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European Commission

Neelie Kroes

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

Supporting startups in a creative, connected continent

Spain Startup and Investor Summit /Madrid

9 October 2013

To add your comment to this speech, see the social version of the speech here

You know the funny thing. When people think of Startups they think of Silicon Valley.

And I think that's odd. Because there's so much talent right here. Here in this room, and here across Europe.

We need more tech startups in Europe. In today's challenging economic climate, digital technology is giving new chances to connect citizens, catalyse new businesses and create jobs.

It's not just a new tool or a new gadget. It's a whole new way of working, collaborating and innovating together. And we need to rock the boat. Innovate thanks to European newcomers. Startups that will shake the established players and make them more competitive. That is my message to the incumbents, to the established European ICT players: embrace the future, work with startups, change your business model. If you don't do it yourself, someone else will, and this someone may very well come from outside Europe.

I don't want us to copy Silicon Valley. But I do want to celebrate our homegrown Startup talent.

And there's heaps of that. In startup ecosystems across Europe, innovators and entrepreneurs are hard at work to build the success stories of the future.

Skype, Qype, DailyMotion, Deezer, XING, Layar, Prezi, Shazam, Spotify, Rovio, Hailo, SoundCloud, SkyScanner.

Spanish startups like FON, Tuenti, BuyVIP, Loquo, Busuu, or the many hard at work in Chamberi Valley and beyond. I could go on.

Those are all successful European startups. Many indeed receiving EU support via the European Investment Fund.

But we can do more - and better. We have a lot of potential. But new European startups grow more slowly than elsewhere. Fewer of them join the ranks of the world's top firms. And even when they start in Europe, they don't always stay in Europe.

So let's capitalise on our talent and on European size. Let's link together those pockets of talent and help them scale up their continental ambitions.

Let's give startups what they need for success: recognition, resources, and the right rules. Established entrepreneurs: but also newer ones, and those who dream of becoming one.

Our Entrepreneurship 2020 Action plan, for example, will provide better opportunities for entrepreneurial education and training. It's time to tap potential is to its fullest extent.

Likewise our Startup Europe programme makes it easier for startups to access the resources they need, whether it is web-friendly accelerators, venture capital investment, or new tools like crowdfunding.

Our Future Internet programme will provide 100 million euros to 20 consortium across Europe, to support the Internet eco-system and fund ambitious innovation on the basis of our Europe-based, open-source generic enablers and technology. Check the Future Internet-Lab!

Our website now also includes a "one-stop shop" for those trying to start a web business. All the information you'll ever need about what the EU offers, in one place. Whether it's services, opportunities, or funding; whether it's technology, skills or networking.

It's time we celebrated Europe's success stories. Championed our role models. And give this community its voice – a voice so loud, decision makers will have to listen.

Awards such as Europioneers and TechAllStars raise the profile and visibility of Europe's top talent.

While the Startup Leaders Manifesto shows the world that Europeans can succeed – and tells policymakers how to make it easier. In fact over 4,000 citizens have signed up to that manifesto – it's a great way to show your support and the European startup environment. Check it out at

And finally, almost every digital innovation you care to name relies on connectivity. On fast, pervasive broadband networks, fixed and wireless. On decent online services, provided openly at fair prices.

Our proposal to create a connected continent can ensure that.

With the rules to ensure more broadband, more 4G, more WiFi, and the chance of pan-European services that achieve scale.

With an end to rip-off prices when you're roaming with your mobile, or when you're calling or texting a foreign phone.

With an end to operators blocking and throttling online services. Those discriminatory practices can kill online innovation – and today they are all too prevalent.

The EU's top leaders have already agreed digital innovation holds the key to our growth. Now I hope they can, not just talk, but act, and support and stimulate a true connected continent.

So well done to everyone taking part in this Summit. This is a great place for sharing ideas, meeting people, inspiring each other, and creating opportunities. I hope you are all looking forward to 3 days of optimism, dynamism, creativity and forward thinking. Because Europe needs more of that.

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