Recap: Tech platforms. The global opportunities and the obstacles for fast growing startups

On 17 November, the European Commission, within the framework of the Startup Europe Initiative, organised an insightful debate on the issue of online platforms and how they help or support startups’ businesses. 

The topics of debate focused on how businesses perceive access to marketplaces and platform services through APIs, competition with vertically integrated platforms and control/access to data.

The Apps Alliance’s EU Policy Director, Catriona Meehan, was invited to speak and later there was a panel discussion with Fabrizio Porrino (Founding Member of European Tech Alliance), Lenard Koschwitz (Director for European Affairs at Allied for Startups), Stephen Turner (EDiMA) and Andreas Backx (Co-Founder of Cloock and Lunchbreak).

Isidro Laso, Head of Sector, Startup Europe, DG Connect, opened the discussion by explaining the Startup Initiative and the aims of the Commission’s on-going consultation on online platforms. This initiative aims to define the concept of platforms, assess the adequacy of the current framework and the impact of platforms on jobs and growth. What is attracting the attention of the EU institutions are issues such as Data access, Transparency and Liability.

The discussion:  The participants discussed the opportunities platforms offer and the concerns that have recently arisen, but they all agreed that the economic and societal benefits of platforms are substantial, whether regarding access to information, education, entertainment, or security. Startups are benefitting from such an environment by creating new business models, competing equally and having the opportunity to scale. The EU acknowledges this huge potential and is working towards new open source technology platforms.

Our views: Platforms are vital for the success of any business, especially small digital companies in the App Ecosystem. Platforms allow an intensive exchange of value in a very short timeframe, with very limited costs and a low level of limitation or burdens. Companies can do business dynamically and at a large scale as platforms are global and easily accessible. Therefore, the creation of a favourable platform environment for app developers will boost the development of great apps, great services and encourage more innovation, in addition to helping companies to monetise thanks to quicker user acquisition and direct investment in advertising.

The platform debate and our contribution: The European Commission opened a public consultation on the role, characteristics and legal framework concerning online platforms and intermediaries. In order to enrich the debate, the Commission is meeting stakeholders and collecting their views, so as to establish as complete an information set as possible. We are committed to making the voices of developers heard by supporting an open platform environment and flexible rules that will embrace and boost innovation.