Startups are not like other companies. To be sure, most of them aim not so much at long-term survival in a local market – the success metric for a small- and medium-sized business. Rather, they are typically built around an arguable proposition, usually an idea, often no more than a feeling or thesis. Most of them fail, as the landscape of natural history tells us has happened already to so many promising species. But the ones that succeed – the Spotifys of this world – often brought life-changing ideas and new patterns of development in their wake. This is what makes startups unique – the fact that their success is not simply a good day for Wall Street, but a habit-altering occurrence that brings new ways of seeing the world, new ways of interacting with each other, previously unthinkable products, new services, in a word, innovation. Their success rate may be low and precarious. But when they succeed, they succeed spectacularly. The policies they need must recognise that. Many startups – including the famous ones – still don’t make much profit (too much of their revenue is reinvested in driving further growth and developing new markets). And, unlike many old-school European businesses, they typically don’t use debt to expand – the model is built much more around equity investments, small and large, which help them through the key phases of growth and development. But what they do – when they do it well – is change the world.
Access to large domestic and even larger international markets is key to this – that’s why Step 1 in any programme intended to help startups must focus on facilitating access to markets and removing barriers to growth. In that context, there are few things policymakers could do that would help startups more than complete the so-called “single market” – the now 24-year old programme for uniting Europe in one seamless economy of 508 million consumers, stitched together around common rules with no barriers to sale or establishment within or without the individual countries of the European Union member states. The importance of this point cannot be overstated. Ask any of the thousands of Europeans who have gone to Silicon Valley to make it big, and they will answer the same: the principal advantage the American ecosystem enjoys is not a lighter regulatory regime – or a particularly successful growth-funding model. In fact, it’s the size and openness of the American market that makes business in Silicon Valley so appealing. If you make it big in one part of the U.S., you make it big everywhere – and can use the success built there as a springboard to global markets. If you make it big in, say, Sweden, you must then look to incorporate, and re-incorporate and re-incorporate again in 27 additional member states – a situation which led Spotify, an early Swedish digital-age champion (founded in 2006), to move to the U.S. to find the growth it needed – before coming back to Europe once it was large enough to cope with the regulatory complexity of 28 different markets.
But the internal market is not a simple entity. To the contrary, it’s a maze of complex, overlapping product standards and legal decisions, many of them negotiated painstakingly in Brussels at the Council of the European Union. We call on startups to become vocal advocates of completing the European single market, standing up for the European right of access and open markets at all times. Policymakers need the startups’ support on this, as there is quite often pushback from powerful economic incumbents – who offer lip service to the internal market, but lobby for moves that block commerce. To put it bluntly, support for Europe is not a woolly cause for dreamy-eyed visionaries; it’s a vital part of any successful European entrepreneurs’ tool kit. This needs to be much better understood at the grassroots level – and much more keenly felt at the highest level of European policymaking as well.
Concretely, there are seven areas where single market policy could be more successfully aligned with the goals, needs and dreams of European startups. They are value-added tax, copyright, data protection, digital identity, patent law and the all-important SME test, a European Commission initiative, by which all proposed laws are evaluated based on their attractiveness (or unattractiveness) to helping small businesses and startups to grow and internationalise. To this, we would add a new element: a “scale-up” test, under which all new policies – local, national and European – would be evaluated through structured dialogue with the startup and broader business community to assess the proposed policy’s impact on growth, productivity gains and company scaling.
Any product you sell is subject to value-added tax – or is it? European rules have flopped around on this over the years, caught up in the legal fact that Europe enjoys no jurisdiction in the field of tax policy (it is what’s known in European jargon as a “member-state competence”) and has no universal system for netting VAT in or out once you have crossed a border with a sale, service or customer. Most recently, European Union member states jointly agreed to require all sales in Europe to apply the VAT rate at the point of sale – regardless of whether the product was sold over the Internet or not. This is a defensible policy, perhaps, if the goal is to slow down tax dumping from member state to member state. But the initiative was catastrophic from the point of view of startups, which must now labour under the administrative complexity of reporting, paying and/or recovering VAT in countries other than the one in which they are based, with different rules, rates and laws. This has had a devastating effect on creating the economy of scale which the single market was intended to bring about; many startups have simply stayed at home, preferring not to sell in far-away markets if it triggers VAT reporting requirements that they cannot meet.
The good news is there is a solution for this. The European Commission should put out a tender to create an online European VAT clearing house – a one-stop shop, located online, where VAT can be declared and recovered in all 28 EU member states. This would solve the problem neatly – EU member states could avoid adopting tax regimes that seem to favour merchants based in other countries. And the entrepreneurs themselves could compete based on the quality and price of their products, not the relative weight of their home-country VAT. We believe the European initiative should come in the form of a tender, so several consortia could compete for the right to develop the best, most user-friendly online VAT clearing house. The key is that the system be easy to use; this initiative is to solve problems in the VAT field, not create new ones. So it’s important that the outcome be strong and powerful from the consumer/user’s perspective. The process for VAT reporting and recovery throughout Europe should be transparent, uniform and easy for SMEs to use.
Regulation has a disproportionate effect on companies depending on their size. For large companies, it is easy to hire a phalanx of lawyers or take valuable time off to educate policymakers and others about a sector’s or company’s specific problems. But for startups, this kind of meat-and-potatoes dialogue is often a bridge too far to cross. The European Commission has sought to ease this by proposing and (within its own domain adopting) an “SME test,” which encourages policymakers to “think small first” and ensures that all proposed laws are evaluated based on the potential impact on small- and medium-sized businesses (this is done through a combination of impact assessment and structured dialogue directly with the SME community). This is a helpful first step. However, as this manifesto is being written, only 11 of the 28 EU member states routinely apply the SME test (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom). The SME test should become a routine part of policymaking at all levels of government. It should be applied systematically across all 28 EU member states. And it should be given an important new component: a “scale-up” test, which further evaluates all proposed measures based on their potential effect on small, high-growth companies’ growth, jobs and internationalisation.
