HomeKnow-HowUnicorn Cities: Europe's Top 6 startup hubs breading the most unicorns

Unicorn Cities: Europe’s Top 6 startup hubs breading the most unicorns

Most startup stats list cities by popularity or by favourable living conditions. This week, EU-Startups decided to look into the number of unicorns that different European cities are bringing to fruition.

Unicorns are privately held startups with a current valuation of one billion USD or more. With San Francisco and New York appearing on top of several international lists, the top 20 unicorn cities worldwide only list three European startup cities. Here are the six top European cities where the most amount of unicorns have been spotted.

1) London

Taking a nice fifth position in some international publications, London is the hometown of 39 unicorn startups. Previously valued at almost €40 billion checkout.com is on top of the list. Starting in 2012, the fintech startup now has over 1,500 employees. It is a digital payment solution founded by Guillaume Pousaz and aside from the highly valuable Swedish banking solution Klarna it is one of the most valued unicorns in Europe. The seamless checkout integration platform has received over €1.5 billion in funding to date.

Revolut and Blockchain.com at number two and three are also financial services startups that have been valued at around €33 and €14 billion. Having started in 2015, Revolut has received €1,7 billion in funding. Blockchain.com started in 2011 and it has been valued at around €14 billion. The founders Benjamin Reeves, Nicolas Carry and Peter Smith have received almost €500 million in funding.

2) Berlin

The eighth city in a worldwide ranking of the number of several international lists, Berlin is hosting 24 unicorns. One of the most talked about unicorns that emerged in the past 5 years from this thriving city was Gorillas (acquired in 2022 by Getir).

Number one and two in Berlin, in terms of valuation, are banking solutions N26 and Trade Republic. They were at some point valued at over €8 billion and €4 billion respectively. Another highly valued unicorn in the Insurtech realm is wefox, a software company focused on creating an application-based insurance comparison platform for managing insurance and financial products. Wefox has successfully raised over €1.5 billion in funding since its foundation in 2015.

3) Paris

Coming right after Berlin, the city of lights is currently hosting around 22 unicorns. On top of the list, talking about evaluation, we can find Doctolib the startups that connect users to the best medical services. Founders Franck Tetzlaff, Ivan Schneider, Jessy Bernal, Stanislas Niox-Chateau, Steve Abou Rjeily, and Thomas Landais, have received more than €750 million in funding to make the platform work. Founded in 2013 the unicorn has previously been valued at over €6 billion.

Another high-valued Parisian unicorn is the renowned Back Market selling refurbished gadgets. Quentin Le Brouster, Thibaud Hug de Larauze, Vianney Vaute founded the company in 2014 and received over €1 billion in funding. With almost 800 employees, the company’s value has been estimated to be around €6 billion.

Another tool called Contentsquare is another perfect example of the Parisian startup scene. There are some very successful gaming startups such as Voodoo valued at around €2,3 billion in 2020 and founded in 2013. 

4) Stockholm

Hosting seven unicorns is the Swedish capital Stockholm hosts renowned unicorns like Klarna, Skype, Minecraft, Epidemic Sound and of course Spotify with projected revenue of €8 billion per month or over 205 million users. Probably the most valued unicorn in the city is Northvolt which is developing clean energy batteries. It has received almost €7 billion in funding and has previously been valued at over €8.5 billion. Founders Paolo Cerruti and Peter Carlsson are leading a company with almost 4,000 employees. Epidemic Sound has recently been valued at almost €1 billion in the past. The founders David Stenmarck, Hjalmar Winbladh, Jan Zachrisson, Oscar Höglund, Peer Åströmstarted started the company in 2009. The royalty-free music streaming service has received over €400 million in funding.

5) Amsterdam

Tieing up with Stockholm hosting seven unicorns like Messagebird and Mollie. Named after its founder, Adriaan Mol, Mollie has previously been valued at €6.5 billion and was founded in 2004. It is one of the highest-valued unicorns in Amsterdam. The easy-to-implement digital payment solution has received almost €1 billion in funding and has more than 800 employees. Other examples of highly valued fintech startups in Amsterdam are Mambu, Backbase and Buns. Hotmart is a platform to help you start a business that has been valued almost at €1 billion and was founded in 2011 by João Pedro Resende, and Mateus Bicalho. Closing the list is blockchain company BitFury, which started in 2011 and has been valued at around €1 billion too. It was founded by Valery Nebesny and Valery Vavilov receiving over €150 million in funding.

6) Munich

Home to five unicorns, some of the most valuable startups in Munich are Celonis, Personio and Flix Mobility. Excepting Flixbus, all Munich-based unicorns are platforms and software companies. With more than 3,000 employees, Flixbus, the transportation company founded by Andre Schwammlein, Daniel Krauss, and Jochen Engert, has been valued at €3 billion. Starting in 2013, it has received over €1 billion in funding. Another exception is Agile Robots, a robot application company valued at around €1 billion in 2021 and founded in 2018.

Additional thoughts 

European capitals are still the strongholds for successful startups. With the exception of the emerging startup hubs like Stockholm and Munich, there are very few surprises as to who tops the list of cities with the most valuable startups: London, Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam are actually on top of EU-Startups own ranking for European startup hubs. 

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Alexandra Amsberg
Alexandra Amsberg
Alexandra is an entrepreneur who founded her own startup a few years ago. Her background is in consulting and architecture. She worked for big corporates and starting pioneers. After a postdoc for founders at IE Business School she decided she wanted to work in media as an entrepreneur and writer.

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