Written By: Ellis Orlan, CPA (IL), CGMA, Toronto, ON, Futurpreneur Canada Mentor

With a few exceptions, both economic growth and job creation have been anemic across Europe even before the current economic crisis. Moreover, unemployment is alarmingly high and continues to rise. A big reason for these problems is that Europe partially lacks a highly dynamic technology sector boosted by innovation-driven entrepreneurship.

Faced with strong global competition and high labour costs, Europe needs to reinvent itself. It will only be able to generate sustainable and significant growth through a relentless focus on a knowledge economy, and particularly on enhancing the environment for high value-added innovation-driven entrepreneurship. The Fostering Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship in Europe project was established to deal with this challenge. As the project report shows, this challenge includes persistent innovation divides between European economies as well as between Europe and other economies such as the United States. The project report suggests a forward-looking agenda that would contribute to Europe’s competitiveness and growth by creating an environment where ambitious serial entrepreneurs can envisage, create and scale innovation-driven ventures.

The project report had extensive input from the Forum’s Members, Global Shapers, Young Global Leaders, Network of Global Agenda Councils and leading policy-makers across Europe. Its findings have also benefitted from data gathered through 60 structured interviews and eight interactive workshops, as well as an online survey of entrepreneurs across Europe which gathered 1,132 responses.

As a result of this collaboration, four central ideas have emerged from the Forum’s work in this field:

1) Fostering innovation-driven entrepreneurship in Europe requires a comprehensive view of the entire entrepreneurial life cycle;

2) Policy-makers, business leaders and individuals are significantly motivated to improve the conditions for entrepreneurship in Europe;

3) To more effectively and efficiently support innovation-driven entrepreneurship in Europe, stakeholders need to focus, connect and partner;

4) Supporting innovation in isolated sectors is not enough – Europe needs to create ecosystems that will support innovations emerging in unconventional ways across government and business.

The project report lays the foundation for further discussion on how Europe can create an environment that is conducive to innovation, positioning it for breakthroughs yet to materialize.

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