In 2015, when I returned from having spent exactly 10 years in China, I was excited to be part of the European tech sector once again. In Asia, technological advances and innovation were happening at lightning speed, making their position in the global marketplace robust.
My excitement was soon quashed when I discovered that my home continent hadn’t made the same progress as Asia. In fact, I realised that if Europe didn’t do something drastic to change, it would take us generations to catch up with the global leaders. With a handful of supporters, in 2015, I founded the EU Tech Chamber (EUTECH), and six years later, we are proud to represent over 1,800 companies across Europe. I knew that for Europe to be more competitive, we had to innovate and collaborate.
Since then, I have been researching the landscape and analysing the market to understand exactly what we, as technology companies across the continent, can do to supercharge our efforts in the tech arena. Back in 2015, I really felt there was no sense of urgency within the sector, and I wondered if the problem was a lack of collaborative direction. During my research, I found there were three main areas in which all European technology companies needed to improve to progress: competitiveness, sustainability and growth. These pillars became the three goals that drive both me and EUTECH today.
The current landscape
According to a global study by international business consultants McKinsey & Company, the current Covid-19 crisis has brought about years of change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business.
It is believed that businesses and organisations across the globe have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years.
The McKinsey research titled ‘How Covid-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point— and transformed business forever’ also revealed that the pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of customer interactions. In Europe alone, the average share of digital customer interactions was 32% preCovid (Dec 2019), and McKinsey & Co. reported that by July 2020, that number rose to 55%.
Survey data suggest that the Covid-19 crisis has been ‘a tipping point of historic proportions’ in the advancement of the technology sector and that ‘more changes will be required as the economic and human situation evolves’. The strength of the contribution of European companies to combat the pandemic has been significant, with recent vaccinations being developed by German company BioNTech and the UK’s University of Oxford. However, responding to a global crisis shouldn’t be the only galvanising force for the advancement of technology.
At the European Technology Chamber, we believe the technology sector has an obligation to create a landscape in which innovators and entrepreneurs work towards a common goal of creating something that makes a difference in the best way. Humans are capable of extraordinary feats. We drive innovation, find solutions to problems and develop new technologies to advance civilisation and benefit society and the ecosystem which we inhabit.
Tech for good
In Europe, if we are to continue to compete on the world stage, we must work together to not only innovate at scale but also motivate leaders in technology to focus on and invest in tech for good. The phrase ‘tech for good’ was coined by UK businessman Paul Miller, founder and CEO of Bethnal Green Ventures, who claimed that ‘Tech for Good has the advantage that it can deliver substantial economic growth but also solve major social and environmental problems’.
Paul added: ‘If we get serious about growing the ecosystem of people and organisations creating and investing in companies that intentionally set out to use tech for good, then millions of people will benefit’. Essentially, good tech is technology that solves problems across the globe or brings happiness, joy and hope to the people who use it.
The Atomico report entitled ‘The State of European Tech 2020’ explains that ‘Purpose-driven European tech entrepreneurs are raising record amounts to try and solve some of the world’s biggest problems with the climate crisis top of the list’.
I believe that to protect those values that we hold dear as Europeans, such as freedom of speech, emancipation, liberty, fairness in our courts and freedom of the press, it is vital that we work together to fi nd ways to use, design and build technology solutions that will improve people’s lives. By supporting businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to become more competitive throughout the continent, Europe will retain its position as a world-class contributor to the tech for good movement.
How do we achieve this?
Competitiveness through collaborative thinking, sustainability and growth via European and international growth are the three pillars of our work here at EUTECH. It is through these pillars that I believe we can ensure that Europe competes in the global tech market innovatively and profitably with integrity
According to the Information Age, the value of European tech companies surged to €618 billion in 2020, ‘signalling a golden age of entrepreneurship despite the impact of coronavirus’. Writer Nick Ismail said that regardless of the disruption caused by the coronavirus, the tech sector in Europe continues to develop and create employment.
He added: ‘E-commerce, healthtech, fintech and food sectors are all expected to expand and, if the current rate of growth continues, as many as 3.2 million people will be employed in European tech by as soon as 2025’. By promoting, achieving and maintaining these goals, the European technology sector can continue to grow and even surpass our global rivals.
Gaining a competitive edge At EUTECH, we have established 18 Technology Councils in three major areas ‒ Life Science, Urban Tech, and Industry 4.0 ‒ with the aim of utilising technology to enable European businesses to obtain and maintain a competitive advantage on a global stage. This, in turn, enables society to maintain its democratic position, provide more opportunity to citizens and uphold European values.
Europe is home to over 25 million small-to-medium-sized enterprises, who are abundant in fresh thinking, innovative ideas and upcoming talent. To compete internationally, these companies need collaboration and connection opportunities, which we provide at EUTECH. EUTECH, firstly, represents the interests of our members.
