As Europe struggles with high unemployment and government austerity plans start to bite, everyone is looking to the private sector to help kick-start the job market. More than 23 million people are jobless across the EU – an increase of 44% from the first quarter of 2008. So where are all the jobs going to come from?
One of the contributors has to be Europe’s technology base. Europe is improving its touch at turning innovation into big technology companies. It is now 10 years since Techlocate was formed to help technology companies locate in and grow in Europe. We started during the 'dot-com' boom (as a dot-com), when internet start-ups were going to be rainmakers for economic development. Of course, actual market performance did not live up to the hype, but we have seen a steady growth in the confidence and abilities of Europeans to produce large technology enterprises.
The recent valuation of the UK’s Betfair is one of the shining examples of tech growth success. As it gears up for a flotation, Betfair has now entered the billion euros club, and has grown from a staff of two people at the start of the decade to 2000 people across the globe. It has used the internet to revolutionise worldwide betting. Other European examples include Skype, which is probably better known than its country of origin (Estonia), TomTom of the Netherlands and Q-Cells of Germany. Agreed, that is only a handful of names, and Silicon Valley in the US is still the dominant global tech company producer. However, Europe is starting to give the Valley some competition.
So, in line with the new austerity culture, let us have a reduction strategy for European tech growth, namely reduced taxes, reduced red tape and reduced aversion to risk. Let us free up our technology entrepreneurs and let them do their big business.
Douglas Clark is director of Techlocate, a site search and inward investment consultancy, which is part of RSM Tenon, a top 10 UK firm of accountants and business advisers. Email: email@example.com