H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
I S S U E S E V E N
D I G I TA L E C O N O M Y
for individual universities to represent themselves and it takes a lot of
work and expertise. By combining forces, therefore, everybody benefits.
For Coursera, it is great because they have a single entry into a
landscape, and for us it is great because we benefit from their innovation
when it comes to online education.
It is the same story for investment – very often, start-ups go to the United
States because they assume it is easy to access capital there. We think
there are also clever ways where start-ups that are born in Europe can
also be scaled up in Europe and not necessarily have to move. We should
find more clever ways to combine investments, for example a Silicon
Valley investor with a European investor.
So instead of a ‘one way bridge to Silicon Valley’, there is also a ‘return
lane’, and the success of that hub will be measured on the return stream
that can be generated.
How can a more entrepreneurial and positive mindset
be encouraged in Europe?
Europeans are not more risk averse than non-Europeans – it is very
much to do with the circumstances. The entrepreneurial spirit in the past
brought Europe into a leadership position, and whilst getting to the top
is one thing, staying at the top requires continuous effort. And there
Europe has to step up; in the digital domain in particular, Europe needs
to make a comeback.
I am very optimistic about people in general, especially the energy that
there is in Europeans, which is what we need to stimulate. We need to
say, ‘that’s a good thing’, ‘you should do that’, ‘go for it and we will help
you’, and ‘where can we help you?’ – this is mainly our role, rather than
saying ‘why the hassle?’, ‘you won’t succeed’, ‘it’s too difficult’.
The way things are financed in the United States is maybe different
compared to Europe, but it does not mean that we cannot do it with the
B R OW S Ewww.eitdigital.eu www.eit.europa.eu
H O R I Z O N
2 0 2 0
different financial tools we have and get just as
good successes. If you look at the critical mass,
we are more distributed – Silicon Valley is very
condensed; however, Google needs its
customers worldwide, not only in the Valley.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter so much where a
scale-up is based; why could you not serve
Europe as well as Silicon Valley?
It is important to have strong ICT companies in
Europe. At global level we need to have a
balance when it comes to digital innovation; a
strong global imbalance with only one source
of innovation in the long run is unsustainable.
To rebalance the current situation, an additional
effort here in Europe is needed.
How do you see EIT Digital
developing in the next five years?
Geographically, there is a focus on consolidation,
so no direct expansion. Sustainability is
extremely high on the agenda – how to make
sure that we have a diversified income.
Another focus is impact. We are starting to
deliver our students and our growth numbers
for scale-ups. However, impact is different from
delivery – we have delivered our first 70 master
school students, and within the next five years,
it would be great to see that these people have
entrepreneurial leadership positions, are either
starting their own company or have been
recognised by their environment as true
engines of innovation; then they have impact.
Building a strong brand based on quality,
sustainability via monetisation of our
infrastructure, services and results, and
achieving global impact – that is our agenda
for the coming years.
With a new base
in Silicon Valley,
EIT Digital is
linking European and