Relevant publications and manifesto’s you should know about!

512, 2023

Press Release: ESN Renews Board and Elects New President Ahead of 2024 European Elections

European Startup Network Continues to Advocate for European Startup Ecosystems

ESN, the European Startup Network, is at the forefront of unifying and championing the interests of Europe’s diverse startup ecosystems on the European stage. ESNs  overarching goal is to foster an environment where the European continent emerges as a powerhouse for startups and growth.

At its recent General Assembly, the European Startup Network (ESN) renewed its board ahead of the 2024 European elections, reaffirming its commitment to nurturing and advancing the European startup ecosystems.

Newly Elected Board Members:

Agata Hidalgo, European Affairs Manager at France Digitale, where she is in charge of institutional relations, policy and advocacy at international level.

Raphael Tobler, CEO at, an education and career platform, founder of Startup Nights and President of the Swiss Startup Association.

Hannah Wundsam , managing director of AustrianStartups, the biggest startup platform and think tank for entrepreneurship in Austria, where she is focused on changing the entrepreneurial landscape through education, community and political change. 

Cristian Dalascu, partner at GapMinder VC & Techcelerator, member of the EIC Investment Jury and Strategy Advisor and Chairmans at ROTSA, the Voice of Romanian Tech Startups.

Esben Gadsbøll, chairman and co-initiator of Danish Tech Startups, founder and board member at TechBBQ, entrepreneur, business angel, partner of Nordic Makers and co-founder of

ESN members also unanimously re-elected Hajdi Cenan (Cro Startup) and David Hanf (German Startup Association) for a second term on the ESN board.

David Hanf was elected to succeed Nicolas Brien as ESN president. 

David brings a wealth of experience, serving in the past as Managing Director of, a German Scale-up in the heat sector and at as CFO. He is an Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and he is co-founder of the German Startup Association.

ESN extends its heartfelt thanks to Nicolas Brien for his outstanding contributions in steering ESN towards significant growth and influence on the European stage.

Press contact: David Hanf ( and Jan Bormans (

1003, 2023

European Innovation Days in the Silicon Valley

Following the launch of the New European Innovation Agenda, Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, alongside a delegation of 40 leading ecosystem actors, will bring the European innovation ecosystem to  Silicon Valley. ESN has played an active role in the design of this mission, and we are very proud of supporting the European Commission in its effort to showcase the outstanding quality of European deep-tech innovations throughout the world.

Three public events will be part of these Innovation Days and will provide ample opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders to get to know the European innovation ecosystem in depth:  a roundtable on how European Corporates are tapping into the Silicon Valley Innovation Pool; a gathering to learn which new opportunities are available in the European Ecosystem connected to Silicon Valley; and the first EU Innovation Forum, a hybrid event to learn about the future of European innovation and how to get involved through the New European Innovation Agenda.

For more information:

103, 2023

Report on the survey of EU start-ups and the COVID-19 pandemic

The report describes the results of the work performed by the European Startup Network (ESN) in the framework of the contract GRO/SME/22/13030, awarded by the European Commission (EC) for a survey to gather information about how the situation of start-ups has been evolving following the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was financed by the Single Market Programme (SMP) of the EU.

The report provides a varied picture in terms of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on EU start-ups, the level and nature of public support they received, and their satisfaction with the support measured put in place by local authorities.

The main conclusions of the survey are:

  • The two most prominent obstacles faced during the COVID-19 pandemic by the start- ups were “Access to finance” and “Regulatory obstacles or administrative burden”, chosen by 68% and 52% of respondents;
  • A slight majority of respondents (54%) reported that their business experienced a negative development during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • The two most prominent kinds of support received by the start-ups during the COVID- 19 pandemic were “Additional credit lines” (50%) and “Salary subsidies for employees” (40%);
  • 48% of respondents claimed to be either satisfied or very satisfied with the COVID- 19 support received, while 25% were either disappointed or very disappointed;
  • The majority of respondents (66%) reported the overall strength and performance of their regional business environment to be either “Fairly good” (50%) or “Very good” (16%).

