Tag Archives: European Commission

Coding for democracy in Europe

It was an audacious task - write software that would increase democratic participation in Europe. At a time when polls show increasing public disenchantment with traditional European Union institutions, the latest and 4th edition of the EUhackathon focused on getting European citizens more involved in the EU policymaking progress.

A total of 41 coders from all over Europe participated this week in Brussels. In addition to Google, Facebook, ICANN and Netflix sponsored the event.

Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, and Alexander De Croo, Belgian Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for the Digital Agenda, visited the coders at the Google Brussels office. Google Vice President and Internet evangelist (and “father” of the Internet) Vint Cerf, offered additional encouragement.

Belgian Minister Alexander De Croo and European Commissioner Andrus Ansip
Vint Cerf with Commissioner Ansip
After 30 hours of intense coding with only a single four-hour break, the jury heard presentations of the projects. The prize giving ceremony took place at the European Parliament – MEPs Julia Reda, Andrey Novakov, Brando Benifei, Eva Paunova and Marietje Schaake announced the winners:
  • First Prize: Team Videodock (the Netherlands), created a cool search for finding videos of parliamentary debates.
  • Second Prize: Team Commission Today (Romania/Germany/USA), created a transparency register of the meetings of the EU Commission.
  • Third Prize: Team Frontwise (the Netherlands),developed a tool to make easier to access to EU public consultations.
The winning Dutch team receives their prize

Calling women coders – apply for the Ada Awards

Fewer than one in ten computer science graduates in Europe are female. In order to improve on this dismal rate, we are sponsoring the 2014 European Ada Awards.

The Awards, affectionately known as the “Adas,” are named in honor of Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century English mathematician, considered by many to be the world’s first computer programmer and the first to envisage computing’s true potential.

It’s the second edition of the awards. The European Commission launched the Ada Awards in June, 2013 as part of its pledge to improve Digital Skills and Jobs in Europe. Three awards are given out - the Digital Girl of the Year, the Digital Woman of the Year , and the Digital Impact Organisation of the Year. Nominations are valid from across the European Union and reflect a broad spectrum of digital fields – academia, research, industry, enterprise and creative.

“Tomorrow's world will be driven by digital technology, and having digital skills will
open a goldmine of opportunities. I want women to be in the goldmine,” Neelie Kroes European Commission Vice President responsible for the Digital Agenda, said at last year’s award ceremonies.

Please note the award agenda:

Deadline for Nominations: September 16, 2014
Finalist Announcement: October 6, 2014
Rome Award Ceremony: October 30, 2014

Additional information and nomination forms are available at AdaAwards.com.

Helping Europe’s youth find work

All across Europe, far too many young people struggle to find a job and starting their careers. That is why we are joining a coalition of businesses and governments called the Alliance for Youth, which will support European youth to gain new skills and work experience.

At an event today in Lisbon attended by European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso and Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho, we committed to a range of initiatives to increase access to digital skills training and education in science, technology, engineering and maths. We're also extending our support for entrepreneurs in Europe.

At Google, we’ve taken on nearly 3500 new employees in Europe over the last three years - net growth of 60% since 2011. Of those 3500, nearly 650 are newly-minted graduates of European universities. They work in a wide range of technical and non-technical roles based in our offices across Europe. More jobs are available. We still have entry level positions open in engineering, advertising support, and product management.

Another priority is helping university students develop professional skills via internships. This summer alone, we’ll play host to more than 600 technical and non-technical interns in Europe. We have strong partnerships with universities and organizations.

Across Europe, we are working with partners to help meet some of the specific challenges facing young people. In Spain, where youth unemployment has reached an alarming 57%, we launched Activate, a platform to train the young generation in digital skills. Through a suite of offline and massive open online courses (MOOCs) on digital marketing, data analytics, cloud computing, e-commerce, we hope to reach more than 100,000 Europeans by early next year.

Our RISE (Roots in Science & Engineering) and CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) programs target younger high students. These programs nurture coding skills, use robotics to teach engineering and maths and help teachers with STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education tools. Through our partnerships with education organizations, we’ll reach 500,000 students and teachers in 20 European countries, up from 100,000 in 2013.