We are a membership body that provides advice, guidance, resources and networking opportunities. We also write position papers and white papers and respond to government consultations throughout Europe, representing the views of our members and providing direction based on industry needs.
By giving our members access to contacts, expert advice and commentary, we aim to give them a competitive edge through knowledge, collaboration and opportunity.
Creating a sustainable industry
The Green Agenda has never been more pressing. Climate change is happening at an increasing rate, and we need to act now if we want to reverse its effects and enact real change. Worldwide, governments are committing to carbon-neutral initiatives in aerospace, marine, automotive, construction, and other industries.
According to the Allied Market Research report, Green Technology and Sustainability Market Insights – 2027, ‘the global green technology and sustainability market size was valued at $8.79 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $48.36 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 24.3% from 2020 to 2027’.
The report points out that the ‘surge in environmental awareness and increase in concerns among organisations and individuals about global warming drives the growth of the market’. Being competitive in the smart tech industry helps us build smart cities. Embracing new technologies, sharing best practices and collaborating across geographical boundaries is more possible than ever before. By doing so, we can optimise water flow and reduce consumption, generate and store renewable energy, reduce waste streams, maximise efficiencies and do so much more.
At EUTECH, we support the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we firmly believe that the development, deployment and integration of smart technology in society is the only way to reach those targets, ultimately benefiting humanity. It is part of our core vision that technology is the only way to reach those targets and that with great technology comes great responsibility.
EUTECH helps to apply technologies for the benefit of humanity to achieve the SDGs. By competing stronger in the sustainable tech sector, European technology companies can work together to create a robust offering across the globe with positive impacts wherever they are needed.
Expanding beyond our limits
Collaboration is the key to success. To further expand into existing and emerging markets, European technology companies have to find common ground and compete as partners rather than against each other. At EUTECH, we believe in using technology to spread innovation and European values while helping our tech companies grow at scale in the worldwide market. We want to empower our members to seek and enter new markets with ease.
The ultimate goal of EUTECH is to extend the reach of European businesses beyond Europe by building connections with emerging markets. An important part of our vision is that we must spread not only technology but also European values, which means we must build bridges to emerging markets by empowering members to enter and succeed in those markets. In many ways, it means they can embark on a journey together. The journey is as important as the ultimate destination because the success will see the technologies make the greatest possible impact and deliver where they are most needed.
Through EUTECH, our tech partners can embark on the Journey to Markets and become successful where their technologies can have the greatest impact and are most needed. Our chapters in Greater China, Latin American and Africa enable our vision to spread across the globe and provide support to members in each territory. We have carefully considered this process to enable our members to learn about new market opportunities, engage in a realistic feasibility study and business plan, and be an incubator platform.
Growing at scale, together
By progressing together, we are stronger. Collaboration and connection across Europe leads to shared innovation, mutually beneficial relationships, and ultimately, the ability for European businesses to be global leaders. Too often, tech companies cannot scale up effectively. They have to work together, especially the smaller companies, and that’s where EUTECH comes in and offers vital support.
Together, by asking the right people what solutions are needed, we create position papers that show how the EU and other European countries should develop. We also create white papers for the industry which indicate what we believe as a chamber is the direction in which European technology companies should develop. The Atomico report ‘The State of European Tech 2020’ states, ‘At the end of 2019, European tech was in its strongest ever position…. But the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic shock threatened to derail a decade of progress’.
Nevertheless, the research shows that Europe’s ecosystem weathered the storm and against the odds, reporting another record year of investment with European tech growing 5.6 times. The study also revealed that Europe’s most successful companies continued to break records, whether hitting record valuations as private companies, scaling at record speeds or reaching new heights in the public markets. ‘European tech keeps moving forward, but to pick up the pace, we’ve got to continue to retain and reinvest value in the next generation.
It’s the time to double down, not be complacent’. Supporting our members Every month, we hold around 16 events, bringing together over 1,600 delegates from dozens of countries. By the end of 2021, we aim to double the number of monthly events we host. Just imagine over 3,000 inspired, engaged and innovative individuals connecting and collaborating every single month.
On 1 April 2021, we will also be launching our new collaboration platform, which will include digital exhibition space, access to our online library of resources and eventually a member directory, all of which will be free for EUTECH members to use. Ultimately, we want every member to be onboarded to our digital space, allowing us to connect businesses that have common goals.
Our monthly events, attended by a variety of decision-makers in the industry, create a space for knowledge exchange and learning, networking and collaboration. It is through events like these that we can begin to pinpoint and identify companies that could benefit each other through some form of partnership.
We then actively work towards connecting these companies and advising them on how they can collaborate and support each other in their growth. All of this is part of what we believe will ultimately support the development and success of the European technology sector and the aspiration to make a difference everywhere on Earth.
Florian Frhr. von Tucher
EU Tech Chamber.