The lessons learnt can be applied to future crises, such as the ongoing Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

The report recommends that the EU provide tailored support to European start-ups, taking into account their specific needs and characteristics, which may differ from those of traditional small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

This support should prioritise automatic allocation, as start-ups often have limited resources and time to devote to bureaucratic procedures. Additionally, it may not be appropriate to base the allocation of support on recent economic performance, as start-ups tend to have a fast-growing nature and dynamic evolution of their financial parameters.

© European Commission – Financed through the Single Market Programme.

Rea the report:



2701, 2023

Press Release by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel: The coalition grows in Davos

We would like to draw your attention to the press release issued by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel that you can find below.

It details the launch of two initiatives: the Coalition of the Willing and the Sounding Board for Innovation. Both of these initiatives are aimed at supporting an efficient and effective implementation of the New European Innovation Agenda that was published in July 2022.

Jan Bormans from the European Startup Network is performing the secretariat functions of the Coalition of the Willing.

2701, 2023

Introducing the Coalition of the Willing

The Coalition of the Willing, founded in presence of Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, less than 24 hours after the publication of the New European Innovation Agenda (NEIA) is gathering steam. Want to know more? Read about this initiative in the 2-pager below.



911, 2022

ESN Gender Equality Plan

At ESN we aspire to strenghten the importance of promoting a diversified work conditions and culture. Our key principle is to create a safe and inclusive environment in order to ensure the equality of rights, freedoms, opportunities, and recognition between genders. We also believe that a more inclusive environment fuels creativity, innovation and excellent results. For this reason, together with our Board of Directors, we endorse this Gender Equality Plan, and we subscribe to all the objectives, targets, and measures that we elaborated while designing this report.

To get to know more about the Gender Equality Plan we set up, go check here .

1609, 2022

PRESS RELEASE: European Startup Network welcomes the EU Sovereignty Fund

The European Startup Network (ESN) welcomes the announcement of the creation of an EU
Sovereignty Fund announced by President von der Leyen at the SOTEU this week. Together with other
innovation stakeholders, we have been calling for such a fund in our intense interactions with EC
services during the preparation phase of the New European Innovation Agenda.

It is crucial that the focus of this fund is on tech innovators and entrepreneurs to ensure the
much-needed critical mass.” Nicolas Brien, ESN president

We believe that this fund can be a gamechanger for the European tech ecosystems, enabling us to
anchor European tech champions and to crowd in private capital, leading to a thriving European
innovation ecosystem. Indeed, it has the potential to improve the European late-stage capital needs
and facilitate a significant increase of the number of EU scaleups and unicorns.

I am looking forward to a highly efficient implementation of the EU Sovereignty Fund, tailored
to the needs of the European startups, with a minimum of bureaucracy.” Jan Bormans, ESN

Therefore, ESN is reaching out and expressing its intention to work together with the EC, making its
expertise available to ensure that the implementation of the Sovereignty Fund will be a success.

Download in pdf

About ESN:
The European Startup Network (ESN) is the NGO that unifies national and regional startup associations
to create a common voice for European startups, so that more can start, grow and scale. ESN uniquely
represents the European startup ecosystem as it is the only independent pan-European startup
association. ESN also performs the secretariat functions of the Independent Ecosystem Leaders Group
(IELG) that proposed the ‘Action Plan to Make Europe the new Global Powerhouse for Startups’ as
input to the New European Innovation Agenda

507, 2022

Today is the day!

The New European Innovation Agenda will be published at 15h00 CET (see

The startup community has been working intensely with the European Commission over the past years to influence the important milestone that this Agenda represents.

We will immediately start examining the strengths and weaknesses of the published Agenda during a workshop tomorrow morning and are pleased to announce that Commissioner Gabriel has agreed to engage with us and listen to our feedback afterwards.