Europe needs an intellectual property regime fit for the digital age. On that, we can all agree. But few areas have generated more heated lobbying – and more overt clashes between incumbents and challengers – than intellectual property. The ubiquitous presence of the digital economy is the reason. Consumer expectations have changed profoundly, as have the incentive structures for creators, as well as for the large agencies and companies whose role used to be indispensable in the generation and spread of creative content (the Internet makes this a much more direct, peer-to-peer process, with less need for intermediaries, vastly hungrier consumers and greater opportunities for startups and niche services). To be sure, companies that have embraced this new reality – developing innovative products around consumer expectations – have thrived. But others remain caught in a rear-guard action, which is doing much to hamper the development of the digital single market. It is also harming consumers and throwing a damper on innovation as well. In order to develop a clear vision for a copyright framework that fosters creativity and innovation, policymakers have to recognise independent creators of all sorts, as well as new platform providers connecting artists and fans and innovative small businesses, as stakeholders in the process.
In a few words, we believe Europe needs four reforms in the intellectual property field:
Europe has a peculiar intellectual property system. Back in 2001, Europeans set the idea that all copyright exceptions should be listed in legislation – a cumbersome process, which may have made sense at the time but held the very real threat that Internet-age developments would easily overtake the rules as written, leading to confusion about the law. But there isn’t time (or will) to put European law on a different basis. Instead, we should urgently move to build more Internet-friendly flexibility into the existing framework. This could be done by more expansively defining “exceptions and limitations” in copyright as was recently introduced in Japan and the United Kingdom, or moving towards a system of “fair use” as occurred recently in Israel, South Korea and Singapore. Either way, the European system should allow for better, easier use of copyrighted works in innovative businesses, and remove the legal threat that comes from starting companies in areas where incumbent companies have more lawyers than programmers. There should be no “snippet tax” – a move which excites rights holders with the prospect of extracting greater rents, but which threatens to gum up the Internet in ways that Europe will eventually come to find embarrassing and counterproductive. Let us be clear: A snippet tax is poison to European entrepreneurs. It is important that startups not become hostages or collateral damage.
What is data? Is it the new currency? The new oil? The rails on which the knowledge economy transmits goods? Or is it perhaps all of these things, occupying a central but yet to be defined role in the modern knowledge-based economy?
“The right to mine is the right to read,” as many say these days. This reflects a growing paradox in European copyright law. Human beings are free to form judgments and detect patterns in the books we read; but machines are not. Put differently, human beings and companies can own data sets. But they are not always free to scan or “mine” those data sets without purchasing additional licences from the data-set copyright owner. This hampers innovation, particularly among digital startups, which are often forced to spend more of their time consulting lawyers on the limits of what they can legally do than developing new insights from the data they already have access to.
This practice flies in the face of evolving rules elsewhere in the world, where data-mining regimes have been relaxed to allow these increasingly routine research practices to flourish. Notably, Japan adopted a blanket exception (2009) for text and data mining. And the United Kingdom (2014) adopted a limited, non-commercial exception. European researchers and entrepreneurs need a blanket exception for data mining in copyright law, granting them the right to “mine” material for which they already own legal copyrights or which is freely available on the internet. This is not an effort to make information be free. To the contrary, it is the need for a clear right to extract knowledge from the information to which they already have legal access. Europe will struggle in the Internet age until it adopts a broader, more welcoming regulatory regime for text and data mining. North America and Asia have already done so. It is time for Europe to follow suit.
Ultimately, startups would benefit most from a licensing system that allowed them to take the fullest advantage of legal content, breaking down the intellectual-property silos they now face and allowing them to focus on delivering value to customers and consumers alike. We believe the only way to solve this problem for all time is with a European solution – one that is both bold and effective. Put simply, opening up the European Union to a truly digital single market will only happen with the creation of pan-European licences, making all goods in one member state legally available in all 28 EU member states, no “if’s,” no “but’s,” and no cumbersome mechanisms for ensuring “content portability” in the absence of relatively-easy-to-achieve-and-deliver European licensing. These licences should take the form of a regulation taking immediate effect in EU member states and avoiding the very real possibility of “gold-plating,” the process by which some EU countries render market-opening regulations unusable by piling on local requirements.
It is no longer correct to distinguish between the Internet economy and the real economy; the entire economy is digital. And this has a special meaning and implication for one especially important economic input: data. All modern businesses use and run off of data. Large multinationals manage complex international supply chains, as well as small SMEs, which also have the newcomer’s advantage of building their business around state-of-the-art processes, including modern data-management systems, often based on the cloud and providing important business services at a fraction of brick-and-mortar era costs.
Obviously, this brave new world needs one important thing: a data-policy framework that allows businesses to exchange the information they need, to focus on delivering the core value they add and to scale up internationally when the moment arrives. And here – despite the best intentions of many – European policies have become unusually unworkable, even chaotic. The EU General Data Protection Regulation – adopted in early 2016 – provided a useful first step: it offered the possibility of a single, pan-European set of rules in the data-protection area. But recent European Court of Justice rulings have sent legal certainty reeling in the opposite direction, encouraging and enabling an array of confusing local initiatives, which oddly put the content of vital European initiatives in the hands of a handful of German regions. Europe urgently needs to re-group here, taking a moment to assess the appropriateness and desirability of a host of recent data-protection regulations and making sure that – in the effort to outregulate other regions and score points against our competitors – we don’t leave Europeans and European businesses at a distinct disadvantage. Seen from the vantage point of European startups, we propose four urgent measures: restore European authority in the data-protection area, increase consultation (applying an SME test to all proposed data rulings), stop counterproductive talk about enforced data localisation and take steps to make sure cross-border data exchange is both secure and effective.
The biggest problem experienced by European companies – multinationals as well as startups – is uncertainty. No one seems to know what the European policy will be in this area. Will it be set in Brussels? Or Dublin? Or perhaps in Hamburg? European regulators urgently need to work with the European courts to restore a coherent European policymaking process in the data-protection field – one that is valid across all jurisdictions. It should be a helpful, enabling policy, which provides consumers with appropriate levels of data protection but leaves clear and open pathways for the development of data-driven businesses and the use of data in routine cross-border transactions. The Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner ruling was a major blow to the European project which urgently needs to be addressed with a new, coherent, joined-up approach.
