Can Europe crowdsource its way to startup success?

Neelie KroesAs the European Commission’s internet tsar, Neelie Kroes has ruffled more than a few feathers in the technology community — such as when she backed a controversial rule on cookies but taking a laissez-faire attitude towards Net Neutrality.

More recently she’s tried to win public support by opposing SOPA and querying claims by mobile operators that they’re being over-regulated.

Now she’s asking a different question: what can Europe do for entrepreneurs?

In an initiative sponsored by Kroes’ office that launches on Tuesday, Brussels is opening up to the public and asking for ideas that could turn into concrete proposals. The challenge, specifically, is to answer this puzzle: “How might we support web entrepreneurs in launching and growing sustainable global businesses?”

The scheme is being run by OpenIDEO, an arm of the U.S. design and innovation company which has designed a platform for crowdsourcing ideas. The concept: throw lots of stuff in a pot, allow people to sift through for ideas, vote on the resulting proposals and then put them into action.

The blurb on the campaign posits the idea that while Europe is making some progress in terms of significant web companies, there must be better ways for Brussels to support them.

Europe, with its cultural diversity and world class universities, boasts a thriving entrepreneurial community. In fact, it has a lot of great web entrepreneurial success stories, from Rovio to Spotify to Xing.

In this challenge, OpenIDEO and the European Community are eager to identify creative ways to support web start-ups as they launch and grow. How might we, for instance, help start-ups access funding across stages of development? Or help them find resources when working across countries? Or foster a culture of experimentation?

It’s not quite crowdsourcing new legislation — something Mathew wrote about a couple of weeks ago — but it is a chance for ordinary folk to have get thoughts and ideas some oxygen.

So what would you tell them?