The hegemony of San Francisco’s Silicon Valley is in decline. Neither Rome nor Silicon Valley were built in a day. Neither will they be toppled overnight. But more and more tech capitals are popping up over the world.
This will disrupt the allure of the Bay Area as the one-stop-startup-shop. Europe’s ancient capitals are now becoming hot places to for tech startups. The European Union has all the benefits of a free market economy but with lower rent prices and arguably even more kinds of artisan bread.
If you have never considered crossing the pond to get your startup going, the time to act is now. Check out these top startup scenes scattered across the EU.
Old Blighty has been at the center of the industrial and financial world for hundreds of years. Now, it is one of Europe’s top startup scenes. London is currently ranked as the most successful startup ecosystem within the EU.
Thousands of talented people flock to England’s capital every year. They come for its stellar educational resources, the vastness of its culture and its high visibility in the financial markets. Some say that the infrastructure offered in London is the only market in the world that is comparable to Silicon Valley.
London is also a great place for all entrepreneurs. While Silicon Valley has become known as a boys’ club, despite recent efforts, London has a huge number of female tech entrepreneurs. Although only 9% of these startups are run by women, this is a great start for a new scene. However, there are some drawbacks to hitting the ground in London.
London is expensive to live and work in. You need more startup capital for daily operations that you would in other cities. Although there is access to banking here, London has also not been taken over by the super angels that exist in California. As a result, many tech entrepreneurs are running two games: startups and consulting. But as any Londoner will tell you, you have to do everything you can to live in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Berlin is the capital of culture in Europe. You can find almost anything you want here. The capital of Germany also offers plenty of capital to encourage startups and founders. Berlin remains the number two investment destination in Europe, after London. It also has a significant amount of angel investors that make the climate suitable for new businesses.
Another great thing about Berlin is that it is the perfect gateway to all of Europe. Situated in the heart of the continent, the established economies of Western Europe, such as the major cities in Belgium, France and the Netherland all just short train ride away. Yet, you are also not far from the up-and-coming areas like Poland.
Finally, Berlin remains one of Europe’s most affordable creative capitals. The cost of living in Berlin is significantly less than in cities like London. This makes it easier for Germans and expats alike to focus on creative endeavors. The only drawback to setting up shop in Germany is the language barrier. This is not a big problem in Berlin. Most young and middle age Germans speak perfect English. However, this barrier can be the biggest problem when dealing with German laws that are strict on privacy.
The Dutch capital is a growing startup scene that does not often make the media’s lists. But this also means that Amsterdam has not crumbled under the pressure of media hype. Amsterdam is a great startup scene and you can expect to hear more about it in the next few years.
The ecosystem in the city is perfect for startups, entrepreneurs, tech lovers and creatives. The Dutch seem to have it all figured out. While Londoners would add more work hours in the day if they could, the Dutch work a standard number of hours. Yet, the country remains the most productive country in Europe.
There’s plenty of talent to be had here. But unlike other cities, you do not have to pay extortionate salaries to capture it. The average salary is in Amsterdam is high enough for people to not only make ends meet but for everyone to have a little bit of fun on the side. The Dutch government is also amenable to startups.
While other countries make it difficult to get through the paperwork, the Dutch government has well-run system for anyone who considers themselves to be self-employed. The only downside to Amsterdam’s status as a startup scene is, ironically, that the media has not discovered it yet.
Although the city is home to the European branches of the world’s biggest companies, word has not spread about the next big thing. Europe has a valuable creative scene that should not be overlooked by those in Silicon Valley. California may have the weather and the media presence. However, these European capitals have the infrastructure and the ecosystem to give Silicon Valley a run for its money.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Simon Crompton is an entrepreneur running several online businesses. Currently focusing on his marketing firm, Threecolors.blue, he is also a trained journalist sharing his knowledge via several internet blogs. In his spare time he’s an avid programmer and videographer. Connect with @PermanentStle on Twitter.
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