Finally, Google continues to supports entrepreneurship in Europe. We plan to reach thousands of entrepreneurs through Google for Entrepreneurs, including Startup Weekend, Startup Grind or publicly available online learning resources tailored to early-stage entrepreneurs. We also support a growing number of startup hubs and co-working spaces: in London (Campus London), Berlin (The Factory) and Paris (Numa), and a recently announced Campus in Warsaw.

We're delighted to contribute to the new Alliance for Youth. All of us need to support young Europeans to develop the skills and experience allowing them to find meaningful careers in the 21st century economy.

Driving Europe’s digital road to economic growth

For the past few years, Europe’s financial crisis has dominated economic debate. The Lisbon Council attempted this week to shift the discussion at its Europe 2020 summit to what policies are needed to move beyond the immediate crisis and build the foundation for future prosperity.

Google supports this agenda. We have worked with the Lisbon Council to launch its Innovation Economics Centre of excellence committed to shedding light on and providing scientific evidence of the profound impact of the Internet and digital technologies. At the Europe 2020 summit, our European policy head Nicklas Lundblad explained how the Internet represents a core component of any European growth strategy.

Top European officials participated, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Commissioner Neelie Kroes. European startups and innovators including Simon Schaefer, founder and CEO of Germany’s leading startup lab Factory, angel investor Sherry Coutu, and Spotify's Head of Product, Tech, IP and Policy Mark Silverstein urged them to end the continent’s present fragmented regulatory regimes, that forces companies must obtain separate permission to access each of the European Union’s 28 national markets.

At the summit, a new Digital Single Market study “Productivity and Digitalisation in Europe: Paving the Road to Faster Growth” was released. Written by Bart van Ark, chief economist of the research association called The Conference Board, it argues that Europe’s productivity, which is key to growth,is falling far behind America because it lags in intangible investments (see chart below) and adoption of digital technology across all sectors of the economy. As van Ark stressed “ the potential of digitisation to accelerate growth will come primarily from the use of these technologies by industries in non-ICT sector.” This should be a vision for the next European Commission.

In the addition, Dirk Pilat of the OECD, presented new evidence on contribution of young companies to the economy. 42% of new jobs come from startups and high-growth firms, which shows that policymakers in Europe should focus on enabling entrepreneurship and experimentation, rather than focusing only on SMEs and incumbents.

The event underlined how Europe enjoys a giant opportunity for the Internet to support economic growth and employment in Europe - as well as the risks of Europe being left behind related to lack of the digital single market and global scale, digital skills gap, excessive regulation or risks of emerging digital protectionism in Europe.

Google is committed to doing its part. We’re supporting a range of initiatives that help Europeans -- entrepreneurs, startups, and youth -- tap the potential of the net to start a business, reach global markets, and learn new skills and become employable. In Germany, we’re helping the country’s famed exporters find new customers, grow their businesses and maximize their online presence through a suite of digital tools. In Italy, we’re bring Italy’s famous artisan producers online. In Spain, we’re working with partners to create a 21st century workforce by helping people of all ages acquire new digital skills including coding and computer science. All the efforts are meant to send a single important message: in order to prosper, Europe needs to embrace the internet.

Participating in Safer Internet Day

In time for Safer Internet Day this week, we revamped our Family Safety Centre. The new version aims to be a one-stop shop that provides step-by-step instructions for using safety tools built into Google products. We attempt to answer questions about specific topics that are most concerning to parents, such as accessing inappropriate content and meeting strangers online.

Throughout Europe, we promoted Safer Internet Day on Google home pages and our teams got into action. In Spain, for example, we participated in a presentation with local partner Protegeles bringing together kids, parents and teachers. In Israel, the Children’s Rights Committee at the Parliament met with our Web-Rangers, to discuss how teenagers can promote online safety.

Here in Brussels, we hosted for lunch in our office with the winners of the European Award for Best Content for Kids, a European wide contest highlighting content allowing young people online opportunities to learn, play, discover and invent. Winning entries such as the from the UK (see below) touch important topics like the issue of cyberbullying.

European Commissioner Neelie Kroes received the winners later in the day at the Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters and posted its “Let’s Create a Better Internet Together” video on YouTube.

The Internet and social platforms offer tremendous opportunities for youth: self-expression, civil engagement, and collaboration with communities. At the same time, like any tool, the web can be abused. We are proud to build powerful safety tools into our products, ranging from SafeSearch to Safety Mode. In the end, its up to all of us to stand up for for a safe and secure internet, not just on the annual Safer Internet day - but every day!