OFE Summit 2011: Creating an Open climate for entrepreneurs in Europe

During the 2011 OpenForum Europe Summit I had the pleasure and privilege to chair the session on “Creating an Open climate for entrepreneurs in Europe” and the videos of the opening presentations are now online on YouTube, and included below in chronological order:

Fabien Pinckaers, CEO OpenERP is talking about his experience in setting up a Free Software/Open Source business and how his business works not despite, but because of software freedom:

Laura Creighton, VC is talking about some of the systematic issues of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and gives some insight as to why current EU funding is so ineffective due to addressing the wrong sector:

Chris Taggart, CEO, OpenCorporates is talking about his approach to increasing transparency in the corporate world for all, and the potential this holds for entrepreneurial activity:

The discussion that followed these presentations was interesting, lively and with good controversial points, which brought out some very valuable insights, in my opinion. Among others:

  • The European Commission is currently targeting less than 1% of European businesses with its research & development programmes, which look at heavy, centralized, old-school industrial development, and fail to target the knowledge economy ecosystem of small, agile, intelligent players that characterizes IT innovation;
  • The “Silicon Valley” is a social phenomenon more than it is technical that is unique in time and space and cannot be recreated. Through a tradition of sharing best and worst practices between entrepreneurs has allowed to overcome the obstacles for new businesses, which are hardly ever technical;
  • Advertising or technical development are not where most businesses fail. It’s getting the first 100 customers that cause the greatest issues because European businesses as users of IT are not innovation-seeking and are afraid to stand out between their competition for trying something new that may give them a competitive edge, or not. While companies in the U.S. love to try new technologies, the demand in Europe for new and innovative technologies is much smaller;
  • The Commission could aim to tackle this issue by allocating some of its R&D funding towards helping adoption of new technologies, e.g. through tax breaks for companies that adopt new technologies early and seek innovative edge;
  • Software patents remain the single greatest threat to a competitive European IT industry and are likely to destroy the beneficial impact of all R&D funding to date and in the future.

But these are of course only some points that stuck with me, there were many more.

For more excellent insights during the summit, the Open Forum Europe YouTube channel has the other presentations during the summit, I recommend in particular the ones on Open Data, which are highly pertinent and interesting.

About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is a technologist and entrepreneur. Background as a software developer and physicist. Head of product development and Chairman at Vereign AG. Founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Previously president and CEO at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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