Since 2011 we are publishing an annual ranking of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. It’s been quite a while since we released the previous edition of this renowned ranking, so it was about time to do some research and publish an updated edition.
In order to create this startup ecosystem ranking, we’ve been tracking the following:
- A) As the very first step we’ve identified the TOP 150 cities in relation to this year’s visits on EU-Startups.com – and the associated number of unique visitors according to Google Analytics;
- B) Then, we’ve been looking at the number of startups that were founded/registered in each of these European cities within the past 3 years. For this overview we’ve been analysing data from Crunchbase, Dealroom and from the EU-Startups database.
- C) Finally, we had a close look at the funding activity (rounds / round sizes) we tracked for those hubs within the past 12 months. Again we had a look at Crunchbase, Dealroom and EU-Startups data.
Afterwards, we gave each of these factors specific weightings to get the right ratio – the same algorithm as in past years. The by far least influential factor, which we gave the smallest weighting, was obviously the number of unique EU-Startups visitors per city, since this metric is also influenced by our editorial work.
Please note that the resulting ranking isn’t meant to be the final or undisputable judgement about the real importance of each of these cities for the European startup world. But it clearly indicates the maturity level of the digital presence and visibility of these cities in the English-speaking startup world. So here we go with this year’s ranking:
🏆 1. LONDON: Like every year since we started tracking and ranking startup ecosystems in Europe, London remains the undisputed number 1. Despite Brexit, the capital of the UK is still clearly leading when it comes to the number of new/active startups and the number and size of funding rounds, and we don’t expect this to change within the near future. Known as Europe’s financial hub, London is also home to nearly 70% of the UK’s private equity and VC investors. Also inside the UK, London is clearly dominating in terms of startup activity. Actually all 10 of UK’s early-stage startups to watch in 2023, which we covered earlier this year, are based in London.
🔼 2. PARIS: And here we have the first big change in our startup hub ranking. Paris was the number 2 between 2011 and 2016, and since 2017 it had actually been outperformed by Berlin, which then took 2nd place. In the recent past, Paris claimed back this 2nd rank, and the technology and innovation ecosystem of Paris keeps on growing nicely. The city is also host to big international startup events like Viva Technology. It’s important to mention, that Berlin and Paris are rather close to each other when it comes to the number of new startups and funding activity. More information about the Paris startup ecosystem can be found here, and here you’ll find some of the city’s most promising early-stage startups.
🔽 3. BERLIN: While Berlin was able to overtake Paris as Europe’s 2nd biggest startup hub in 2017, the German capital now fell back on rank 3. Although, according to all the data we’ve been tracking, the distance between Berlin as number 3 and Paris as number 2 is rather small, so it could be possible that Berlin will be able to take back the number two position within the next 2-3 years. In case you’d like to learn more about the Berlin startup ecosystem, check out this quick overview. And here you’ll find some of Berlin’s most promising early-stage startups. Important to mention, Berlin has a clear head start compared to Amsterdam (which currently ranks in 4th place) and is much more likely to move upwards than downwards.
⏸️ 4. AMSTERDAM: The Dutch capital is a real magnet for startups and continues to keep its strong position as Europe’s 4th biggest startup hub. According to all the data we’ve been analysing, we don’t expect Amsterdam to move upwards or downwards from its position in the next 1-2 years, since there is a healthy distance in terms of funding rounds and the number of active startups compared to rank 3 and 5. If you want to learn more about the Amsterdam startup ecosystem, check out the overview we published a while ago, or have a look at some of the most promising early-stage startups which are located there.
🔼 5. STOCKHOLM: This is the next big surprise in our latest ranking. Previously on rank 8, Stockholm made a strong move upwards and is now number 5 in our renown list of Europe’s leading startup cities. But since the difference between rank 5 and 8 is rather marginal, we think it is not unlikely that Stockholm might move at least 1-2 ranks back downwards within the coming years. To learn more about the Stockholm startup ecosystem check out the overview we published in 2019, and also have a look at the 10 skyrocketing Swedish startups to watch in 2023, as most of them are based in Stockholm.
🔽 6. BARCELONA: The home base of EU-Startups and most of our team members went down from previously rank 5 to 6. Although, it’s important to mention that according to the data we’ve been tracking there is just a very small difference between the ranks 5-6. That being said, it’s not unlikely that Barcelona will reclaim the 5th position within next 1-2 years. To learn more about the Barcelona startup ecosystem, check out our recent startup hub profile of the Catalan capital, or have a look at our recent article highlighting 10 super promising early-stage startups from Spain (incl. several startups from Barcelona).
⏸️ 7. MADRID: As in our previous ranking, Madrid made it once more to the 7th place, but we must point out that there is just a marginal difference between rank 7 and rank 8. When we look closer at the data, Madrid is has produced slightly more startups over the past 3 years compared to rank 8 (Munich), while Munich is slightly leading in terms of the amount of VC funding in 2022/203. If you want to learn more about the Madrid startup ecosystem, check out the quick overview we published a few years ago.
