Europe looks to boost deeptech startups

Europe looks to boost deeptech startups

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The European Commission has launched an innovation plan to boost the development of deeptech in the region.

After a year of consultation, the plan aims to improve access to finance for European startups and scale-ups, for example, by mobilising untapped sources of private capital and simplifying listing rules on dual listings on local stock markets.

It also has plans to improve the rules to allow innovators to experiment with new ideas through through regulatory sandboxes as well as helping to create “regional innovation valleys” that will strengthen and better connect innovation players through Europe. This includes regions that are lagging behind, helping Member States and regions direct at least E10bn to concrete interregional innovation projects, including in deep-tech innovation for key EU priorities. However this may impact on existing innovation valleys such as DSP Valley in Belgium and the Hydrogen and Photonics valley programmes in the Netherlands as well as the Munich Quantum Valley.

The plans also aims to attract and retain talent in Europe, which is a key challenge that is regularly flagged as an issue. For example, the Commission is proposing training a million deep tech talents, increasing support for women innovators and innovating with start-up employees’ stock options.

It also aims to improve innovation policy-making through clearer terminology, indicators and data sets, as well as policy support to Member States.

“We need to boost our innovation ecosystems to develop human-centered technologies. This new Innovation Agenda builds on the significant work done already on innovation in the last years and will help us accelerate our digital and green transition. The Agenda is rooted in the digital, physical and biological spheres and will enable us tackle better burning concerns, such as breaking the dependence from fossil fuels or securing our food supply in a sustainable way,” said Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The new European Innovation Agenda will ensure innovators, start-ups and scale-ups, their innovative businesses to become global innovation leaders. For more than a year we have consulted the stakeholders, such as innovation ecosystem leaders, startups, unicorns, women founders, women working in the capital venture, universities, and businesses. Together, we will make Europe the global powerhouse for deep-tech innovations and startups.”

The New European Innovation Agenda sets out 25 dedicated actions under five flagships. These cover funding Scale-Ups, enabling innovation through experimentation spaces and public procurement and developing local ecosystems.

On deeptech talent, the plan proposes a series of initiatives including an innovation intern scheme for startups and scale-ups, an EU talent pool to help startups and innovative businesses find non-EU talent, a women entrepreneurship and leadership scheme and a pioneering work on startup employees’ stock options.

Improving policy making tools will be the key for development and use of robust, comparable data sets and a shared definitions will help ensure better policy coordination at the European level through the European Innovation Council (EIC) Forum.

The European Innovation Council (EIC) established in 2021 and with a budget of €10 billion, aims to support innovation throughout the whole innovation lifecycle, from the early stages of research to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scaling up of start-ups and SMEs, but has been beset by delays in distributing the funding to startups

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) took on additional tasks by establishing new Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) such as on culture and creative sector, putting more emphasis on addressing regional imbalances, and looking at increasing the entrepreneurial and innovation capacity of higher education institutions.

Through the EIC, the EU has set up €20 million support for Ukrainian start-ups alongside the ‘European Research Area for Ukraine’ (ERA4Ukraine), Horizon4Ukraine and ERC for Ukraine initiatives, as well as the dedicated fellowship scheme of €25 million under the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions (MSCA) for displaced researchers of Ukraine.

This complements the European Research Area (ERA) that aims to build a European single market for research and innovation.

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