We formed to support policymakers at national and European level in developing policies and ideas that will enable and encourage growth and innovation.
Irish born Vanessa has spent the last 18 years working for Fortune 1000 and governments. Published author and co-author of “Your Company with No Walls” she has spent the last decade running successful remote companies from the UK and Ireland. Her mantra “when you finally find your life’s purpose that is when the real fun begins” Vanessa’s mission is simple…. through real time data intelligence and an engaged virtual work and learning place amazing outputs can be achieved in job creation, re-skilling, inclusivity and sustainability of our world.
Kadri Tammai is the CEO of Tehnopol Startup Incubator and member of the Management Board at Tehnopol Ventures. She has advised top leaders in the public and private sector for over 15 years and is passionate about innovation and startup ecosystems. She is an active mentor at hackathons and for several other startup programs. She is also an expert for the Estonian government innovation program called Accelerate Estonia. Kadri has been a startuper herself and is now a lecturer at Tallinn University of Technology where she worked out a startup oriented program for university students.
Lauri has almost twenty years of experience on changing the world and businesses with digital innovation. The last five years Lauri been acting on executive roles at Solita and is currently leading Solita’s accounts, sales, and industries in Finland. Lauri’s vision is that world will become even more connected especially on business side during next few years. Traditional business models will be disrupted with new ecosystems where digital and traditional companies create value through new supply channels and services.
The European Commission (EC) published the findings of their consultation exploring The future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure. The 12 week consultation gathered views on the changing technological landscape and the investments needed for Europe to lead the digital transformation in the coming years. This included proposals for generators of high volumes of internet traffic (ISPs) to contribute to the costs of building and maintaining Europe’s telecommunication infrastructure.
We therefore welcome the findings of the consultation, which largely agreed with our position. The EC acknowledged the importance of investment in network infrastructure, but crucially did not suggest that Large Traffic Generators (LTGs) should be the source of the money for those investments.
Digital Future for Europe submitted a response to the EU Commission’s consultation into network fees. In our response, we highlighted the damaging effect the proposed fees will have on small, innovative businesses in Europe and subsequently on the European economy.
Despite arguments being made by network infrastructure companies, these fees run the risk of failing to capture their intended targets, and that they have already been demonstrated to be unfit for purpose. The proposed fees are likely to be offloaded onto end users with SMEs subsequently subject to a “double charge” as they shoulder the fee on top of existing internet bills. Conversely, big tech companies have already demonstrated their ability to evade these fees. In 2016, Facebook was able to reroute South Korean users overseas, avoiding use of internet infrastructure in South Korea, and thus not liable to pay the fees infrastructure companies and the government were attempting to force onto them. However, many SMEs did not have the ability to reroute users and, thus, continued to be charged despite not being the intended targets of the fees. The proposed fees would violate the principles of net neutrality that indicate that consumers should be able to access content and services of their choice, in a non-discriminatory manner, and that all traffic should be treated equally. The proposed fees would go against these principles, allowing for prioritisation of some services over others and reduced service for others.
You can read our consultation response here. If you believe you would be impacted by these changes please get in touch.
In 2021, a record $100B of capital was invested in tech, 98 new European unicorns were created and the number of European “decacorns” (valued at over $10bn) doubled to 26. All the signs are looking positive, and the EU’s bold Digital Compass commitments to the Digital Decade provide even more reason to be optimistic about the future.
However, we must still acknowledge the ongoing issues that hinder the growth of Europe’s emerging start-ups and their ability to compete internationally. Above all, European start-ups face serious problems when it comes to scaling. European start-ups have consistently lower total success rates and show less progress through all series rounds when compared to US and Indian start-ups in aggregate.
The Covid crisis has revealed the critical importance of the tech sector in responding to the greatest challenges facing humanity. Now is the time for a tech-powered recovery to create new jobs and build future pandemic resilience.
Our new report makes 11 recommendations to enable start-ups and scale-ups to grow faster and provide economic growth, whilst at the same time enabling governments and citizens to be better prepared for future challenges.
Though the AI White Paper has a number of strengths, including its ambition to improve data access in Europe and the importance placed on not overburdening SMEs with regulation, its weaknesses could seriously damage Europe’s tech sector.
