Looking Back: First Get Started Founders‘ Breakfast in Brussels

Could a day start better than bridging the gap between the startup and policy worlds while having a delicious breakfast? We don’t think so! Yesterday, we took a closer look at Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the European scenes of startup policymaking at our first Founders’ Breakfast in Brussels. The industrial style venue of L42 was the perfect place for tech startups, key decision-makers in politics, and all other people working in these areas to discuss both challenges and opportunities for European AI startups.

AI is changing many industries at a rapid pace by developing plenty of new ideas and innovative products. But how can the regulatory framework support innovation? Our guests Goedele Weynants (VP Partnerships and DataStories), Dr. Georg Wittenburg (Founder and CEO, Inspirient), and Maximilian Strotmann (Member of Cabinet of Andrus Ansip, European Commissioner for Digital Single Market and Vice President of the Commission) discussed several perspectives.

Enabling Environment for Data and AI Startups


By sharing their stories it became obvious that start-ups generally need more access to data and large datasets to develop AI products. Maximilian Strotmann stressed the importance for the Juncker Commission to build a Digital Single Market and have an overall strategy avoiding unnecessary regulatory islands. With different initiative, for example, on better access to public sector information, the Commission tries to free up huge data pools. However, no big policy initiative is planned for AI itself but already announced actions like a review of product liability will be focused on. Furthermore, the Commission will publish a policy reflection paper on AI which seems to be accompanied by a consultation. In the discussion it became also clear that policy makers could help start-ups by buying there product instead of providing public grant. Startups miss skills, time and capabilities to do public fund applications. Moreover, “easy tools for end-users needed to unlock potential of data as oil” were requested by  Goedele Weynants. Maximilian Strotmann put it in a nutshell:“ We need an enabling environment in Europe for Data and AI startups”.

But not only regulatory frameworks challenge startups. Our guests faced discussion on the future relationship of human and machines. Given the improvements in AI we had recently seen, many people fear for their future as machines threaten to overtake their jobs.  However, Dr. Georg Wittenburg said that “AI makes certain jobs more human as this is what we are good at”, “other jobs will change -skills needed.” Therefore, machines are not a job-eliminating.

The event finished with an open discussion between a great audience with a bulk of good questions and comments like the potential of text and data mining for companies and incentives for governments to create and share more data.