The Tech All Stars competition is sending European startups to LeWeb, Founders Forum, and more!

May 2, 2012
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These days, government law acronyms seems ot be all the rage – SOPA, ACTA, CISPA. All the talk seems to be about what governments should and shouldn’t do in order to encourage and help innovation in the tech sector. David Cohen has been a big proponent of the “stay out of my way method,” a laissez-faire attitude which encourages minimal restrictions on startup creation, funding, etc. At the same time, as all the statistics point to the creation of tech companies as the key to any country’s economic prosperity in the 21st century, every country, city, county and village is searching high and low for their ‘special sauce,’ that cultural/environmental/political advantage that will attract the next Facebook to their city limits (read: tax region).

The EU Commission is the latest to announce a competition for European Startups. A two-day program in London, Tech All Stars will pick twelve startups to receive all the benefits and connections that the EU Commission has in the tech/finance industry. Prizes include free tickets to LeWeb London for the 12 selected finalists, with the top three chosen to attend the Founders Forum, an “ultra-exclusive event drawing the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson and top investors from all over the world.”

Speaking with Robin Patin from Tech All Stars, she told me that “The EC is becoming involved in the European Startup scene and they decided that a good way to announce that the EC becoming a player in supporting entrepreneurship is to launch a major event to recognize the best European startups.” With this being the first year of Tech All Stars, the EU Commission will be looking for the best of the next-gen startups to apply, and I imagine this will also be used to examine startup activity in different countries (so French startups, go sign up now!)

“….but how do I know if I should apply?”

Tech All Stars is looking for early-stage web & mobile startups, although funding is allowed, as long as the startup is less than 3 years old and has less than 1 Million in capital. “We are really looking for the smaller startups that are ready to grow and just need the right connections to make this happen!” says Patin. You see, in addition to an all expenses paid trip to London and tickets to some great events, one lucky startup will also get to go to Brussels to pitch their startup to the Digital Agenda Assembly for the European Commission. The Digital Agenda for Europe is the European Union’s roadmap for bringing the benefits of a digital society and economy to Europe’s citizens. But it can only deliver if all stakeholders are involved in assessing problems and identifying solutions.

Europe stepping

I spoke ith Gaell Lanckman, a representative of the European Commission, about what they thought the role of government is in encouraging innovation is:

The role of governements in encouraging innovation is plural and crucial.

Plural – because there are many areas where governments can be active to broaden and deepen their support for innovation: in tax, legal, and fiscal aspects, by creating some incentives to facilitate the creation of new businesses and reducing barriers for entrepreneurs; in the education area, by encouraging the developpment of new programs dedicated to entrepreneurial skills; etc.
Crucial – because innovation and entrepreneurship is what creates jobs and growth for their countries. It is also for this reason that the European Commission wants to strengthen the environement for entrepreneurs in Europe as well as offering them an important visibility and creating awaress by organising the Tech All Stars program.

With clear suggestions of education reform, tax incentives & legal reform, it will be interesting to see if any of the EU Commission’s ideas trickle down into France, as there are definitely some lessons to be learned from these sentiments. Regardless, Tech All Stars seems like the real deal; it’s being supported by the same fund that has helped build SeedCamp and many tech startups in the UK and Denmark. French startups, even funded startups, would do well to put in an application before May 15th – if only for the free trip to London!