Entrepreneurship in a newly shaped Europe: what is the survival kit for a young Catalan and British entrepreneur in 2018?

Theresa May UK Prime Minister 2017

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister at the October EU Council Meeting. Shoot location: Bruxelles – BELGIUM. Shoot date: 19/10/2017. Copyright: European Union

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by João Malhadeiro, member of LisbonPH, the Junior Enterprise of Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon. Mr Malhadeiro is affiliated to the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE). JADE is a cordial partner of The European Sting. The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect The European Sting’s one.

29th March, 2017. The British government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. Thus, the United Kingdom is on course of leaving the European Union. It is scheduled to depart on 29 March, 2019. This departure is the result of a referendum that was held on June, 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. “Leave” won by 51,9% to 48,1%.

27th October, 2017. The Catalan vote — which needed a majority of 68 “yes” votes — passed with 70 ballots in favour, 10 against, and two blank. As the meeting came to a close, deputies stood and sang “Els Segadors,” the Catalan national anthem. The Catalan Parliament had just declared the independece of Catalonia from Spain.

Once considered two of the best cities in Europe for entrepreneurship and for young entrepreneurs to kick-star their ideas, London and Barcelona are now facing several challenges related to the political instability around Brexit and the Catalonia Independence, respectively.

One of the major problems its the currency. When UK first announced Brexit, the volatility of the pound affected the consumer spending and the buying power, which resulted in one of the worst performing currencies. Despite wanting to remain with the Euro, European Union does not recognize Catalonia as an independent country, which results in the need fo creating a new currency. Just like the pound, once again this new currency will have a much lower value comparing to the Euro.

In addition, many banks and companies are planning to leave both cities following the political issues around them. The American giants Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered are choosing countries like Germany or France over UK and are transfering their activities in Europe to those countries. Spanish banks like Banco Sabadell or CaixaBank are also moving their headquarters out of Catalonia to other parts of Spain and many others are planning the same thing following all this uncertainty created by the independence.

Considering those two contexts, which are the opportunities for young catalan and british entrepreneurs? Is there a chance for kick-start their businesses and to succeed? The answer is yes! First, it’s the perfect opportunity to be a leader in innovation, since leaving the European Union, opens the door for new regulations and directives, different from those in the EU, for example in the car industry. This can be an excelente opportunity for young entrepreneurs to thrive and find new and creative solutions for these new problems. In addition, London remains a vibrant dintech scene, with a rich talent pool, transport links, access to the financial ecosystem and a city with a good business environment.

When you came south and reach Catalonia the story is not different. In 2016, Barcelona was considered the 4th most creative city in the world and the 5th Startup Region in Europe, only behind London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam. In addition, the startup economy in Catalonia employs around 10,000 people. Barcelona has become a clear benchmark in Europe in the creation of new companies, especially those with a technological base. This growth is the result of different factors such as local infrastructures, private support programmes and services for entrepreneurship.

As Winston Churchill once said: “Difficulties mastered are Opportunities won” and this is exactly the case. Despite all the political troubles and unfavorable economical context, entrepreneurs are know for their creative minds and sense to identify gaps in the markets. Innovation, creativity and determination are some of the best qualities that young entrepreneurs have and which can be essential to explore all the advantages of both UK and Catalonia rather than the disadvantages.

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