Monthly Wrap: Europe’s top five tech hotspots

Philip McHugh January 19th 2022 - 4 minute read

By Currencies Direct on January 19, 2022

Sometimes where you are can make all the difference.

Sure, with the internet you can work effectively from anywhere, but tapping away in your home office is very different from working in a bustling city space with accelerator programmes, world-class infrastructure and likeminded souls to bounce ideas off.

But the best thing about thriving tech scenes? They host a whole ecosystem of other sectors and professions, from financial services to freelance creatives and from HR to hospitality. Whatever your specialism, it’s likely you’ll find plenty of opportunities.

2021’s Tech Cities of the Future saw London take the top spot, followed by Paris, Dublin, Berlin and Amsterdam. All of these cities rank highly for tech investment, infrastructure and innovation, but each one offers something unique. Let’s take a look.

5. Amsterdam: best for work-life balance

Of all Europe’s tech hotspots, Amsterdam tops the chart when it comes to standard of living. According to the OECD Better Life Index, the Netherlands is the world’s best country for work-life balance. And when you dig into the data, it’s easy to see why.

Among the OECD, on average 11% of employees regularly work very long hours. The Netherlands, however, has the lowest rate – a heavenly 0.4%. Dutch workers spend about 16 hours per day on leisure and personal care, coming second only to the French.

You may think that easier working hours means less pay, but that’s not the case. Salaries are high, with the country ranking fifth of the OECD nations for personal earnings. The average net monthly salary for a tech worker in Amsterdam is €4,046, putting it way ahead of the other cities featured on this list.

The city also boasts an unrivalled cultural scene, from festivals and art exhibitions to tech conferences and hackathons. There’s plenty going on to keep you both entertained and inspired, while networking opportunities abound.

4. Berlin: best for start-ups

If you’re looking to get a project off the ground, Berlin is your best bet. The city came second after London in the Start-Up Environment category thanks to a strong ecosystem of supportive public and private organisations.

In 2020, Berlin received over $900m in venture capital (VC) funding, second only to – you guessed it – London again. Most Berlin-based investors are focused on the early stages, making it a great city if you’re looking to launch a start-up.

Berlin also has the lowest living costs among the cities on this list and is the cheapest capital city in Western Europe. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is €741, which is about half that of Dublin, Amsterdam or London, while living expenses are low and salaries are relatively high.

As working for or founding a nascent company can often mean less competitive pay, these low living costs are another reason why Berlin is an excellent environment for start-ups.

3. Dublin: best for entrepreneurs

Do you have an entrepreneurial streak? Head to Dublin. The capital of the Emerald Isle has a favourable view of entrepreneurs and a strong appetite for risk, which have seen the city’s tech sector thrive in recent years.

Somewhat of an underdog a decade ago, Dublin has gone from strength to strength. The scene has exploded, and the city has held third place in the Tech Cities of the Future study for two consecutive years.

Similar to Berlin, Dublin boasts an excellent environment for start-ups. Funding has rapidly increased, with new companies supported by programmes such as Enterprise Ireland. And among the five cities featured here, Dublin scores highest when it comes to inhabitants’ willingness to take on risk.

But it’s not just a city for start-ups. The rapid rise of Dublin’s tech scene has attracted global big-hitters, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, with many companies teaming up with the city’s excellent academic institutions to create campuses and hubs.

2. Paris: best for innovation

Paris scores highly across the board but is renowned for its innovation, thanks to the city’s impressive reputation for research and development (R&D). The Paris Region tops the ranks in Europe for both R&D spending and the number of research professionals working in the area.

According to the QS World University Rankings, Paris is home to five of the top 500 universities for computer science and engineering, and four of the top 500 for electrical and electronic engineering. What does this mean for innovation? World-class new blood and cutting-edge academic research.

The French capital is also home to major companies conducting R&D, including 19 companies ranked in the Global Fortune Top 500.

As such, the city is bursting with innovative potential, while excellent physical and digital infrastructure supports start-ups and multinationals alike.

1. London: best for funding

Last on this list but top of the chart is the UK capital, which remains Europe’s tech powerhouse even post Brexit.

London has it all: a fertile start-up scene, world-class innovation, and an impressive tech talent pool, with the city hosting seven of the top 500 universities in computer science and engineering.

But London really shines when it comes to funding and finance. Last year, London tech firms raised $10.5bn in VC fundingaccounting for a quarter of all European VC funding in 2020 and just shy of 2019’s record high of $10.7bn.

As a global financial centre, funding streams in the city are plentiful and diverse, ranging from crowdfunding platforms and banks to VC funds and angel investors.

London also has an unrivalled accelerator community, with a whopping 38 accelerators in the city, compared to 14 each in Berlin and Paris and 4 each in Dublin and Amsterdam.

But while finance is its strength, it’s also its weakness. London is by far the most expensive city on this list.

Special mentions: Stockholm and Madrid.

So those are our picks for Europe’s top five tech hotspots. There are plenty of other thriving tech scenes all over Europe, so be sure to look around a little more if you’re planning to move abroad.

In particular, Stockholm and Madrid stand out as rapid up-and-comers, and certainly deserve a special mention. Who knows, perhaps they’ll make the top five in the future…

Written by
Philip McHugh

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