We at Digital Future for Europe call for a tighter definition fo AI and ‘high-risk’ AI, urge the Commission to invest in skills, and stress the importance of start-ups and SMEs.
The EU’s AI white paper will have a significant impact on the use and growth of AI around Europe.
Digital Future for Europe’s initial response outlines our concerns, including the overly broad definition of high risk AI and the problems with ex ante legislation.
We believe that European tech policy must follow the lead of the Europe’s most successful digital front-runners.
Our manifesto, initiated at the request of D9 governments in 2019, announces 12 key policy priorities for a bright tech future.
Digital Future for Europe presents 18 key policy recommendations to shape the future of AI in Europe, the result of workshops and interviews with a wide range of startups, unicorns and associations in countries across the D9.
Our recommendations address the renewal of skills systems, the importance of collaboration on AI across countries, and how best to make the EU AI-ready.
Digital Future for Europe conducted an opinion research project on the views of industry within the D9 group of governments – this included start-ups, trade associations and unicorns.
This report presents our findings on key issues such as access to talent, financing, market access, and key priorities for the future digital agenda of the EU.
While the United States and China have the edge when it comes to investment and scale, Europe has its advantages too.
Europe has a highly educated population, great public services which are ripe for transformation, and strong stable democratic governments. It also boasts world-leading businesses in transport, energy, food and drink, and telecommunications. It must exploit these strengths better.
We believe Europe’s strengths could be better harnessed. To succeed in the age of AI, it must promote innovation, embrace smart regulation, and strive to attract talent from abroad, and develop talent from home.
Europe can become more competitive. It’s not enough to think about those companies that exist today. The goal should be to create an ecosystem for the companies and technologies of the future to develop and thrive in Europe. It is technology that fuelled the historic wealth of Europe – from the printing press to antibiotics – and it is technology that will drive its future.
Our publications and policy positions are informed by the experiences of coalition members. We are grateful to everyone who gives us the time to offer their thoughts and expertise. Our campaign is kindly supported by Google.
These are our policy priorities:
A digitised single market, not a digital single market.
The single market needs completing, and it needs to be fully digitised in its function and scope. Artificial intelligence must be at its heart. Digital technology will be most effective and most transformative when it is applied to the whole economy, and it is digital technologies which enable the single market to operate.
Developing a digitised single market will allow the free flow of innovation and ideas around Europe, and revolutionise the economy in the 21st century, as the Single Market revolutionised the European economy at the end of the 20th.
The D9 must lead by example.
Europe’s digital frontrunners can show how harmonising regulations and sharing data between nations offers huge benefit to the digital industries and the wider economy.
For example, the data-sharing and cooperation between Estonia and Finland, and the digital collaboration between the Benelux states can be used as a blueprint for the D9 and the EU at large. This way, we can create a ‘fast lane’ for the digital industries in Europe, and show how successful and practical innovation can be.
The public sector must be much better used at domestic and EU level to support European SMEs and innovation.
This should include embracing open data principles in the public sector, to encourage innovation in public services, and significantly lower the barriers to entry for start-ups and scale-ups who want to compete for public contracts. The public sector accounts for nearly half of Europe’s buying power, and it can provide Europe’s digital ecosystems with the support they need.
Skills and talent are two of Europe’s greatest assets, and a key to future growth.
They must be pushed to the top of the economic reform agenda. As talent becomes more competitive the EU must focus on three things: educating the next generation for a digital era; supporting the current workforce to reskill; and ensuring Europe attracts and retains the talent its digital industries sorely need.
Open up public sector datasets in the D9 countries to automate government processes.
Learn from each others’ work and aim to invest in automation in the public sector, in a range of priority areas, such as transport, clean energy, education and healthcare.
Introduce the free movement of data and data interoperability between D9 states.
The D9 can and should be a trial area for new innovations with data. D9 nations Estonia and Finland are leading the way with the unification of their government data, and the group should follow. This will allow AI companies to expand across Europe, and pull down electronic barriers within the Single Market.
Lobby the EU to conduct an AI ‘refit’ of existing and future legislation.
