The Silicon Valley mantra of “fail fast, fail often” is currently a phrase rarely heard in the Rhone or Ruhr valleys. While Europe is supportive of startups, it does not provide the capital to support the type of business growth that could lead to a home-grown Amazon or eBay.
This sad fact has led to a huge gap in economic growth between the Europe and the US. In fact, over the last 20 years the average growth rate of the EU zone has been a paltry 1.7% compared to America’s 4.2%, making it 2.5 times bigger.
So, what’s the big problem? There are definitely some success stories to come out of Europe: Skype, the ability to have VoIP (thank you Estonia), and let’s not forget Angry Birds. However, given the immense skills bank in the EU these success stories are a mere trickle compared to the white water rafting experience of US entrepreneurial efforts like Uber, Airbnb and Facebook. All were shaky startups in their day, plucky Davids standing up to the established Goliaths of transport, travel and media.
So where are our own Davids? The good news is that they are still out there, but they are being stifled by a cultural and political ecosystem that does not back long-term innovation or risk taking.
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