London alone boasts 36 technology accelerators and around 70 co-working spaces and with seed investment scheme and R&D credits, the UK is a welcoming incubator for British start-ups. We took a look over to the continent to see how the start-up culture fairs in the countries with some of the the strongest economies.
Switzerland has long been an island of prosperity within Europe; despite a small decline in the Swiss economy early this year due to the end of the 3 and a half year policy whereby the Franc was capped at 1.20 to the Euro, Switzerland has been ranked top of the Global Competitive Index for the 6th row in a year and has attributed its exceptional economic success on the way they focus their exports to work on a global scale, rather than joining the European Economic Area and limiting partnerships to those solely within Europe.
It boasts low unemployment and a highly skilled labour workforce and once of the highest GDP per capital in the world.
Switzerland has long been a hub for medical sciences and has a strong web of internet based entrepreneurs, the country has an extremely strong pharmaceutical and chemical industry.
The Swiss start up culture is glowing; there is a strong support network with funding for start-ups available with Government funded bodies such as the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and initiative such as Venturekick, the Swiss have a strong aversion to risk therefore pay great attention to the nurture of the future of their economy.
Best for Med Tech Start-Ups
Finland has had its fair share of challenges to its economy over the years; most notably the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 had a huge impact on the country’s exportation industry. Despite experiencing a high level of public debt, Finland has ranked as one of the top runners as one of the most competitive countries in Europe.
The decline of Nokia has led to Finnish ministers pinning their hopes on tech start-ups, particularly those that have produced hit games (Finland has been recognised since 2009 for its contribution to the gaming industry) they are publically recognising these start-ups as they key drivers of innovation in the country – innovation can be a country’s biggest strength.
Finland already has an extremely highly skilled workforce and has one of the highest rates of female employment in Europe, yet again showing that they are already ahead of other countries in the EU. The country is ready for young start-ups; the proportion of elderly people in the country is among the highest in the world and the generation of baby boomers are starting to enter retirement age, providing the perfect opportunity and environment for Generation X.
Best for Gaming Start-Ups
Germany is recognised as one of the strongest economies, not only in Europe but also on a global scale. There is a large network of SMEs, and they are often described as the backbone of Germany’s economy; around 70% of the German workforce (around 25 million people) are employed by a SME.
The automotive industry in Germany is still booming and the automotive manufacture is the ‘engine room’ of innovation.
Unfortunately Germany is often regarded as having a poor start up culture, however the tech scene in Berlin is already booming, having produced successful platforms like Soundcloud. It is reported that every 20 minutes, a new start up is born in Berlin.
“Although traditionally, Germany has strong roots in more ‘hands on’ sectors like engineering and manufacturing, its Government is sitting up and taking notice of the rising tech scene. As a relocation business based in the UK – we have seen a surge in corporate relocations to Germany” explained Paul Fletcher from FN Worldwide, “The feedback that we hear is that they are already far more advanced in their telecoms infrastructure, that gives these companies a far better platform to either create or use the services from advanced, tech based businesses in Germany”
Despite being a capital city, Berlin goes against the grain by being one of the less expensive places to reside in Germany – providing an excellent financial opportunity for budding entrepreneurs. There is a strong culture of aiding growth acceleration within start-ups; Startupbootcamp Berlin is supporting the city’s young businesses by offering mentors and investors from corporate partners such as Bosch and Mercedes Benz while Betahaus focuses on fostering relationships between corporate partners and encourage ‘co-working’ spaces.
While it may not have the recognition it deserves outside of the city, or even the country, it seems that Germany is leading the way when it comes to exploiting the knowledge and experience of existing successful businesses to support and guide new players.
Best for web based Start Ups
With a GDP per capita of around $43, 404, The Netherland is one of the richest countries in the world. Agriculture is a driving force of the economy – The Netherlands is the 2nd largest agricultural exporter in the world; however the industry is highly mechanized, and only employs 2% of the country workforce
Although the start-up scene in the Netherlands was founded in the early 90s, the financial crisis in 2008 delivered it a sharp blow; since then, younger more agile businesses have recovered far better than existing giants like Shell.
Strong mentor culture and Dutch innovators are encouraged to actively seek young entrepreneurs to mentor, coupled with an outstanding education system shaping high achieving students – this is a recipe for a successful future. With a strong advocate for creating a ‘start up’ in Neelie Kroes, acceleration inatives such as StartUp Delta and Startup Amsterdam and now Startup Visa – it looks like the Netherland are set to become a hub for international start-ups too.
The interesting point about Dutch start-ups is that they are firmly remaining loyal to their county’s roots; while other nations are focusing on wen based and software, entrepreneurs in the Netherlands have looked to industrial heritage and produced hardware set to revolutionise and disrupt, such as Fairphone. Many start-ups born in the Netherlands have flourished and flown the nest, planting roots in the states such as payment solution platform Adyen, app builder Mendix and diversified technology giant Philips.
Best for Fintech and High Tech Hardware Start-Ups
While the current future of Europe’s economies is forecasted by business strategists to be decidedly gloomy, there is an expanding mission sweeping across the continent and Great Britain made up of political and industry leaders, that aims to empower young entrepreneurs and support the growth of the digital economy. With this, also comes a strong belief that starts ups are going to transform the economy. So sit tight and watch Generation X embrace the change and competition that will lead them to be the beacon of light in the somewhat overcast economic future.