07:09 GMT

Press release: EU Business and Innovation Centers: Job Growth Engine for Europe

Back to all posts

EU business innovation centres: job growth engine for Europe according to 2020 study

Today, the European Business and Innovation Centre Network (EBN) published its ‘2020 Impact and Activity Study – Supporting Excellence’ report. It demonstrates the impact of the European entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem on employment and the development of European regions. Data collected in 2019-2020 from 100 European business and innovation centres (EU|BICs) shows that on average each company incubated in an EU|BIC creates 4.6 jobs, compared to 2.6 in 2017. The EU|BIC community assessed in the study supported over 20,950 companies. Their main sectorial focus for support to tech-based solutions is the Environment, Energy and Health industry.

EBN CEO Javier Echarri said: ‘’Europe’s regional innovation ecosystems are being tested by circumstances that put pressure on the continuity of support. As business and innovation centres, we must be responsive, vocal and, most importantly, willing to lead with bold action–and so the deepening EU|BIC community is more vital to our future than ever before.’’

EU|BICs are the only support actors that are recognised for their high-quality service standards by the European Commission via the EU|BIC quality mark. The standards are assessed on an individual basis every year and deliver insights on the status of the EU regional innovation systems.

‘’Our network, that connects EU|BICs and experts, is all about trust. Trust in a shared methodology, trust in 35 years demonstrating quality, endurance, and the capacity to learn from each other. Entrepreneurs and startups, but also investors and corporates, look today beyond quick and easy solutions and search for trusted support and trusted networks’’, according to Echarri.

The study follows four key building blocks that strengthen entrepreneurial innovation and help build stronger and more resilient European regions:

Regional economic development: Stimulation of entrepreneurial culture is at the beginning of the innovation journey. Within their regions EU|BICs hosted over 5,150 events that promote entrepreneurship, reaching over 199,580 Europeans. Then, the EU|BIC network leverages its diverse and connected EU business innovation ecosystem of science parks, universities, public authorities, investors and corporates to foster entrepreneurial innovations. This includes the acceleration of new enterprises and cultivating innovation in existing ones; modernising, digitalising and diversifying industries; and stimulating job creation. The EU|BICs in this study registered 4,300 companies that created in total 19,986 jobs, with an average of 4.6 jobs created per company. The number of jobs created per company grew compared to an average of 2.6 in 2017 and 3.5 in 2018. From 2017 to 2019, EU|BICs supported the creation of more than 56,000 high-quality jobs in Europe.

Quality business support: From the start, EU|BICs have been stepping up their effort to support the creation of financially sustainable startups, scale-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and innovators of all kinds. To support this vast spectrum of European innovators and increase their survival rates the EU|BICs focus on three core services: proof of business, access to finance and access to markets. EU|BICs covered in this study provided support to 20,954 companies.  94% of these companies still operated after the first year, and 84% was able to continue their business three years after the support by an EU|BIC ended. These results speak highly of the quality of support provided by EU/BICs. In comparison, the average survival rate after 1 year in 2018 at EU-28 level was 83% (source: Eurostat).

Access to finance is an ongoing focus area to ensure the continuity of the business and innovations that a competitive European economy needs. The EU|BIC network represented in the study provided 4,697 client companies with access to finance, ranging from pre-seed to Series A and scale-up stage investments. In 2019, a total of more than half a billion euro (EUR 609 354 270,-) was raised in support of starting and expanding entrepreneurial innovation across the EU. With 75% of the total, private investors have largely taken over from the public sources of finance in supporting innovative businesses to grow. In 2017 (53%) and 2018 (47%) public funding still provided almost half of the capital needed to support entrepreneurial innovation.

Internationalisation is an important cornerstone to bolster the expansion potential of innovative companies and to reinforce Europe as a global leader in entrepreneurial research and innovation.  Over 4,790 companies were supported in international expansion. The main sectors of activity of these internationally bound companies were Health, Transport & Mobility, Environment & Energy, and ICT & Software Development. The preferred destination markets were within the EU (72%), USA (30%), Asia (21%), and the Middle East (13%). The EU|BIC community leverages its global support network to provide the same quality of support to their innovators in any region targeted for expansion.

Next steps

The study results presented today will feed into the innovation ecosystem, future collaborations, tools, and programmes to further embed entrepreneurial innovation into EU regions. Notably, individual scores will be shared with each certified EU|BIC to enable benchmarking among peers and continuous improvement of their support services.


EBN is a nonprofit that serves a pan-European and global community of people that use innovative business as a driver for regional development. EBN's initiatives include EU|BIC certification, development and distribution of quality business support programmes, facilitation and initiation of project collaborations, global networking, and advocacy for excellent business support actors like the EU|BICs. Since its inception in 1985, the EBN network has pursued its mission to support the best experts, represent our shared goals, bridge network actors, and use business innovation to inspire and implement solutions for regional economic development. There are now over 130 quality-certified EU|BICs and 46 Associate Members shaping our global EBN network.

EU|BICs are incubators, accelerators and other business support organisations whose quality of support services delivered to entrepreneurs are uniquely certified by EBN in collaboration with the European Commission.

For more information

2020 Impact & Activity Study
2020 Impact & Activity Report (short version)
Timeline visual – How did the EU|BIC community start

Press contact

Bram PAUWELS (+32 2 761 1088 | +31 6 287 777 98)

Share this post
Back to all posts