How SCALE operated

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. By way of a community platform, SCALE partners could exchange information about their startup ecosystems, which was then made public on the open portal. On the platform, startups had access to the information they needed to expand their businesses to another city. The SCALE member cities mapped out their respective startup ecosystems with the relevant contact details, funding opportunities, investment networks, accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces. SCALE partners also directed their attention towards building mentor networks and setting up exchange programmes. These programmes entailed European city-to-city exchanges, but also offered exchanges from Europe to other continents.

Why SCALE?

“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”, said Bas Beekman, private lead of StartupAmsterdam. SCALE helped establish a transparent European startup ecosystem that enabled startups to scale to the various countries in Europe and to unify Europe as one solid market. SCALE connected and fortified the supportive structures that were 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, which took place at B.Amsterdam (a founding member), 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: Amsterdam inbusiness, 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 had come 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.”

Beating bureaucracy

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 aimed 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.

SCALE partners:  B.Amsterdam | Berlin Partner | Câmara Municipal de Lisboa | City of Helsinki | Stockholm Business Region | London & Partner | m-startup-barcelona | Oslo Business Region | Paris&Co | Roma startup | StartupAmsterdamStartups.beStartup LisboaCity of MilanPragueMunich startupVille de LuxembourgBrussels Enterprise AgencyInvest in BavariaVienna Business AgencyMadrid Startup House

StartupAmsterdam has recently launched their SCALE.Cities initiative to strengthen local startup ecosystems through sharing their networks and learnings.