The best startup cities in Europe

Europe boosts with cities that can offer excellent conditions to startup founders, including talent pool, affordable resources and high quality of life. Some of the places have been on the entrepreneurs’ radar for a while, while others are just starting to capture their interest. In this article, we will present 10 highest-ranked European cities.

To find out which cities are the best places to run a startup, research company StartupBlink analyzed startup ecosystems in 1,000 cities and 100 countries and published a Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report. The country and city rankings have a total score, which is the sum of 3 columns measuring the following: quantity, quality, and business environment. 

According to Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2019, Europe continues to fare well, with 19 countries (including Russia and the UK) in the top 30 countries club. Other than that, there is a strong presence of CEE (Central and Eastern European) countries, affecting 5 out of the top 25 countries. All CEE countries either gained or maintained their ranking despite intensifying competition from other emerging economies. 

We will start off in descending order of fast growth:

1. London, United Kingdom

London, the capital of England and the UK, is the highest-ranked European city on the list and UK’s stronghold on the global startup ecosystem. Ranked globally 3rd, just after San Francisco and New York, London is known for its dynamic community, a high concentration of investments and capital, as well as a vast talent pool. This city boosts with numerous accelerator programmes and tech events.

2. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the biggest London’s competitor for Europe’s Startup Hub title, based on the Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2019. Berlin ranks 7th globally and is the second-highest ranked startup ecosystem in Europe, despite a minor decrease in the rankings compared to 2017. Berlin is a bustling ecosystem specializing in B2C startups and the main sectors are e-commerce, AI & ML, fin-tech, healthcare, and blockchain. 

3. Moscow, Russia

Next on the list is a new top ten city, the mega-hub of Moscow that increased 4 spots in the rankings to be ranked 10th in the world. This city is an example of a megacity with an outstanding ecosystem, and home to some of the world’s most talented technical entrepreneurs and home to the world’s top centers in high-tech and creative industries. The metropolis has a developed economy, a comfortable urban environment and a mature innovative ecosystem in which boldest ideas are born and implemented. 

4. Paris, France

The French capital city, Paris, is the 4th highest ranked startup ecosystem in Europe. Even though it has decreased two positions to 12th, Paris remains the only French city in the top 100 club. The capital city is an exciting place to be for startup players due to an evolving regulatory system, increasing talent pool and new local and foreign interest that this ecosystem received every day. 

5. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Netherlands capital city of Amsterdam advanced ranks 16th globally, making it the 5th highest-ranked European city after London, Berlin, Moscow and Paris. Among the startup players, The Netherlands and Amsterdam are particularly known for the leading tech magazine, TheNextWeb, and a global startup event. Duch are also known for initiatives specifically helping entrepreneurs who stay off the beaten track of raising investment and instead build businesses by self-funding. A few initiatives that come to mind in this field are Nomadlist by Pieter Levels and Betalist by Marc Kohlbrugge. 

6. Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden’s startup ecosystem is mainly concentrated in Stockholm, a city ranked 24th globally and 6th in Europe. Nordic nations are known for do-it-yourself attitude and independence, working more as solopreneurs and less as co-founders or teams when compared to other countries. However, more and more startup events and conferences are taking place in the city for sharing success stories and collaborating.  

7. Barcelona, Spain

7th European startup hub is a Southern Europe’s city of Barcelona that now ranks 27th globally. Great weather, high standard of living and vibrant community attracts entrepreneurs and startup founders to Barcelona. This city is also a shining example of one of Europe’s most vibrant ecosystems, where policymakers have decided that innovation, technology, and industrialization are keys to the future growth of the city. 

8. Madrid, Spain

Barcelona is not the only Spanish city among the top 10 European startup hubs. Madrid stands 8th in Europe and 33rd globally. Being the capital of Spain makes Madrid an important gateway to Latin America as it is both a political center and one of the world’s top tourist destinations. It is a very liveable city boosting with excellent infrastructure and melting pot for talent.

9. Kyiv, Ukraine

Number 9 is the capital city of Kyiv that stands 34th globally. Kyiv is one of the most dynamic startup ecosystems in Eastern Europe and a great spot for developing new businesses and creative ideas due to inexpensive cost of living. Ukraine, and so Kyiv in particular, are known for hundreds of thousands of tech specialists with outstanding skills in AI and math. Consequently, many global brands open their branch there and open up a lot of business opportunities and outwork activities. Kyiv has an extraordinary mix of American creativity, Eastern European costs, and highly skilled developers.

10. Helsinki, Finland

Last but not least on the list is Helsinki, the capital of Finland, that ranks 36th globally. The Finnish startup community is very open and eager to share experience and networks. One of the examples of a governmental initiative to attract foreign startup founders is Startup Permit that was created for innovative startup founders coming from countries outside the European Union. The permit gives an opportunity to talented growth entrepreneurs to build a startup company in Finland and to become part of the Finland’s startup ecosystem. Nation’s connectivity is felt in the tech event Slush that is founded to change attitudes toward entrepreneurship. Other than that, the trend of foreign investors actively investing in Finnish startups and early-stage growth companies continued developing positively. 

That was the list of the 10 most prominent European startup hubs that boost opportunities for startup founders. This list was compiled based on the results of Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report 2019 that ranked 1,000 cities and 100 countries worldwide. If your city was not included in this list yet but you want to find out the current status of your local startup ecosystem, download the Report for free here and start discovering.

Compiling the list for only a particular region was made simple with the help of the PRO account, which allows to filter all the results by region and population, and get only the information that one needs. If you also want to dig deeper into analysis and get the raw data of the ranking algorithm, check StartupBlink PRO Members for more information.