One thing to know about data protection supervisors – most of them are lawyers. And while legal studies may be a vital prerequisite in a field where complex judgments are to be made, a knowledge of – and intimate acquaintance with – the needs and desires of the startup community will be vital to getting European policy right in this key area. In fact, many business-relevant decisions post 2018 will be done by data protection authorities (DPAs). They should cultivate and develop specific expertise on the practices of data-driven startups and scale ups. And they should avoid making flagrant use of so-called “opening clauses” in local data protection rules, which allow national governments to gold plate local requirements with additional measures and restrictions. To date, most attention in this debate has been focused on data-gathering practices at large multinationals; but the true victims of confused or misguided policy in this area will be Europe’s 22.3 million small- and medium-sized enterprises. Therefore, it is vital that European data protection supervisors who have not already done so urgently set up a structured dialogue with local SMEs, startups and scale ups. The dialogue should be enhanced through evidence-based policymaking and credible, pre-ruling impact assessment.
Data localisation is a tricky subject. Many national businesses have rallied behind the flag on this one, seeing European concerns with sometimes lax U.S. standards as a way of driving business to local suppliers. While this may have a certain short-term benefit to some, it is a damaging, long-term approach to the many. The real interest of startups – and of the European economy in general – is in reliable, safe and affordable data storage. Enforced data localisation will mean higher costs for the cloud-driven services upon which so many startups rely. And it will add further uncertainty and immensely greater regulatory burden on fast-growing enterprises, which would rather focus on developing their business than minutely parsing their data-storage policies based on an artificial European standard. To be clear: localised data is not necessarily safer data. Policymakers should focus on raising data security standards rather than imposing national storage requirements.
Which leads us to point four, the need for safe and reliable data protection rules. The law must be much more clear here. Europe and the U.S. should both make pro-active and best use of the additional safeguards provided by the privacy shield framework to preserve it as a safe, reliable and affordable instrument for transferring data across the Atlantic. Uncertainty in the legal ways to transfer data translates directly to uncertainty for businesses and strikes the smallest first. The economy is digital. We need rules to empower that, and guarantee that the modern-day flow of commerce is not impeded or curtailed.
New forms of commerce often need new infrastructure to sustain them. And where cash and cash registers played a vital function in the Industrial Age economy, e-Identity is destined to play a similar role in the new one. Europe has an excellent e-Identity system in the making – the regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market, or eIDAS, which seeks to give Europe a single, unified e-Identity system by 2018 (built around the important principle of inter-operability rather than harmonisation). This is one of those areas where a technical reform can have immense political consequences: opening up Europe to the kind of cross-border e-commerce and out-of-state access to national public services. We welcome this initiative and encourage EU governments to fast-track adoption.
To date, only seven EU countries have expressed the intention to move quickly towards full compliance with this ground-breaking regulation (and none have yet completed it). The official deadline is 2018, but countries would reap even greater benefits – in the form of bringing in consumers from other member states and allowing local consumers to purchase more goods and services elsewhere – should they move towards early adoption. E-Identity is not simply an “administrative reform.” This is a method for providing good, strong and effective plumbing for e-commerce – giving confidence to consumers, making inner-member state commerce more attractive and allowing producers to more easily trade across borders.
For now, the eIDAS system is mandatory for government services. But, if it proves to be effective, the protocols and standards could be licensed freely to the private sector for broader public use. Europe – and not least European startups – need a good, effective, trustworthy identification and authentication service – one that is as user-friendly as Facebook or LinkedIn, but which contains the more robust authentication standards that will be needed for high-end services, like online banking and other types of e-commerce. The key will be to offer cheap but effective solutions at low cost, and to use the system as a genuine enabler of commerce.
Because of fragmentation, patenting in Europe is more than 10 times more expensive than in the U.S., and litigation costs can be twice the fee for maintaining a patent for 20 years. To reduce cost and difficulty of use, it should be possible to file a patent in one language (without the need for translation) via the European Patent Office, as was agreed in 2012. However, the reform requires the entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (not enough EU member states have yet ratified the 2013 treaty for it to take effect). We call on all EU signatories to ratify the Agreement, thereby launching the long-overdue European unitary patent. The costs of patenting at EU and national level should be calculated in order to maximise innovation, not to ensure financial income to the patent offices. The EU Unitary Patent should become a reality for European entrepreneurs in months rather than years.
Few reforms would do more to remove barriers to cross-border trade than a concerted, Europe-led initiative to ease the path of entry – and growth – to European startups and entrepreneurs. This means first and foremost cutting back on harmful practices so small and deeply embedded that they hardly even get noticed – unless, of course you’re an entrepreneur trying to reach across a border to set up or expand.
European governments should be required to publish all documents necessary for registering and/or doing business in their country in a readily accessible online format, and in certified translation to other EU languages.
Governments should think of registration and all other administration as first and foremost a digital process. There should be a conscious and ongoing effort to take administration off paper and onto online processes, where it will be much more readily accessible to the rest of Europe – and the world beyond.
Internet connections are the heart of every digital business. And just as highways and railways once provided the crucial seams for continental commerce, today broadband and high-speed mobile Internet are the key to taking our products to the world – and bringing our orders to us. European governments should renew their commitment to making Europe’s digital infrastructure the best that technology will support, benchmarking Internet access and even more importantly access to high-speed mobile Internet access with the world’s best (in this case, Japan and South Korea). The goal should be 100% penetration of high-speed broadband – supporting Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second for leading institutions and businesses – and widespread rollout of best-in-class 5G mobile Internet access. Recent European efforts to open up spectrum auctions and actively promote spectrum sharing should be supported as well.
Consumer law – and the thorny question of whose rules apply on which transaction – is an area where European governments sometimes seem more ready to fight than settle. But this is hampering the movement towards a unified European digital single market, and preventing growth in cross-border commerce at a corresponding rate. One way around it would be to adopt a voluntary “single European commercial contract,” which companies and customers could use – on a voluntary basis – for all cross-border transactions. The contract would elaborate the consumer rights involved, eliminating a frequent source of conflict and an often unobserved (but hard to surmount) barrier to a pan-European market for digital goods and trade. The European Commission has made a similar proposal as part of its flagship digital single market initiative – proposing that key points such as liability, burden of proof, the right to terminate a contract and the sale of second-hand goods online be harmonised across all 28 EU member states. This is a crucial first step which should be expedited and supported.Next chapter Mobilise Capital
There are few places where Europe so palpably lags as mobilising finance for growth. To be sure, governments have made a major effort to address the problem in recent years. But the fact is, the European ecosystem is still routinely underpowered in the key area where startups find sustenance in the hard years – and rocket fuel in the good ones. Ninety percent of all European venture capital is found in just eight EU members states (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), and most of the funds that do exist are fractured along national lines. The average European venture capital fund is only €60 million, about half the size of a typical U.S. fund. The European Commission estimates that if European venture capital markets were as deep and rationally structured as those in the U.S., entrepreneurs would have access to around €90 billion more funds than they can reach today.
