Europe Urgently Needs A Digital Wake-Up Call

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Europe urgently needs collective action with an open approach towards education, digital innovation and entrepreneurship if it hopes to regain its momentum in the global digital revolution. That was the clear message from Telefónica’s Chief Commercial Digital Officer, Eduardo Navarro, speaking at the EC Innovation Convention today.

Telefónica believes that it is not solely the role of policy-makers or politicians to make innovation and growth happen, but rather a job for all businesses, schools and universities across Europe. Start-ups, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs are crucial to Europe’s future growth and critical to providing employment opportunities, particularly among the young, Navarro said.

He went on to outline many initiatives that have already been taken to leverage the power of big businesses to ensure the future success of Europe. These include investment in superfast fixed and mobile networks, and the development of innovative digital solutions such as smart meters, cyber security applications, and cloud based services to help businesses operate more efficiently.

Held every three years, the EC Innovation Convention is key to driving a brighter research and innovation eco-system in Europe. This Innovation Union flagship initiative brings together policy makers including President Jose Manuel Barroso and Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and leading innovative companies.

Telefonica this year stages a session titled ‘Digital Revolution: Riding the Next Wave of Innovation’ along with leading entrepreneurs including Mark Surman of the Mozilla Foundation and Doug Richards, CEO and Founder of School for Startups.

Eduardo Navarro told delegates at the EC Innovation Convention that Europe needs to make the best of its own strengths. “Europe can, and should, be riding high on the next wave of innovation. In recent years we have seen much leading technology migrating east and west – away from Europe. But now we are starting to see the region regaining its momentum as new opportunities arise in ICT.”

To accelerate this momentum, we need to ensure that technology is open and available to everyone. Education, particularly teaching digital literacy, will play a major role in transforming society in a way that we can achieve growth in digital skills and entrepreneurship in a sustainable way. Our vision is that European corporations – big and small – can work together with educational institutions in helping this important evolution, he added.

Telefónica has also introduced ‘Open Future’ – a bold new action plan to help young people, startups and entrepreneurs trigger new innovations and generate growth in Europe’s digital industry.

The multi-stakeholder initiative promotes open technology for everyone, and is already actively supporting and funding entrepreneurialism and teaching digital skills in schools, ultimately aiming at job creation and economic progress in Europe.

Open Future is a public-private initiative created to share entrepreneurial tools and expertise through coordinated action by independent stakeholders – including entrepreneur networks, large and small business, universities, governments, institutions and NGOs, the financial sector and many more. The scheme will create Centres of Excellence for entrepreneurship and support Crowdworking initiatives linked to the EC’s FI-WARE project. Open Future has already launched in the Andalucia region of Spain.

Telefónica brings its full investment and development portfolio to Open Future, including its international technology Venture Capital fund Amérigo; start-up accelerator Wayra; the Talentum apprenticeship programme; youth social action movement Think Big; as well as Campus Party – the largest global technology festival embracing innovation, creativity, science and digital entertainment.

Telefonica is currently spearheading two more projects to boost Europe’s digital competitiveness, both launched in Davos this year with the European Commission. Firstly, the Startup Europe Partnership focuses on concrete actions to support the connection between startups and large corporations, encouraging joint projects between startups, corporations and universities. Secondly, the European Digital Forum is a policy network and Think Tank on digital innovation, bringing together leading entrepreneurs, politicians and policy makers to deliver research programmes and policy roundtables.

Wahengbam Rorrkychand

View all contributions by Wahengbam Rorrkychand


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