Case in point: Why Startups and policy makers sit at the table

February 17, 2020

Startup entrepreneurs are multi-taskers, dividing their time be tween sales, management, HR, finance and many other priorities. Unless there is a specific pain point, regulatory questions often do not count to the imminent concerns of a startup entrepreneur. Added to that, 9/10 startups don’t make it to their 5th birthday, which makes building lasting relations with policy makers even more challenging.

Yet, experience shows us that the exchange between policy makers and startups, representing the most innovative and agile actors in our economy, is crucial. The high-level policy dinner #AFS and TechCrunch organised on the sidelines of TechCrunch:Disrupt in Berlin on 10 December is a prime example to highlight this. It brought together startup community leaders, who provided a horizontal and long-term perspective on startup policy, entrepreneurs, policy makers and other stakeholders for a discussion centered around the question: How can policy makers empower startups to fulfill their ambitions?

The fact that the conversations stretched from talent (stock options, startup visas) to regulation (Single Market, privacy) to finance (fund of funds, Horizon 2020) and AI (national and European AI initiatives) underlines the need for formats that put entrepreneurs and politicians next to each other. In all cases, startups are the first to feel the effects of suboptimal conditions. It explains why regulatory predictability and certainty is valued so highly by startup communities.

Indeed, the deeper shift from treating startups like a ‘cute pet’ to a serious stakeholder is well underway, coupled with the recognition of the enormous economic potential startups bring to the table. One resolution that stems out of this development is to bring startups and policy makers into an established dialogue, both on a national and a European level. Our goal is to challenge every elected politician to meet three startups in their constituency. If every policy maker knows three startups in their constituency, they are less likely to make policies that adversely affect them, even if only inadvertently.