June 15, 2021

Tax credits and 20 other ideas to spawn tech giants in Europe

As part of Scale-Up Europe, 170+ entrepreneurs, investors and innovators in Europe have drafted a 21-step plan, with the goal of spawning 10 tech giants each worth €100bn+ within the decade.

Scale-Up Europe

Sifted has played an active role in the Scale-Up Europe initiative and produced a report detailing a community-led action plan for the region. Read our Scale-Up Europe coverage.

Politicians across Europe often get asked: how is the continent ever going to build the next generation of global tech giants? 

Now, entrepreneurs and investors have come up with a 21-step plan they think will help — and they’d like politicians to implement it.


Tech leaders have grabbed the attention of at least one European leader: French President Emmanuel Macron, who called for a collective effort at the end of last year in a video interview with Atomico’s Niklas Zennström, gathered entrepreneurs and investors Tuesday in Paris to discuss.

Handing out tax credits to corporates for investing in startups, rating tech companies based on talent diversity, and tweaking regulation to adapt to breakthrough innovations, are three items of a 21-step plan drafted by a European community of more than 170 founders and VCs, as well as researchers, corporate CEOs and policymakers.

Assembled in recent months under the Scale-Up Europe banner, the community has brainstormed ideas around the goal of accelerating the rise of global tech leaders born in Europe. In a manifesto published Tuesday, they set an ambition for the continent to become home to 10 technology companies each valued at more than €100bn by 2030.

“The Scale-Up Europe community has come together to facilitate mutual understanding, urge action and guide it,” they wrote in the manifesto. The document is part of a broader plan, which includes 21 recommendations aimed at leaders of state and devised to help scale European tech companies by leveraging four key levers: investments, talent, deeptech and startup-corporate collaboration.

Sifted is one of Scale-Up Europe’s founding members, and played an active role in recent months in framing the debates and steering deliberations towards the areas where Europe faces its most acute challenges. Sifted’s mission has always focused on delivering in-depth reporting on startup Europe for startup Europe, and part of that means making sure the questions that should be asked about innovation in the region get answers.

Here’s the list of recommendations, aimed at politicians across Europe as well as members of the ecosystem. For the full report produced by Sifted, including detail on each recommendation, read here.

21 recommendations for scaling European tech


For public authorities:

  • Leverage the multiplier effect of public funding at EU level
  • Create a favourable ecosystem for the listing of tech companies on European stock markets
  • Boost private financing toward the high-performing VC asset class
  • Develop secondary markets in growth assets

For the ecosystem:

  • Develop visibility and information on the performance of European VCs

For public authorities:

  • Create a tech worker status for European talent, with a standardised contract and the portability of social rights across the continent
  • Create a fast-track European tech visa for non-Europeans and a favourable expat tax regime
  • Establish competitive stock option schemes in European countries and then align best practices Europe-wide

For the ecosystem:

  1. Develop a European diversity rating based on tech companies' reportng
  2. Develop an international culture early on in startup development with English as the working language
  3. Help foreign employees settle in, for example with aid schemes for opening bank accounts and finding housing

For public authorities:

  1. Create standardised patent transfer framework to accelerate technology transfers out of universities, and between startups and big companies
  1. Boost the role and visibility of the European Innovation Council (EIC) by promoting a long-term deeptech roadmap complete with public procurement schemes, and adapted funding and administrative support
  2. Modernise regulations to take into account breakthrough innovations
  3. Promote a specific action plan for European public banks, the EIC and European Investment Fund (EIF) to help funds adapt to deeptech requirements

For the ecosystem:

  1. Foster entrepreneurship within universities by: (i) adapting curricula, (ii) encouraging connections between disciplines, (iii) integrating entrepreneurs/VCs in university bodies

For public authorities:

  1. Establish a tax credit for European corporates investing in European startups
  2. Adopt a Small Business Act for business administrations that will benefit startups

For the ecosystem:

  1. Elaborate a charter of reporting and best practices on collaboration (open innovation, procurement) and takeovers
  2. Develop an Erasmus inspired exchange programme for tech allowing employees to move seamlessly between startups and bigger companies
  1. Launch a European tech mission committed to strengthening the European startup community and furthering the Scale-Up Europe roadmap