The good news is that awareness is growing here, and several big players have begun to take steps. The European Commission has floated the idea of a “fund of funds,” which would invest alongside European venture capital and bring more money to innovative ideas. The key will be to make sure that these initiatives reach the right people. State-funded investment must never become a “pro-cyclical” initiative, in which the high and mighty gain subsidy in good times at the expense of the challengers whom these funds were set up to help. This will involve good, effective oversight, as well as a clear mandate to keep the focus on correcting genuine market failure – and to adjust if and when capital markets do find the right way forward. But those are tasks for the future. The aim today is to attract more capital to European startups, to make sure it is effectively deployed and to find ways of guiding it more fruitfully towards breakthrough technologies and innovative business models. We propose major initiatives in three areas: complete the capital markets union, improve tax incentives and take measures to “crowd in” capital with better use of public resources.
The European Commission published its Capital Markets Union (CMU) Action Plan on 30 September 2015. It set out 33 measures – ranging from stock-market reform to insolvency legislation. Few steps would be more fruitful for scaling up businesses than completing the capital markets union, which would open a pan-European market for capital – with or without the United Kingdom in it.
Concretely, European governments should focus on the following measures, already contained in the capital markets union proposal:
More and more, companies and individuals are doing cross-border business in the EU. However, divergence of insolvency frameworks make it very hard for potential investors to assess credit risk, particularly in cross-border investment. Confused standards – and diverging rules for forcing liquidation or wrapping up unsuccessful ventures – mean that European balance sheets often contain hidden risk which even armies of accountants struggle to explain and understand. In 2014, the European Commission issued an “insolvency recommendation,” which, while falling short of actual legislation, aims at establishing minimum standards for preventive restructuring procedures (enabling debtors in financial difficulty to restructure at an early stage with the objective of avoiding insolvency). It also proposes discharge periods for honest bankrupt entrepreneurs (debt discharge being one of the necessary steps in providing them with a second chance). All 28 EU member states were invited to implement the recommendation by March 2015, although few did. And now the European Commission is preparing a meatier, toothier version as part of the proposed capital markets union. As a first step, EU member states are encouraged to implement the insolvency recommendation in full, bringing transparency and cross-border cohesion to national insolvency laws. As a second step, the European Commission should strengthen the law here with greater cross-border harmonisation, allowing quick bankruptcy, making it easier for those in need to “fail fast” and offering a second chance for honest, hardworking and experienced entrepreneurs.
Europe should be open and attractive to innovators and founders, especially at a moment when many non-EU countries are talking about erecting new barriers. Half of the Silicon Valley startups have at least one immigrant founders, against 10% of European ones. Many EU countries have already put in place schemes to facilitate immigration of entrepreneurs (startup visas). These schemes usually target a limited number of people and are specifically designed to identify innovative scalable ideas while avoiding abuses and misuse of this route. The process is administered by competent authorities in the EU member states, usually the interior ministry or immigration office, together with the research and innovation departments. In many cases, a community of incubators makes sure beneficiaries and their business plans are vetted thoroughly. The French Tech Ticket is a good example. There, 41 designated incubators choose who can (and should) receive one of 70 visas allocated for this purpose. The process ensures effective private-sector input – and gives incubators a stake in a positive outcome. And it helps keep the system transparent and closely monitored. The European Union could provide a harmonised framework covering the criteria (including procedure and fees), create a single point of contact for interested founders and take steps to ensure intra-European Union mobility for these innovators, where appropriate. Schemes like this could also be expanded to attract investors and early scale-up employees.
Sensing a huge opportunity, innovative startups and scale ups are turning increasingly to alternative ways of financing such as crowdfunding, which is growing quickly and starting to play an important role in equity investment. In 2015, European crowdfunding platforms raised €422 million, representing more than 10% of all venture capital raised that year (€3.8 billion). Yet, the variety of national regulatory regimes puts a question mark around the legal certainty for crowdfunding investments: only nine countries have adapted their law to provide full legal certainty to this novel fund-raising arena. The so-called “MiFID passport” has been interpreted differently in different countries, so not all crowdfunding platforms are able to carry out equity crowdfunding across borders. As a result, many crowdfunding platforms choose to operate locally (with no protection for cross-border investors) or are forced to find their way around local rules to allow cross-border expansion at all. Invesdor, a crowdfunding platform based in Helsinki, became the first platform to receive a MiFID passport in April 2015. The EU should foster transparency of cross-border crowdfunding by setting up a simple and transparent cross-border framework favouring mutual recognition of nationally-regulated crowdfunding platforms.
Policymakers hold few levers more powerful than tax. Which makes it even more strange that they seem so reluctant to use it. Put simply, European policy often seems geared towards maximising tax intake – an understandable position given the precarious finances of so many EU member states. But short of measures that might actually affect a nation’s bottom line, there are many small incentives that could be introduced – incentives which would have minimal effect on the national purse and maximum effect on the growth of companies within their national borders.
The taxation of stock options is a sore subject among European entrepreneurs, and it isn’t hard to see why. U.S.-based startups routinely grant stock options – in which employees and others are given the right to purchase company shares at a low price – as a means of attracting and retaining talent. In Europe, this is nearly impossible. The options are taxed as if they were current income, meaning the recipient has to pay an often heavy tax on an illiquid asset, making stock options an actual disincentive – and a talent-retaining tool that is hardly ever used (by contrast, European tax structures favour the granting of company cars, and have made this a common request among new hires and talented employees).
Many European companies still rely heavily on debt finance. There is a very good reason for this: in most countries, debt is treated as a cost in tax terms, meaning it can be written off against revenues, ultimately leading to lower taxes. Meanwhile, equity is treated as profit, meaning it is taxable as revenue. This leads to a common phenomenon: despite the vital role of equity finance in fueling scale ups, many European companies still prefer to raise money through loans rather than flotations on the equity market. But that, in turn, leaves European startups at a distinct disadvantage. The path of using equity markets to bring in money – and gain useful advice and mentorship – is not always open to them.
