10 European Startup Cities to Watch in 2017


Social Media Week

Europe is home to some of the most bustling startup hubs in the world. Here’s the lowdown on ten of them.

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Startup culture is surging across Europe, with a handful of cities emerging as standout hubs. These cities are bursting at the seams with new companies and teeming with talent, yet they reflect a surge of innovation that can be difficult for Americans to understand since the pockets of growth are spread across multiple regions. Don’t be fooled: Europe’s tech boom a trend to watch.

Here are ten of the most flourishing startup hubs in Europe right now.

1. London

We’ll get the tricky one out of the way first: With the landmark Brexit vote, the U.K. has all but left the E.U. behind, though technically they will not be fully out until 2018. There are, of course, a range of opinions as to what the effect of the vote will be on the British economy. The New York Times recently published an article entitled, “Will London Fall?“, insinuating that Brexit will signal the end of London as a global crossroads.

Some U.K. startups are reporting that they intend to move to cities like Berlin and Lisbon following the vote. Others, pointing to lighter regulation and low corporate tax rates, believe that London will continue to thrive. Time will tell.

But let’s look at the now: London is the top startup hub in Europe (the region, not the E.U.) right now. The U.K. is home to 40 percent of Europe’s “unicorns,” and many of these companies are based in London. Collectively, London’s startups raised $2.9 billion in 2015, according to London & Partners. That’s 75 percent of all VC money in the U.K.

One of the leaders in London’s startup scene is the Uber Eats competitor Deliveroo, which closed a $275 million Series E funding round in late 2016. Osper, Winnow and Grabble are also helping lead the way.

2. Paris

Ahhh, the city of love and, may we add, not a bad place to settle down if you’re a startup. French startups raised more than £1.38 billion in 2015, per WIRED. Much of this economic success was centralized in the city’s capital of Paris, with major players including the location-based dating app Happn and AI startups Tinyclues and Snips. Happn closed a $14 million Series B round in October 2015.

What’s more, Paris will soon be home to the largest startup campus in the world, Station F, which will span an impressive 360,000 square-feet when the building opens in late 2017.

3. Berlin

Berlin has established itself as one of Europe’s most flourishing startup scenes and is now home to thousands of digital nomads who have relocated to the German metropolis to live, work and travel. With a notable expansive appeal, companies like Dubsmash, Kitchen Stories, and Splash (not to be confused with the U.S.-based event marketing startup Splash) are proving why Berlin is succeeding at attracting top talent and giving people a reason to stick around.

Dubsmash, with its more than 100 million users, was the leading name in the App Store in 29 European countries in 2016. Cooking app Kitchen Stories is offered 12 languages while Splash’s VR product has notched 300,000 customers in nearly 200 countries.

4. Amsterdam

You don’t have to be the biggest city to nurture a flourishing startup town, and Amsterdam is evidence of that theory. With less than 1 million residents, the capital of the Netherlands has remained a small but impactful force in the European tech scene. If you’ve ever sent a large file, especially pre-Google Suite days, you likely used Amsterdam-based WeTransfer. The online auction house Catawiki and Bloomon, a digital florist of sorts, are among some of Amsterdam’s other top players.

5. Barcelona

Barcelona is widely known for its art and architecture, but over the past couple of years 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. In addition to the influx of VC money, established players like Amazon and Lenovo have recently set up offices in Barcelona, adding to the overall buzz and bustle.

Barcelona-based companies include Wallapop, a used item trading app with 30 million users; HolaLuz, a utility that allows people to estimate their electricity bills; and Typeform, the survey platform built on conversational UI.

6. Madrid

Traditionally known for its famous football club, as well as its banking and finance industry, the capital city of Spain has become a growing and viable startup scene. Madrid accounted for €3.36 billion in startup fundraising in 2016, per the Financial Times, and Google and Amazon have recently built out presences in the city, driving further innovation.

Madrid-based Cabify, a ride-ordering app, has expanded to 38 cities and ballooned to 900 employees in just six years. The professional social network beBee (think of it as a fresher-feeling LinkedIn) has amassed more than 11 million users.

7. Dublin

Though full of historic charm including the Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the capital city of Ireland has recently proven how quickly it can stay ahead of the times with its thriving startup community. Top performers include OpenBack, a software designed to reimagine notifications; Parkpnp, a parking space reservation app; and Wia, a cloud platform for building IoT applications.

Dublin is also home to the EMEA headquarters of larger tech players such as Google, MongoDB, LinkedIn, FitBit and Twitter, among many others. Why? Because Ireland is one of the easiest places in the world to do business, says David Scanlon of Dublin’s StartupGrind.

8. Manchester (UK)

Manchester is the second-most populous urban area in the U.K and was one of the first industrialized cities to take shape during the Industrial Revolution. These days, the city is enjoying a second boom: with a reported 2,000 startups emerging in 2015 alone. This rapid growth has put Manchester on the map as a powerful entrepreneurial community worth tracking.

9. Milan

A global trendsetter when it comes to fashion and design, Milan is proving that it’s not just about the pretty faces and designer duds. In fact, Milan is Italy’s No. 1 startup hub, with companies like Moleskine (you know them), Blablacar (a carpooling app) and Musement (an activity-booking service) calling the posh city home.

10. Copenhagen

Copenhagen is thriving thanks to the myriad of co-working spaces available and a “cool” factor that has lured talent from other cities, countries and continents. Representative startups include the wine app VivinoPeakon, an employee engagement and retention tool; and consumer review platform Trustpilot, each of which have captured attention outside of Copenhagen.

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Katie Perry

Contributor, Social Media Week

Katie Perry is a marketing & content strategist and contributor to SMW News, a leading news platform covering startups, tech, brands and the future of work. You can follow Katie on Twitter at @katieeperry.



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