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Europe’s brightest start-ups pitch and impress on Wall Street Journal’s Europe tour
By: Ruud de Jonge, Western Europe DPE Windows Phone lead
03 November 2011

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Wall Street Journal Tech Europe has become established as one of THE go-to places to find about the challenges and trends facing Europe’s ICT start-up community.  It’s also a great showcase for some of the brightest and best examples in the region.

So we were delighted to help WSJ’s European Technology Editor Ben Rooney meet some of the leading lights in BizSpark – Microsoft’s global programme to support start-ups - when he carried out his recent Tech Europe tour.  Covering 10 countries in 20 days, his travels started in Tel Aviv, went as far North as Moscow and as far East as Istanbul, before finishing in Dublin.

Various venues around Europe made themselves available to Ben, including Microsoft’s offices in Paris. This shows the world that while Europe faces some major economic challenges, there is a vibrant, energetic entrepreneurial community.  The key is how we work together to help these innovative start-ups succeed.  And that’s beginning to happen, despite so many variations across the region and many hurdles yet to cross.

Ben named Tel Aviv based BizSpark member Onavo as the Tech Europe Tech Tour winner, chosen out of all the dozens of entrepreneurs’ pitches he met.  Onavo helps smartphone users get the most out of their data plan, taking the worry out of using smartphones at home or abroad.  See Onavo’s 30 second pitch here.

In Germany, BizSpark members Protected Networks and Sones both made it to Ben’s list of top start-ups in Berlin and are great examples of how new technology is being used to address some very fundamental challenges faced by businesses.  Ben says of Sones’ Alexander Oelling: “It is databases like this that will be powering the Internet.”

Ben commented that Protected Networks is bringing structure and order to the security issue of who has access to what data and files within an enterprise: “It sounds like a ridiculous question, but in reality, companies don’t actually know.”

In Moscow, PiratePay and News360 were two BizSpark examples representing how this country is fast becoming one of the most innovative hubs in the region.  The company made it into Ben’s top five for the second half of his tour, citing Pirate Pay’s product as one that “Will have a potentially major impact on the recording industry.”

In Sweden, BizSpark Summit finalist BinaryBio was one of the six start-ups that presented to Ben.  BinaryBio is aiming build the world’s largest supercomputer-in-the-cloud and to reduce the need of expert-knowledge in High Performance Computing. The company is currently focussed on massive data-crunching for the bioinformatics market (pharmaceuticals, life sciences, biology and R&D.

As Ben says in one of his concluding blogs about the Tech Tour, “…The political capital being invested by Brussels and Neelie Kroes, commissioner for the Digital Agenda, and the realization that the absence of a single digital space in Europe is hampering the continent’s ability to compete, shows that the political classes have woken up to the problems in Europe.”


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