Ruth Mitchell

The bgroup flies the flag for entrepreneurship in Europe

The bgroup’s co-founder Siobhan Bales has been appointed as the UK’s representative on an EU Commission forum aimed at boosting European entrepreneurship rates.

Siobhan will use her experience in youth and enterprise markets to advise the panel on innovative ways of using internet TV and other emerging technologies to encourage a greater spirit of entrepreneurship across Europe.

Expected by Price Waterhouse Coopers to be worth £977 billion by 2010, the market for internet TV and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) – television available on demand via standard TV sets, computer screens or other mobile devices – is set to dramatically change the face of information and entertainment delivery, with some experts predicting the end of linear TV scheduling in its current form.

“Internet TV is the next big thing. It absolutely personifies entrepreneurship with its principle of unlimited access to information, and is set to be the major communications tool for encouraging higher levels of entrepreneurship, particularly among youngsters who are the next generation of start-ups,” believes Siobhan.

A recent OFCOM report backs up her opinion, revealing that the younger generation is turning to online media and away from more traditional sources, with the internet and social networking sites playing a central role in the lives of more than 70% of 16-24 year olds.

“You only have to look at the phenomenal growth in social software tools such as myspace, wikis, blogging and instant messaging to see that the way we choose to communicate is rapidly changing,” she said.

“Internet TV gives users the power to dictate what they watch, when they view it and how they receive it, and we need to make sure we are tapping into this trend and using the technology to help us create a truly entrepreneurial culture, not just in this region but across Europe.”

The bgroup is about to launch its own internet TV channel and production company. Its extensive work in this area was one of the factors behind Siobhan’s invitation to join the 22-strong Brussels board of advisers, largely made up of media executives and policy-shapers.

Acknowledging the challenge that this move could bring in the future, Siobhan said: “Many of the big media owners see internet TV as more of a threat than an opportunity, and while there are issues such as infrastructure, licensing and regulation to be addressed, I strongly believe the UK should be pioneering the use of this technology and setting the standard. “Imagine the potential of something like a Europe-wide TV channel, available on demand over the internet, specifically aimed at providing encouragement and support to would-be and established entrepreneurs. The results of that could have a huge effect on the economy.”

As well as her role in Brussels Siobhan is a board director for Young Enterprise North East and Codeworks Connect.

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