In order to allow European startups to scale globally, it is our firm belief that we need to form one single European startup ecosystem. By uniting all national startup associations, leveraging their best practices and interconnecting their networks, we wish to open up access to the talent, expertise, funding and customers for all European startups.

Value Proposition:

Access to 24 national startup ecosystems, stakeholders, and sector specific experts

Access to 25k validated startups all over Europe with potential preselection

Only bottom up authentic national startup associations in the European Startup Network

The main goal of the European Startup Network is to
harmonise and empower the European startup
ecosystems with respect to:

  • Entrepreneurial culture: education, promotion, acceptance of failure
  • Market access: capital, digitalisation, labor, services, goods
  • The legal environment: bureaucracy, corporate law, data protection, tax

To achieve this, the ESN is developing a joint Action Plan, collaborating with all relevant local communities, pan-European networks, as well as European Commission departments and officials to:

1. Improve national & European policy making

  • Collect and open data science,
    allowing more consistent and continuous research
  • Best practice exchange
  • Establish benchmarking standards

2. Facilitate International go-to-market

  • Create joint EU go-to-market actions
  • Provide guidelines, testimonials, repositories and directories
    for startups in the scaleup stage
  • Develop soft landing programs to support the internationalisation of startups

3. Build & Strengthen Startup Ecosystems

  • Research sustainable business models for startup associations
    and startup supporting actors
  • Interconnect relevant stakeholders across national ecosystems

Startup Definition – A startup is an independent, organisation, which is younger than five years and is aimed at creating, improving and expanding a scalable, innovative, technology-enabled product with high and rapid growth. This definition is dissected into the following aspects: 

1. Age, Independence, and Scalability  

  • Age: A startup is younger than five years and develops into a small medium size company before becoming a cooperation
  • Independent: Startups are businesses set up, and at one point, owned and run by the founders
  • Scalable: A scalable product or service has a small cost associated to growth compared to the potential revenue gain

2. Organisation & Innovation 

  • Organisation: At an early stage, a startup can be a legal entity or not, depending on different circumstances.
  • Innovative: Startups use opportunities such as new technologies to find new and often more efficient solutions to problems and create new products that better satisfy needs of both individuals and corporates

3. Technology-based & High growth potential 

  • Tech-based: Most startups are based on information technologies – utilising software and/or hardware.
  • High growth potential: To achieve scale, startups must be able to operate in a good potential market. This market must be big enough and/or growing fast enough to provide ongoing demand for a startup’s product.

As members of the European Startup Network, we kindly invite national startup organisations fulfilling the following criteria: 


  • Membership of a representative number of startups
  • Representation backed by startups/entrepreneurs
  • Involvement in a regional/national startup manifesto with respective traction (that was created by the national startups/entrepreneurs)


  • Transparency of sources and spending of income
  • Having more than one financial supporter
  • Democratic structures (e.g. being membership based)


  • The board decides democratically based on the criteria set above
  • Membership might be in a pending state if the applicants have shown commitment on fulfilling the set criteria via application
  • ESN will invite successful applicants for an in-person/online meeting and after a thorough discussion, those showing full commitment will be accepted as full or supporting members