February 28, 2013
It’s not often that you see a European Commissioner, or any other senior political leader, take off their jacket in favour of a t-shirt at a public event. But then again, Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes isn’t ‘any’ politician. For that reason the CCIA, together with Betagroup was delighted to host her on Friday 22nd February for our event ‘Starting Up the Recovery: Internet + Jobs + Growth’.
This experiment, the mixing of the policy and Internet startup worlds (think: different dress sense, different sense of urgency, different types of offices, in fact, different everything) was designed to ensure that policymakers hear about the needs of small Internet businesses, not just big ones.
Commissioner Kroes, ‘Mother of the rebels with a cause’, pulled on her ‘Startup Tour 2013’ t-shirt to publicise her activities on web entrepreneurship this year. Her commitment is welcome. Cheerleading is important to show political commitment to disruptive industries. After all, as panellist Bart Becks noted ‘it takes a long time to be an overnight success’.
To work, this needs to be backed up by the right rules and avoiding the temptation to protect disrupted industries. As an investor in innovative online service companies Brad Burnham pleaded that a powerful incumbent industry lobby should not be allowed to stifle disruptive innovation; we can only guess at what might be behind Neelie Kroes’ wry smile at this comment…and hope that she agrees with Brad that innovation on the net demands an open internet.
Were the startup companies present convinced that the political class ‘gets’ them and appreciates innovation and not just R&D? Was Neelie Kroes convinced by the entrepreneurs she met? Who knows. Our job at the CCIA is to bring the 2 worlds together so that the Internet can flourish and to lobby for the future.