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Press Release 

  10h00 CET, 15 March 2016
European Union Moving Quickly to Improve Business Climate for Startups, New Study Finds

But EU Lags in Key Areas, Including Adopting Measures to Improve Access to Skills and Education  

The Netherlands Ranks No. 1 Overall; Italy No. 2 and the United Kingdom No. 3
(HANOVER, Germany) – The European Digital Forum launches The 2016 Startup Nation Scoreboard: How European Union Countries are Improving Policy Frameworks and Developing Powerful Ecosystems for Entrepreneurs.

Download The 2016 Startup Nation Scoreboard

The product of a unique crowdsourcing exercise involving national experts in 25 countries, the Scoreboard looks at progress from a policymaking standpoint. Who is doing most to help startups? And who needs to do more? The policy brief was formally launched at CeBIT 2016, Germany’s leading international computer expo, in the presence of Günther Oettinger, European commissioner for digital economy and society.

Says Principal Author David Osimo, director and co-founder of Open Evidence, an online consultancy that specialises in data analytics and crowdsourcing tools: “On balance, Europe is making good progress in key areas. But many countries need to move beyond words. Policymakers need to take harder decisions to deliver more progress in areas that would make it easier for startups to scale up. And we need to involve the startup community more directly in setting challenges – and monitoring progress.”

The policy brief creates a framework for tracking progress on the Startup Manifesto, a 22-action roadmap published in 2013 by eight leading European entrepreneurs. It divides the Manifesto into 72 measurable actions – and, with the help of a disperse, online community of national experts – evaluates progress on those actions at the EU member state level. 

Among the key findings: 
  1. The average Startup Manifesto adoption level stands at 60% across the European Union, a sign that startup policy has improved in recent years.
  2. At the country level, the Netherlands ranks No. 1 on overall adoption with an 85% success rate. Italy ranks No. 2 (with 82% adoption), and the United Kingdom ranks No. 3 (with 77%). Overall 12 countries are above the EU average and 16 below.
  3. The most progress has been made in the “thought leadership” category, where European countries register an impressive 74% adoption rate. This is not surprising, and reflects an increase in startup-driven initiatives and rhetoric-based policy-support schemes.  
  4. Most EU member states now have programmes to facilitate access to finance for startups and SMEs (a 69% average completion rate), with Belgium (No. 1 at 97%) leading the way.
  5. France, Italy and the Netherlands tie for No. 1 (with a 69% completion rate) on the measure to increase access to talent, with tailor-made programmes to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent.
  6. But more broadly speaking, measures to improve access to skills and education lag, with a roughly 50% completion rate around the EU.
  7. The study finds a significant East-West divide within the EU in overall adoption of Startup Manifesto-based recommendations. In general, eastern countries remain behind in terms of structural adoption of key EU legislation in areas that would help startups. Bulgaria (No. 25 at 45%), Lithuania and Latvia (tied at No. 26 with 44%) and Croatia (No. 28 with 32%) bring up the bottom of the list for overall adoption rates.
  8. Overall, policy initiatives are still drawn too much from traditional policy kits, with too many initiatives based on every-day European innovation support structures. Europe needs to focus more on tougher decisions, such as putting in place entrepreneurship-enhancing tax, data-usage and employment policies, and inventing bold new measures, such as involving startups in promoting coding literacy across all schools and providing genuine second chances for entrepreneurs.
  9. Future iterations of the Startup Manifesto should focus more on concrete metrics and ambitious targets. The Startup community itself should remain an active part of this process, partly through crowdsourcing projects such as this one.

About the European Digital Forum
The European Digital Forum is a think tank dedicated to empowering web entrepreneurs and growing Europe’s digital economy. The initiative is led by the Lisbon Council, a European think tank based in Brussels, and Nesta, the United Kingdom’s innovation foundation, in collaboration with the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative. Founding partners include the European Investment Fund, Telefónica and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA). Accenture serves as partner. The European Digital Forum was launched at the World Economic Forum in January 2014 as a vehicle to intellectually accompany the 22-point action plan put forth in the Startup Manifesto ( written by the Leaders Club, an independent group of founders of world-leading technology companies based in Europe, including Atomico, HackFwd, Rovio, Seedcamp, Spotify, Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), Tuenti and The Next Web.
About the Lisbon Council
The Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness and Social Renewal asbl is a Brussels-based think tank and policy network. Established in 2003 in Belgium as a non-profit, non-partisan association, the group is dedicated to making a positive contribution through cutting-edge research and by engaging political leaders and the public at large in a constructive exchange about the economic and social challenges of the 21st century.

About Nesta
Nesta is an innovation foundation with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. It is dedicated to supporting ideas that can help improve all our lives, with activities ranging from early-stage investment to in-depth research and practical programmes.
 For media enquiries, contact:
 Chrysoula Mitta 
 Community and Projects Manager
 The Lisbon Council 
 T. +32 474 607 679 

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