To improve this situation, several European governments (notably Belgium, Cyprus, Italy and soon Luxembourg) have implemented tax incentives intended to neutralise the decision of debt versus equity financing. Known as “notional interest deductions,” these schemes allow companies to deduct a notional amount of equity-raised funding from their revenue (the amount is calculated based on a formula derived from total shareholders’ equity). Effectively implemented, these schemes can open vast avenues of additional finance to successful entrepreneurs. They should be adopted in all 28 EU member states.
Despite EU efforts, the amounts invested by European business angels continue to be small and concentrated in only a few member states. But Belgium has taken action to address this. In 2015, the 11-million citizen country granted a tax reduction of 45% for investment in new shares of a startup (or micro-company) and a 30% for investments in new shares of an SME or startup fund. Similar initiatives should be promoted in all EU member states to facilitate and encourage business angel investments in Europe. EU member states could also develop more co-investment schemes, encouraging business angels to get involved in startups early on, where their expertise and mentoring can often make a crucial difference. After all, the OECD reports that around 150,000 firms in the EU are classified as “high-growth,” with an average annualised increase in the number of employees of more than 10% for at least three years (and at least 10 employees at the start of the period). These firms account for less than 10% of the economy, but they generate a huge proportion of the new jobs created each year. And they employ, on aggregate, 13 million people in Europe. Policymakers should find ways of prioritising and incentivising the moment when an organisation moves from a good idea to a great company, often generating many good, new jobs in the process. Encouragement of angel investment – where Europe lags – would be a good place to begin.
The public and private sector need to work more closely together to expand and deepen European capital markets. State-funded venture-capital funds are now the single largest source of capital in Europe’s venture-capital market, accounting for fully 31% of available European venture capital in 2015, up from 7.9% in 2007. Expanding the state’s footprint in this key area was the correct policy response after the dramatic collapse of financial markets in 2008, but as Europe moves forward, it needs to lessen its dependence on public funding in equity markets. And it needs to find ways to bring the knowledge of the private sector more to bear on the investment decisions that Europe will take.
Against that backdrop, the European Commission and the European Investment Fund have created an innovative project – the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). On its surface, the fund was built upon a ridiculous premise – the €21 billion of capital actually committed was intended to “unlock” €315 billion of matching capital. This allowed the European Commission to announce that it had a plan that would unlock €315 billion, which was a palpable exaggeration. But it also had an interesting side effect. The effort to beef up the fund through public-private partnership created an important vehicle for steering much-needed capital into innovative investment areas which public-funded-only initiatives could easily have been missed. Today, the EFSI has committed €6.8 billion to 192 agreements benefiting more than 200,000 startups, SMEs and mid-caps (an additional €13.6 billion is committed to 97 large-scale infrastructure and innovation projects). And it has helped Europe develop important strategic positions in sectors as diverse as innovation, energy, digital, transportation, environment and resource efficiency.
The “to-do” list for policymakers is relatively easy.
The European Commission – together with the European Investment Bank and the European Investment Fund – should form a vehicle intended to “co-invest” in innovative businesses. Member state-led projects like the High-Tech Gründerfonds in Germany and Bpifrance in France are good examples of what can be achieved in this way. Any European-led vehicle should rise above member-state barriers and help develop pan-European projects – or focus on national projects that show the promise of scaling up worldwide.
European entrepeneurs are still more likely to count on acquisitions for their exit strategy than initial public offerings. But this can and should change. The European IPO market should be made more accessible to promising, high-growth firms by creating focused growth markets on existing stock exchanges. Dedicated high-growth segments – like the Alternative Investment Market in London, Mercado Alternativo Bursátil in Madrid and Neuer Markt in Frankfurt – tailored to the needs of these firms could have great impact and become part of the solution. And the European institutions should move quickly to modernise the prospectus directive, giving startups and other relatively small organisations a better shot at successful equity-market flotation. Deeper, more developed secondary markets for shares in high-growth firms could help attract early investment, particularly from venture capitalists, who want to know there’s a way out (as well as a way in) if they need it.
Providing new sources of capital is important, but the reality is late payments (from large companies and governments) routinely kill otherwise promising startups every day, and this can have a profoundly deleterious impact on economic growth, productivity and competitiveness advantage. The European Commission’s late payments directive is an important tool, but its implementation has suffered from differing interpretations of the law within EU member states and limited enforcement, particularly across borders. Even when legal provisions are there, SMEs are reluctant to pursue their rights especially when dealing with large multinationals. Redress measures should be fast and easily available to all companies. Governments need to improve their own payment processes, and need to step up and improve the effectiveness of the hard/soft mix of measures.Next chapter ACTIVATE TALENT
Business-led manifestos have often stumbled around the contentious area of European labour law and the effect it has on hiring. Put simply, the cliché is to tell policymakers that what they need to do is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to “fire” people, which precisely misses the point. Startups need to flourish so there are more companies to “hire” people. And while it would be false to tell policymakers that startups are a universal solution to mass unemployment in some EU member states, it would be equally wrong to avoid giving the advice that labour law in Europe is in some ways an impediment to hiring and scaling up of potentially successful enterprises.
Growth also requires the capacity to recruit talent wherever it is: in another member state or further afield. Startups need simple procedure to employ the best available talent, and Europe needs to become attractive for founders and skilled workers alike. This leads a need for action in two key areas: Increase the incentives to hire and do more to attract talent.
Policymakers should look for ways to encourage companies to hire people. This could take the form not just of making labour cheaper and easier to hire, but of doing it in a way that would send a powerful signal to the world that Europe is open for business and ready to do what it takes to get Europe working again. As is, European companies pay on average 41.8% more in non-wage labour costs – the difference between the labour cost paid by the employer and the corresponding net take-home pay of the employee due to income tax and social contributions – than the OECD average, with some countries (Belgium, at 55.3%) taxing labour twice as much as the U.S. (31.7%). OECD economists believe that a 10% cut in the tax wedge could lead to a drop in structural unemployment of as much as 2.8% in Europe (with every one percentage point cut costing the national treasury around 0.3% of GDP in foregone taxes, according to an IMF estimate). A coordinated cut in all 28 EU member states would send a powerful signal to capital and labour markets alike. This, in turn, could boost confidence, and ultimately make it easier for companies to do what we’d all like them to do – hire more people. A good place to begin is by expanding incentives to hire first employees as many governments have done already. Those that don’t have these incentives in place should adopt them.
