This Is The Changing Face Of Europe’s Startup Map

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The recent trend on the European entrepreneurial scene has seen a clear move away from the traditional tech and startup hubs. All around Europe, and sometimes in quite surprising places, new startup hot spots are emerging.

With the looming Brexit and its unpredictable effect on London’s business environment and its long-held place as Europe’s business center, this trend is bound to continue. There is a new wave of entrepreneurial city hubs reshaping Europe’s startup map. Here’s who’s leading the charge.


Standing in the shadow of its larger compatriot London, Edinburgh has been steadily attracting investments and business talents. In fact, Edinburgh is now the third leading city in the world in terms of “unicorn” companies per capita, right behind the US cities of San Francisco and Provo. The city even took the reward for the UK’s entrepreneurial city of the year 2016, with its rich cultural heritage, access to capital, talent and support networks, as well as its entrepreneurial culture cited as key reasons. The city currently hosts a number of fast-growing companies, and one of its biggest success stories, Skyscanner, a travel fare search engine, was purchased by China’s biggest travel website Ctrip in 2016 for a whopping £1.4 billion (€1.5 billion).


Despite Russia’s often volatile political climate and a constant barrage of sanctions from different global superpowers that continues to threaten a large number of businesses, its startup scene has been booming in recent years. Moscow, in particular, has lead the way, playing host to more than 170 companies on the Inc. 5000 Europe list. With its large population and a long-lasting tradition of first-class higher education, Moscow boasts an abundance of IT talent and a number of accelerator programs that have boosted the rise of its startup scene. If we were ever to see a period of sustained political stability in the country, Moscow would surely emerge as one of biggest startup cities not just in Europe, but in all of the world.


The capital of Portugal has emerged as a startup hub due to the combination of a developed entrepreneurial infrastructure and low cost of living, particularly the inexpensive rent compared to other major business cities such as London or Paris. The city has also benefited from a business immigration program that’s one of the fastest of all currently available investment citizenship and residency options. The Portugal golden visa has attracted a large amount of foreign capital looking to make the most of the country’s favorable business environment and the high overall quality of life. As an indicator of its entrepreneurial growth, for the past three years (and counting) Lisbon has hosted the Web Summit, the world’s leading technology conference that attracts thousands of business leaders each year.


Like Lisbon, Poland’s Krakow has also benefited from the combination of low expenses and a strong educational foundation creating a relatively high level of access to talent. The city has grown into a sort of an “outsourcing capital” of Europe, with a large number of established international companies opening their development hubs and employing local tech talents. The government of Poland has played a hand in the city’s emergence, not just by providing a stable political environment but also by providing financial support to Poland-based startups. The city also has a well-developed entrepreneurship network and solid access to incubator programs and venture funds.


The former Soviet country of Lithuania may fly low on your entrepreneurial radar, but that’s certainly not the case with Google and Uber. Both companies have recently set up shop in the nation’s capital of Vilnius, looking to reap the benefits of the city’s low costs and its exceptionally strong pool of IT professionals. These developments were not the initiators, but only indicators of Vilnius’ continued emergence as Northern-eastern Europe’s tech capital. The city also boasts a strong tech infrastructure, with some of the fastest Internet in all of Europe. Add to that the fact that the city of Vilnius was recently named the second best value city break destination in Europe, and it is clear why so many companies have made it their home base.

In conclusion, numerous companies are looking further away from the traditional entrepreneurial hot spots, due to their rising costs and the emergence of other cities that offer similar access to talent, favorable business environment, and a strong infrastructure at lower cost. Many others are bound to take notice.



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