Europe needs a “digital wakeup call” if it wants to move to the forefront of the global digital sector, according to a top Telefónica executive.

Speaking at the European Commission’s Innovation Convention this week, Telefónica’s new Chief Commercial Digital Officer Eduardo Navarro told delegates that education, start-ups, entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs” – people who work in a corporate enterprise but behave like and entrepreneur – are crucial to Europe’s future growth.

However, after years of seeing technology and talent drift away from Europe, the region is now starting to regain its strength as new opportunities arise, according to the CCDO.

“Europe can, and should, be riding high on the next wave of innovation,” commented Navarro, who was appointed after structural changes saw Telefónica Digital subsumed into its parent last month.

He highlighted a number of initiatives in place at Telefónica aimed at digital literacy and entrepreneurship, including its Amérigo VC fund, start-up accelerator Wayra, an apprenticeship programme dubbed Talentum and its Campus Party technology festival.

Telefónica Digital saw sales increase by 19.4 percent in 2013, while Telefónica group reported an 8.5 percent fall.

Navarro also said the operator’s investments in superfast fixed and mobile networks, and the development of innovative digital solutions such as smart meters, cyber security applications and cloud-based services can “leverage the power of big businesses to ensure the future success of Europe”.

[Read more: Telefónica signs personal cloud deal with Funambol]

The announcement comes a day after CEOs of nine major operators endorsed a letter written by the GSMA Director General Anne Bouverot, which called for policy reform to encourage improvement in the sector. 

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