Employment is a precarious area for startups – many struggle to meet their payroll even in the best of times. But, with an estimated 1,600,000 startups active in Europe, a pledge to hire an additional employee or to train a few existing ones could have enormous knock-on benefits for society at large. On the hiring front, if just half of the 26 million enterprises in Europe could be convinced to take on one additional employee, it would lead to the creation of more than 13 million jobs. A coordinated cut in the tax wedge would be a good way to incentivise this. As would national schemes to make it easier for scale ups to train more workers on the job or take on more trainees. This would have the advantage of increasing skills within the work force, and seeding the human capital pool with talent that could grow to scale itself some day.
This proposal may sound familiar; it first appeared in the 2013 Startup Manifesto, which served as the inspiration for this document. Sadly, it appears here again, as no progress on this front has been made in the intervening period. Within the European Union, it is still impossible to hire workers in another country without setting up a subsidiary. As a result, the only option is through a consultancy contract, even if the employee is working solely for one company. The EU should recognise that free movement of workers doesn´t just mean physical movement, but rather the freedom to work in Europe from wherever you live. In this respect, EU and member states should facilitate new, flexible cross-border working provisions. One possibility is a “knowledge-worker work permit,” which could be available to EU citizens based on the same criteria defined for non-European knowledge workers in the blue card directive. Key issues of labour law and income-tax payment could be split: workers would be subject to labour-law terms and social-security payments in the country where the service is provided, but would pay income tax in the country of residence. The advantage is the hiring entity would not have to set up a subsidiary in another country just to engage a locally resident employee there. European restrictions were written to protect workers at the bottom of the employment ladder – and this is fair and appropriate; those protections should be respected and perhaps even extended. But it is unfair to bind all workers – and employers – in a vice of legal complexity that robs the European single market of much of its power. And it is particularly unfair – and counterproductive – to do this in an age when more and more work is mobile and cross-border. The posting of workers directive should be revised again with an eye towards splitting it off into two tiers: there should be strong protection for those who need it and greater flexibility for those (at the high end of the employment ladder) who need that instead.
In order to grow, high-growth companies need to be able to recruit fast the best talent available. According to the OECD, highly educated third-country migrants are much more likely to live in North America (57%) than in Europe (31%). Current immigration restrictions make it difficult for scale ups to recruit non-EU nationals. The exceptions already introduced in many countries for highly skilled workers (including entrepreneurs) remain fragmented, cumbersome and restrictive. We need to make it easier and quicker for scale ups to recruit foreign talent. The proposed revised blue card directive is a positive step in the right direction, but it needs to accomodate the specific needs of startups and scale ups such as recognising stock options instead of cash salaries and recognising self-taught skills, e.g. coding.Next chapter POWER INNOVATION
Europe spends on average €272 billion on research and innovation each year – a figure large enough to make Europe one of the world’s leading innovators, but not always enough to compete head-to-head with leading Asian and North American competitors. What’s more, evidence shows that new technologies and innovations are often first commercialised through startup companies, but government funding instruments sometimes struggle to involve them: only 6% of the EU’s fast-growing firms participated in the flagship European Commission Framework Programme 7, for example. Both government and large corporation have a fundamental role to play by partnering with startups to lead the demand for innovative products and services. However, public procurement remains a “forbidden fruit” for many startups, and many enterprises struggle to collaborate successfully with large corporations. Innovative business models are often met with resistance by national and local governments, which too often simply choose to ban services based on complex business models they don’t yet understand, such as AirBnB, Inc. and Uber Technologies, Inc., which can affect a myriad of European companies that operate in the same sectors.
Governments should routinely make public data open and available for reuse – and always in formats that are anonymised and machine readable. In countries where this has been pursued most aggressively – such as the UK – it has led to an explosion of new and better-targeted services and user-friendly innovation. And it has provided vital soil in which dozens of new businesses – many of them hard to have imagined before – have grown and prospered.
These days, business models and services are developing faster than regulators’ ability to understand them. Fortunately, regulation is itself evolving, with a host of new techniques for making sure that regulators grasp the impact of rules on new businesses before those rules are implemented. The most promising new development of this type is the so-called “sandbox,” currently deployed in limited ways in countries as disparate as Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. Under this approach, governments set up small, controlled experiments where new ways of doing things can be done (legally) while administrators gauge outcomes, consult constantly with consumers and market participants and store up knowledge for broader initiatives later. The technique is particularly promising in the area of FinTech, where regulators have a strong incentive in allowing untested innovation to flourish while making sure that any new developments do not unduly harm consumers or the overall financial system. European regulators should adopt and embrace the sandbox technique in as many areas as possible, providing incentives for startups to take part and adopting a “see-first” attitude before banning new practices. The result of sandbox evaluations should be included in regulatory impact assessments.
Existing public funding programmes for research and innovation too often reward those who can play the funding game rather than genuine innovators. Public funding has created an industry of consultants for obtaining public funding. We need to bring top-class innovators, startups and scale ups back in the game. The European Commission has proposed a new European Innovation Council, patterned on the hugely successful European Research Council, whose mandate will be to support “disruptive market-creating innovation,” according to European Commissioner Carlos Moedas. Existing programmes – like the €24 billion InnovFin-EU Finance for Innovators – could be successfully rolled into the new initiative, so investments would get a closer look from independent expert panels and could be more carefully targeted at genuinely innovative projects involving new actors and disrupters.
New players should be proactively scouted and involved in the different phases of innovation funding: from the definition of the funding priorities to proposal submission and evaluation. Too often the work-programmes of funding instruments are designed based on the input of large companies only. In innovation funding more than in other areas of public intervention, the stability of beneficiaries from year to year should be considered as a negative result. R&I funding agencies should report on the extent to which startups are involved, both as beneficiary and as contributors in the design of the programmes. Policymakers should replicate the success obtained by the European Research Council in funding excellent research.
Failure is a necessary part of progress and learning. Are hypotheses that don’t work out really disasters to be avoided or are they actually steps towards deeper understanding of fundamental problems? In the end, if the majority of government funded research and innovation (R&I) projects are routinely declared a success, it probably means that the funding programme was not ambitious enough. How can it be that venture-capital funds have a one in 10 success rate, while almost all EU- and national-funded R&I projects come out a winner? Evaluators should take greater risks with their funding projects, and allow more scope for experimentation and exploration of bold, new ideas. Flexible measures that allow for radical changes in the course of the project should become the norm rather than the exception, such as multi-stage funding, project closure and reassignment of budget.
