Today Europe has a unique opportunity for explosive economic growth. With seven of the top 10 National Readiness Index (NRI) countries, no other continent can boast such a diverse group of leading nations. Even more, at latest count, Europe has a total of 47 unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion). But to capitalize on what is before the EU will require better coordination and support between its many leading tech ecosystems.
A recent report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) describes an embarrassment of riches for some of Europe’s leading startup cities. For example, Luxembourg has the highest skilled workforce in the world with 60 percent high skilled jobs. Despite its recent controversy with Brexit, the UK is home to 17 tech unicorns and is building Europe’s largest technology center at the London Olympic Park. The Netherlands is the first country in the world with a network dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT). Lastly, Finland is recognized as the best country in the world for education and skills.
There have been some recent efforts to bring major European corporations and the EU’s most promising startups together in order to help these young upstarts achieve scale. Launched by the former EC Commissioner Neelie Kroes in 2014, the Startup Europe Partnership has aimed to jumpstart collaboration and investment between corporations and leading startups.
Initiatives like the Startup Europe Partnership, as well as Startup Europe and the European Digital Forum are a good start in bringing Europe’s disparate tech ecosystems together to make a much larger impact than they can alone. In North America, growing tech incubators like 1871 in Chicago and Startup Mexico in Mexico City have partnered to promote job growth and investment opportunities between their tech communities.
In Switzerland, DigitalZurich2025 is providing a model at the city level for other tech hubs to aspire to. Switzerland is ranked as the most innovative and competitive economy in the world. Zurich as a city has the highest ranked technical university in continental Europe in ETH Zurich and its neighbour city Zug hosts a number of bitcoin and blockchain startups in what has been dubbed “Cryptovalley.”With so much innovation occurring in cities all across Europe, one can dream on a coordinated, connected Europe fostering support and a healthy sense of competition to the startup community. Partnerships between tech hubs for sharing resources and benefits would enable job growth as well as investment opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Even exchanging demo days between each city’s respective top startups could bring about a fruitful cross-pollination of ideas to inspire further innovation. Today’s best startups are able to connect people across the globe. It’s not too hard to fathom Europe’s tech hubs connecting in pursued of shared innovation and growth.