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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

81

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

ProfessorWillemJonker

EIT Digital

B R OW S E

www.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

US innovators