Skip to content

Digital entrepreneurship: An idea bank for local policymakers

This idea bank aims to help local European policymakers and influencers create better conditions for entrepreneurship at the regional or city level.

This idea bank aims to help local European policymakers and influencers create better conditions for entrepreneurship at the regional or city level.

Key findings

  • The starting and scaling of new ventures is of such importance to our economic wellbeing that it must be on the agenda of policymakers at all levels.
  • Digital entrepreneurship is particularly significant given the role of digital technologies in enabling innovative business models and driving economic growth.
  • Local policy conditions can have significant impact on entrepreneurs but have historically received rather less attention than national policy. 
  • Entrepreneurship policy should not be pigeon-holed as a subset of business policy, but seen as a cross-governmental issue which should also be the concern of science and technology policy, education policy, planning and multiple other areas. ‘Joined-up’ government is therefore important.

While national policy is vital, we must remember that entrepreneurs are also affected by their local environment. Sub-national bodies like chambers of commerce, cluster managers, councils and local regulators – as well as universities and big business – can all influence entrepreneurs’ decisions and affect the framework within which startups thrive or die.

The idea bank is therefore intended specifically to help local policymakers and influencers create better conditions for entrepreneurship at the regional or city level. Intended as a ‘bank of ideas’, it draws together examples from all over the world of policies and initiatives that support startups, especially digital startups, in an effort to provide inspiration and options to European policymakers.

Policies are grouped together under the 10 themes used in the European Digital City Index (EDCi) – which this guide is intended to complement – together with an 11th, cross-cutting theme relating to the process of policymaking. It concludes with some tools to assist in choosing, developing and implementing these policies.

Policy recommendations

  • Start with an evaluation of your local digital entrepreneurship ecosystem in order to identify strengths and weaknesses. (The EDCi can assist with this).
  • Be aware that start-ups are a special subset of SMEs, and that early stage start-ups have different priorities than later-stage scale-ups; each may require a different policy focus. 
  • Policymakers should aim to cultivate the ecosystem as a whole, which requires a holistic view. Relying on one or two mechanisms is unlikely to create a sustainable ecosystem.

 

Authors

Yann Finger

Yann is a Research Assistant in the policy and research team. His focus is on investigating policies supporting digital entrepreneurship across Europe, as part of the Startup Europe ...

Jonathan Bone

Jonathan Bone

Jonathan Bone

Quantitative Researcher

Jonathan’s research at Nesta focuses on two key areas: 1) understanding how digital entrepreneurship can be supported across Europe (as part of the Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) a...

View profile
Simona Bielli

Simona Bielli

Simona Bielli

Head of Programmes – Nesta Italia

Over the last year, Simona was working on a new exciting project that led to the foundation of Nesta Italia.

View profile
Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Researcher, Digital Startups

Sidd was the policy researcher on two projects dedicated to fostering digital entrepreneurship and building entrepreneurial ecosystems across Europe – Startup Europe Partnership (SEP...

View profile
Christopher Haley

Christopher Haley

Christopher Haley

Head of New Technology & Startup Research

Chris leads Nesta's research interests into how startups and new technologies can drive economic growth, and what this means for businesses, intermediaries and for the government.

View profile