Is Europe stagnating?

David Tebbutt has a great article on EBF (via Jeff Clavier) called: Is Europe losing its innovative edge? He mentions 10 reasons why Europe is falling behind:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Fear of success
  3. Risk aversion
  4. The mirage of the single market
  5. The VCs’ lack of experience
  6. Shortage of funds
  7. Expertise is scattered
  8. Lack of openness
  9. Official ignorance
  10. Out of touch

The interesting point about the above list is the neat way in which falls into the 3 critical categories that need to come together to help entrepreneurship succeed: culture, institutional structures and regional economics.

Reasons 1, 2, 3 & 8 lie squarely in cultural aspects of Europe. Europe, which was the torchbearer for renaissance 300 years ago is now sliding into the morass of conformity and consensus becuase of past policies and EU expansion.

Factors 5, 7, 9 & 10 are primarily due to institutional weaknesses that abound in the multiple, diverse and often conflicting systems prevalent across the countries of EU.

Factors 4 & 6 are the economic realities which institutions, governments like to ignore while singing paens about EU’s success in economy & innovation.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. I have posted about this here and here. I have been involved with Europe and business here for the last 5 years and I have seen practically no improvement in the structural, cultural or economical factors that drive and determine innovation in Europe. In fact, I believe that the problem is not innovation. Innovation can happen irrespective of what the external macro climate is like; it is the support that a country or region provides to bring that innovation successfully to market that is the problem.

Europe ignited renaissance by freeing individuals and allowing them to take risks and make bold moves. Can the modern Europe emulate medieval Europe and ignite a modern renaissance in entrepreneurship and innovation? I believe this is one challenge that Europe cannot afford to ignore. Failure to get the innovation/entrepreneurship juices means that it will face a real danger of becoming irrelevant in the modern world.


One thought on “Is Europe stagnating?

  1. That’s an interseting post and article. I’ve done some work in Europe (Western and Eastern) and it seems that the Eastern side (Moscow) actually has some of that innovation and drive. Certainly there were parts that seemed more dark and closed, but by and large I was impressed with the vigor there vs Western Europe. It would be interesting to see how these rules apply in the Eastern European countries now coming into their own (and if joing the EU perhaps stifles them.

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