Sector News

New AstraZeneca-backed report finds big money behind diverse owners and entrepreneurs in Europe

September 25, 2022
Life sciences

There is lots of talk about diversity and inclusion in business, including in pharma and medtech. A new report by the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), a think tank focusing on migration and diversity, released its “Minority Businesses Matter: Europe” report highlighting the successes and challenges of ethnic minority-owned businesses in Europe.

The report was commissioned by Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK) and the European Supplier Diversity Project. It looks at the contributions and challenges of ethnic minority entrepreneurs on the continent and was sponsored by Unilever, Meta, IBM and AstraZeneca.

The study looked at data from eight European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland). Using an artificial intelligence algorithm developed by Namsor, a French data science company, and cross-checked with human expertise and additional research, it concluded: The compounded yield of these minority run businesses was around 570 billion euros in Europe.

This accounted for at least 4.7% of all businesses (800,000 businesses) and employed a minimum of 2.7 million people. Germany made the most at (191 billion euros) and includes the Turkish owned, COVID-19 vaccine producer BioNTech. In Switzerland, the country’s first unicorn company, MindMaze, a medtech startup that aids the rehabilitation of people with neurological disorders, was founded by Indian CEO Tej Tadi.

Sophie Chung, M.D., co-founder of Qunomedical, a digital health platform that helps patients find the right doctor anywhere in the world, herself part of an ethnic minority in her Berlin home, appreciates the kudos to the BioNTech founders but wonders how many more could have been out there.

“Here in Germany we have these Turkish immigrants, and now they’re being completely celebrated by everyone because it’s this immigrant dream story. Now they’ve built this multibillion-dollar company and basically saved the world with the vaccine, but I think, saying that it’s possible because there are two people who have made it, is just too short-sighted. Because the question is, who is there who could have made it but didn’t because they didn’t get the right chances, or get the same chance?”

To help level the field, OPEN suggests three key recommendations: corporate transparency, combating discrimination and promoting diversity.

The OPEN report is the first to capture these data across Europe and provide the first list of Europe’s top 50 minority businesses. It follows a previous report on U.K. minority businesses by OPEN and MSDUK published in February 2021.

By Sharon Klahr


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