Entrepreneurship on steroids – An interview with John Higgins

Grichka Martinetti, JA Europe

EE-HUB Launch panel with Peter Cheese, Jo Deblaere, Ariel Eckstein, John Higgins, Karin Jaanson and MEP Eva Paunova (Left to Right)

Entrepreneurship needs to become an attitude, a lifestyle, not just an idea.


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During the launch of the European Entrepreneurship Education NETwork (EE-HUB for short) launch in Brussels on May 6th, we sat down with John Higgins, the Director General of DIGITALEUROPE to talk about the current state of entrepreneurship in Europe, how entrepreneurship can contribute to the digital single market, what lies ahead for entrepreneurship education and some of the challenges it faces over the next few years.

There is no sure-fire way, no ultimate blueprint on how entrepreneurship should work in Europe. There is no common definition of entrepreneurship and no common understand when it comes to entrepreneurial learning. One of the conclusions that came out of the policy roundtables during the EE-HUB launch was that this needs to change. There needs to be a drastic change at the core level to make sure that entrepreneurship can and will thrive in Europe.

However, that is not the only change that needs to take place, said John Higgins. “Being entrepreneurial has to be a positive attribute by all those who to whom you look for your influences.” There is a negative stigma around entrepreneurship and a fear of failure, a statement echoed by many of those in attendance at the launch. “It is about attitude and engagement and about those willing to engage,” said Friederieke Soezen, educational policy advisor in the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. The opportunities are there, but young people are too hesitant to fail. Rather than starting something which might not work out, they would rather save themselves the trouble and potential embarrassment.

Digital entrepreneurship is leading the charge, and thanks to the Internet and the rapid digital expansion, entrepreneurship is literally at your fingertips. “It is like being an entrepreneur on steroids,” said Higgins. “You can be an entrepreneur in the digital world and really achieve scale much more quickly, you can operate at a much faster pace and you can have a much greater reach.”

With the digital single market in Europe, digital entrepreneurship will change for the better, said Higgins. “One of Europe’s great opportunities and challenges is the single market,” adding “If you are for instance an entrepreneur in Stockholm, you do not just have to sell in your own country…to see Europe as your market.” Many entrepreneurs operate on a local or national level, but with a digital single market, the jump to continental reach is much easier.

“The great thing that Europe can bring to the new entrepreneur is a big European market. That is the real prize,” said Higgins.

For more coverage on the launch of the EE-HUB, check out our launch report, keep an eye on our YouTube channel for more coverage and make sure to grab a copy of next week’s print edition, available on Monday, May 11.    

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