On Tuesday 5 October 2021, The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre – Growth and Innovation Directorate together with the Innovation Policy Directorate of DG RTD, and the European Innovation Council and SME Executive Agency (EISMEA) co-hosted an invitation-only, webinar on the financing gap in Europe for innovative start-ups when they reach their potential high-growth scale-up phase – the so-called scale-up gap.
The webinar, in which about 100 experts participated, was opened by Commissioner Gabriel and heard remarks from 22 external experts representing academia, various stakeholder groups, financial actors and various public agencies, including perspectives from the USA (Small Business Administration) and China and 10 EU Institution experts (from several European Commission Directorates General and the European Investment Fund).
The webinar primarily aimed at identifying ways of addressing the knowledge gap on the dearth of scale-up finance and its consequences and the policy gap in terms of adequate public measures commensurate with the size of the problem.
On the knowledge and evidence aspects, it emerged that while much research and clearer characterisation of the scale-up gap is called for, at the same time the practical and experiential knowledge from two decades of government involvement in venture capital is not being fully documented and used in further policy development.
On the question of what sort of measures are called for, clearly several recent EU measures such as EIC and ESCALAR are very promising. However, a major step-up is needed in terms of the volume of scale-up financing mobilised. This will probably require a range of tools, which are adapted to the specificities and diversities of the EU and its Member States. Some of these may be amplifications of existing measures and maybe other new.
On the whole it emerges that policy should aim at facilitating much more private capital finding its way into scale-up financing and for both supply side and demand side needs and potential to be properly articulated and matched. The webinar discussion also emphasised that financing is just one aspect of the overall complex of factors impacting on entrepreneurial activity.
Commissioner’s opening speech