Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

LIFE Report Summary

Project ID: 645000
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LIFE (LearnIng from Failure in a collaborative Entrepreneurship network)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2015-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The LIFE project is about collaborative learning from failure and success in entrepreneurship and about collaborative action to bring entrepreneurship forward. Although cultural diversity is one of Europe’s strongest assets, it also creates severe obstacles for entrepreneurs to scale their efforts at the European level. Europe’s distributed markets, language barriers and decentralised policy lead to difficulties to get access to markets, talents, finance, facilities and networks.
For this purpose, the project will map out all the relevant stakeholders and programs in each of the partnering areas. This information will be made available to all web entrepreneurs across Europe in one centralised platform, collaborating with projects in topic web entrepreneurship, enabling entrepreneurs to quickly enter other regions and efficiently find their way to the right partners and programs.

On top of that, Europe is facing a culture of (severe) “fear of failure”. It is therefore crucial to demystify failure, by gaining a better understanding of the underlying causes of failure, potential solutions as well as more (public) awareness and attention for the learning curve that goes with entrepreneurship, where failure is in many cases just an inherent part of the process.

The consortium will identify, share and discuss best practices through virtual and real discussion forums among themselves and with all interested stakeholders, addressing both
- Web enterprises that successfully overcame these obstacles and what we could take away from that for the next generation of web entrepreneurs
- The creation of value chains through complementary partnerships between different stakeholders in the start-up ecosystem.
Best practices and lessons learned will not only be widely disseminated online and through the partner networks, but also through a jointly organised conference, called Failing Forward.
This yearly pan-European conference in Brussels will be complemented with local spin-off events in the partner regions, to:
- Generate and grow awareness that failure is an inherent part of the process of entrepreneurship and innovation;
- Share and celebrate the success stories that were built on incremental learning;
- Open up the existing start-up support programs to web entrepreneurs from all over Europe.

Focal point of all activities is the Failing Forward conference - initiated by Startups.be -, which will take place twice during the course of the project. The conference tackles an important cultural issue that is often cited as an important reason for weak entrepreneurship in Europe: the fear of failing. The conference aims to promote a different way of handling failure, namely to learn from failure and to try again avoiding the issues that led to the failure in the first place. It, hence, aims at making failure subject to a critical and rational discourse instead of stigmatising those who failed in following an ambitious goal.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project is centered around the Failing Forward conference which addresses the elimination of the stigma surrounding failed entrepreneurs in Europe. In October, the 2015 edition of the conference was organised attracting more than 200 participants and generating a positive feedback. More and more entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders recognize the importance of addressing the failing forward topic in order to inspire new entrepreneurs. A more accepting attitude towards failed entrepreneurs is an essential step to encourage the creation of innovative startups and SMEs, so as the LIFE project continues to put the topic in the spotlight. To broaden the scope of the project, 160+ interviews with startups - from all participating ecosystems - who encountered failure were conducted and analysed in line with in-depth partner and service provider (VCs, business angels, community builders) interviews. Findings fed into the collaborative learning and collaborative action reports, and will be disseminated in the second part of the project. In order to increase the level of services provided by the partners to startups, recommendations drawn from the findings will facilitate a better approach towards failure and help to spot potential risks at an early stage. Furthermore, partners organised local events or inserted failing forward panels into existing events with an overall reach of 19000+. Besides a number of articles published covering the project, following up the feedback of reviewers, a newly iterated speaker database on the website provides access now to speakers who are open to testify about their journey along with numerous articles published in the topic.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Acceptance of failure is an incremental part towards a paradigm shift in Europe. LIFE project aims at making failure subject to a critical and rational discourse instead of stigmatizing those who failed in following an ambitious goal. Instead of shame, “rising like a phoenix” attitude should become an integral part of European education and society. Eliminating the stigma will trigger a broader societal effect which can lead to significant policy changes, consequently making it less burdensome for businesses to recover. Nevertheless, entrepreneurial culture, particularly among young people could go through an essential change and become more open. With opening up a dialogue about failure in entrepreneurship, more and more starting businesses will seek and find support along the road to success. To increase the level of support available, one of the main long-term goals of the LIFE project is to overcome the fragmentation of start-up support in Europe. Since most European countries have a startup ecosystem covering different aspects of the startup lifecycle and the needs of startups at different stages, mapping the resources and support services at hand is essential for a healthy European startup landscape. Mapping best practices and introducing improvement measures within the consortium will result in more tailor-made and higher quality services provided for startups.

Related information

Record Number: 190021 / Last updated on: 2016-11-03