Friday, 4 September
The next keynote speaker was Olaf-Gerd Gemein, a ‘business architect’ who was willing to share his recipe on how to succeed in starting a business in Europe. Mr. Gemein supports around 500 entrepreneurs, who have succeeded in opening 96 companies so far.
He has also facilitated several workshops around Europe in the past few years. The FIWARE-accelerate project he is chairing, has developed a recipe that does not impose a one-size-fit-all, but applies a set of general principles and steps that all new ventures have to go through. At set deadlines and time frames the participants have to deliver certain milestones and an important aspect of the FIWARE-program is that participants relocate to come together on site, to facilitate exchange. Pushing the young firms through the same set of assignments and setting them shared challenges creates the atmosphere for cooperation that also Mr. Krull suggested is crucial for success. Both agree that competition among start-ups, for funds, markets or prizes, is not productive at the incubation and acceleration stages. An environment that promotes cooperation and challenging each other is what both agreed would be most conducive to productive entrepreneurship.
To introduce a more political and policy-oriented point of view, Mr. Ingmar Jürgens, the German Representative of the European Commission, was present. He gave a keynote address explaining what the European Commission has been doing to help
entrepreneurship as well as it’s strong bias towards structural reforms. Mr. Jürgens briefly referred to the Juncker Investment plan, which focuses on removing obstacles to investment, providing visibility and technical assistance to investment projects and creating an investment friendly environment. From his talk, however, it was also clear that the Commission has great problems shaping policy in such a way that it addresses the key issues raised by previous speakers. There is a wide gap between the very specific, micro and tailor made solutions and recipes proposed by those engaged in promoting startups and accelerating growth and the large policy initiatives at the EU-level.
Coming up, the highly experienced founder and manager, Mr. Jack Harding, shared with the audience his experience on expanding a business and growing to a global player. Mr. Harding mainly focused on the challenges of emerging into new markets, followed by tips on
how to preserve a company’s identity when doing so. As Mr. Harding put it, “the DNA of a company are the values and beliefs in which it is founded, and this DNA should be preserved throughout the years” in order for a company to be successful. After his address to the public, Mr. Harding and other members from the panel, as well as members from the audience engaged in a short discussion regarding entrepreneurial deregulation in the state of California, and the healthy business ecosystem in place. The key insight that Mr. Harding could share with the audience is that in California the government plays a crucial role. Not in what it does, but rather in that it has understood that the public benefits of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem flow to the State indirectly and it is not wise to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. The government, however, is far from passive. It invests heavily in infrastructures and conditions that benefit the entrepreneurial engine. The coalition of stakeholders in the private, public and academic sector supports this ecosystem and defends it against any external attacks and threats.
As our final speaker, Mrs. Birgitta Stymne Göransson gave her opinion on the nature of entrepreneurs and their creative spirits. Mrs. Göransson is an experienced entrepreneur in the field of biotechnical services and she is currently a Member of the Board of Directors at Medivir AB.
Birgitta stressed the importance of more "smart capital" for Europe. That is, capital that comes with good advice and mentoring. Not the micro-managing kind, but the right kind. Supporting and coaching but leaving entrepreneurs to do what they need to do. She concluded her presentation by a few tips on how to survive in the ever-changing technological environment.
After the speeches from the Keynote speakers, Mr. Keilbach led an engaging panel discussion, and the event was concluded with questions from the audience.