A growth engine for European Business

"In Sweden, it's important to wear nice socks," Marc Verschueren explained in Brussels last week, "because when you visit someone's house, you take your shoes off." That single cultural insight spawned a business that has made colourful socks cool in over 35 countries around the world. Marc shared how their success was made possible because of the Internet and Google products like AdWords at an event we hosted to highlight how Google is a growth engine for European businesses.

And there were many other great stories shared that morning. Tricia Cusden travelled over from the UK where her company Look Fabulous Forever is based. She explained how she managed to turn makeup for older women into a YouTube hit, reaching close to 600,000 views for her video tutorials. “We created this very successful business in one year and that is enormously exciting,” said Tricia who is now very happy to be a 67 year old grandmother with a fabulous career ahead of her.

Matt Brittin, who heads up Google’s Business and Operations across EMEA, encouraged Europe to embrace technology as an engine for growth. “Today, every business should be a digital business because every customer is a digital customer,” he said. He emphasized the huge growth opportunity for Europe if we can complete the Digital Single Market and unlock the potential of 500 million consumers.

The event marked the launch of something we are all very excited about at Google. We are giving over a thousand successful European businesses a voice so that they can take the lead and inspire entrepreneurs all over Europe to take steps to grow their business online. Check out their stories here.

We also announced our commitment to support the growth of the Digital Single Market by helping 1 million Europeans acquire essential digital skills by 2016. To deliver on our promise, we are committing over €25 million to build a Europe-wide training hub and expand existing initiatives like Activate in Spain, Weltweit Wachsen in Germany and the Made in Italy programme.

It is only by plugging the digital skills gap in Europe that we will be able to help millions of citizens become entrepreneurs and millions of small businesses reach their full potential. This is a message that resonated with policy makers during the event as Kristian Hedberg, Deputy Head of Commissioner Bieńkowska’s Cabinet, framed the issues when he said, “What keeps Europe back is fragmentation”. And we couldn't agree more with Eva Paunova, Member of the European Parliament, who rightly said that training young people in these key skills will go a long way in strengthening youth employment.

We are optimistic of the opportunities for growth in Europe and of the vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems that are supported by the Internet. Our commitment to train 1 million Europeans in digital skills is just one more way we can help support more businesses to use the web. As Matt said at the event, “it is entrepreneurs and startups that are the key to Europe’s growth.”

Posted by: Sylwia Giepmans-Stepien from the Google Public Policy team