There’s far more to Europe’s digital economy than London, Paris, Berlin and Stockholm. In fact, tech hubs with their own unique identities and ecosystems are sprouting up all over the continent, from Novosibirsk to the Hague.
Using the Atomico State of European Tech 2018 report’s findings on which cities have seen the highest year-in-year growth in attendance of tech-related Meetup events, we’ve profiled eight of Europe’s most vibrant growing tech-hubs. Could one of these cities be a candidate for your next office location?
1. Zug, Switzerland
Year-on-year growth: +177%
Key players: The Ethereum Foundation, Bitcoin Suisse, the Crypto Valley Association.
Given Switzerland’s pedigree as a centre for decentralised banking, it should come as no surprise that Europe’s own Crypto Valley has coalesced here in the Swiss canton of Zug. This community of 30,000 on the shore of the Zugersee is so clued up on cryptocurrency, residents can use it to pay their taxes. Crypto companies in Zug have benefited from low taxes, loose financial regulations and support from strategic partners including KPMG, IBDO and Lake Star.
2. Novosibirsk, Russia
Year-on-year growth: +173%
Key players: Alawar, OCSiAl, One Inc.
Specialisms: nanotechnology, instrument-making, biotechnology, finance
The concentration of tech companies in Novosibirsk is deep-rooted. The Kremlin created the Akademgorodok (“academic town”) technology centre here during the Cold War, and key players including Alwar – publisher of over 500,000 games on Steam – have plied their trade in the Siberian capital ever since.
Novosibirsk took a huge step in 2007, when the Academpark tech centre was opened on the back of $250 million in government and private investment. It now houses over 200 companies, including an office of the pioneering nanomaterials manufacturer OCSiAl.
3. Ghent, Belgium
Year-on-year growth: +165%
Key players: Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (GhentCDH), Ablynx, Intuo
Specialisms: startups, digital humanities, R&D
The historic university city of Ghent is one of western Europe’s most innovative startup hubs, home to seven-figure-funded companies including the HR online talent platform Intuo, and medical imaging innovators Molecube.
Besides having a thriving startup scene, the East Flanders city is also an R&D hotspot for both startups and established players, including Bayer CropScience and the biopharma firm Ablynx.
4. The Hague, Netherlands
Year-on-year growth: +121%
Key players: The Hague Digital Diplomacy Camp, Siemens, Royal Dutch Shell
Specialisms: digital diplomacy, blue chip, academia
The Hague is home to a unique combination of business and diplomatic talent, where the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court operate alongside blue chip companies like Siemens and Royal Dutch Shell. The Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands brought these two sides to the city’s talents together in February 2018, with a Digital Diplomacy Camp exploring how new technologies including machine learning and big data analytics are changing governments, NGOs, the media, businesses and industries.
5. Katowice, Poland
Year-on-year growth: +101%
Key players: Euvic Sp. z o. o., DisplayLink, Kroll Ontrack
Specialisms: eco-responsibility, IT support, conference
You may have heard mention of Katowice in the news lately. The Silesian city of around 300,000 recently played host to COP24, a UN conference on climate change. Katowice was chosen to host the event for good reason: based in an area of Poland formerly dominated by coal mining, the city has since committed heavily to green investment and innovation. Another side to Katowice is its popularity as a hub for outsourced services. Offices of Evic Sp., DisplayLink and Kroll Ontrack all tap into the significant local talent available here.
6. Dortmund, Germany
Year-on-year growth: +100%
Key players: Boehringer Ingelheim, Verizon Communications
Specialisms: biomedical technology, nanotechnology, robotics, telecom
Dortmund has been a leading hub for ground-breaking tech since Germany’s first technology park – Technologiepark Dortmund – opened here in the 1980s. Since then, hundreds of SMEs and larger companies have become Dortmunders, including pioneering firms in the biomedical, micro systems and robotics industries. Add to that the 12,000+ Dortmund residents working for IT and software companies, and it’s clear to see why this is one of Europe’s leading digital cities.
7. Newcastle, United Kingdom
Year-on-year growth: +88%
Key players: Palringo, Hedgehog Lab, Generator Studios
Specialisms: app and software development
Formerly famous for ship-building, Newcastle has become a hotbed of app and software development talent. App maker Hedgehog Lab, which is based at the popular Generator Studios workspace, was one of the ten fastest-growing tech companies in the north of England and Scotland last year (+86%), and the automotive 3D visualisation specialist Zerolight wasn’t far behind (+64%).
8. Sofia, Bulgaria
Year-on-year growth: +77%
Key players: Launchub Ventures, BGMenu, NEVEQ Capital Partners
Specialisms: startups, outsourcing
Until recent years, Sofia was known primarily as a great destination for outsourcing IT processes, thanks to the high skill levels and affordability of its workforce. Nowadays, the Bulgarian capital is recognised as far more than that, with a thriving startup scene that’s brimming with great ideas and businesses. Here’s a fact that says it all: 210 companies in Sofia raised $74 million in 2016, up from 20 companies and $4 million in 2012.