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EBN | Generation Why
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Generation Why

genwhyDavid Tee gives us an overview of the 2014 EBN Congress as it tackles the very real issue of youth entrepreneurship

Since 2008, the financial crisis that hit Europe, and the rest of the world, has resulted in many casualties. But one of the most tragic is the potential 'lost generation' of youth unable to find work. According to the most recent European Commission data (see box), the unemployment rate of young people – at 23.3 percent - is over twice that of the average across the EU (9.3 percent). And the chances of a young person actually finding a job is equally dismal – fewer than 30 percent of those aged between 15 and 24 found work in 2011.

Despite few, very recent indications that growth might modestly return, unemployment rates will most likely continue to stay high, or even rise, in many European countries and this will mainly affect the young generation. Unemployed youth represents an unexploited economic resource. And this factor is one of the main social and economic challenges of Europe today. Political leaders have understood the danger and are looking for solutions.

The global recession and unemployment crisis affecting European economies, of course, requires macroeconomic reforms and budget controls. But, perhaps more importantly, it requires policies that create attractive and conducive environments for entrepreneurs to start and grow business, to create the jobs the economy needs to recover. It is a win-win for governments as each new job delivers new tax revenue required to reduce their debt burden and deliver better services to their citizens.

Entrepreneurship opportunities

True entrepreneurs are always looking for opportunities in whatever situation they find themselves. And these challenging economic times present extraordinary opportunities for true innovators, true entrepreneurs. People, companies, organisations who have the ability to be responsive to changes, to take risks, to question their certainties, to adjust their mind-set and reorient their activities, to move physically, to find new partners, to outsource non-core businesses, to have the courage not just to start, but also to stop things. Entrepreneurs are those in our society that create companies, jobs, wealth, value, knowledge, social capital, attraction, partnerships, hopes and futures. Entrepreneurs are hungry about skills acquisition, vital competences such as the capacity to observe, to question, to discover, to experiment, to incubate, to engage, to accelerate, and, of course, to collaborate and network. And interestingly, many of the players driving this ‘behavioural revolution’are most probably the young generation – Generation Y!

Wanted: young & talented entrepreneurs

As the new generation of young and smart entrepreneurs emerge, business models adapt. Collective intelligence flourishes, and innovation clearly shifts to a world of applications. This new world in which the name of the game is an adequate perception of the end-users, a search of open innovation and networking, ‘small is beautiful’ business models, and the adoption of new creative and entrepreneurial behaviours. These new behaviours require a support infrastructure that can spot the entrepreneurial talent, innovative ideas and will to succeed, and provide the support needed to enable new businesses to start and grow. And in the EU|BICs, we find such support.

Responding to young entrepreneurs needs

EU|BICs’core mission is to accelerate innovative entrepreneurship at territorial levels, through the customised delivery of a comprehensive range of professional support and incubation (pre-incubation, incubation, post-incubation) services addressed to innovative start-ups, spin-offs, entrepreneurs and SMEs. The EU|BICs’ value chain is classically described as follows: stimulate, detect, assess, select, incubate, mentor, accelerate, internationalise and cluster EU|BICs services are targeted at individual entrepreneurs and firms who show a clear case for innovation and growth - innovation in the broad sense, not only technological. EU|BICs deliver customised, often intensive, long-term support to their clients. The services provided cover areas such as: business ideas/projects assessment, business planning guidance, economic and technological intelligence, business modelling and financial simulation, ad-hoc training, seed and early-stage financing, personalised coaching, physical incubation infrastructure, international business development support, creation of clusters and communities of innovative firms, and collaborative projects development. Even if the spontaneous generation of new entrepreneurs happens, the ecosystem must boost the birth (of start-ups) and growth (of gazelles). Enablers can really and significantly improve the flow of ideas, projects and investments. Enabling intermediaries such as EU|BICs, incubators and accelerators, known as credible, engaged and pragmatic support mechanisms, are constantly evolving themselves, and adjusting their competences and services to better speak the language of young entrepreneurs.

Young Entrepreneurship, a serious game with serious players!

Statistics show that young people have a higher interest in self-employment and entrepreneurship than the older generations. Despite the motivation and willingness, too few actually start up their own business due to a number of barriers. Unfortunately, businesses run by young entrepreneurs also have a lower survival rate, but if they do survive they then have higher growth potential. This is what Europe needs to capture. This is where EU|BICs can really and seriously contribute to speed-up, scale-up, train-up, and professionalise young start-ups as they start, and grow their way to success. The young entrepreneurs support ecosystem, specifically around digital entrepreneurship, is booming. Several new players, initiatives and programmes are entering this serious game and interacting with established players such as EU|BICs. Co-working spaces, entrepreneurship and start-ups centres, digital accelerators, mobile apps camps, boot camps, start-up week-ends, hackathons, crowd-funding platforms, young entrepreneurs networks, FabLabs, student entrepreneurs & junior enterprises, social innovation incubators, women entrepreneurs communities. New support programmes from government such as the EU’s Watify and ACE are targeting young, digital entrepreneurs, encouraging them to take the step and start their own venture.

The European Union background

The interest of EU Institutions for the ‘young generation’ is not new, but the subject has been highlighted recently thanks to the adoption of the ‘Youth on the Move’ flagship initiative and several programmes, such as the ‘Entrepreneurship Action Plan, the ‘e-skills week, the Leonardo da Vinci programme for vocational education & training, the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs-EYE scheme (in which many of EBN members are local intermediaries), the recent interest of the EIT (European Institute for Innovation & Technology) for the ‘young entrepreneurs of the future, without forgetting the Start-up Europe and Startup Manifesto’ from Commissioner Kroes for catalysing young ICT tech-start-ups. EBN is taking leadership and partnerships in projects of digital entrepreneurship such as Start-up Europe’s EU-HUB (that includes the ACE programme). In fact, April 29th saw many hundreds of entrepreneurs, intermediaries and SMEs converge on Brussels for the first New Frontiers for European Entrepreneurship event. The event was a joint activity between three project groups: Watify – a flagship new project from DG-Connect was launched, designed to drive the awareness of entrepreneurship opportunities to youth. Start-up Europe’s EU-HUB and ACE project kicked off investor readiness training, internationalisation, acceleration and pitching opportunities for companies. And the creative industries strand featured the first Europeana Creative Challenges and sessions on Connecting the Creative Industries in Europe.
Published on 26-05-2014 10:08 by David Tee. 1864 page views

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