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European Digital Forum Thought Leadership and Policy Network Exchange

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EDFx (European Digital Forum Thought Leadership and Policy Network Exchange)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2016-12-31

The European Digital Forum is uniquely positioned at the interface of technology, web entrepreneurship, innovation and public policy. In addition to connecting key leaders in Europe’s entrepreneurial communities, the European Digital Forum makes sure that it provides leading-edge content and value – be it in the form of innovative research, top-level engagement opportunities at events or as a Europe-wide platform.

EDFx is structured around six specific objectives:

Specific Objective 1: The promotion of tech/web entrepreneurship by organising and hosting events and serving as venues for web entrepreneurs, other businesses and policymakers. These are both stand-alone occasions and sessions within the programmes of major tech/web conferences, where EDFx strives to add a public policy angle, a pan-European take and link debates to the Startup Manifesto.

Specific Objective 2: Conducting innovative policy-oriented research. EDFx combines and builds upon the Lisbon Council’s and Nesta’s expertise to become a centre-of-excellence in technology, web/tech entrepreneurship and digital startups. It aims to produce an annual European Digital City Index to allow stakeholders to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the startup ecosystems in different cities, as well as the cities’ digital readiness. The Index is to built upon and expand the 22 action points of the Startup Manifesto.

Specific Objective 3: Spreading the best practices of policies stimulating web entrepreneurship by creating the best practices repository. This objective stems from the Startup Manifesto (action 21) that reads, “to provide a resource where local and national governments can share the best ‘hacks’ they found to achieve immediate impact.” EDFx aims to collect and analyse examples of policy initiatives across the globe aimed at facilitating web/tech entrepreneurship and supporting better innovation ecosystems.

Specific Objective 4: Building and maintaining a vibrant network of leading-edge thinkers, inspirational entrepreneurs, digital startups, thought leaders, captains of industry, policymakers and other stakeholders. The diversity of this community and high professionalism of its members is its key assets, enabling cross-fertilisation of expertise and designing new solutions and models to drive Europe’s digital economy forward.

Specific Objective 5: An active and professional dissemination and communication campaign will help inform a wide array of stakeholders, including web entrepreneurs, policymakers and other interested and relevant parties.

Specific Objective 6: EDFx is to be constructively and pro-actively involved in policy dialogue, contributing its expertise in on-going discussions. It provides policy support and monitoring in the field of web/tech entrepreneurs and elevates the voice of tech entrepreneurs in policy debates. This has the potential to inform a wider group of people, but it also has the likely effect of initiating a healthy competition between EU member states to improve their relative ranking. In addition, EDFx is constructively and pro-actively involved in policy dialogue, contributing its expertise in on-going discussions.
The consortium continued to work enthusiastically towards the realisation of these goals in 2016:
1. The European Digital Forum was launched in January 2014, and was initially supported by its founding partners. Thanks to the EDFx grant as of 01 January 2015, these activities were massively scaled up – with three world-class events (including two events outside of Brussels), cutting-edge research, community building across Europe (particularly, engaging authors of national startup manifestos and national startup associations) and policy initiatives. In addition, the European Digital Forum continued its constructive collaboration with the (founding) partners. The EDFx grant was a veritable boost to the European Digital Forum making it possible to conduct activities that would not have been possible otherwise.

2. The consortium pursued independent research that led up to the launch of the second edition of its one-of-its-kind European Digital City Index. Underpinned by a novel methodology, developed uniquely for the EDFx, and using a wealth of primary and secondary data, this index measures the framework conditions for web/tech entrepreneurs along 10 dimensions. The Index covers all 28 capital cities in the EU. Additionally, it includes 32 non-capital cities in the EU that are important hubs of digital entrepreneurship. In addition to two pre-defined indices – for startups and scale-ups, custom-made online module enables the user to interact with the index in a very easy way, assigning a specific weight to each of the 10 themes that make up this composite index, thus creating their own version of the index. For web/tech entrepreneurs, the index provides information about the strengths and weaknesses of local ecosystems, allowing them to plan accordingly. For policymakers, this tool allows to benchmark cities and to decide where they may need to devote more resources to enhance their local ecosystem.

3. The European Digital Forum has strongly positioned itself as a leading knowledge hub offering a wide platform for a deeper, more sustained exchange between web/tech entrepreneurs and policymakers. This constructive dialogue takes places at the summits, roundtables and working lunches that the consortium hosts, as well as through on-going initiatives such as research, the Startup Manifesto Policy Tracker and the Scale Up Europe Manifesto. This interaction has proven to be mutually beneficial for both web/tech community and policymakers; and the outcomes of this continuous engagement were vital input in the design of the European Digital City Index and policy briefs produced by the European Digital Forum.
The unique design of the EDFx – combining hard-hitting research, world-class events, community building and professional dissemination campaign – has been instrumental in delivering progress and impact. The EDFx was a leading voice in policy and societal debates around digital economy and tech entrepreneurship. In addition to high-profile events, the consortium conducted on-going work to elevate the voice of tech entrepreneurs in policy debates, achieving a strong socio-economic impact. This work was underpinned by cutting-edge research – an innovative methodology behind the European Digital City Index produced a ranking of how well European cities support tech entrepreneurship, specifically, digital startups and scale-ups. This is particularly important for national and local policymakers seeking to enhance competitiveness of their local ecosystems.
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