The Top 7 European Cities for Tech Startups

Neil Livingston06 October 2017

Neil  Livingston

Founded in 2007 by my brother and I, Optimus Search has quickly grown to become one of Europe’s leading technical recruitment providers, with a strong pedigree in Anglo-German service delivery.

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As the global tech revolution continues to gather pace, building a seemingly unstoppable momentum, Europe can now proudly attest to being a hotbed for technological innovation and advancement and home to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing startup hubs in the world. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of our top 7 European cities for tech startups

#1: London 

Currently, London is the unquestionable heartland of Europe’s startup revolution, with a staggering 40% of Europe’s “unicorns” (an adopted term for technology companies deemed to be worth over $1bn yet to list on a stock market), being based out of the UK capital.
According to London & Partners, the UK capital’s official promotional company, collectively London’s startups raised over $3 billion in 2017, making up a mind-boggling  75%  percent of all VC money in the U.K.

London’s diverse and multi-cultural talent pool, its continued status as the world’s leading global financial centre and a storied pedigree of research and innovation, means it should come as no surprise that London has attracted more investment than any other major European city in 2017.

Since the uncertainty of the landmark Brexit vote, several the world’s leading technology companies have also demonstrated their long-term commitment to investing in London with Google putting forward a £1 billion investment plan for a new headquarters in King’s Cross, Facebook announcing an additional 500 jobs for London and Apple revealing its plans for new headquarters in Battersea. 

A friendly tech-driven ecosystem, a multitude of investors willing to lend capital to innovative ideas, very favourable taxation schemes and the simple fact that ‘London is home to more software developers than anywhere else in the world’ means that London will continue to be a leading destination for investors, entrepreneurs and businesses alike for the foreseeable future and cements its position at #1 on the list.​

#2: Berlin

Berlin’s Silicon Allee has long been touted as one of the world’s leading startup hubs but is now finally being recognised as a genuine threat to London and Silicon Valley’s historical dominance. 

Home to thousands of digital freelancers and a plethora of progressive startup businesses, Berlin has quickly established itself as one of Europe’s most flourishing tech scenes. In part, some its rapid success has been driven by the ability to attract some of the continent’s leading talent due to its low living costs, affordable rental properties, competitively priced office spaces as well as its vibrant nightlife and bohemian culture. 

These reasons mean that not only is Berlin succeeding at attracting top talent but also gives people plenty of reasons to stick around.

#3: Amsterdam



Behind London and Berlin, the Dutch startup scene is widely considered to be one of the most fertile in Europe, proving that you don’t have to be the biggest city to nurture a flourishing startup culture.  

With less than 1 million residents, the capital of the Netherlands has remained a small but impactful force in the European tech scene and Amsterdam has become a hotbed for next-gen initiatives and projects seeking to integrate new technologies with existing infrastructures. With established infrastructures already in place, this means that startup costs are kept relatively low, and an internationally-accepting and cosmopolitan culture certainly doesn’t hurt in the talent acquisition area.

#4: Paris



France has turned into a seriously impressive tech startup ecosystem and with circa £2billion VC investment in 2016 boasted a greater level of capital investment than Germany. 
Its biggest challenge to-date has been shaking off the nation’s age-old perception that startups and entrepreneurship are too risky, neatly illustrated by the French phrase for “venture capital” — “capital risque”. 

However, Entrepreneurship has now become an appealing career choice amongst the younger generations and that's a big change over the last decade. 

Much of this recent economic success has been centralised in the nation’s capital of Paris, which will soon be home to the largest startup campus in the world, Station F. Station F, due to open at the end of 2017, is the brainchild of French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel and will be Europe’s first startup super hub based in southeast Paris and housing up to 1,000 startups.

#5: Barcelona



Barcelona is known worldwide for its art and gothic architecture, but recently it has established itself as a booming hub for international investment. As a result, the city’s startups have secured a steady amount of early-stage funding, and in addition to the influx of VC money, established players like Amazon and Lenovo have recently set up offices in Barcelona.

Barcelona’s rising reputation as a tech hub for Europe can also be attributed to the city hosting major tech summits and expos, including the World Mobile Congress and the Tech Experience Conference. 

It might not have the lowest startup costs, but there is no denying that European technologists are going to Barcelona to network with other researchers and developers, meaning that a wealth of good talent is flocking to Barcelona to be close to the pulse of the European tech world.

#6: Dublin

Dublin has long been considered one of Europe’s leading tech havens. A globally recognised centre of tech excellence, tech giants such as Adobe, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Yahoo, Expedia and eBay have all chosen to make Dublin their home.

Due to it’s geographic proximity to London, Dublin shares lots of the same traits and features as the English capital albeit to a far lesser degree. However, the shared a common language means that in many cases, the leading talent doesn’t go to London often finds their way to Dublin instead. 

The positive news for Dublin is that while it’s a smaller ecosystem, it has a much higher geographic density of engineers than most other big hubs, meaning the community is much closer together, creating a very vibrant tech city.

#7: Munich

When it comes to the German tech industry, it is very hard to be Berlin's rival: only 11% of German startups are based in Munich, whereas the German capital has a staggering 31%. 

However, the largest city in Bavaria remains a major economic hub for European business. Globally recognised corporations including BMW, Siemens and insurance firm Allianz are headquartered in the city and these leading firms are increasingly fostering startups with capital and resource investment as well as through collaborative developmental programmes.

Also, unlike Berlin, Munich-based companies benefit from good infrastructure, proximity to an international airport and unlimited access to graduates from top universities such as the Technical University of Munich and Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich. 


We can help you find your dream job - in your dream loaction:

At Optimus Search we have a variety of exciting roles across Digital, Data & Life Sciences markets, in each of the aforementioned cities. Get in contact today to speak to one of our specialist consultants about facilitating a move to one of these European tech hubs. enquiries@optimussearch.com