DiPP - Challenges to investing in Europe
Under the intriguing title ‘Can you match Europe as a prime location for smart investment?’ DIGITALEUROPE and Invest Week convened a workshop on 2 December in the context of the ‘Digital in Practice Programme’.
Policy Advisor, the European Investment Bank
Christophe de Courson
Co-founder and managing Director, Agentic France
Director of Secretariat, European Business Angel Network
Vice President, Global Public Affairs, Facility Live OpCo Srl
Director General at DIGITALEUROPE
All possible solutions aim to mitigate the risk essentially by changing the mindset of:
– entrepreneurs: no more fear of failure; experience-based advice thanks to business angels.
EIB backing is a typical trust-building measure
Bottom-up support from pensioners and other small investors will come easier once return on investment (ROL) is a safer bet in our data-driven economies
Capital, digital markets have yet to fit the ‘Single Market’ mantra
Building a company is akin to a crucifying long-distance run in most of Europe, to a healthy sprint in the US.
Advise entrepreneurs through an advisory portal or hub
Prompt appropriate regulatory changes.
This sea-change worked so well (€138b investment induced in 18 months vs the original plan of €315b over three years) that the EFSI will double its size and be extended to three more years. More than 100,000 jobs have been created in 27 Member States and 290,000 SMEs are expected to benefit from those investments.
France is OK up to €20 million, with a few brilliant outliers such as Sigfox that raised €150m there
The UK can help you to upper levels
But above €200 million you have to turn to US investors.EFSI-style hubs work even at a lesser scale: one just opened in Belgium has attracted 15 investors and €5 million in less than two months.
While much of a blessing for scaling up, digital technology carries its own complexity:
By putting the world at your fingertips, it makes for more money-hungry entrepreneurs.
By making location irrelevant, it eludes the grasp of most policy makers who, being unable to construe ICT-enabled connectivity as a game-changer, keep seeing national borders as a natural incubator: grow your business nationally before you take on the world, they say, based on pre-digital experience.
Commonalities found between the ‘investment mix’ that works at the EIB level as well as in various Member States sound like an invitation to consider amore systemic approach. As storms are looming, Brexit, elections in key Member States, it is time perhaps to ponder thoroughly how we could possibly shift from caring too much about keeping what we’ve got to caring a little more about gaining what we’ve not got yet.