Startup Nations Standards


A pan-European view on policies supporting startups

About the 8 Standards

An entrepreneur can establish a startup (legal entity) both online and offline in one day for a fee of no more than 100 EUR. In exceptional cases, to carry out appropriate checks, establishment should be possible within one week.


Startup fast-lane (including Market Access Helpdesk):


  • Aspiring startups and entrepreneurs can find all relevant information about national administrative requirements and funding opportunities in one place on the Internet – linking also to efforts under the Single Digital Gateway in this context.
  • A Member State will provide a (virtual) helpdesk for startups and scaleups from other EU Member States who, when trying to enter its market, have come across regulatory issues and/or impediments.

Legal documents from other EU jurisdictions can be submitted as proof for the incorporation of a startup (or creation of a subsidiary of an existing startup expanding in the single market).


Visa applications, as a general rule, are processed within a month for:


  • Founders from third countries supported by a trusted partner in the Member State.
  • Experienced staff from third countries, submitted by startups (which may also be preapproved as a ‘trusted party’).

Programmes and incentives are in place to encourage the return of EU tech-talent who emigrated to third countries.


Stock options are recognised and subject to capital gains tax at the moment of cash receipt and not before.


Allow startups to issue stock options with non-voting rights, to avoid the excessive burden of having to consult large numbers of minority shareholders.


Legal provisions and policies are in place explicitly targeting startups that promote a rigorous application of the ‘Think Small First’ principle in view of avoiding unnecessary administrative burden/red tape.


Exemptions – or alternative ways of achieving compliance – are confirmed and in place for startups in areas such as, but not limited to, impact assessment.


Experimentation and innovation for startups is promoted and enabled through regulatory sandboxes:


  • There is an agreed policy or programme (with rules and capacities, administrative support and guidance) and concrete examples for the use of regulatory sandboxes by sectors in which innovations can be tested in cooperation with supervisory authorities.

There are no legal or administrative impediments that would put startups/scaleups at a disadvantage compared to other participants in innovation procurement opportunities. Public buyers and procurement services are officially encouraged to procure innovations from startups.


Ownership of intellectual property rights (IPR) can normally be retained by the startup/scaleup participating in innovation procurement opportunities to enable further commercial exploitation (unless there are exceptional cases with overriding public interests that require the public sector to retain IPR ownership).


Policies are in place to ensure technology developed at universities and research institutes can be transferred without obstacles leading to a new wave of venture-building activity (spinoffs / startups), opening up pathways to pursue – inter alia – innovation procurement opportunities.


Startups are actively supported to contribute to and benefit from open source assets stimulating permission-less innovation and access to trustworthy and affordable technologies.


Direct access to finance: Member States use part of their Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) funding to enhance access to venture capital for startups through the European Investment Bank (EIB), Promotional Banks or other dedicated vehicles, leveraging private investments, and distributing funds to established/professional VC firms to address the existing investment gap.


Indirect access to finance: Member States introduce or improve policy initiatives that aim to increase the amount and diversity of private capital (for example from European Pension Funds) available for co-investing in high-growth startups.


Tax relief measures aimed towards Business Angels are in place to stimulate and support early-stage funding.


Promotion of role models (e.g. by giving awards that promote and recognise diversity in the startup community).


Provision of targeted incentives for Startups to hire on diversity of ethnicity, gender, religion, age and sexual orientation.


Provision of support to founders from under-privileged backgrounds to create companies.


Mobilisation of startups to address marginalisation and social exclusion linked to low income, limited education, location, culture, or disability.


All day-to-day interactions between startups and authorities (such as company creation, filing of taxes, participation in public procurement opportunities, electronic ID and digital signatures) are designed to be carried out in a digital-first manner.


Startups and scaleups are proactively approached and engaged for the sharing of knowledge and best practices regarding digitalisation.