Amsterdam, October 2012 – A survey by pan-European tech startup accelerator Startupbootcamp has discovered that the potential of Europe’s technology entrepreneurs is being stymied by its bankers and financial community. A survey of 115 technology entrepreneurs, mentors and investors has pinpointed the failure of Europe’s financial organizations to either support innovative companies or offer growth avenues through public offerings.
The survey, conducted in July and August 2012, showed that despite Europe scoring very high on critical conditions necessary to foster technology companies such as infrastructure and education, European tech startups were left behind compared to their peers in the US in terms of available growth capital and exit opportunities through public listings and acquisitions.
The innovators, mentors and investors rated the three most important factors to startups as communications infrastructure (86% rated it as important to very important), venture capital community (85%), and education (80%). Despite Europe being voted top in two of these three categories against the US (in communications by 93% to 7% and in education by 62% to 38%), Europe falls way behind on the issue of the investment community and venture capitalists where the US wins by 90% to 10% according to the community of startup mentors. Within Europe, the access to the VC community was also highly polarized towards the UK with start-ups, mentors and investors all voting it top with an average preference of 85% followed by Germany at 10% and Israel at 5%.
The US was also deemed to be a better tax environment for start-up businesses by 62% of respondents, although Europe came ahead on the issues of affordable housing, offices, physical infrastructure and government support.
Europe’s potential as a crucible for innovation and technology company growth was most doubted when it came to exit opportunities; a total of 88% of respondents who were sure about the best exit strategies saw the US as the best exit environment with a vote of just 8% for the UK and just two votes for any other country in the European Union.
“The survey, which we ran with our partners AxiCom, confirms our gut feeling: that in most areas Europe has caught up with or surpassed the US as environment for startups to thrive in,” comments Alex Farcet, co-founder of Startupbootcamp. “The survey has also identified the one main areas where Europe is still far behind: exit strategies and financial support. Some financial institutions such as ABN AMRO have definitely come to terms with the startup scene and the huge potential it offers. They have changed their mindset on how to handle investments. Many other financial institutions and funds on the other hand clearly still have a lot of work to do.”