Telefónica and the Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based think tank, announced a three-year collaboration to establish a centre of excellence to develop and support entrepreneurship and drive job creation in the region. The project’s nickname is StartUp Europe.
“As Europe faces its highest unemployment rate in more than two decades, and hitting today’s young adults particularly hard,” Telefónica explained in a press note, “StartUp Europe is being established to stem the current ‘brain drain’ of talent from the region and empower youth, technology and entrepreneurship.”
Telefónica and the Lisbon Council have identified that one of the key levers to reverse this trend is to fast-track the creation of ‘hubs of innovation’ in an attempt to encourage entrepreneurial spirit across Europe and help the region regain leadership in technology and innovation.
Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, who joined the official launch, had warm words for the idea: “As the Lisbon Council, together with Telefónica, so rightly point out, we need more young firms with high growth potential (…) With unemployment among young adults at crisis levels, it could not come at a better time.”
“Too often, we think of young people as lacking in skills and experience when, in fact, they can understand the new transformative technologies in a way that older people cannot,” Geoghegan-Quinn added, “you are trying to harness young people’s talents to offer them and Europe a brighter future. That is hugely to your credit.”
Eva Castillo, Telefónica Europe CEO, referred too to the sorry figures of unemployment in Europe. “With Europe facing the highest jobless rate in more than 20 years, job creation and career opportunities are key priorities. Working with the Lisbon Council, and complementing Telefónica’s existing initiatives such as Wayra and Talentum, our aim is to support young people to change their future for the better by giving them the tools to get ambitious, far-reaching, long-term projects off the ground,” Castillo said.
“We want to send a message of confidence by unleashing the power of youth, technology and innovation. StartUp Europe,” executive director of the Lisbon Council Ann Mettler announced, “will deploy new metrics and communication tools to reach policy makers and hackers alike.”
Telefónica and the Lisbon Council said they will create a multidisciplinary community that will contribute the levels of professionalism and intellectual rigour required by young European entrepreneurs striving to create new technology ventures, drive forward change and kick-start innovation.
One aim is to establish a new Entrepreneurship Indicator in an effort to provide start-ups with thought leadership and research insights, and also a fast track to integrate with existing Telefónica Think Big social enterprise action programmes.
StartUp Europe has also the mission of identifying key individuals and organisations which are crucial to developing a favourable eco-system in which innovation and risk taking can thrive.