Innovation funding should be simple and accessible. Funding rules should be consistent between different funding instruments (e.g. Horizon 2020 and the EU structural funds) and between EU, national and regional funding. This would help tremendously as it would allow member-state managing authorities and agencies to simplify processes and reduce costs.
Another way for governments to support innovation is by buying more from startups and encouraging large corporations to collaborate more with startups on public tenders. Today, government procurement represents 18% of European gross domestic product. Despite the progress of new directives on public procurement, the process remains focused on rule compliance rather than on identifying the best solution. Policymakers have long tried to make procurement more innovation-oriented, flexible, interactive, focusing on the expected results rather than on process compliance, but this hasn’t happened so far. The vast majority of government purchases are from large companies, which can afford dedicated staff to tendering processes. Government agencies should therefore set aside dedicated budget for procurement of innovative solutions from innovative companies and encourage consortia to reach out to more innovative partners. In the U.S., government agencies have to devote at least 3% of their overall annual budget to small business through the Small Business Innovation Research programme. We recommend a similar programme for Europe, with dual targets of 3% of spending devoted to pre-commercial procurement, which covers research and development, and 20% devoted to public procurement for innovation, which covers “bringing innovative end-solutions to market.” The targeted funding should go to innovative SMEs and startups, and to consortia with innovative startups within them. Large companies providing goods and services to government should report to what extent they include startups and fast-growing companies in their value chain. Governments and think tanks should report and monitor the percentage of public procurement going to startups and innovative companies, drawing on publicly available data to produce regular surveys and using public discussion to drive change in the area. Governments should ensure that their outreach programmes such as hackathons and inducement prizes are systematically integrated with the procurement process.
Business model innovation is one of the most important ways to create value. We need to stimulate it, not stifle it. The sharing economy is just one new example of innovation that challenges regulation: there will be more. Regulators oscillate between ignoring these developments and banning them. Startups can’t grow with a constant uncertainty over regulation of their business models. Banning new services in order to protect incumbents is short-termist, but most importantly damaging for consumers and for the innovation system as a whole. New services should follow the rules, and comply with basic requirements such as taxation and local labour law. But we can’t hide from technological change, we should welcome it and ensure that it turns into the advantage of all through dialogue and smart regulation. We need a European approach that stimulates innovation, rewards consumers and avoids fragmentation between national and local regulation. Banning innovative business models should always be a last resort.
Looking at the headlines, it’s easy today to identify innovation with startups entering traditional markets and disrupting them. However, much of the innovation in traditional sectors often comes from the collaboration between incumbents and newcomers. Collaboration between startups and large corporations is crucial for the European ecosystem to deliver successful scale ups and compete internationally. Corporations need the innovative ideas that startups bring. Nevertheless successful cooperation is too rare, and too often limited to outreach mechanisms such as hackathons. We need to scale up collaboration at a pan-European level (and beyond merely national initiatives). But there are real, deeply ingrained challenges as startups and corporates have very different cultures and processes. Governments can help limit these challenges, by:
Successful outcomes might include co-development of procurement contracts, increased levels of investment, or eventually exit and/or acquisition opportunities.
The Startup Europe Partnership, led by the European Commission, provides a good example. Similar initiatives could be replicated at a national level.Next chapter BROADEN EDUCATION
European educational systems struggle to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed. Unemployment rates among young people reach 25% at EU level, and more than 50% in countries such as Greece and Spain, while at the same time European companies say they will need as many as 825,000 more skilled ICT workers by 2020 and one third of entrepreneurs report that lack of skills as a major business problem. This paradox is unacceptable. We need educational establishments to join forces with companies to do a better job in providing students with key skills such as ICT and entrepreneurship, as well as early work placements; and we need to fully exploit informal education opportunities outside institutional establishment.
The economy is changing, and so are the demands on people who will live and work in it. The future may not be not a world where everyone is CEO of a startup; but it will be a world where founding a company will be considered a normal choice, not a unique destiny reserved to (mostly male) super-heroes. This will require a dramatic expansion and possibly even a paradigm shift in our educational institutions. Students should learn and start getting familiarised with what it means spot an opportunity, create a new product and run a company by the age of 12. Entrepreneurship should become part of the school curriculum, and mainstreamed across all secondary schools and universities. Programmes such as Erasmus for Entrepreneurs and Founders4Schools should be expanded to high school and university students to provide short internships in startups across Europe. There are many examples of carefully designed and engaging game-like programmes that get students familiarised with basic concepts of entrepreneurship without inducing them to a culture of extreme competition.
Every university should provide students seeking to found a company, and particularly women, with adequate advice, support and peer-to-peer networks. University students can be supported through “protected” environments, which lower risk. Commercialisation of innovation and startups creation, not just publications, should count for university career progress and be taken into account during staff recruitment.
Information technology and coding skills should be part of the core curriculum both in schools and universities. To be clear, we are not referring simply to using basic tools such as e-mail and productivity software: we need “360 degrees” competences adequate for the 21st century, from design thinking and content creation to communication and managing personal data. And universities and other lifelong learning institutions should mainstream digital components throughout every subject.
Teachers should be equipped with the necessary skills, and e-learning and Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs should become the primary lifelong training tools for teachers. Technology companies (large and small) should be systematically involved in designing and providing courses in schools and universities to ensure that the ICT skills remain relevant.
Today, the job market is organised around one linear model: skills are obtained by attending courses and they are certified through a degree delivered after a test. But the reality of learning is much more multifaceted.
MOOCs open up tremendous opportunities for educating with low costs and should be considered a core part of the educational system. Moreover, especially in ICT, much learning is taking place outside formal courses through exchanges of tacit knowledge and learning by doing. The certification of learning is no longer confined to experts assessing the competences, but can be based on the tangible products, such as software, and how it is assessed by the community of peers. However, these informal learning and certification are often community-specific and not widely recognised. We should develop interoperable, flexible forms of recognition for informal learning.
Practice in real-life work environment is a necessary part of education. Education institutions should ensure contacts between their students and local scale ups, and should include work placement in their curriculum. National and local governments should develop appropriate schemes to ensure this takes place systematically and not on a case-by-case basis.