The EU has a ‘refit programme’ to improve its legislation, and make it more efficient and effective, particularly for small businesses. An AI refit would amend laws like GDPR, and help put the needs of SMEs and startups at the heart of EU policy
A full recording of the event is available here:
Morten Løkkegaard MEP, member of the IMCO Committee
Per Karlsson, former Chief Legal Officer at the Swedish Competition Authority and author of DMA from a Nordic Competition Policy Perspective: Innovation at risk
Joakim Wernberg, Research Director of Digitalisation and Tech Policy at the Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum and Senior Lecturer in Technology and Society at Lund University
At the start of 2022, Digital Future for Europe brought together an expert panel to discuss the Digital Markets Act as the proposal enters trialogue negotiations.
The session was lively and highly informative, with panelists speaking candidly about the opportunities and difficulties confronting the DMA. Special attention was devoted to the question of how the DMA could achieve its intended goal of promoting innovation in Europe.
Morten opened the discussion by remarking that he believed the EU had been a little slow to regulate the digital market and the DMA provided an opportunity, alongside the DSA to ‘catch up’. However, he accepted it was an experimental piece of regulation that was a starting point rather than an end point.
Morten focused on the principles underpinning the DMA – namely, to achieve a well-functioning market requires good regulation. The main purpose of the DMA was to support the EU’s innovation ecosystem by fostering a regulatory environment that gave smaller tech companies more opportunities to grow. He argued that too many promising start-ups in the EU succumbed to what he termed “Mercedes syndrome” – that is, the tendency of entrepreneurs to aim purely for acquisition by a larger player in the market (thus allowing the founder to buy a dream vehicle “Mercedes”). The DMA’s goal is to allow entrepreneurs to grow in a more sustainable and sound way supporting a stronger European tech ecosystem.
Per began by saying that DMA was an atypical form of market regulation because it prescribed one set of rules across a swathe of markets with very different economic conditions and business models and without recourse to exemptions. He added that, in his view, the blacklist drawn up by the DMA for gatekeeper platforms included some forms of behaviour which cannot be said to be anti-competitive in every case. The perceived risk of “killer acquisitions” was, as he saw it, somewhat misplaced – 99% of all mergers are pro-competitive because they foster the development of “complementary innovations” which create products that are never intended to be standalone creations. Over-regulating acquisition could in actual fact be extremely harmful towards innovation for this very reason.
Joakim’s remarks focused on the issue that the DMA regulated only the largest platforms as if they were a sector of their own. In doing so, the DMA risked building a regulatory moat that ends up protecting the way in which gatekeepers do business, for the simple reason that these largest platforms already have the necessary resources to absorb new regulations in a way that smaller players do not. Therefore, it is possible that newer entrants would be the main casualties of such legislation.
Joakim also added that in some instances the “Mercedes syndrome” that Morten had referred to could become an engine of growth by way of drawing more people into entrepreneurship and innovation – successful founders might, following an acquisition, go on to found start-up hubs or become serial entrepreneurs, contributing further to the innovation economy.
Finally, Joakim added that research revealed that SMEs benefited disproportionately from the platform economy, which enabled them to leverage physical capital, digital skills, infrastructure and customer reach that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Debate on the DMA had typically taken the form of a David and Goliath story, when in actual fact it should be cast as a “standing on the shoulders of giants” story.
The moderated Q&A initially focused on whether the DMA made adequate provision for regulatory dialogue between public and private sectors, and on how to make regulation transparent and future-proof enough for newer entrants. Speakers were then asked what the biggest room for improvement in the DMA was. In Joakim’s view, the two biggest improvements would involve, firstly, establishing a stronger connection to existing competition law by making it a requirement for gatekeepers to have a dominant position in the market, and secondly, allowing the sharing of data between services such that smaller companies could benefit from using larger digital platforms. Per said that he would like to see the DMA adopt a more global approach, minimise the blacklist to fewer articles and finally introduce justification rules. Finally, Morten added that his number one priority was ensuring that the DMA supported small and medium sized companies and level the playing field.
Digital Future for Europe will continue to monitor progress through the trialogue negotiations and keep members up to date through regular bulletins, if you would like to join the Coalition please submit a form.
2021 has been a big year for the Digital Future for Europe coalition. Following the creation of our first steering group, we held a survey of our membership, and have spoken with high-profile MEPs about the results.
Now, we are happy to announce that the next step in our mission to make the voices of European start-ups and tech businesses heard is the creation of the Digital Future for Europe Blog!
In addition to the detailed policy reports the coalition puts out, we want to use the blog to promote less formal and more relaxed contributions from our membership.
