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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 19.04.2018, 20:35

Ilves: EU funding doesn’t fit for supporting new forms of enterprise

BC, Tallinn, 14.07.2017.Print version
The current European Union funding mechanisms for business are not suited for supporting contemporary forms of entrepreneurship, former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves said in an interview, cites LETA/BNS.

"When it comes to entrepreneurship, especially the rough and tumble world of IT, you see it doesn't have a place in current policies," Ilves told the Thought Economics publication in an interview. "The whole approach of EU support for the private sector is diametrically opposed to the ethos of start-ups."


Ilves said that, under the existing funding arrangement, if you want to build a hotel, you are going to build a hotel, so you can apply for EU funding, and develop tourism or whatever was set down in the business plan.


"If you have a start-up, you start out with an idea, but in six months you realize 'that wasn't the right idea. Actually, based on what I've been working on, I'm going to move in this direction.'  Maybe a year down the line you realize 'Well I have an even better direction to move into.' This is how truly creative companies work," the former president of Estonia said.


"Nobody can do that with EU funding because you are locked-in to your original proposal – and because of that no-one I know in the start-up world wants money from the EU."


Ilves said that companies grow and change so rapidly that people don't know what they will be doing in a year or two, and if they are locked into a funding agreement that says they can only do this one thing, they won't be agile enough to be a success. "That's a failure, and leads nowhere," he said.


Ilves added that while the EU does a lot to build the right environment for entrepreneurship, its funding approach is stuck in "the 20th century world of bricks and mortar."


Asked what his advice to the next generation would be, Ilves pointed out that, right now, only 2% of Europeans have studied outside of their home country. "I would want to raise that to 45%," he said.


"The provincialism that reigns in so many countries would be considerably lessened if it was just considered normal that you would spend at least a year in some other country at university or during your secondary education," the former president added.


Thought Economics is a journal recognized for its exclusive one to one interviews with individuals who have shaped the world, are shaping the future, or have a major impact on various aspects of people's lives.

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