EC Announces €10 Million Fund for Accelerating Web Entrepreneurship at Recent Eurapp Workshop

Representatives from the European Commission announced details of a €10M fund for accelerating web entrepreneurship in the European Union at a recent Eurapp app economy workshop in Berlin. The €10M fund is being put in place to help interlink and grow various web entrepreneurship ecosystems across the EU, with a focus on starting up and scaling up web companies.

Mr Bogdan Ceobanu from the EC detailed how interested parties can apply for grants in this new €10M funding round during the EC’s first call for Horizon 2020 (see the web entrepreneurship call page). The call for applications will open in mid-December.

The aim of this fund is to create an environment in the EU that encourages more tech entrepreneurs – who leverage web and mobile technologies as the main components in their business model – to start their businesses in the EU and to stay in the EU while growing them internationally. There are two main focuses for funding applications:

  1. Accelerating web entrepreneurship in the EU by connecting existing tech hubs or ecosystems and providing new services for web entrepreneurs (e.g. through innovative online platforms); and
  2. Coordination activities for web entrepreneurship that will expand the reach of online platforms, exploit synergies across stakeholder communities and help tech entrepreneurs to connect to service providers.

To accelerate web entrepreneurship in the EU, the EC is looking for project proposals that will create cross-border environments composed of a few highly-integrated local ecosystems (around 3-4), where members of the individual ecosystems will feel like they belong to the new cross-border environment created by the project. Project proposals are expected in the €2M range, with a total budget of €6M.

As regards coordination activities, a further €4M is being made available to support, connect and create more web startups and other highly-innovative tech companies.

According to Dr Isidro Laso of the EC, “We expect proposals which will ‘think European’: [to] allow for the provision of pan-EU services for web entrepreneurs; [to] involve the right partners in the consortium; [to] engage the real players in the local ecosystems to be connected; [and to] complement existing activities in [member state] and EC policy initiatives.”

The impact of this will be to create a dynamic ecosystem that can help shape entrepreneur-friendly policies for implementation in conjunction with the EU’s Startup Europe initiative.

Startup Europe aims to raise awareness around the opportunities and challenges faced by web entrepreneurs, to network the various stakeholders and to develop more web talent in the EU. Over 6000 people have signed up to the associated Startup Europe Manifesto, expressing their support for 22 actions under five headings which aim to give EU startups the best possible chance of future success.

The €10M fund announcement was made at a workshop highlighting survey results and innovative ideas from the Eurapp app economy study, launched by the European Commission and being carried out by Gigaom Research and the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway. The Eurapp project is currently surveying startups and larger IT companies to model and profile the EU app economy.

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