In Europe, there are a number of cities that are renowned for their thriving tech communities, cutting-edge innovation, and vibrant startup scenes. Though Europe is not quite at the level of the U.S. market, it has seen significant growth in the last few years.
As we emerge from the shadow of a global pandemic, it’s interesting to reassess where the European tech landscape stands in 2023, and what we can likely expect going forward. While 2021, was a record-breaking year for investments in the EU tech market (over $100B), 2022, fell short. We saw over $400 billion erased from the market. This was the expected economic onslaught from lockdowns, COVID restrictions, and the overall global pressure on these markets.
Despite inflation, government spending, and massive tech layoffs, European tech hubs are still growing. Money is still being pumped into tech cities all across Europe, and unicorns are still being born every year. Even though we saw a downtick in growth from 2021 and 2022, there are still thousands of unfilled tech jobs in these hubs.
With plenty of job opportunities for software engineers in these top tech cities, it’s hard to know which one’s best for you. We’ll take a closer look at startups, funding, and the major sectors in each location so you can find out what city best suits your career path and preferences.
1. London, United Kingdom
London is the leading tech hub in Europe and is widely considered to be one of the world's most important financial and technology capitals. The city is home to a number of established tech companies, such as Cisco, Salesforce, and Expedia Group.
In 2022, London startups received over $19.2B which is more than double the amount raised in Paris and triple the amount raised in Berlin. Although London raised more capital in the previous year ($24.9B), the city is still on an upwards trend.
While Silicon Roundabout and Kingscross are home to thousands of innovative startups, London’s main sector is Fintech. In 2021, 46% of total VC investments were in Fintech. Revolut, Wise, SumUp, Monzo, and Starling Bank are just a few of the successful Fintech companies to come out of the UK’s capital. There also seems to be a rising interest in Edtech, with over 40% of all Edtech investment in Europe going toward London.
The UK has produced 110 companies that have reached a valuation of $1 billion (€960m). 32 of these companies were born in London. In 2022, the UK added five more unicorns to the list, with four of these companies (SumUp, Multiverse, Tripledot, and GoCardless) being based in London, which means London remains Europe’s unicorn capital followed closely by Berlin.
What’s the tech job situation look like? According to Tech Nation, there were over 600,000 job vacancies in London between 2021 and 2022. Software developer vacancies accounted for over 56,000— which was by far the most advertised position in the London tech scene and tended to offer a high average salary. It’s important to note that almost 80% of advertised tech roles are for senior positions.
Not surprisingly, large tech companies account for most roles advertised. PA Consulting Group, IBM, and OCado advertised around 35,000 roles each in 2021. Pay attention to big firms like this if you are looking to get a foot in the door, there are plenty of opportunities.
2. Paris, France
Paris is more than Louis Vuitton, Hermès, and Chanel — it’s one of the most important tech hubs in Europe. Thanks to government sponsorship, billions of dollars have poured into the tech community helping to attract founders and drive innovation.
While investments in major European tech cities declined (sometimes by 50%), Paris saw a 21% increase. Paris raised over $9.8B in 2022, up from $8.1B in 2021. Investments almost doubled what was reported in Berlin (3rd) and Stockholm (4th) for 2022.
You’ll find most of Paris’ 12,000+ startups in or around Silicon IX and Station F — two huge startup ecosystems in the capital. When we take a look at the successful tech companies to emerge, many are in the Fintech, Big Data, and AI sectors — for which Paris is known. You might recognise international companies such as BlaBlaCar, Qonto, and Spendesk.
While France takes the third spot for the number of unicorns, at a total of 33, it’s still lagging a fair way behind Germany (58) and the UK (110). France is still a long way off its 100 unicorn goal by 2030 – that’s seven years to produce 66 unicorns. According to Tracxn, France was only able to add six unicorns in 2022, which means the French will have to step up their game significantly. Of the six unicorns, five were born out of Paris: Qonto, Spendesk, EcoVadis, Ankorstore, and Pigment
Given the language barrier, it’s very hard to find data on the number of tech job vacancies in Paris. The language barrier is also one of the biggest criticisms from international talent. I’ve seen platforms advertising for over 17,000+ tech roles, so let’s assume that it’s in that range, and predominantly catering to French-speaking talent.
3. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is widely considered to be one of the most important tech hubs in Europe, and for good reason. This city has a rich history of innovation and a thriving startup scene, which has been fuelled in recent years by a massive influx of investment and talent.
Berlin is home to a number of leading tech companies, including SoundCloud, N26, and Delivery Hero, and is also the birthplace of numerous groundbreaking startups, such as Adjust and GetYourGuide. In addition to its thriving tech community, Berlin also offers a high quality of life, high average salary, and a low cost of living, making it an attractive destination for both tech professionals and entrepreneurs.
