Europe’s best startup city: London retains the crown

Nesta and the European Digital Forum’s latest index of the best cities in Europe for digital innovation puts London at the very top

Europe's best startup city: London retains the crown

If you’re remotely interested in innovation, then London is the place to be. Not only does the Big Smoke have an impressive entrepreneurial talent pool but the city also knows how to harness its residents’ creative power. And that’s perhaps why the British capital has once again been named the top European city for digital entrepreneurs.

Nesta, the innovation foundation, and European Digital Forum, the think tank, have compiled their second annual European Digital City Index, which ranks 60 European cities based on their ability to nurture digital innovation. The cities were graded on 40 separate measures, including mentoring and managerial assistance, business environment and digital infrastructure. The list reveals that London retained its title from last year because of its access to capital, vibrant entrepreneurial culture and ability to attract a skilled workforce.

Commenting on the ranking, Rajesh Agrawal, deputy mayor of London for Business, a section of the London Assembly, said: “London is open to all manner of technological innovation and has the perfect time zone to trade with all four corners of the world. I am sure that this crucial part of our economy will only go from strength to strength in the coming years.”

But with the shadow of a potential hard Brexit looming over the British Isles, Chris Haley, head of startups and new technology research at Nesta, warned that London’s chances of retaining the crown may diminish in the future. “Government must continue to invest in digital skills and digital infrastructure, as well as addressing the cost of office space, if it is to continue to attract the next Deliveroo or FundingCircle, with many competitor cities in Europe, China and the US working hard to attract young firms,” he said.

But retaining the top position was no mean feat, considering the competition from the other cities on the top ten list. For instance, Stockholm is snapping at London’s feet, coming in second. While a touch of Dutch courage has enabled Amsterdam to turn challenges into profit, the Venice of the north only managed to come in third, followed closely by Helsinki, Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Barcelona and Vienna in that order.

And while London is undoubtedly a haven for startups, several British entrepreneurs in other UK cities also made the list. For instance, Cambridge, Bristol, Oxford and Manchester were ranked in 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th place respectively. Edinburgh snapped at their heels in 19th place, as did Birmingham at 23, Glasgow at 36 and Cardiff, which came in at 40th place.

Given that entrepreneurs in London have plenty of chances to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of the startup sector, this latest accolade adds weight to the prediction that the British capital will produce the next big tech startup. So if there are any entrepreneurs out there looking for a place to set up shop, let them know that London’s calling.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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