🔽 8. MUNICH: As already hinted, Munich was pushed down this year by Madrid and Stockholm, and moved from rank 6 to rank 8. We still see a positive development of Bavaria’s leading startup hub, and it is likely that Munich will move back up again already in next year’s ranking. As previously mentioned, there is not a huge difference between the ranks 5 and 8. As mentioned in our recent article about “unicorn cities“, Munich is currently home to unicorns. Some of the most valuable startups in Munich are Celonis, Personio and Flix Mobility.
🔼 9. ZURICH: Here comes another big surprise of this year’s ranking. Zurich made a big jump from rank number 13 to rank number 9 of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. Over the past few years, Switzerland’s biggest city kept on growing nicely both in terms of the number of new startups founded, but also in terms of funding rounds. But since the distance to rank 9 and 13 is rather marginal this year, it is not unlikely that Zurich might move back down 1-2 ranks in next year’s list. Also make sure to check out some of Switzerland’s most promising early-stage startups to watch, as many of them are based in Zurich.
⏸️ 10. MILAN: After moving from rank 11 in 2017 to rank 10 in 2018 and in the following years, Milan was again able to defend this rank this year. In general, what we’re noticing in the Italian startup ecosystem, and also in the French ecosystem, is a slightly less international approach from startup founders, and often entrepreneurs start and/or stay focused on their home market. Entrepreneurs from smaller countries, like Estonia or the Netherlands, tend to focus on international markets much earlier, which often also results in bigger growth potential. And here are 10 promising Milan-based startups to watch.
🔼 11. HELSINKI: And here comes the next big surprise in this year’s ranking of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. The Finnish capital Helsinki moved from previously rank 14 to rank number 11 this year. According to the latest data we’ve been tracking, Helsinki saw a great development in terms of new startups and funding activities in the recent years. Helsinki, and Finland in general, is pretty strong when it comes to games industry startups (but also health and cleantech), and the Finnish capital is also home to Slush, one of the world’s leading startup events. But since the margin to rank number 12 and 13 is rather low, it could be that Helsinki will move 1-2 ranks down again in the coming years. Here are 10 Finnish startups to watch in 2023 – including many startups from Helsinki.
🔼 12. HAMBURG: And here is yet another surprise in this year’s list of Europe’s most active startup hubs. After not showing up at all in our TOP 15 ranking over many years, Hamburg previously made it to rank number 15, and this year even reached rank number 12 of the biggest startup hubs in Europe. Germany’s second largest city in terms of population is also home to the annual OMR Festival, an online marketing and startup event gathering over 70,000 attendees each year. An overview regarding latest startup news from Hamburg can be found here.
🔽 13. TALLINN: Previously on rank 12, Tallinn moved to rank 13 in this year’s startup hub overview. It’s important to mention that the difference between rank 12-16 is rather marginal, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Tallinn would move back up again or another rank downwards in next year’s ranking. One of the reasons for Tallinn’s startup success are probably innovative governmental initiatives like E-Residency, which enables digital entrepreneurs to start and manage an EU-based company online. Estonia also is known to be very founder-friendly when it comes to bureaucracy. An overview regarding latest startup news from Tallinn can be found here.
🔽 14. DUBLIN: Here comes yet another big change in our list of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. The capital of Ireland moved downwards quite strongly and is now on ranked on place 14th (previously rank 9th). But as mentioned earlier, the difference between rank 12-16 is rather marginal, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Dublin will move back up again in next year’s ranking. Dublin, was once home to Web Summit, which is now held in Lisbon, but continues to have attractive tech and startup events like Dublin Tech Summit and SaaStock. Here you’ll find some very promising Dublin-based startups to watch in 2023.
🔽 15. COPENHAGEN: Previously ranking as number 11, Copenhagen lost four ranks since 2020. The reason for this is that the Danish capital hasn’t been growing as much as some of the other startup ecosystems which were close in startup numbers and funding activity. As mentioned before, the distance between place 12 and 16 appears to be super close this year, so Copenhagen might move back up in the years to come. If you want to learn more about the Copenhagen startup ecosystem, check out the lquick overview we published in 2019. And here you’ll find 10 promising Danish startups to watch in 2023!
Those were the TOP 15 of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. Again, this ranking isn’t meant to be a final judgement, but it’s definitely a good indicator for recent developments and trends regarding startup hubs in Europe.
While the TOP 15 are available for our whole audience, the remaining 15 ranks of the full TOP 30 list are exclusively available for our CLUB members. If you are not a CLUB member yet, you can sign up here.
Are you curious to find out how Vienna, Lisbon, Oslo and other European cities are ranking? If you’re already a CLUB member, please log in and check out the remaining 15 ranks of our TOP 30 below: