How SCALE operates
At the SCALE launch in spring 2016, municipal startup organisations from 11 cities across Europe committed their effort to the initiative of creating a startup city alliance, and more cities continue to join. By way of a community website, SCALE partners can exchange information about their startup ecosystems, which will then be made public on an open platform. On the platform, startups will have access to the information they need to expand their businesses to another city. The SCALE partners will map out their respective startup ecosystems with the relevant contact details, funding opportunities, investment networks, accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces. SCALE partners will also direct their attention towards building mentor networks and setting up exchange programmes. These programmes entail European city-to-city exchanges, but they also offer exchanges from Europe to other continents.
“For a startup, the first thing to do to really grow fast is to conquer other markets. The first market you want to enter is not America but your neighbouring countries”, says Bas Beekman, private lead of StartupAmsterdam. SCALE helps establish a transparent European startup ecosystem that enables startups to scale to the various countries in Europe and to unify Europe as one solid market. SCALE connects and fortifies the supportive structures that are already in place, bringing together European municipal governments, universities, corporates and startups.
Laying the foundations for SCALE
On 25 May 2016, startup organisations of European cities London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Helsinki, Stockholm, Rome, Brussels, Oslo and Lisbon came together in Amsterdam to lay the foundation for SCALE. At this first meeting, taking place at founding member B.Amsterdam, the representatives joined roundtables to discuss topics such as governmental support, legal issues, transparency, metrics and connecting startups. The organisations that participated – besides StartupAmsterdam – were: Amsterdaminbusiness, B. Amsterdam, m-Startup-Barcelona, Berlin Partner, Startups.be, City of Helsinki, Lisbon Municipality, Startup Lisboa, London & Partner, Oslo Business Region, Paris & Co, Roma Startup, and Stockholm Business Region Development.
It was the first time that so many startup organisations from European cities came together to join forces for the benefit of startups that want to scale. Naturally, the input of startups was also appreciated. According to Beekman, “too often policies are made without involving the ones they’re really about. For the first SCALE meeting, we asked every startup organisation to bring the founder of their city’s most promising startup. At the meeting, these startups could present their insights on scaling up and gave advice to the startup organisations.”
The European Startup Monitor report of 2015, released in March 2016, observes that European startups are “job engines” and “innovation drivers”. However, the 2,300 startups that were surveyed indicated that they hope for “improvements in political regulations and bureaucracy” and state that there are significant differences between European countries. SCALE aims to bridge these differences by sharing knowledge, knowing one another’s strengths and making use of networks on a city level to help European startups become successful. When it comes to startup support, Europe must pull together if it wants to be a match for other continents.