Minister Sinkevičius in the EU’s informal Competitiveness Council: old rules no longer fit for the world of start-ups

Date

2019 05 07

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‘New business models and technologies require to promote investment to innovation and skill and to create modern legal basis. Old rules are no longer relevant, especially when it comes to the introduction of promising new digital business models, the start-up ecosystem and rapidly evolving technologies,’ said Minister of the Economy and Innovation Sinkevičius at the informal EU Competitiveness Council.

The informal EU Competitiveness Council took place on 2–3 May in Bucharest and discussed issues related to the promotion of entrepreneurship, expansion of the start-up ecosystem and strengthening of the single market. The EU’s single market with its 500 million consumers offers enormous opportunities for the EU Member States; yet, it is increasingly difficult to maintain Europe’s competitiveness against large players, like China or the United States. Minister Sinkevičius said that Europe needs a forward-looking industrial, innovation and single market policy to allow businesses in the EU to remain competitive around the world.

‘In this context, the link between national and EU policy for small and medium-sized enterprises becomes very important because the legal framework must ensure a level playing field for all businesses, so that they can all feel safe. And, despite the fact that generally start-ups are agreed as important for the development of innovation, no clear definition of start-ups exists as yet at EU and some national levels today. This gives rise to practical problems in using funds and granting tax advantages to such companies. In order to strengthen the start-up ecosystem as one of the priority economic pillars of the economy the Lithuanian Government has already agreed on the definition of start-ups. This will allow for further improvement of the business environment for such companies’, says Sinkevičius.

In Lithuania, much focus is placed on strengthening the start-up ecosystem; the start-ups receive financial support and various measures are put in place to facilitate the establishment of foreign start-up companies in Lithuania. For example, a StartUp Visa  programme is already operating in Lithuania, allowing foreigners to complete all procedures in the Migration Department much faster and easier. The Startup Employee Visa issue procedure was introduced this week to promote the attraction, maintaining and integration of foreign talents in Lithuania allowing to service as a matter of priority highly skilled professionals which are needed for  start-ups. It is planned to introduce a fast track start-up visa issue for start-ups selected to the Lithuanian accelerator during this year.

Currently, the database of Enterprise Lithuania contains 570 start-ups, with an increase in the number by 58 % in recent years. Last year, the Lithuanian start-up community achieved record results, attracting EUR 183 million of investment from foreign and Lithuanian investment funds. The Ministry of the Economy and Innovation has set a target to increase the number of start-ups to 1000 before 2020.