“We need to support young people in being creative and brave”
What steps can Europe take to ensure that the next innovative tech giant is founded in the EU? Christian Deilmann, co-founder of the smart home startup tado° and speaker at the Digitising Europe summit, says it's all about the young people and less bureaucracy.
How can we create a vision for a digital economy and society that embraces European values and strengths?
Christian Deilmann: We should strengthen businesses which solve big problems. These should be in line with European values and ideally also with the goals of the European Union. Addressing big problems means that a big impact can be achieved, and large companies can evolve. It would be a huge win for the EU if one of the next €100 billion-plus companies comes from Europe. The big opportunity we are addressing at tado° is the heating and cooling of European homes. Seventy-nine percent of total final energy use in EU households stems from heating and hot water, and this can be made far more energy-efficient with intelligent technology such as smart thermostats. tado° is fully focused on this industry. Since our founding in Munich in 2011, we have grown to 180 employees and have received more than $100 million in investments.
How can we advance existing strategies and adopt innovative concepts that help bring this vision to life?
It starts with fantastic education and its accessibility. Furthermore, we need to support young people in being creative and brave. This means giving them the confidence to have a hugely positive attitude, to be persistent and to take responsibility. If young Europeans live these traits and we teach entrepreneurship in universities, then we will have a great foundation for new and strong companies to evolve.
People who launch promising companies should receive direct or indirect financial support. This really helps make founding a company a good alternative to a well-paid and comfortable job. Good founders will not use governmental support if it is too bureaucratic. So let’s build financial support instruments which are significant in size and easy to manage. Institutions such as the European Institute of Innovation & Technology, Climate-KIC and the European Investment Bank are great examples in this direction – and all of them have supported the growth of tado°.
How can we realise the potential of digital technologies for a competitive European economy and inclusive society?
Given recent political developments across Europe, it is important to use digital media technologies and social media to foster the understanding of “union” within Europe. Many people have forgotten how important the EU is for global peace. Young generations may have even lost sight of what it means to live in peace instead of at war. Without the European Union, our lives would become riskier and the regional economies across the European continent would suffer greatly. A strong and inclusive EU is vital to achieving a competitive economy that supports digital technologies and development.