The Soho Loft and GrowVC at the Transatlantic Economic Forum on Funding

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By: Jouko Ahvenainen

The US Government and the EU Commission invited Grow VC to participate and add it’s expertise on new funding models, in a high profile Transatlantic Economic Forum on funding for more economic prosperity in the US and EU. The aim was to shape decision-making to support and boost economic growth for the future of the US and Europe.


David Drake of LDJ Capital and The Soho Loft at the Transatlantic Economic Forum


Ambassador, Deputy US Trade Representative, Miriam Sapiro commented in her opening speech: “The US and EU have a nearly 1 trillion trade relationship. Yet there is further potential for growth – tackling trade barriers and enhancing trade opportunities for SMEs can lead to greater economic growth and support well-paying jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The goal for these SME workshops is to bring together government agencies and small business stakeholders on both sides to share EU and US best practices in SME policies and programs, identify common challenges to exporting that small businesses face, and to develop concrete ways that the United States and EU can collaborate to help our SMEs participate more actively in transatlantic trade and strengthen business partnerships.”

Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission, continued “Entrepreneurs are the drivers of our economy. Only 13% of EU area SME’s operate outside the EU and we would like to find ways to increase that number.”

The events took place in Brussels and Rome. Jouko Ahvenainen, co-founder of Grow VC, spoke about new funding models and creating a more effective and transparent funding market cross national borders. Other speakers included Mr. Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission, Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Deputy US Trade Representative, Ambassador David Thorne, US Ambassador to Italy, representatives from the US Department of Trade, the EU Commission and companies like the Square1 Bank, investment funds and funding services.

David Drake at the US and EU economic forum

“It was an honor and privilege to be invited to partake in these important discussions”, commented Mr. Ahvenainen. “Grow VC sees it’s vital to participate in the US and EU discussions to develop growth funding and find new solutions to create more startups, that in turn create more jobs and economic prosperity”. One important theme in the discussion was the US JOBS Act that enables crowdfunding in a wider array, and also makes it easier for companies to reach public offerings (IPO). Mr. Ahvenainen commented “Crowdfunding is an important new instrument for unlocking funding for startups, and we have been happy to seen the fast progress of the JOBS Act in the US. We also hope the EU can create more common practices for crowdfunding for the whole EU area.”  He continues: “Crowdfunding needs a proper critical mass and it’s not realistic to only have national level crowdfunding markets in EU countries, but we should aim to create EU level marketplaces that can offer enough investors, deal flow and capital to achieve real, global success stories.”

David Drake, Founder and CEO of LDJ Capital and The Soho Loft

David Drake, Founder of The Soho Loft Capital Creation Events, commented “The European Commission we met understand that a pan-European crowd funding for equity bill would be needed as entrepreneurs are leaving Europe for the US market.  The acceptance of donations, philanthropy,  use of credit and the US momentum from the JOBS Act in crowd funding just makes the US crowd funding accelerate while Europe has been stagnant in growth in the space.” The Soho Loft and Grow VC are leading cross atlantic discussions on policy for new funding models and especially for the crowdfunding.

In the US and EU new companies have an important role in creating new jobs. Both economies need solutions to accelerate the growth of the new companies. They also see increasing competition especially from BRIC countries and Asia. Grow VC sees it as very positive that the US and EU put significant effort to find new solutions to help startups and improve conditions in the funding market. It’s also important that entrepreneurs, investors and experts of the area are invited to share their experiences and perspectives with decision makers. We encourage also governments around the world develop this kind of an open dialogue.


About the author

jouko ahvenainen Jouko is a globally active investor and entrepreneur and active at a senior level with many web and mobile enterprises. He is co-founder and chairman at Grow VC, the globally leading startup equity funding market place. He has more than 15 years experience in international business and closed many VC deals, ranging from 150k USD to 15M USD. Starting his first software company at the age of 16, he then held positions at technology firms including Nokia, Capgemini, and Powerwave Technologies Inc. Jouko is co-founder or active in various start-up companies, including Lost in Translations Inc., Enreach Group Inc., Replicon and Xtract. Jouko is a certified advisor for NasdaqOMX Nordic early phase lists.

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