Therefore, we invite you to witness the first feedback of the European startup community to Commissioner Gabriel live in Brussels tomorrow 6 July 2022 from 9h30 to 11h30 (workshop) and from 11h30 to 12h30 (with Commissioner Gabriel).


407, 2022

New European Innovation Agenda: Startup Stakeholder Feedback Event

In early 2021, Commissioner Gabriel reached out to the startup community to better understand the needs, concerns and priorities of the European startups. Four working groups were formed, with a focus on startup ecosystems, unicorns, female founders, and female VCs.

Since then, we have had intense collaborations with the services of the European Commission, partnering to make Europe the startup continent. Consequently, our four working groups have delivered clear action plans and recommendations. We are thus very hopeful that a lot of those recommendations will have made it to the New European Innovation Agenda (NEIA) being published tomorrow (5 July 2022).

On Wednesday 6 July, representatives of the 4 working groups will convey at in Brussels to analyse the NEIA and identify positive elements and possible gaps. We will also reflect how to most effectively partner with the European Commission to ensure an appropriate implementation of the proposed measures contained in the NEIA.

Zoom link for the event (9h30-12h30):

2305, 2022

ESN is hiring a Communication Intern


European Startup Network (ESN) unifies Europe’s national startup associations to create a common voice for European startups.

ESN wants to build a startup-friendly environment so that startups grow and thrive in Europe. That is why we united 38 associations representing startups in their countries. Among our members we count France Digitale, Startup Estonia, Austrian Startups, and many other impactful startup associations..

Together, we help strengthen the European startup ecosystem by:

  • Representing startup ecosystems at the EU level (European Commission, …),
  • Sharing knowledge and exchanging European best practices,
  • Creating partnerships between startups, corporates, accelerators, institutions, and investors.


We want you! European Startup Network is seeking a forward-thinking and enthusiastic Communication Intern to join our dynamic team. This is a great opportunity for a student seeking to make an impact on the outreach potential of a fast-growing organisation. You will work with a youthful, enthusiastic squad to help organise ESN’s communication and dissemination activities.

Your tasks will include:

  • Helping draft communication and dissemination strategies/plans that take into account the different projects and activities run by ESN,
  • Implementing the communication and dissemination strategies/plans by animating the different communication channels ESN is managing,
  • Keeping ESN’s website (and other specific project websites) up-to-date and implementing improvements where necessary.
  • Creating original visual content to boost the impact of communication campaigns,
  • Helping with the organisation of events on an ad-hoc basis.



A student (or recent graduate) in Communication, Marketing, Digital Marketing, or similar. Applications from candidates with a different academic background are welcome, as long as they can show knowledge of communication theory and practice and proficiency in the use of online communication tools.

Essential skills:

  • Advanced English proficiency
  • Proficiency in the use of social media (expecially Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn),
  • Visual content creation skills (through Canva or similar platforms/softwares)

Desirable skills

  • Video, photo and audio shooting/editing skills
  • Proficiency in web designing, especially with WordPress.


  • An engaging, dynamic team atmosphere—young, driven, and ready to make change
  • Experience working in the startup ecosystem, ample opportunity to expand your professional network
  • Energizing coworking space in the heart of Brussels
  • Responsibility and trust—time and space to make real change in our organization
  • Opportunity to work with a pan-European membership base and global network of partners

To submit your application, please send your CV to

2803, 2022

PRESS RELEASE: European Startup Network takes next steps in its expansion strategy

28 March 2022

At its General Assembly in Lille, France, the European Startup Network (ESN) took two important steps in its expansion strategy: (i) leading European regional startup ecosystems were admitted as members (Startup Valencia, Platform 6 from Tampere, EuraTechnologies from Lille and Danish Tech Startups), and (ii) the collaboration with startup associations outside Europe was intensified and associate members were welcomed (Ghana Startups, Maroc Numeric Cluster and Startup Canada).

The first part of this strategy fits the priority to ‘connect the connectors’ at the pan-European level. This will allow Europe to leverage further on its, now often disconnected, strong ecosystems of startups, talents and VCs. It will also help entrepreneurs to have a maximum of innovation opportunities independently of where they are based (‘Innovation Cohesion’).

