The 30 Top Cities and Places in Europe for Startups

Despite the worldwide reputation of Silicon Valley as the top spot for startups and venture capital, it is Europe that is taking the lead when it comes to blockchain and crypto innovation.

Two Swiss cities figure into this “Top 30” list from Silicon Republic - and it is Zug in particular that has captured the attention of startups the world over - and has put it third in the rankings of top spots for startup funding.


After more than a year of checking out Europe’s start-up scene, we recall our favourite cities and regions bursting with entrepreneurial promise.

As we looked at the start-up ecosystem in Europe over the past 18 months, it became abundantly clear that today’s tech entrepreneur, no matter where they are, starts off with the exact same palette of technologies, from the software to the hardware and the connectivity (good and bad).

What makes each ecosystem different, however, is each entrepreneur and founding team’s unique, imaginative and distinctive take on solving problems, making technological breakthroughs and, in general, removing the frictions from our lives.

Over the past year or more, we have covered more than 60 cities and entrepreneurial hubs worldwide (Zug, for example, is technically a municipality rather than a city). As we enter 2019, our trek will continue to unearth some of the most exciting start-ups in the most exciting cities and ecosystems.

Each region has a unique funding environment and government policy. And, due to the vagaries of start-up life, some of the companies may no longer with us through being acquired or from running the gauntlet of risk. So, consider each list to be a moment in time. We plan to return to these locations again in the future to chronicle new generations of start-ups that will no doubt emerge.

And so, here are our 30 favourite start-up destinations to watch out for in 2019.

Athens

The Parthenon Temple at the Acropolis of Athens, Greece. Image: Sven Hansche/Shutterstock

Athens has been a centre of civilisation for millennia, and now it is at the heart of a tech start-up revolution.

Barcelona

Barcelona city at night. Image: Kanuman/Shutterstock

Barcelona is the jewel of the Mediterranean when it comes to a robust and diverse start-up ecosystem.

Berlin

Berlin skyline. Image: Canadastock/Shutterstock

Berlin is one of Europe’s leading start-up capitals, with a vibrancy and pace that is truly inspirational.

Belfast

Titanic Belfast museum on the site where Titanic was built. Image: James Kennedy NI/Shutterstock

Belfast has its eye on the future and is bubbling with entrepreneurial promise.

Budapest

Hungarian parliament in Budapest at sunset. Image: TTstudio/Shutterstock

The Hungarian capital, Budapest, is buzzing with tech start-ups with a world vision, and products and platforms to match.

Cambridge

Image: © IRstone/Stock.adobe.com

The university city of Cambridge is home to compelling start-ups at the bleeding edge in areas such as big data, life sciences and AI.

Copenhagen

Cyclists outside the Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen. Image: William Perugini/Shutterstock

Copenhagen is a city that is defiantly carving its own path to tech glory.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh skyline. Image: Evenfh/Shutterstock

When it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, Scotland’s capital city is a veritable goldmine.

Ghent

Ghent, Belgium. Image: Nattee Chalermtiragool/Shutterstock

Ghent is a glittering prize when it comes to super-focused start-ups intent on changing our world.

Glasgow

Clyde Arc Bridge, Glasgow, Scotland. Image: Yvonne Stewart Henderson/Shutterstock

Glasgow is a hotspot for entrepreneurial activity and its tech start-up community is driving innovation at full throttle.

Helsinki

The Old Port, Helsinki. Image: Scanrail 1/Shutterstock

Finnish capital Helsinki is a hotbed of tech innovation, with start-ups that are making waves internationally.

Kraków

Kraków Main Square. Image: Sopotnicki/Shutterstock

Kraków in southern Poland is becoming an exciting epicentre of tech innovation and entrepreneurship.

Limerick

Aerial view of Limerick. Image: shutterupeire/Shutterstock

Limerick is a tech city and a beacon for the digital ambitions of the mid-west region.

Lisbon

Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal. Image: TTstudio/Shutterstock

Lisbon has a flourishing and thriving start-up scene.

London

Image: FenlioQ/Shutterstock

London is unquestionably the epicentre of start-up activity in Europe.

Madrid

The Calle de Alcalá is one of the oldest streets in Madrid. Image: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Spain’s capital is not just about history and culture, it is also about the future.

Milan

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. Image: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock

Milan is not only the fashion, financial and industrial capital of Italy, it is also the country’s biggest start-up hub.

Munich

Image: Valentina Photo/Shutterstock

Beloved for its beer, cars and engineering, Munich is also an epicentre of culture and entrepreneurship.

Montpellier

Montpellier. Image: Ross Helen/Shutterstock

The Mediterranean city of Montpellier is the Silicon Valley of the south of France.

Oslo

Norwegian flag. Image: William Perugini/Shutterstock

Norway’s capital city, Oslo, is home to a thriving start-up ecosystem that captures the best of Scandinavian ingenuity and originality.

Porto

The city of Porto. Image: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Porto is bustling with start-up and scale-up activity, and is rapidly becoming a leading European hub for entrepreneurship.

Prague

Prague, Czech Republic. Image: Nikolay Antonov/Shutterstock

Prague is not only in the centre of Europe, it is playing a central role in the future of technology.

Riga

Riga and the Latvian flag. Image: Ingus Kruklitis/Shutterstock

The Latvian capital of Riga is a powerhouse of digital innovation.

Tallinn

Tallinn, Estonia. Image: Dmitry Tkachenko Photo/Shutterstock

In many ways, Tallinn is one of Europe’s foremost digital cities and a natural home for tech entrepreneurs with flare and ambition.

Toulouse

Toulouse and the Garonne River. Image: Simon Biggar/Shutterstock

Toulouse is flying high when it comes to smart technologies originating from a community of start-ups with a world vision for IoT and more.

Vienna

Belvedere Palace, Vienna. Image: Uhryn Larysa/Shutterstock

In the heart of Europe, Vienna has a beating heart full of innovation that is hard to beat.

Vilnius

Image: MN Studio/Shutterstock

Lithuania’s capital city, Vilnius, is home to a maturing and innovative start-up ecosystem with plenty of variety.

Warsaw

Warsaw’s Old Town. Image: TTStudio/Shutterstock

Warsaw is bursting with ambition when it comes to fostering a thriving ecosystem of innovative tech start-ups.

Zug

Aerial view of Zug, Switzerland. Image: Sam Chadwick/Shutterstock

The Swiss region of Zug is also known as Crypto Valley because it has become an epicentre of fintech, cryptocurrency and blockchain activity.

Zurich

Image: Ross Helen/Shutterstock

Zurich is at the nexus of important innovations in digital, medical and financial technologies. It is also a thriving proving ground for start-ups.

Ian Simpson