Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes has pledged to remove the many barriers to IT entrepreneurship as the European Union seeks to foster greater innovation in the region and put Europe "into the digital driver's seat".
Kroes argued in a speech at the InnovationAxess 2010 event organised by the European Young Innovators Forum that the European Commission's ambitious Digital Agenda initiative needs the support of entrepreneurs if it is to succeed.
The commissioner highlighted several barriers to innovation, including Europe's "fragmented venture capital market and risk-averse public procurement policies", as well as intense competition for talent from Asia and Silicon Valley.
"My bottom line is this: we have to create a situation where 'entrepreneur' is not a word from another planet. Where kids actually aspire to become an entrepreneur," she said.
"So commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and I have set the objective of removing these barriers. We want to build up the environment for innovation and entrepreneurship."
Around €2bn of the €10bn EU budget for research, development and innovation currently goes to ICT-related work, according to Kroes.
Future moves to foster talent and innovation in the industry will focus on making it easier to operate across the single market by reducing fragmentation in copyright and cross-border licensing, telecoms and e-commerce, she explained.
"We are also working on making it easier for people like you to recruit the talent you need, and to make it easier and quicker to access funding and identify partnerships by making our public-private partnerships more accessible with 'lighter and faster' funding access," said Kroes.
"We also want to ensure that the public sector organisations of member states perform a first-buyer function for innovative products and services. By adding this link of pre-commercial procurement to Europe's innovation chain we think we can build up many new markets."
Kroes has already been very vocal in her aspirations for the Digital Agenda, and is an outspoken critic of the fragmented and anti-competitive business landscape in the region that creates significant barriers in industries such as e-commerce and telecoms.
One project of which Kroes would no doubt approve is TechHub, a new workspace and entrepreneur centre which launched yesterday in London.
The Google-backed venture aims to provide tech startups with an "affordable, buzzing and creative working environment", and could be the template for future sites around the UK and Europe, according to co-founder Elizabeth Varley.
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