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A quick overview into the vibrant European startup landscape

Get insights into the European startup landscape and the top cities that are leading the ecosystem,  what makes Europe so attractive and the advantages of working for a startup!
Joyce Schultz

Joyce Schultz

Recruitment Analyst
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startup landscape overview

European startup landscape

Startups are the future of business and essential in our global economy. What differs them from a Corporate is that, instead of looking for profit and executing a business model that is scalable and repeatable, they are focused on new technologies and innovation. They completely shape the economy by creating new jobs, dramatically increasing competition and forcing the economy to scale up by bringing new ideas to the market.

No surprise that most of the world’s leading companies such as Airbnb, Facebook, Uber, Apple, began as startups with ideas being created in a garage or dorm room and were founded by creative minds like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. 

When we think of innovative startups, Silicon Valley immediately comes to mind. The truth is: they have really gone global and Europe has become a super-powerful hub spot over the past years, boosted by the adoption in 2016 by the European Commission of an initiative to improve the economic and regulatory situation for startups and scaleups.

Did you know that Europe is now the second region globally when it comes to early-stage investment? And that the average Ecosystem Value is the highest after North America?

Are you curious and want to know some of the best hub spots in Europe and what makes them so attractive? We have gathered a list of the major cities that are leading the startup ecosystem in Europe. Check it out!

London

The British capital is the biggest ecosystem in Europe, according to the Eustartups.com from 2020 with a total value of $142.7 billion. London is leading the landscape since 2017, especially in finance and tech. Now, you might think that BREXIT and the corona pandemic might have affected the ecosystem, but surprisingly, London remains highly attractive among startup founders and is considered the second worlds most successful city for tech innovation outside the Silicon Valley,  after New York, according to Evening Standard, attracting twice as many investments through venture capital funding as other European cities.

The British capital success can be attributed to its access to deeper pools of capital and strong financial system, tax incentives and world-class talent pool (especially in life science and tech).

The city is home to Huel, Sumup, Revolut, TransferWise and Stotles and many other prosperous, fast-growing startups!

Want to know more about the living situation in London? Check out our City Rank. London is ranked 2nd on the Heroes Rank!

Berlin

The German capital is the second biggest ecosystem in Europe, according to Eu-startups.com 2020. Known as one of the most eventful cities in the world, Berlin’s lively landscape is attracting more and more investors into the capital and is developing over the past years. Berlin is well known as an international tech hub, attracting startups in High Tech, SaaS, Health and Bio, among others

Berlin has a fast-growing startup scene and a successful infrastructure for financing and funding. The numbers of incubators, business angels, accelerators are growing significantly over the past few years, which provides optimal conditions for entrepreneurs from all around the world. But what’s so special about Berlin in comparison to other European cities? Berlin is well known for its high standard of living, helpful ecosystem with lots of networking opportunities and an international environment. Way too many good reasons why young entrepreneurs would want to come to Berlin to turn their innovative business ideas into realities!

What is also impressive about Berlin, is, according to the Startup Heatmap Europe in the latest edition of 2021, is that it has been ranked as the city that creates the most start-up jobs, followed by London, Paris and Munich!

You probably have heard of most of them. Here are some of the most successful startups that were created in Berlin: Gorillas, Planetly, Raisin, Coachhub, Getyourguide Wefox, N26, Tier & Candis.

Did you know that Berlin is ranked number 1 on our heroes rank, go check it out here!

Barcelona

The city of Gaudi and La Sagrada Familia ranks 3rd among the best startup cities in Europe, based on the popularity among founders and investors. It is an emerging centre for entrepreneurship thanks to low rent prices, high-quality tech talent and an international workforce.

Barcelona is home to startups with the most inspiring success stories, such as Glovo, Jobandtalent, Emjoy.

Paris

The “city of light “is becoming a powerful startup hub and is by now one of the main startup ecosystems in Europe and the third biggest ecosystem in Europe. It holds a strong position in industries such as AI, a global energy, Health & BioTech, and FinTech. What entrepreneurs value the most in Paris is its excellence when it comes to highly skilled talent. Being well known to have a dozen of the best business schools in the world, central location in Europe with easy access to markets like Afrika,  Berlin, London, Spain and extensive research on AI topics and government support in regards to innovation.

