innovation funding and financing sources and instruments at EU, national and regional levels.


Listen to Roland talk about next month’s Festival in our latest podcast


About the author

Dr Roland Strauss is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Knowledge4Innovation, which spearheads the European Innovation Summit and EUtop50 festival. An impactful and results-driven platform, it also brings together innovation leaders from the private, public and academic sectors. Roland is also a business entrepreneur, and managing partner at Incubator Europe, a knowledge hub striving to pave the way for solutions to humanity’s most pressing challenges. He also runs EU Innovation Trends, a news and events platform covering EU funding, technology, innovation and digital transformations.

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