Geographies in Depth

Europe’s strength lies in its diversity for entrepreneurs

Kal Patel
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For a couple of decades now, the conventional view has been that a single European market, with a size comparable to the US market, would encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, resulting in high growth. While there is much merit in this view, it has not played out as planned.

Diversity, however, can help to create the right conditions for economic growth. It is time Europe starts to see the diversity of each country and culture as a source of strength. Every country, city, region or cluster can be seen as an integral part of a broader system that supports innovation, with each component included, connected and respected.

Imagine incubating an idea in Berlin, testing the concept with customers in Portugal and scaling up the business in Brazil. The best entrepreneurs are succeeding in Europe with this mindset. It’s not just about a single market; it’s about nurturing a network of innovation, which connects to the rest of the world.

Hailo, for example is one of a new breed of consumer-driven transportation companies, which was started by three taxi drivers and three entrepreneurs in London. Through a mobile app, you can now hail a cab “whenever you want, whenever you want”. To date, 5 million passengers have used the service in London, Dublin, Toronto, Chicago and Boston (and coming soon to New York, Tokyo, Washington DC, Cork, Madrid and Barcelona) and it has generated revenues of over US$ 100 million. That’s not a bad return considering it started by raising some US$ 50 million from such investors as Accel Parnters, Sir Richard Branson, Fred Wilson, Atomico Ventures and Japanese telecommunications provider KDDI.

Another example of European entrepreneurship is Monitise, a technology and services company that delivers mobile banking, payments and commerce networks worldwide. It provides services to more than 300 financial institutions, has more than 20 million users worldwide and has strategic partnerships with Visa, Visa Europe, RBS Group and FIS to develop and deliver mobile money services. Co-Founded by Alistair Lukies in 2003 in London, today Monitise is a global company with a market cap of over US$ 850 million, with partnerships and joint ventures in India, Nigeria and the US. It has been recognized as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

Both Monitise and Hailo illustrate the benefits of European entrepreneurs pursuing the journey of their business with a global mindset. More forums and platforms for sharing stories of success will help change the narrative of entrepreneurship in Europe.

This blog post is part of a series written by delegates that recently attended World Economic Forum workshops on innovation, entrepreneurship and global growth in Europe. The next workshop will be held in Berlin on July 3. For more information please contact thorsten.jelinek@weforum.org

Author: Kal Patel is Executive Vice-President and Member of the Executive Committee, LRN, USA

Image: Businessmen are seen at the Arche de la Defense, in the financial and business district west of Paris REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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Related topics:
Geographies in DepthFinancial and Monetary SystemsEconomic GrowthBusiness
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