“When we look at the first waves of digital platform innovations of the past 30 years — operating systems, search, mobile, social — Europe has not been in a leadership role. The next wave of innovations is all about ‘Deep Tech’— sometimes also called Frontier Tech,” opines Dr. Chahab Nastar, Chief Innovation Officer of EIT Digital. “These are sophisticated technologies rooted in research and hard to reproduce. Artificial Intelligence is one example. Europe has a unique opportunity to lead in Deep Tech”.
We asked Nastar to share his viewpoints on the trends which he believes are positively influencing the European deep tech startup industry this year. Here is what he told us.
European cities are attractive
“Vienna tops the 2018 worldwide list of most liveable cities for its quality of life. Copenhagen is number 9. There are no cities in the United States in the top 10.”
“When it comes to digital technologies, London, Paris, Berlin or Amsterdam have a vibrant entrepreneurial scene and are considered world-class technology hubs. They are also much more affordable than San Francisco or Palo Alto.”
“European cities are an embodiment of the European way of life. They are attractive to students, investors, and executives.”
STEM education is strong
“STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) has traditionally been strong in Europe. And Deep Tech is all about “hard science”.
“In addition, European tech graduates are still quite affordable for employers. In the global competition, this is a huge advantage, especially over the Bay Area, where salaries are inflated to match the high cost of living, especially for Deep Tech specialists.”
Entrepreneurs are the new rock stars
“When I was growing up in the 80’s, working for a large corporate with a big brand was my generation’s graduates’ ideal, while any teenager’s dream back then was to become a rock star. But times have changed. Today teenagers and graduates both want to become Elon Musk. That’s definitely a change of role models. Entrepreneurship is a serious alternative for millennials.”
“That is also because 20 years ago, Europe had only a handful of successful entrepreneurs, we have built Skype, Spotify, and many others. European veteran entrepreneurs can now “give back” by starting new ventures or by investing in a new generation of entrepreneurs. Serial entrepreneurs have tasted success and they know what it takes to make other ventures succeed. Their role is important.”
Capital is flowing
“Venture Capital (VC) is booming for Europe, especially in deep tech. While Silicon Valley still tops the game in terms of VC funding, an estimated €3.5 billion was invested into European deep tech companies last year, across more than 600 fundraising deals.”
“In particular, Europe has a thriving Artificial Intelligence entrepreneurial industry. DeepMind, a UK startup whose software beat the Go champion of the world, was acquired by Google for over €500 million. BenevolentAI, a UK startup in the health domain, has raised about €200 million from private investors. French startup Navya, a EIT Digital Accelerator alumnus company that builds driverless shuttles, went public this summer and is valued at about €200 million. These are just a few examples.”
“The trend is similar for international companies setting up deep tech centers in Europe, for example, Facebook has picked Paris to launch their first international Artificial Intelligence center.”
Policies and instruments
“Europe is by construction a fragmented continent – cultural, language and market barriers. The EU is trying to make it less fragmented, for example, with the Digital Single Market strategy. Policy makers at the National and European level are aware of the deep tech opportunity that is at stake for Europe. Public and private efforts try to seize the opportunity as well.”
“In order for Europe to succeed, we need entrepreneur-friendly regulations as well as hands-on operational support at the European scale. At EIT Digital we focus on the latter: the EIT Digital Accelerator supports European scaleups in finding new markets and raising funds We do.”
“We are determined to help European deep tech entrepreneurs succeed.”
If you enjoyed this story, we recommend reading our latest stories under the scaling up in Europe section. Also, do share your opinions in the comments section below.