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Netherlands number one in business climate for startups

15 March 2016

The European Union is moving quickly to improve the business climate for startups. According to the latest study the Netherlands Ranks No. 1 Overall; Italy No. 2 and the United Kingdom No. 3. However, the EU lags in key areas, including adopting measures to improve access to skills and education.

The European Digital Forum has launched the 2016 Startup Nation Scoreboard: How European Union Countries are Improving Policy Frameworks and Developing Powerful Ecosystems for Entrepreneurs. This study is 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.

Scale up
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.”

Roadmap
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:

  • The average Startup Manifesto adoption level stands at 60 perecnt across the European Union, a sign that startup policy has improved in recent years.
  • At the country level, the Netherlands ranks No. 1 on overall adoption with an 85 percent success rate. Italy ranks No. 2 (with 82 percent adoption), and the United Kingdomranks No. 3 (with 77 percent). Overall 12 countries are above the EU average and 16 below.
  • The most progress has been made in the “thought leadership” category, where European countries register an impressive 74 percent adoption rate. This is not surprising, and reflects an increase in startup-driven initiatives and rhetoric-based policy-support schemes.
  • Most EU member states now have programmes to facilitate access to finance for startups and SMEs (a 69 percent average completion rate), with Belgium (No. 1 at 97 percent) leading the way.
  • France, Italy and the Netherlands tie for No. 1 (with a 69 percent completion rate) on the measure to increase access to talent, with tailor-made programmes to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent.
  • But more broadly speaking, measures to improve access to skills and education lag, with a roughly 50percent completion rate around the EU.
  • 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 45percent), Lithuania and Latvia (tied at No. 26 with 44percent) and Croatia (No. 28 with 32percent) bring up the bottom of the list for overall adoption rates.
  • 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.
  • 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.