25 . October , 2019

Open letter from Nordic Startups: The promises and challenges of AI 

We want to see startups thrive in Europe. We agree on a range of recommendations to help support startups and innovators using AI in Europe as a whole.


  1. Europe needs a confident and positive AI vision AI must be demystified in the public eye, to help businesses invest in AI projects. Without this, we will never develop the real-world evidence and data which are essential for high quality AI and high quality regulations, which complement the economy.
  2. Digital skills and learnings are vital for a European AI success There is a call for AI trainings on all levels in society, including policymakers and politicians, to democratise the AI understanding and vision. Applying AI successfully often requires a complete rethinking of business processes, and especially startups need easy access to all relevant AI tools to succeed.

  3. Create a truly digitised Single Market, integrated into economy AI cannot be ‘sprinkled’ on outdated structures, hoping it works. There needs to be the right external conditions to embark on a transformation. The EU market is far from one single market, and in particular when it comes to the digital economy. In a truly digitised single market, for example, data will be able to flow freely between all member states in the EU, allowing digital solutions and AI applications to enjoy as much European data as possible.
  4. A smart, principle-based and flexible AI-framework Regulation should be a last resort. But if introduced, it must be based on specific findings, be smart and set out an overall direction of use. The impact of AI varies greatly depending on the use cases - this needs to be taken into account when considering a governance framework. Regulation should avoid descriptive and restrictive rules to keep up with the fast pace of technological change, to boost innovation and new emerging tech startups.

  5. Develop soft laws and flexible standards in partnership with industry Technical elements of AI regulations should be kept outside of statutory regulation and be laid down in standards and industry codes, in order to make regulations a collaborative process between government and industry, and to ensure that they are fit for purpose in such a fast-moving sector.


Europe has a significant voice in the international economy. Europe is a huge economy, produces some of the best companies and services in the world, has great educational institutions and should capitalize on these strengths. But small businesses and startups can be unintentionally harmed by regulations, such as the inconsistent rules on the sale of stock options around Europe, or the strict data-usage and copyright legislation. These issues, among others, contribute to the fact that investment in AI in China is three times larger than in Europe, and five times larger in the United States.


We all want to see pan-European tech companies thrive, and for Europe to truly embrace the digital age. Before introducing new legislation, we propose that you listen to the concerns of tech startups and scaleups first, who are heavily affected by sweeping legislation. We urge you and your colleagues to consider our range of recommendations, and look at our way forward for Europe in the age of AI.

Read full letter send to European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager (pdf)




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