“Regional startup ecosystems are key players, complementary to national startup associations, to achieve a strong European startup ecosystem. ESN is the only independent organisation able to ‘connect the connectors’ thanks to its large member base and its long-standing experience in networking, best-practice exchanges and the formulation of joint policy recommendations.” Nicolas Brien, ESN President.

The second part of the strategy aims to strengthen the startup ecosystems over the boundaries of the continents, by mutually beneficial exchange of information and best practices. This ESN approach is aligned with the strategic choices Europe currently makes to strengthen its role as partner in Africa (as e.g., stated during the EU-Africa Business Forum last month).

“There are many parallels between the startup ecosystems of Europe and Africa, and they have a lot to offer each other, but they mostly do not know one another yet. ESN wants to be the driving force to change that.” Jan Bormans, ESN CEO.

To ensure a successful execution of its strategy, ESN elected two new board members: Mrs. Hajdi Cenan (Croatian AI Association and Croatian Startup Association) and Mr. David Hanf (German Startup Association).

Hajdi is co-founder & CEO of the AI startup airt. Before airt, she was the Executive Director of the most awarded Croatian digital agency DRAP, to which she came after holding numerous positions in the leading media company EPH, including Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of tourism publishing. Hajdi was named among the top 100 most influential businesswomen in Croatia, nominated for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award, and listed among the top 100 most important STEM entrepreneurs in Croatia. She also serves as the VP of the Croatian AI Association and has most recently co-founded Croatian Startup Ecosystem Association (Cro Startup) where she serves as the President.

David is CFO / Managing Director of, Germany’s largest B2C heat service company with more than 600 employees. Before Thermondo, he has been part in building, Germany’s leading online loan marketplace, as Managing Director, CFO/COO. David is an internet entrepreneur with management background in strategy, finance, venture capital and business intelligence. Before smava, he worked in Venture Capital. He co-founded the German Startup Association and is an active Angel Investor.

ESN members also unanimously re-elected Markus Raunig (Startup Austria), Matthias Zwingli (Swiss Startup Association digitalswitzerland) and Nicolas Brien (EuraTechnologies) for a second term on the ESN board.


Download in pdf

1403, 2022

ESN co-authors Business Declaration on Digital Innovation 2022 for the EU-Africa Business Forum

Together with nearly a 100 representatives from European and African business organisations, and policy makers, ESN co-authored the EABF 2022 Business Declaration on Digital Innovation. We are looking forward to contributing in the implementation of this declaration with the European HUBiquitous project. Read the publication for more information.

403, 2022

Overview of actions for Ukraine

The European Startup Network wants to propose solutions and foster solidarity for Ukrainians in light of the ongoing war. Below you find a list of efforts by ESN members to assist Ukrainian entrepreneurs in their search for safer areas for their projects, employees, and family members.


TechLeap has dedicated a section on their website with information and an overview of Dutch general and tech initiatives, including the initiative ‘people for people’, where people can ask or offer help. You can find the full overview of Dutch initiatives here



Besco, in cooperation with Tz&P, has provided guidelines and details in the form of a “handbook” on the protection and job opportunities for Ukrainian citizens, in order to clarify and support all those whose lives have been affected and who find themselves on Bulgarian territory. You can find the handbook here

They also coordinate with, partner with, and support, a website to support Ukrainians in Bulgaria, run by a group of Bulgaria-based entrepreneurs, tech community members, and friends of Ukraine.


The website of our member organization Startin.LV directs you to a website with information for Ukrainians coming to Latvia. You can access the website directly via this link. 



Deutsche startups are collecting the initiatives of German startups, including initiatives regarding job aid for Ukrainian refugees, accommodation opportunities free of charge, free FlixBus rides, opportunities for temporary homes, and the collection and transportation of essential goods to the border.

