TNW Conference 2024 sparks call for collaboration across European tech

Op-ed by Rachel Gilley, CEO at Clarity

TNW Conference 2024 sparks call for collaboration across European tech

TNW Conference 2024 showed us plenty of pathways the future of tech may take. As I mull over this year’s event, there are several lessons that stand out for Europe’s tech community while it seeks to navigate current challenges and opportunities.

Tech growth in Europe

We live in unprecedented times, to use one of the holdover clichés from the COVID era. The world is tackling several crises simultaneously: an attempted shift away from fossil fuels in the midst of lagging economic growth; and rising global tensions as the world seems to move towards multipolarity after a century of US dominance. In the midst of this, we’re also reflecting on humanity’s role in an AI-driven world.

But if Europe doesn’t want to get swept along with the pervading currents, the tech scene needs to up its game. During his session on redefining sustainability in the fashion industry, Vinted’s Thomas Plantenga said — in his typical contentious style — he sees plenty of innovation and success happening within Europe’s tech ecosystem, but wonders: what’s keeping us from building our own Google or Amazon?

Continued economic success in Europe is no longer a given. The competition across sectors, but in tech particularly, is fierce and global. In a fascinating debate on AI ethics, CES CEO Gary Shapiro neatly divided global innovation into three regional blocks: China, where, he claimed, innovation trumps regulation completely; Europe, where regulation dominates; and the US, where he is pushing for a proper balance between the two that’s ‘just right’.


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Astronomic growth is not yet reflected a lot in Europe’s tech scene. I had the pleasure of interviewing Aron Gelbart, CEO of Bloom and Wild, about how he turned £30K in savings into £120M in revenue with a footprint in multiple European countries. This succeeded not because of rapid capital spending, but through a steady, multi-year international expansion strategy that took the nuances of each market into account.

Coming together to boost tech innovation

Even in the European single market, companies can have a hard time growing rapidly. Lacking the homogeneity of the US market, we have to deal with a patchwork of languages and cultures here in Europe. Overcoming those barriers is a major challenge in every European business’ growth trajectory.

This is why coming together at places like TNW Conference is so important. Not only because it allows entrepreneurs to make connections across the continent, but also to present a more unified front to investors. It is increasingly important we nurture a community of investors who understand and believe in the European market.

Communication is pivotal to grow that understanding and belief. Promoting our shared success stories will increase the visibility and reputation of the European tech scene as a whole, making it more attractive to both talent and investors. Stories like Mistral, which recently secured over €600M in funding at a €5.8B valuation, show European entrepreneurs that this kind of journey is possible and will help to yield more and more Mistrals in the future.

Europe can’t rely on the US or Asia for innovation. We need to accelerate our own innovative potential and attract the necessary capital to keep flourishing. That’s only possible when we keep banding together, not only at conferences and events but in an international ecosystem that boasts a unique combination of talent and potential.

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