Empowering diversity in Europe is the key to securing its technological progress.
Attempts are being made to knit Europe’s rich tapestry of 28 national ecosystems together into a single digital market to create a more robust, borderless breeding ground for the European web giants of the future.
If the EU pulls it off, the regulatory and legislative framework that has anchored but at times hindered the continent will be lifted …but other challenges must be addressed if we’re to gain (or maintain, if you’re really bullish) the competitive edge we have over our overseas competitors.
Will diversity - women, ethnicity, languages - help or hinder us in reaching this audacious digital goal? The United States benefits from a more homogenous base against its European counterparts, who share 23 official recognised languages, more than 60 other indigenous regional and minority languages and many more non-indigenous languages.
That’s quite a challenge.
Recent research from Wayra found that over 79 per cent agreed diversity had helped their businesses compete; 75 per cent felt it had helped them overcome challenges and 72 per cent thought it had helped them find new markets.
Imagine the possibilities, then, if Britain and other European states were to "weaponise" the diversity these start ups know has helped or hindered their businesses.
Compared to the US, those working in UK start-ups are five times more likely to be female and ten times more likely to be from a ethnic backgrounds other than white.
London also benefits from gender diversity in that entrepreneurs are three times more likely to be female than in Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv and two times more likely to be BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) than those in New York.
Given the population of Europe is almost double that of the US, such an assorted pool - one our rivals cannot boast – must surely be a game changing advantage.
Is a single, economic common market achievable in the near term? Debatable – but a digital common market is infinitely more possible and irrefutably beneficial to us all.
If nothing else there is an economic incentive for us all: The EU estimate that a single digital economy will add €415bn annually to our economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
Let our rich tapestry be a weapon not an obstacle to tearing down existing online barriers so that European start-ups benefit from a huge boost to their "local" marketplace and European citizens benefit from goods and services being available to all.
Is diversity good for business? Oui. Sí. Absolutely, yes.
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