On June 26th, 2015 the European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF), Euromentors and five of the latter’s European hubs cooperated in organizing the Youth Innovation Week. The event was launched in Warsaw, Poland, by Co-Founder and Vice President of EYIF Nicholas Zylberglajt, who talked about the future European innovators and entrepreneurs could build together.
Since 2010 Europe has seen a boom in entrepreneurship and innovation all across the continent. It was not only about the cities Berlin, Paris or London. Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Helsinki joined the fast-moving momentum as well. In addition, new ecosystems began to emerge in Central and Eastern European cities like Warsaw, Krakόw or Tallinn. These developments were further accompanied by a 600 % increase in startup investments.
“Startup” is a word that has been around for some time now. European leaders are constantly on the lookout for ways to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and big companies are supporting startup engagement. Initiatives such as StartUp Delta, Tech Nation, French Tech or various startup competitions established by the member states, indicate that there is a keen interest in continuing the startup wave. The movement is also being propped by the European Commission’s StartUp Europe initiative and Digital Single Market strategy.
Following the above aspirations, the Youth Innovation Week focused on trends and developments in youth innovation with special regard to local ecosystems. Furthermore, attention was drawn to the adjustments necessary to foster the development of European startups as well as to encourage youth innovation and growth on both local and European level. The topics where covered in a series of 5 events, which took place in 5 European cities – Warsaw, Cluj, Nicosia, Barcelona and London – from 26th thru 30th June, and set the stage for UnConvention, an annual gathering of innovators and startups in Brussels.
Attendees included entrepreneurs, intellectuals, researchers, journalists and editors, media activists, marketing and social media experts, among many others, all of whom shared the common goal to create synergies between culture, digital society and politics.
Politically, the year 2016 was marked by the British exit from the European Union. Its aftermath left an overall atmosphere of uncertainty. For this reason, the European Young Innovators Forum organized a policy session at the European Parliament. Thought leaders and senior experts were invited to discuss the possible consequences of Brexit for startups.
Eva Paunova, member of the parliament and the host of the event, opened the panel by emphasizing that drafting legislation for startups was a challenging undertaking, since it was a slow process that would usually last longer than the issues at hand. In her opinion, Brexit was in fact a wake-up call for politicians to get things done in a faster fashion.
On the other hand, Nicholas Zylberglajt voiced his concern that Brexit could make it difficult for the UK to attract talent from Europe. At the same time, he stated that it remained uncertain if investment funds would remain in the UK.
Simon Schaefer from Factory mentioned that it was necessary to explore why some of the startups failed, and not only concentrate on the ones who succeeded. He also pointed out that instead of ‘managing innovation’, the true task was to create a framework in which innovation could take place.