France is home to startups like Opal, Unweave, Doctolib, Contentsquare, Blablacar.

Vienna

Vienna is heating up and emerging as a powerful startup hub. The Austrian capital is since 2008 seen a massive increase in tech companies growing 12% per year since then, much faster than the 3% growth rate for traditional companies. The success can be attributed mainly to its developing and mature VC industry, and government support with several initiatives to boost the market, like the programme created by the government in 2016 to make the country more attractive for investors.

In August, Austria has announced its first unicorn – Bitpanda– which raised an impressive 263M funding round at a 4.1billion valuation!

Other success stories include Byrd, Speedinvestheroes, crate.io, Bitmovin, Gostudent, refurbed, Tourradar, 9am. health, bikemap, myclubs, ubiq.ai, App Radar, Adverity, ready2order, prewave, hihealth, storyclash, Shpock, zerolens.

A few good reasons why Europe is the future of startup investing:

Market size and digitally advanced

Europe is one of the world’s largest economies, with 500 million people and a GDP of €25,000 per head. It is also considered an ideal place to launch new technologies and digital products as its home to the most 4 digitally advanced countries (Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, and Denmark).

Top talent 

What makes a company successful is the combination of top talent and technology and Europe has more than enough of both to offer. It is home to one of the most prestigious technology and engineering universities in the world, including ETH Zurich, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Oxford, Cambridge. No surprise here it gathers most of the top talent when it comes to skilled technology, science and bio and engineering candidates. It also has a higher number of developers, compared to the USA, numbering 6.1m, compared to 4.3m in the US.

Europe also has advantages for recruiting talent, with the ability to source and attract talent from all around Europe. Freedom of movement and more relaxed rules, especially among EU countries, make it a lot easier for candidates to relocate.

Other Hubs becoming more successful

The USA alone can not handle the massive digitalization challenge we are facing at the moment. As a result, startups are now being originated all over the world, especially in  Europe. Upcoming hubs include Amsterdam, Lisbon, Munich, Milan, Tallinn and recently Oslo, Bucharest, Riga.

A strong, robust  VC sector

Venture investors are crucial when it comes to providing the funds, expertise, support and connections for a startup to grow. What we are experiencing at the moment is a massive growth of the VC industry in Europe and also an increase in the number of incubators, business angels, accelerators, especially in areas such as SaaS,  fintech, healthcare, among others.

Got interested and want to work for a startup? We have listed a few of the benefits:

  • Growth opportunities

The company is developing and there is often no clear structure, which can be really exciting from a development point of view! In a startup, you are encouraged to work on different projects and tasks. Get the most out of the experience and develop your technical and social skills. There are many great online courses that can help you on this journey!

  • Passion and energy

Passion is what drives an entrepreneur to develop an idea and start a new business. This means you will be working with enthusiastic and energetic colleagues most probably every day. Make the best use of it! The energy is contagious! You will never have a boring routine at a startup. Want to check your own startup fit? Take the test to see.

  • Family vibe

Teams are often small and you will get the chance to know your colleagues very well, connect and create attachment within the team. The culture in a startup can be quite different from a corporate. Working at a startup can really feel like being part of a family! 

  • Ability to influence

At a startup you can really make a difference, have influence and a real impact on the success and growth of the company as your ideas will very likely be appreciated as products and processes are being developed. Startups have flatter hierarchies and a lot fewer levels until the CEO. Be ready to share your knowledge and take on responsibility!

Summary:

Thanks to the development of the VC industry, its top talent pool of candidates, market size and digitalization, Europe has become now the second region in the world for early-stage investment and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. While London Berlin, Barcelona, Paris remain the top hub spots, other very interesting cities in Europe are seeing a massive increase in startups emerging: Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon, Oslo, Bucharest, Riga, Vienna and Tallinn, among many others. Europe has definitely a lot of potential and great conditions for investors to invest in!

Did you get excited about all the possibilities a startup can offer in Europe and need help finding your dream job? To get started, have a look at our job platform for startup jobs in Europe, wecanbeheroes.io, and make sure to check the article: how to look for a job in our platform. Get well prepared for the interview, personalize your CV and go get your dream job!

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