Businesses need dedicated training to manage and support their scaling up. And for all of our entrepreneurial talent, Europe still lacks a large corps of potential scale up leadership talent in terms of second generation entrepreneurs who can provide mentoring and act as role model. We need better training for companies to face the strategic and operational challenges of scaling up, such as capital requirements, supply chain, market access and management. And we need to focus more sharply in business education on the unique skills emerging in the digital economy: How do you take an app from 100 users to one million? How do you “monetise” a “software-as-a-service” product? How do you manage a sales team selling cloud or other “big data” services? All of these topics need greater study in European business schools – and greater scaling through the education system itself. We need to advance our effort to understand and define the unique skill set that startups need – and make sure our educational system can deliver.
We need to replicate and mainstream initiatives such as the ELITE programme (Italy and UK), supporting fast-growing companies by training and mentoring. In particular, startups need to be equipped with the necessary skills to manage collaboration with corporates. We need to raise awareness among startups about the benefits of collaboration; and to equip them with adequate collaboration skills.Next chapter MONITOR, MEASURE AND EVALUATE
Thought leadership is a hard thing to define – let alone to develop. But Europe has several key and evident challenges in this area. First and foremost, startup leaders must learn to speak up and be heard. Without a stronger voice from European startups, there is no guarantee that the policy progress of recent years will be “scaled up,” as it were. There is a particular responsibility for the CEOs and founders of Europe’s 41 “unicorns,” the companies whose market valuations have reached more than €1 billion. But it can’t all be left to the unicorns. Put simply, startup leaders must learn to interact with policymakers, putting concrete and actionable policies on the table and sharing their wisdom about policymaking and the policies that work through constant, ongoing public outreach.
The tracking should be overseen by an independent annual survey on the European startup/scale up scene, combined with on-the-ground collaborative monitoring, and pulled together and distributed in a major annual publication. The publication should include scores for national governments based on a percentage of measures implemented – or ignored. It should include a breakdown of measures taken and not completed. At the European level, registry-based data should be harmonised from country to country to allow greater study and develop deeper insight. Data releases should be made quarterly. And there should be deeper, better figures on total funding and number of employees employed in the sector.
The observatory should be independent. It should be adequately resourced and constitutionally independent. In its work, it should involve a wide range of stakeholders, but it should present views and assessments that are evidence based and independently verified. It should publish regular league tables tracking member state and EU-level progress in key areas such as adoption of insolvency legislation, avoidance of late payments, public procurement allocation and other similar areas mentioned throughout this manifesto. Transparency and monitoring in these key areas should be used to drive change and push all EU member states up to levels of best practice.
This should include the European Commission as well as the High-Level Working Group of the Competitiveness Council, including its attached national experts and high-level member state representatives. The meeting should be used to review annual progress. Outside contributors, including CEOs and thought leaders from the global startup/scale up scene, should be encouraged to join so the sessions do not become inward-looking, self-referential discussions. Benchmarking should be global, and not limited to inner-European comparisons. And European ecosystems should use this pan-European umbrella to increase collaboration. Even today, most European initiatives remain national even as supply chains become lengthier and ever more global. European startups should sieze the moment, taking on heft, forming new and better alliances and working more directly together to make Europe not just a great place to start a company, but a great base from which to conquer the world and change life as we know it.
We are committed to safeguarding the privacy of our website visitors. This policy sets out how we will treat your personal information.
You can disable any cookies already stored on your computer, but disabling some cookies may stop our website from functioning properly.
The following cookies are not strictly necessary for the functioning of the website, but we use them to provide you with the best user experience and also to tell us which pages you find most interesting (anonymously):
We will not share any personal information with third parties.
The website contains links to other websites. We are not responsible for the privacy policies or practices of third-party websites.
The information we are collecting in the manifesto signup will not be shared with any third parties or used for any other purposes apart from showing your support to the manifesto.
There’s no shortage of ambitious ideas in Europe; in fact, the continent boasts more entrepreneurs per capita than the United States, the traditional benchmark for excellence. But European startups face a difficult maze of problems – restricted national markets, a shortage of capital, a regulatory framework built for 19th century capitalism. That’s why we wrote The Scale Up Manifesto, a hard-hitting action plan with 49 proposals to help Europe “scale up.” Let’s make the next big thing right here in Europe. This is a call to action – with roles for all, and room for many.
In 2016, European Commissioner Günther Oettinger spoke passionately to a group of leading startups at CeBIT, the global event for digital business, in Hannover, Germany. “Tell me what I need to do to help startups to scale up in Europe and together we will do it.” he said, his eyes visibly bright as he tossed out the challenge. The result is The Scale Up Manifesto, a 49-point roadmap which draws from the unique insights of dozens of leading European startup associations and successful entrepreneurs. The measures are divided into six headings: 1) complete the single market, 2) mobilise capital, 3) activate talent, 4) power innovation, 5) broaden education and 6) monitor, measure and evaluate.
Startups are not like other companies. Most of them aim not so much at long-term survival in a local market – the success metric for a small-and medium-sized business. Rather, they are typically built around an arguable proposition, usually an idea, often no more than a feeling or thesis.more...
There are few places where Europe so palpably lags as mobilising finance for growth. To be sure, governments have made a major effort to address the problem in recent years. But the fact is, the European ecosystem is still routinely underpowered in the key area where startups find sustenance in the hard years – and rocket fuel in the good ones.more...
Business-led manifestos have often stumbled around the contentious area of European labour law and the effect it has on hiring. Put simply, the cliché is to tell policymakers that what they need to do is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to “fire” people, which precisely misses the point.more...
Europe spends on average €272 billion on research and innovation each year – a figure large enough to make Europe one of the world’s leading innovators, but not always enough to compete head-to-head with leading Asian and North American competitors.more...
European educational systems struggle to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed. Unemployment rates among young people reach 25% at EU level, and more than 50% in countries such as Greece and Spain, while at the same time European companies say they will need as many as 825,000 more skilled ICT workers by 2020more...
Thought leadership is a hard thing to define – let alone to develop. But Europe has several key and evident challenges in this area. First and foremost, startup leaders must learn to speak up and be heard.more...
In keeping with the times, this manifesto is not the work of one person but of an entire community. Using a unique, crowdsourcing methodology, it was built up over several months – with dozens of people developing and testing ideas, probing each other rigorously, researching existing initiatives and imagining entirely new ones. It is not our manifesto; it is yours – written and conceived to drive change in the real world.