Startup Nations Standards Report: Europe reaches a 55% level of implementation on
the Standards of excellence that would bring it to the global forefront of innovation
and entrepreneurship

The Startup Nations Standard Report released today by ESNA reveals that
digitalisation is well underway across Europe, with most countries delivering best
practices for digital services and regulatory innovations for startups but points
out shortcomings in social inclusion. It also underscores the need for better visa
programs and funding diversification to strengthen the startup ecosystem.

Lisbon, 5 March 2024 – ESNA releases today’s highly anticipated 2023 Startup Nation Standards Report. This document maps the progress and potential of Europe’s startup ecosystem, shedding light on the performance of eight Standards, known as Startup Nations Standards, across 21 participating countries. It emphasises the critical need for adaptive policies to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Key Insights

  • Fast startup creation is effective: A company can be created within a day in 33% of the EU countries surveyed, and it can be achieved with less than 100 euros in 57% of them.
  • Digitalisation underway: A significant stride in digital services tailored for businesses marks a positive trend.
  • Call for inclusion: With social inclusion identified as the lowest-performing Standard, ESNA’s report reveals a critical gap in the ecosystem.
  • Innovative regulatory mechanisms: 52% of countries have implemented regulatory
    sandboxes. Enhancing participation from startups is crucial for fostering a truly creative environment.
  • Attracting and retaining talent: The report calls for increased investment in visa
    programmes and more attractive stock option schemes to secure the tech talent
    essential for growth and competitiveness. 24% of the countries demonstrate the
    existence of programmes to attract EU tech talent back to the region.
  • Funding: Shifting focus towards indirect funding options could leverage private
    investment more effectively, with only 33% of countries currently promoting diverse
    capital for startup co-investment.

Digitalisation emerges as a strong suit for the European startup scene, with many countries offering tailored digital services to businesses, highlighting the ongoing digital transformation.

The report reveals critical insights, notably the need to improve social inclusion within the startup ecosystem. With only 25% of the countries having specific incentives for startups to employ a diverse workforce, significant efforts are required to elevate this standard.

Regulatory frameworks, such as regulatory sandboxes, are identified as essential for fostering innovation. However, the involvement of startups in these frameworks needs to be higher, underscoring the need for a more inclusive approach.

The report stresses the importance of attracting tech talent through enhanced visa
programmes and appealing stock option schemes, promoting startup participation in public procurement processes.

Additionally, the necessity of diversifying funding options to leverage private investment and making company setup information more accessible and affordable are critical
recommendations for bolstering the startup ecosystem

About the Startup Nations Standards Report

The Startup Nation Standards Report 2023 examines initiatives and challenges within Europe’s startup ecosystem. It maps the progress towards fostering an innovative and supportive environment for startups, analysing the adoption of eight Startup Nation Standards (SNS) across member states and evaluating their efforts in implementing these standards.

The eight standards of excellence are 1) Fast startup creation, smooth market entry; 2)
Attracting and Retaining Talent; 3) Stock Options; 4) Innovation in Regulation; 5) Innovation in procurement; 6) Social Inclusion; 7) Access to Finance; 8) Digital First.

It covers the following 21 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia,
Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

This report informs policymakers about the efforts required to maintain Europe’s competitive edge in innovation and entrepreneurship. It assesses the current situation and outlines the path forward, emphasising the need for adaptive policies and shared best practices.

ESNA invites interested parties to delve into the full report accessible here, engage with its findings, and contribute to the ongoing
dialogue shaping Europe’s innovative landscape.



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About ESNA

Created in 2021, Europe Startup Nations Alliance (ESNA) is supported by 26 EU Member States and Iceland. ESNA focuses on implementing the “EU Startup Nations Standards of Excellence,” which outlines eight best practices in startup-friendly policies. The Alliance aspires to position Europe as a global frontrunner in innovation and entrepreneurship by continuously updating policy frameworks and sharing best practices through a digital platform, fostering a more robust startup ecosystem across its member countries.