In 2021, Berlin overtook Paris as the second-biggest city in Europe for capital invested — food delivery startups driving this incredible influx of cash. But by 2022 the landscape was very different — growth was tapering off and the market was readjusting hyper inflated valuations. As a result, investments dropped 50% from the previous year, totalling $5.2B. The drop in capital pushed Berlin back into third place.
According to Dealroom, there are around 4,879 startups currently operating in Berlin. Since the beginning of 2022, the nation's capital has welcomed 135 new startups (Dealroom). You can find Berlin’s tech companies huddled around the city centre or in Silicon Allee, a popular startup incubator.
Fintech and food delivery have been the hottest sectors in Berlin’s startup scene for some time now. Neo banks like N26, Vivid, and Solarisbank have raised millions of Euros and have been very successful on the international stage. Berlin’s food delivery space has produced multiple unicorns such as Gorillas, Flink, Hellofresh, and Delivery Hero.
According to Atomico, Germany has a total of 58 unicorns, which is about half of the UK and almost double that of France. In 2022, Germany managed to add four more unicorns to their list, these four companies were Grover, Choco, One Football, and Taxfix — all Berlin-based startups.
More than 78,000 people are employed by startups in Berlin, with the 10 biggest employing 17% of the startup workforce. Since it’s such an international tech hub you’ll find no shortage of English-speaking jobs in Berlin although it is difficult to estimate how many tech and software engineer vacancies there are in the city. But to give you an idea, 1 in 3 companies report difficulties filling tech roles in Germany.
4. Stockholm, Sweden
After London, Paris, and Berlin, we have Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Stockholm has a population of one million inhabitants and has become one of the best cities in Europe to start a business. Start-up founders in Stockholm have access to extensive government support, a world-renowned social welfare system, beautiful landscapes, and a largely English-speaking population.
The city is a major hub for mobile communications, thanks to companies such as Ericsson, and has a growing gaming industry with leading developers like King, Rovio, DICE, Avalanche Studios, Resolution Games, and Fast Travel Games.
There are apparently 23 unicorns in Sweden, with 9 of them being born in Stockholm. Some of the notable billion-dollar companies are Spotify, Skype, Klarna, King (the maker of Candy Crush), and Mojang (the creator of Minecraft).
Stockholm received the 4th largest investment hub in Europe, with over $4.1 billion being injected into the economy in 2022. While receiving only half of what was invested in Paris, Stockholm is a close contender for third place.
TheNextWeb reports nearly 3,000 startups in Sweden’s capital which employ around 100,000 people. The startup ecosystem is valued at approximately $88 billion making it the 22nd biggest ecosystem in the world. The biggest sectors in Stockholm are cleantech, fintech, and life sciences. Stockholm is a big supporter of climate action and aims to be fossil free by 2040 which has promoted the growth of many green startups.
What’s the job market like? In Sweden, 6 out of every 10 jobs created (from 2010 to 2016) were in the tech sector. It is estimated that 70,000 tech professionals will be needed in the Swedish tech industry by 2024. The biggest openings will be in programming roles like frontend development, backend development, and DevOps.
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is a top tourist destination renowned for its canals, gorgeous architecture, and its lax approach to recreational drugs. Although it is overshadowed by cities like Berlin, Amsterdam's tech scene is quite impressive for such a small city of only 900,000 people (Berlin: 3.7 mil, Paris: 2.1 mil).
The Dutch capital is known for its progressive work-life balance, which is one of the main reasons behind its thriving tech industry. The city has a long-standing tech legacy, with Dutch-developed innovations such as CD, DVD, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the Python programming language. Amsterdam is also the home to globally recognised tech companies like Booking.com, Adyen (payment processing), and MessageBird.
In 2022, $1.6 Billion of capital was invested into Amsterdam down from $4.4 billion in 2021. According to Startupgenome, the total value of Amsterdam's startup ecosystem is $82 billion. Fintech, life sciences, and Big data are the most dominant sectors. Some of the biggest data companies are co-headquartered in Amsterdam like Datadog, Databricks, and Snowflake. Along with tech jobs these international companies pay some of the highest salaries in all of Europe.
To date (June 2023), Amsterdam is home to over 4,000 startups which collectively employ around 194,000 people. Since the beginning of 2022, Amsterdam has welcomed 130 new startups. The government has also been promoting the start-up scene with its initiatives such as StartupDelta, and immigration policies that make it easier for foreign talent to work in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands has produced 20 unicorn companies with 12 of them started in Amsterdam. Notable unicorns include WeTranser, Takeaway.com, and Booking.com. Aside from these local prodigies, Amsterdam is also a big hub for FAANG and big tech companies like Uber, Stripe, and Miro.
Given that around 90% Dutch people speak English, the job market is open to international workers. You’ll have to secure a job before moving but there is high demand for tech talent. According to the Amsterdam Economic Board, there are 26 job vacancies per available tech worker. Apparently 5 out of 6 openings are going unfilled. The most sought after talent are data scientists and software developers.
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