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Startup culture among tertiary students

The EU has, for the first time, launched an initiative to provide funding directly to startups and SMEs, called the Horizon 2020 dedicated SME instrument.

Can the Commission provide information on the initiatives being taken by the EU to encourage the development of a startup culture, particularly among tertiary students?

Answer given by Ms Bieńkowska on behalf of the Commission

The new instrument in Horizon 2020 for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) supports innovative business idea by SMEs ambitious to grow. However it requires a company to apply and therefore its potential to support tertiary students or very young start-ups is limited.

Creating a start-up culture among students and young people requires a shift in mindsets and attitudes, and the acquisition of relevant skills. The Commission has the goal to accelerate the introduction of entrepreneurship education in schools and universities, by working in cooperation with national authorities and relevant stakeholders. The Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan has entrepreneurship education and training as its first pillar.

Some EU projects contribute to training teachers, so that they can use the best methods to inspire entrepreneurial behaviours. Also, this year a pilot project for a European Network for Entrepreneurial learning will be launched to support policy development and a better coordination of existing initiatives.

The Commission is developing guidelines to support schools and universities concretely. An on-line self-assessment tool for universities that aim to develop their innovative capabilities and become 'entrepreneurial universities' is already available (

On the ground, the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT)through its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) is already giving science students exposure to entrepreneurship education, and supporting the creation of innovative start-ups.