German startups and investors have also launched a talent platform to connect businesses with Ukrainians searching for employment in the European Union.


A broad overview of what you can do as a foreigner for Ukraine can be found here

We are urging all European startups to shoulder their duties and lend a helping hand to Ukrainian entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, it is our sincere wish that the vibrant Ukrainian startup scene can soon again develop and grow in a peaceful and prosperous Ukraine. 

To support the initiative, join us :


2402, 2022

PRESS RELEASE: European Startup Network calls for solidarity with Ukrainian people

The European Startup Network is appalled by the Ukrainian situation. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people, whom we stand by with greatest solidarity. 

Ukraine is a part of Europe and just became a conflict zone.  It is of utmost importance that as an independent country, Ukraine can build and grow its own tech sector and startup ecosystem. However, due to the current circumstances and in the spirit of European friendship, we would like to welcome any Ukrainian. In our field, we know that many Ukrainian entrepreneurs are now looking for safer places for their projects, their employees and family members. 

The European Startup Network wants to provide solutions and is calling all startup ecosystems to open a friendly door: any Ukrainian founder who would like to find a safe harbor will be welcomed by any member organization of ESN.

  • In Bulgaria, our member organization BESCO is working with the government to open borders for all tech talent (and their families) working for Ukrainian companies represented in Bulgaria or Bulgarian companies with employees residing in Ukraine.
  • In France, Euratechnologies will sponsor visa applications for tech founders and their families, and offer free access to its acceleration programs for up to 30+ startups :
  • In Spain, Spanish Startups will provide free consultancy for all the startups and founders who would like to move to Spain and provide assistance about the ecosystem and how to start operations in the country.
  • In Romania, as a southern neighboring country, ROTSA is offering assistance and connections with the entire national ecosystem to Ukrainian startups looking for relocation/expansion in the proximity of their national territory, for the time needed. Additionally we will continue to ask our government to adopt more friendly startup visa conditions.
  • In Latvia, the startup ecosystem, led by Startin.LV, TechHub Riga, and TechChill, is urging the national government to soften the immigration and legal requirements for the Ukrainian entrepreneurs and startups seeking to expand to Europe and/or relocate.
  • In Italy, InnovUp is asking the Italian Government to activate an immediate visa pass for startuppers and all innovative entrepreneurs from Ukraine.
  • In Portugal, besides the country’s official solidarity already expressed for the Ukraine people and the 28,000 Ukrainians living in Portuguese territory, Beta-i is contacting all of it Ukrainian startup alumni to offer support, and it’s also open to provide assistance to any entrepreneur aiming to move its business to the country.

Our European continent is about solidarity. At ESN, we are calling all startups on the Continent to take their responsibilities and extend a friendly hand to Ukrainians. Yet, our profound hope is that peace is created for Ukrainian people.

To support the initiative, join us :
Media inquiries:


Download in PDF

2202, 2022

EUIPO and ESN sign a collaboration agreement to empower EU startups




The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the European Startup Network
(ESN) have signed a collaboration agreement to encourage activities and promote services
that support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The ESN is the collective voice of European startups, representing them to European
policymakers, and connecting them with corporations and investors to gain access to talent,
expertise, funding, and customers.

The EUIPO is the European agency responsible for managing the EU trade mark and the
registered Community design, which are valid in all EU Member States.

With the help of the ESN, this collaboration allows the EUIPO to empower European SMEs
and startups to stay competitive by taking advantage of the benefits intellectual property can
provide. The ESN is in a unique position to promote the EUIPO’s SME initiatives among its

The parties welcome this agreement, which covers activities such as training on intellectual
property, knowledge exchange, participation in events, collaboration on social media, raising
general awareness of IP and informing startups about the different services available.

