A recap of Startup Europe Week

Europe’s tech community gathered en masse this past week for Startup Europe Week, a series of events in 40+ countries and 200+ cities sponsored by the European Commission. From the 1-5 February, Europe was buzzing with hundreds of keynotes, workshops, and networking events to bring together entrepreneurs, executives, and policymakers. The goal was to shine a spotlight on the continent’s support for startups, both on a local, and international level.

Mind the Bridge was honored to be a co-organizer of the week’s events in London, hosting events of our own that drew dozens from the city’s vibrant entrepreneurial community.

On Wednesday, we presented the Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) program to an audience of startups, investors, corporates and entrepreneurs. (On a separate, but related note, we also presented our SEP program to HULT International Business School in San Francisco this week…we are making the rounds!)

In London, our Chairman Alberto Onetti kicked off our event, ‘From Startup to Scaleup: Startup Europe Partnership’ by providing a snapshot of the current startup landscape. Citing recent research from Atomico, Alberto set the tone for the session by explaining that of 236 unicorns (technology companies worth $1 billion or more) founded since 2003, only 40 originated in Europe. Europe needs to do better, he argued.

The message: instead of focusing on the unicorns we need to focus on the baby unicorns, the ones we call “scaleups”, and help them to grow. And how can we support them? By matching them with corporates seeking strategic investments, procurement, and/or acquisitions or acqui-hires. Alberto then explained the motivations and goals of the Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) program, and that of our matching strategy (if you’re not familiar with Startup Europe Partnership (SEP), you can read more about what the initiative involves here). He recently outlined what he believes could be Europe’s secret weapon – and Startup Europe Partnership’s secret to success – in an op-ed in Tech.eu.  

The presentation was followed by a panel with Nesta’s Valerie Mocker and Squire Patton Bogg’s tech lawyer Dale Huxford. They dug into the important questions, positing how to turn deal making between startups and corporates from a vision into a reality.  

An expert researcher on the relations between corporates and startups, Valerie provided insight into how startups can get on EU corporations’ radars. She suggested that startups need to strategize about the value of a long-term relationship, rather than a one-off sales pitch.

Likewise, Dale – a London-based lawyer who has advised hundreds of tech startups in their dealings with corporations, funding rounds, and for a few lucky companies, the IPO process – offered best practices for startups if and when they reach the negotiating table.

It was a lively event that brought out some really important issues for EU startups who are navigating the difficulties of growth. The key takeaway, an optimistic one, was that Europe’s entrepreneurial ecosystem can catch up to Silicon Valley if it gets smart about its strategy in supporting startups. We believe corporations are vital to this strategy. And we hope all our guests this week, and across the continent’s hundreds of events, can realize this to help Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) to have an even greater impact in the years to come.