Here are the European “Bridges” to Silicon Valley: a new MTB Report

There are 26 of them, from 18 different countries, and they cover almost all of Europe. They are the “European Bridge Organizations”, supporting European startups landing in Silicon Valley and promoting entrepreneurship in their country of origin by bridging to the Bay Area. A full analysis of their distribution, mission, activity and coverage has been presented last night by Mind the Bridge in San Francisco in the presence of European Commission VP Andrus Ansip during a closed-door invitation-only event.


The new Report, titled “Europe Bridge Organizations in Silicon Valley – The Who’s Who” follows the last one on Corporate Innovation Outposts in Silicon Valley, launched in September 2017.


“European entrepreneurs have a significant presence in Silicon Valley, and the general value of European startups is gaining more and more visibility in the Bay Area. As the European community here has grown stronger, organizations have formed with the specific focus to assist European startups looking to engage with Silicon Valley – Marco Marinucci, CEO and founder of Mind the Bridge, commented – Whether this means immersion programs and market validation, or coworking spaces and business development mentoring, bridge organizations provide enormous value not only to the startups they help, but to the overall effort to bring the European innovation ecosystem up to the level of the United States”.


The new Report indeed focuses on those European “Bridge Organizations” that are playing a key role of supporting, mentoring and networking for the startups: 16 out of 26 are based in San Francisco, while 10 are down in the valley: 2 in Redwood City, 6 in Palo Alto, 1 in Stanford and 1 in Los Gatos. 15 of them have been founded after 2010, and, of those, 10 in 2013 or later showing that the time is now for Bridge Orgs.


There are varying focuses of the Bridge Orgs surveyed; 2 have a pan-European focus (EIT and Mind the Bridge) and 2 address a sovra-national region (Silicon Vikings and Nordic Innovation House); 2 focus on single national “region” (the German region of Bavaria and Italian region of Emilia Romagna). But the majority (20, over 75% of the total) represent just one particular country, confirming that single country organizations are the current trend in Silicon Valley.

     EU Bridge Orgs: where in SV


Many of the organizations listed here are funded by governments, and with this brings a singular focus. An interesting exception to this is Nordic Innovation House, which is a project funded by five different governments, working on behalf of the entire Nordic region.


“The presence of publicly funded organizations is not a surprise, and our research shows that 20 of the 26 organizations surveyed, around three quarters of the total, are joint projects that include participation from government bodies – commented Alberto Onetti, chairman Mind the Bride and Coordinator SEP – This is the most dominant trait of Bridge Organizations that, except a few exceptions, rely on public support at least to get started. Only 6 of such organizations are fully private (self funded), 12 are fully government supported while the rest (8) are covering their costs with a mix of private and public funding and sales of services”.


The notable leaders among the “scaleup ecosystems”* in Europe are all present (Germany and France, in primis, with both government backed and private organizations) with the only absence being the UK, though there is an office of the UK Trade and Investment Agency in the Bay Area. A likely explanation for this is that the relationship between Silicon Valley and the UK is so dense and well established, and the barriers to entry between the two are so low that a specific landing platform is less needed.


  • The German ecosystem [2nd “scaleup ecosystem” in EU with 442 scaleups that raised $10.1B]*  shows the Bavarian Offices for Economic Development, the German Accelerator and the German Silicon Valley Innovators as Bridge Orgs.
  • The French ecosystem [the 3rd “scaleup ecosystem” in EU with 513 scaleups that raised $6.6B]* is represented by the Parisoma, the French Tech Hub and the Prime Paris Region as Bridge Organizations
  • The Nordic region as a whole also performs well in Europe in terms of scaleup ecosystems. It does the same in terms of a strong presence in Valley as well: the Nordic Innovation House in Palo Alto is host to the innovation organizations of four governments from the region, with only Innovation Denmark having an office outside of the downtown Palo Alto location. On the top of that, there is the more informal Silicon Vikings network (that embraces also the Baltic countries). Additionally, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) have their own representation: Innovation Centre Denmark, Business Finland, Innovation Center Island, Innovation Norway, Vinnova. There are also honorary consuls for the Nordic countries who support as best they can the efforts of these organizations.
  • The Spanish ecosystem [5th “scaleup ecosystem” in EU with 207 scaleups that raised $2.8B]*  has Tech Center as a Bridge Organization.
  • The Italian ecosystem [11th “scaleup ecosystem” in EU with 135 scaleups that raised $0.9B]* doesn’t yet have an official presence (beyond the support provided by Mind the Bridge, a private organization that, despite his Italian origin, has a broader continental approach). However, an Italian Innovation Center powered by national investment bank (Cassa Depositi e Prestiti) is potentially in the works for the end of 2018.
  • Eastern Europe is the least present, with only two bridge organizations listed, although there is one effort ongoing, V4, involving the four countries of the Visegrad region: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
  • Austria and Denmark show a best practice: in 2017 they turned their innovation outposts into a full fledged consular representation of their respective countries.


What do Bridge Orgs do?

75% of surveyed organizations manage missions to Silicon Valley for Europe-based startups or corporates/investors. Other services deal with counseling, assistance in raising capital, finding coworking space, networking on behalf of the startups.


More than 50% of the bridge organizations have supported trips by policy makers in the past. On top of that, there are also several EU missions, including high level representatives of the European Commission and groups of MEPs who regularly visit the Bay Area.


Nearly 50% of the bridge organizations also support and/or host corporates in their spaces, along with startups.


The ultimate goal is to create a central directory for startups, corporates, investors, and governments interested to find information on the organizations which might help plan an approach or a presence in Silicon Valley. In other words, an “Economy of Innovation in Silicon Valley” Report, that is the aggregate effort of all the organizations that play a role in creating directly or indirectly technologically innovative products and services in Europe.


“MTB’s effort in bridging the European startup ecosystem to the main international tech hotspot keeps going – ended Marco Marinucci – In September we will host the 4th edition of our annual mission SEC2SV-Startup Europe Comes to Silicon Valley, that last year brought together in the Bay Area more than 100 people from Europe in just a single week. In May 2-3rd we will replicate a similar experience in Tel Aviv, for the very first edition of SEC2IL-Startup Europe Comes to Israel”.

*source: SEP Monitor, Scaleup Europe, June 2017. An updated report will be launched in May.