SAP CEO Bill McDermott represented SAP at meeting of Europe’s top industrial leaders to push for the digitalization of the European economy.
They’re some of the household brands known the world around: Nestlé, Vodafone, Siemens, Ericsson, and of course SAP. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, met 20 CEOs representing “who’s who” of European industry on Monday, June 1, in Berlin.
Among the leaders was SAP CEO Bill McDermott, who spoke passionately about the importance of foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Europe. McDermott attended the evening event as part of a regular meeting of the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) with top political figures. The meeting focused on how digitization can increase growth, strengthen Europe’s competitiveness and generate jobs – especially for youth. Fostering the creation and growth of startup companies and small businesses is viewed as a way to counter the current high youth unemployment in many of European’s largest economies.
According to Andreas Tegge, head of Government Relations at SAP, “This is the first time that CEOs across industries met with political leaders to discuss and agree on a common agenda for the digitization of the European economy.”
McDermott is a credible and outspoken voice behind stronger private and state support for entrepreneurship in Europe, and has spoken privately with Chancellor Merkel and Francois Hollande on the topic.
Some EC Member States, especially France and Germany, as well as the European Commission, provide public funding and have launched policy programs dedicated to start-ups. Thanks to these efforts, promising start-up ecosystems have begun to form in Europe, especially in large cities like Berlin, Paris or London. But these emerging ecosystems aren’t on the scale of Silicon Valley.
SAP’s CEO argued that Europe will only establish a global leadership role in the Digital Economy if it manages to create a skilled digital workforce and a lively ecosystem for digital entrepreneurs.
But since most entrepreneurs come out of the U.S. and China, what can be done to help Europe promote the modern entrepreneurship model there as well? This is the challenge for ERT members, with questions like how to create funding mechanisms to help startups, how to reduce perceived risk, and what infrastructure is required.
As an example of what SAP is doing, McDermott mentioned the SAP HANA Startup Focus Program which currently has over 1600 new companies building new business on SAP technology.
At the event in Berlin it was agreed that the ERT and EU policy-makers will join forces to address bottlenecks for start-ups and to create a lively digital ecosystem in Europe. SAP is committed to take a leading role in this effort.
The European Round Table of Industrialists is a forum of 53 leaders of major companies of European parentage and was created in 1983. These companies are drawn from a wide range of industry sectors and 18 European countries, and have a combined turnover exceeding €1.3 trillion, sustaining around 6.8 million jobs in the region. They invest more than €51 billion annually in R&D, largely in Europe; which is equivalent to 18% of total EU R&D expenditure.