On December 17, 2015, the Global Innovation Forum, Bloomberg BNA and 1776 hosted a breakfast discussion for the startup, business and policy communities about the rise of engagement by startups and small businesses in the transatlantic marketplace and the policy frameworks that can enable their global journeys. Participants from eBay, Google, RideScout and others discussed the role public policy plays in enabling growth of the digital economy and the growing global market for even small-scale businesses.
See who spoke and connect over social media
Discussion: What are the opportunities and challenges facing startups in Europe and the U.S.?
Brian Bieron, Executive Director of the Public Policy Lab at eBay Inc.
Keynote Conversation with Ambassador David O’Sullivan @EUAmbUS
Interviewed by Thomas Miller, Diplomatic and Global Business Lead for Bloomberg BNA
What We Learned
Takeaways from the discussion.
You can’t discount the rest of the world
“With the status quo, if you’re a small enterprise, you’re locked into your little region. You’re locked into how many people walk by your shop. Because of platforms and the internet, you now have literally hundreds of millions of consumers in just Europe and the United States alone. So the question really is: how do you make sure that entrepreneurs can get access to the platforms that open up the global economy?” – Brian Bieron, Executive Director of the Public Policy Lab at eBay Inc.
Small businesses are navigating the same complex challenges as corporations with dramatically fewer resources
“Overlapping rules of origin are actually quite complicated for businesses. Larger businesses are better than small businesses at navigating their way through this rather complex web of agreements and different tariffs.” – The Honorable David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States
“The kinds of barriers that really matters to a small business in Europe, whether selling to the US or to Australia or to Morocco are those that related to the logistics of moving stuff.” – Brian Bieron, Executive Director of the Public Policy Lab at eBay Inc.
“Shipping and language are the two things that are from the perspective of small enterprises trading actually higher cost than the equivalents for the giant enterprises because they are able to fill a whole ship. If you’re a small business, you’re just sending a package. So the cost per unit when you’re shipping is much higher when you’re small.” – Brian Bieron, Executive Director of the Public Policy Lab at eBay Inc.
The EU’s Digital Single Market initiative has the potential to help companies scale globally
“We really support the move from 28 different rule books to one. It will allow EU startups to access half a billion consumers and help them scale, which is the advantage US startups have had. But within the DSM conversation, we are watching the platform regulation discussion closely.” – Michele Lynch, Public Policy & Government Affairs Manager, Diplomatic Relations, Google
Disruptive innovation can be extremely useful, but regulation and culture remain issues
“How much disruption do you allow at the same time you have in place regulations which impact on potential competitors? Uber is a fantastic example; I use Uber in DC all the time. I find it a good service by and large. But I recognize that in Europe, we have a heavily regulated taxi sector, you have to be registered, buy a license, have insurance, have your vehicle checked regularly, and your meter inspected. Then Uber arrives and frankly none of those rules apply so of course it is cheaper and it maybe a very good thing. But there’s a legitimate debate over whether this is a taxi service or a digital service. At the sharp end, it is a taxi service because you get into the car and it takes you from A to B and you are competing with a taxi driver who is subject to all this regulation. So, either there’s got to be some regulation, not of Uber as a digital space but about how you manage the transport end of it. These issues are going to surface in this context. These disrupting services which are very good will oppose challenges to our existing regulatory structure. So the question becomes, do we need to continue to regulate the taxi industry in the same way or in order to have more competition or do we have less?” – The Honorable David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States
“Culture is really important. Obviously you want to maintain industries that are successful, while at the same time encouraging risk and innovation. It is sometimes hard to balance those two when new innovation could take the place of some of the older industries.” – Michele Lynch, Public Policy & Government Affairs Manager, Diplomatic Relations, Google
Public policies will play a major role in enabling or hindering access to the global digital economy
“Right now, there’s so much happening with the DSM and TTIP, that it’s very exciting and full of opportunity but this is also a period of uncertainty. The regulations will ultimately impact how many compliance lawyers startups are going to have to hire and they may even have to reconfigure some of their engineering to meet some of the new regulations.” – Michele Lynch, Public Policy & Government Affairs Manager, Diplomatic Relations, Google
“The app economy employs 1 million and is worth 20 billion Euros in revenue. The question is: do we need more regulation on privacy and consumer protection if they’re already working well?” – Michele Lynch, Public Policy & Government Affairs Manager, Diplomatic Relations, Google
Privacy concerns can affect bottom lines globally
“There’s a growing awareness of the privacy issues that the digital space creates and how much is out there about all of us. How available it is, how well protected it is. Companies who are active in this space actually are promoting privacy and the quality of their privacy rules as a sort of marketing exercise.” – The Honorable David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States
“It’s not just privacy regulations, but the culture that enabled those regulations to get enough political capital to come into being. The reactions that we see from markets in the United States versus what we’re piloting right now in places like New Zealand reveal that people have very different views of privacy. It is going to turn out to be one of the bigger barriers to entry into international markets both from the United States outwards as well as from the international community inwards.” – John Gossart, Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of GoodWorld and an original partner at RideScout
“One big challenge we’ve heard from a lot of companies that we’ve been talking to is privacy. We have a lot of healthcare startups, for example, and they’re not necessarily building products to ship but they’re trying to integrate with hospitals and with stuff like patient data, there are wholly different rules for that in the EU vs the US.” – Brandon Pollak, Director of Global Affairs at 1776