“It is a pleasure to welcome the ESN to the Ideas Powered for business network.
Representing 31 organisations in Europe, the ESN is ideally suited to share expertise related
to startups and scaleups and their needs. Working together we can maximise the many positive aspects of intellectual property for startups. We are looking forward to developing new synergies as a result of this
collaboration agreement.”
Inge Buffolo, Customer Department Director, EUIPO


“IP is often key for the success and growth of European startups. ESN believes that a sound IP management is crucial and should be an integral part of the strategy of any startup. However, as the domain of IP can sometimes be difficult to navigate, we are welcoming the collaboration with EUIPO that will provide guidance and clear tools to help startups strengthen their IP assets.”
Jan Bormans, CEO, ESN




2106, 2021

The European Startup Network expands with 7 new members and engages with leading European decision makers

On Tuesday 15 June 2021, the European Startup Network (ESN) held its General Assembly in Paris and welcomed 7 European startup associations as new members, bringing the membership base to a total of 31 members. Furthermore, EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel joined the General Assembly for an interactive exchange of ideas about how to make Europe the startup continent.

Read the press release:

1005, 2021

Action Plan to Make Europe the new Global Powerhouse for Startups

On 10 May 2021 EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel has met with leading independent startup ecosystem leaders from across the 27 member states, who officially unveiled their “Action Plan to Make Europe the new Global Powerhouse for Startups“. The initiative, supported by 27 national EU startup organisations, aims to increase the number of unicorns (privately owned companies valued at over $1 billion) tenfold in Europe over the next ten years. Today’s ceremony will see startup leaders formally deliver their Action Plan to Commissioner Gabriel, who has responsibility for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth in the EU. The initiative also represents a strengthening of relations between the startup sector and the European Commission.

Read the Action Plan:

2708, 2020

20,000 scaleups scouted and 668 individual coaching sessions in less than 3 years. Is it your turn to challenge us?

In March 2018, the SEP 2.0 project of the European Commission kicked-off with the very first Scaleup Summit at the Stock Exchange in Milan. Now, eight editions later we look back at a project where we selected Europe’s most promising scaleups and successfully matched them with corporates and investors to foster their growth.

Our role in this three-year pan-European project? Together with partner Mind the Bridge, ESN carefully selected scaleups to match the corporates and investors and engaged with them in one-on-one coaching sessions.

Some facts and figures you ask? In SEP 2.0 we initially considered 20.000 European startups. 8.966 matched the maturity criteria. After a further matchmaking process for the involved corporates and investors, we reached out to 4.014 scaleups. Based on intense interaction, we held one-on-one coaching sessions with 668 of them. 454 of those were then finally selected and attended one of the Scaleup Summits.

Are you an investor or corporate seeking startups that match your needs? Feel free to reach out to us and tell us what you would like to achieve. We’d be happy to work with you!

1307, 2020

Startups’ recommendations for post-COVID-19 economic recovery

A list of 13 concrete recommendations from startup organisations to national governments and international organisations in the fields of investment, talent and policy The document is also a call to the European Union and governments across the globe to provide startups with financial and political support, empowering them to thrive and build the economy of the future.

306, 2020

ESN members elect new President

ESN is excited to announce that Nicolas Brien, CEO at France Digitale, was elected as president of its board. He will succeed founder Karen Boers and lead the board in pursuit of ESN’s mission to create a common voice for European startups so that more can start, scale and succeed in the EU.

Read the press release!

1203, 2020

NotOptional Campaign

ESN  is supporting the NotOptional campaign (, whose aim is to ask for an improvement to the treatment of stock options, both at Member State and EU level , to enhance the ability of startups to attract talent.
Read the letter sent by a coalition of CEOs, founders and startup networks to the European Commission in response to the launch of the SME strategy!

1701, 2020

Annual Report on European SMEs 2018/2019

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ESN contributed to the Annual Report on European SMEs 2018/2019 with a dedicated section on startups, in the framework of the SME performance review.

The SME performance review is one of the main tools the European Commission uses to monitor and assess countries’ progress in implementing the Small Business Act (SBA) on a yearly basis. With an emphasis on the measures from the SBA action plan, the review brings comprehensive information on the performance of SMEs in EU countries and other partner countries.

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