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Supporting young entrepreneurs in their start-up ventures

Nicholas Zylberglajt
31.03.2014 - 15:30
Nikos Volakis

How are start-ups affected by the decisions we take at the European level? And how can we facilitate their task with our Internet-related legislation? We believe that the Internet must be transparent and safe, that it needs to remain open and competitive and, last but not least, that the Internet should be fair and inclusive. 

Nikos Volakis is a Greek entrepreneur in the field of mobile applications. When he quit his job at a bank to go on the start-up adventure, he really had no idea of the challenges he was about to face and how difficult it was to launch a digital product in 28 different markets.

Now, two years later, he tells his story, describes the obstacles he had to overcome and shares his expectations.

Harmonising 28 data protection regimes

“I launched my own start-up, Syna Source, two years ago and we started developing a mobile app called ‘Get the Bet’, aimed at predicting the outcomes of sports games. During the development and marketing of my app, I had to face the reality of EU legislation.”

During the development and marketing of my app, I had to face the reality of EU legislation Nikos Volakis

We believe that the ongoing negotiations on EU Data Protection legislation will improve the life of companies by simplifying the rules.

In the near future, there will be only one regime all across Europe. Your digital data doesn’t know borders.

As Nikos says, having to adapt to 28 data protection regimes is a time-consuming obstacle: “When trying to launch my app on a European scale, we had to confront all these different digital markets and their different rules. Once again it took a lot of time, money and energy to go through all the administrative procedures. It took us more than a year to launch the app in several European countries.”

It took us more than a year to launch the app in several European countries

In the near future, there will be only one regime all across Europe. Your digital data doesn’t know borders.

Clearer rules to ensure trust between users and companies

EU Data Protection rules also helped Nikos in ensuring trust between his app and the user. We believe that the effective protection of user’s data is needed to allow successful economic activity on the Internet, as in Nikos' case.

The regulations made everything clearer and, by signing the terms of agreement forms, users know what information the company has access to

“Usually, people are reluctant to log in to an app or a website using personal data. The regulations have made everything clearer and, by signing the terms of agreement forms, they know what information the company has access to. It has really improved the relationship between digital service providers and users.”

Protecting your Intellectual Property Rights in all Member States

An open Internet has concrete consequences. It clearly lowers barriers to entering the market and provides fertile ground for competitiveness and innovation. Updating IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) infrastructure is fundamental, as Intellectual Property Rights are one of the pillars of the economic use of the Internet and a prerequisite to a digital economy in the EU.

Obtaining a trademark on a design is easy, but for an algorithm, it is way more difficult. It is very hard to prevent somebody from using the same code and developing a similar app

“A significant obstacle, of course, was to obtain the proper funding for the project. I was expecting that. What I did not expect was the difficulty of patenting my algorithms; you see, obtaining a trademark on a design is easy, but for an algorithm, it is way more difficult. It is very hard to prevent somebody from using the same code and developing a similar app.”

I had to go through the patenting procedure at the European level and then in every EU state I wanted to launch the app in, which resulted in a very heavy bureaucratic burden. I really expect the intellectual property rules to become simpler over time

“I also discovered that if I wanted to protect my app from being copied in all the countries I wanted to launch, I had to go through the patenting procedure at the European level and then in every EU state I wanted to launch the app in, which resulted in a very heavy bureaucratic burden. I really expect the intellectual property rules to become simpler over time.”  

Open Internet access for everyone

We want to protect the user's freedom to access and distribute content, to promote competition (including the delivery of content) and to promote innovation, media pluralism and cultural diversity in Europe. Businesses like Nikos’ start-up depend on Internet connectivity and on the capacity of users to access fast and cheap Internet services.

Businesses like Nikos’ start-up depend on Internet connectivity and on the capacity of users to access fast and cheap Internet services

That is why we want a joint EU strategy on mobile communications. We want to make the management of our spectrum capacity more efficient as the use of tablets and smartphones are squeezing existing broadband frequencies. The (open) question is how much bandwidth can be put at the disposal of the mobile Internet?

Our approach to an open, fair and transparent Internet for all

A new and detailed EU Internet strategy for the time after the upcoming European elections in 2014 is needed. Otherwise the EU will miss essential steps towards economic growth in the digital era. Our approach will be based on guaranteeing freedom of expression, a free flow of information, access for everyone and, last but not least, taking care of individual rights and business.

To promote young Internet entrepreneurs like Nikos and help them grow their business, the EPP Group especially demands:

  • EU data protection rules that enable business and protect the individual
  • an updated Intellectual Property Rights infrastructure
  • no abuse of IPR enforcement, but infringements on a commercial scale must be tackled
  • an Open Internet that offers open access for everybody
  • that Mobile broadband needs are addressed by optimising the use of spectrum.

Read more on our Group’s proposals for the upcoming legislature to enable European citizens to fully benefit from the digital era.

We believe in people. #believeinpeople

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