The blog will include everything from opinion pieces to organisation introductions, from exciting tech success case studies to interviews with members.
We encourage all members to get in touch with any of the above or whatever else appeals to you – the blog is here for all of you to use in whatever way you see fit. We see the blog as a crucial platform in bringing together different views from across Europe – it is your chance to share your own unique perspective with over a hundred other tech organisations across the continent.
We hope that the blog can continue to raise the profile of the coalition in Europe and bring our coalition closer together!
Connecterra is on a mission to empower farmers to increase their productivity while reducing the impact of farming on the planet. Our Amsterdam-based company has teams on three continents, a product presence in 18 countries and partnerships with some of the biggest global dairy brands. We believe the key to achieving our mission is to make data more accessible to the everyday decision makers across the industry. Our solution is Ida, the intelligent dairy assistant.
Personified as a “she” and characterized as a member of the farm team, Ida’s platform enables farmers, their advisors and other stakeholders to make timely, better-informed decisions. In doing this, Ida helps the dairy industry become more efficient, productive and ultimately, sustainable.
We are proud to have launched our first event of 2021 – Making the DSA work for startups.
We were joined by Henna Virkkunen MEP, Greg Mroczkowski, Director of Public policy, IAB Europe; and Dr Mikolaj Barczentewicz, Senior Lecturer in Public Law and Legal Theory.
The event followed a traditional structure with each panellist offering opening remarks before a moderated Q&A with the chair and audience. It was a rich session that was often technical in nature touching on specific proposals within the DSA. From the outset the session was framed as exploring how the DSA could be made to work for Europe’s thriving tech startup scene and small enterprises.
Henna opened the discussion with her reflections on the process so far. She remarked that policy-makers often only thought about the VLOPs without giving thought to the impacts that it would have downstream on the rest of the ecosystem. Her role as a member of the ITRE committee was to ensure that those stakeholders were considered and given voice. Several times throughout the discussion, Henna emphasised the importance of ensuring the DSA did not amount to unnecessary red tape on smaller businesses whose size and operational model would leave them struggling to comply. She reflected that the Scandinavian tradition is more laissez-faire than the demanding proposals in the DSA and that would inevitably cause frictions.
Mikolaj’s remarks focused on the apparent lack of consultation and collaboration with SMBs in the creation of the DSA. He centred his argument around two examples. First, he argued that the DSA’s stipulations on transparency in advertising – though designed to regulate the activity of larger platforms – would have undesirable spill-over consequences for SMEs in that the funding source and target demographic specifications of any ad campaign would be readily examined and could completely erode the competitive advantage of an SME with highly specialised knowledge of how to reach its target consumer base. His second example targeted out of court settlements which he argued could be potentially crippling to tech startups in particular who may operate at high turnover but with little to no reserves.
Finally, Greg’s contribution centred on online advertising emphasised the importance of online advertising for European SMEs. He mentioned a recent survey which showed that 50% of businesses found that digital advertising was currently more important than ever. Targeted advertising was particularly important to SMEs with limited revenues who need to be diligent in ensuring return on advertising investment. Henna agreed – start-ups did not have enough money to run big adverts on TV channels or national newspapers, and so online adverts presented an important point of entry.
Tehnopol Science and Business Park aims to support state-of-art technology entrepreneurship in Estonia and help it expand to the world. Our vision is to make the Estonian economy more sustainable by helping startups and SMEs grow more quickly. As the largest science park in the Baltics, Tehnopol provides companies with everything they need for growth, development, and real-life test environments – from modern office spaces to top-notch business counselling and innovation testing. More than 300 innovative technology-based companies have found a new home here. The smart research campus forms one big area with Tallinn University of Technology.
Tehnopol Startup Incubator helps technology-based startups develop their businesses, enter export markets and get investments, using the best mentors from Estonia and Europe. We have helped over 400 startups to build, test, and scale their products or services and onboard first rounds of private capital.
If you’re a startup or business that shares our aim of a positive, ambitious and innovative digital agenda for Europe, now is the time to join us.
We can only succeed by working together. If our governments are to create the conditions for thriving tech ecosystems and healthy startup cultures, they need to hear from companies like ours. It’s a big challenge, but an even bigger opportunity. This group exists to help Europe seize that opportunity.