European business and innovation organisations and investors call for a pivotal role of innovative startups, SMEs and their contributors in EU recovery

On 27 May 2020, the coherent ‘’Recovery Plan for Europe’’ of the European Commission proposed, together with the next Multiannual Financial Framework, the ambitious answer Europe needs to recover from COVID-19. An answer which builds on necessity yet is designed for the future. As part of the business and investment ecosystem, the European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN), the European Business Angel Network (EBAN) and the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) welcome this recovery plan.

The measures of the past weeks and months have severe economic impacts and thus the focus laid on mitigating the socio-economic impact of the pandemic and the containment measures is a welcome step forward. Business support actors and their client companies have been hard hit by the closure of innovation centres, offices, science parks, and incubation hubs. Investment flow between companies and investors ensuring disruptive solutions and breakthrough innovations has significantly decreased. Existing country support initiatives have been effective so far in sustaining large companies, trading SMEs and very early-stage companies, but generally miss to support not-yet-trading innovative startups and scale-ups.

The consequences of the severely disrupted European innovation ecosystem directly hinder the growth and expansion of SMEs, startups and scale-ups, and their access to finance. With that, the knowledge and technology within the European research and innovation area, captured and developed in these numerous companies are at risk.

Incubators, business innovation centres, science/technology parks, private investment actors, and in general the different systems of innovation in Europe, will be essential for sustaining these companies and for the implementation of Europe’s Recovery Plan. The recovery plan must be the basis for targeted EU support and coordination for the most affected sectors and their ecosystems, under the recognition that business support actors, such as EU/BICs, areas of innovation, and networks of capital providers together spanning all 27 Member States, will play a crucial role in delivering solutions and bridging them with investments for economic recovery.

EBN, EBAN and IASP, therefore, congratulate the European Commission for the highly valuable ‘’Recovery Plan for Europe’’ that outlines the necessary instruments to respect on the way out of the current situation. Business support actors, including private investment, will play a pivotal role in implementing the recovery plan. In collaboration with regional, public authorities, business intermediaries will support top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with bright ideas and the ambition to scale up, ensuring job creation and the much-needed solutions to bolster and recover European economies.

A well-functioning innovation ecosystem is the potential one key element that enables Europe to lead the transitions in the European Green Deal and the EU Digitalisation and Industrial Futures strategies. And, pivotal in modernising Europe’s economy in the upturn of the EU’s recovery.

EBN, EBAN and IASP, therefore, call to the European Commission to better recognise the essential role of innovative SMEs, startups and scale-ups, including their business support actors and investors for economic recovery. As a next step, more targeted measures in forms of increased EU financial support programmes, increased leverage on equity or loan matching funds, and a commitment to support business innovation centres are required to support the most affected sectors and ecosystems, of which the innovation ecosystem is a pivotal part.

EBN, EBAN and IASP remain at the disposal of the EU and of Member States for any consultation related to this topic.

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