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Imagination, Entrepreneurship and the EU

Each year the European Union spends billions of euros on an array of programmes with aims that include developing new technologies and encouraging Universities and business to work together.  However, such initiatives can seem often more akin to the Eurovision Song contest; part of the cultural fabric, but only rarely delivering a big hit.

Picture a world where EU funding programmes and indeed the whole EU endeavour is focused on building high growth economies and facilitating entrepreneurial success. This may seem a strange thought while recession and the global financial crisis dominate. However, when the smoke of the financial crisis begins to clear, the reality will dawn that EU economies will stagnate without a vastly improved regime to support and deliver entrepreneurially driven, high growth businesses.

EU programmes and committees have many aims and aspirations, but stimulating entrepreneurship is meant to have high priority. In 2006, the European Commission published an Entrepreneurship Action Plan', which focuses on actions in five policy areas: entrepreneurial mindsets, incentives for entrepreneurs, competitiveness & growth, access to finance and red tape.

Of course, turning dreams into successful businesses is difficult. Walt Disney astutely observed 'I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible because dreams offer too little collateral'. But, successful entrepreneurship demands more than just access to finance. It requires a special mix of talent and support infrastructures; above all a culture that promotes and rewards endeavour. However well meaning the aspirations of EU Action Plans, the reality is procurement requirements, development programmes and just not 'getting it' tend to reinforce a culture of low growth.

The EU was built on the dream of marrying peace, security and prosperity. The sobering reality is that those societies that are most successful in supporting entrepreneurial endeavour pull far ahead of the others and their Governments tend to have a growing tax base. Those that do not, have a falling tax base and will find it very difficult to fulfil the aspirations of their citizens. Times of great financial stress are also times of opportunity for change, and change the EU must.

In the run-up to the EU Parliamentary elections this June, EUbusiness.com will be discussing how the European Union can and must improve its support of high growth entrepreneurially led business. If you have views to put to the EU please contact us and we will do our best to get the powers that be to pay attention. Also if you would like to propose areas for EUbusiness to cover or wish to be contacted by EUbusiness.com for your views please email service@eubusiness.com (if contacting us anonymously please include what type of organisation you work for).

Michael Ter-Berg

Director, EUbusiness.com

Document Actions

EU funded research projects

Posted by Gediminas Kostkevicius at 13 March 2009, 11:44 CET
From our experience efectiveness of research projects run under the Sixt and now under the Seventh Framework program is quite low. Initiators of horizontal research activities involving SME is not businesses, but universities and research institutions. They use SME as a screen to get funding and try to sell (quite often) already developed solutions or to get financing for the projects, which really don't have any relation with real needs of SMI. Cooperation between project members quite often is very formal and don't have continuation after the project. As result European Commission gets piles of nice reports and presentatios. But European SME are not able to materialise results of such projects in their activities.
Michael Ter-Berg

   Michael Ter-Berg

Michael Ter-Berg is a director of EUbusiness.com and formerly Chief Executive of one of the UK's most successful University transfer technology companies, Medic-to-Medic/ Map of Medicine (University College London) and President of a leading Swiss Hotel Management School, DCT.