Many fail to perceive Europe as a natural startup habitat. Europe’s long-standing obstacles to entrepreneurs are beginning to diminish, however, according to the key players in tech.
The preconception of Europe as an over-regulated market is starting to disappear. Leading industry experts gathered at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech to discuss the future of Europe’s tech sector and concluded that the continent is beginning to become more attractive to investors.
Message Bird CEO Robert Vis, Adyen’s North America president Kamran Zaki, Business France chairman Pascal Cagni, and IDA Ireland head of technology Donal Travers congregated to discuss Europe’s unappeal. The common assumption is that Europe is governed by officials who treat innovators with contempt.
This is not necessarily the case, and Message Bird’s Robert Vis argued that funding is readily available for financially successful European ventures. “I don’t think capital is an issue,” he commented, “I think early stage investment is an issue…. In the US ideas get funded. In Europe, traction gets funded.”
Tech startups are doing surprisingly well, and venture capitalists are investing more in the tech sector than ever before. Figures suggest that firms have invested around $67 billion just this year, and are set to surpass the 2016 record of $87 billion.
Rising valuations in Silicon Valley have also contributed Europe’s growing appeal, and it now exists on the radar of global venture investors. Amongst the political chaos, “Europe is cheap, incredibly cheap,” according to Cagni.
Kamran Zaki, North American president for Amsterdam-based payments processor Adyen, attributed the firm’s success to its European origin. “For us, starting from Europe was a positive because we had to be global from Day One,” he declared.
The CB Insights ranking concluded that out of 260 global unicorns, just 23 were situated in Europe. Deloitte and China Venture also found that out of 252 unicorns, 106 firms were based in the US and 98 in China.
Despite this imbalance, European countries Switzerland and Malta are rapidly becoming tech pioneers. Malta just introduced a legal framework for blockchain businesses, and Switzerland boasts its very own blockchain hub to rival the likes of Silicon Valley.
Spotify is Europe’s highest valued tech startup, and the venture’s April IPO valued the platform at nearly $30 billion. Adyen is also massively successful, and the 2006 company processed $122 billion in payments just last year.
Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech experts concluded that Brexit will pose complicated challenges to startups in the UK. The future of Britain’s tech sector is still uncertain as negotiations continue, and Hiro Tamura articulated this anxiety: “London has been a pretty good place for people to congregate…the talent piece is what I worry about a lot.”
Take a look at EM360’s top ten places for a tech startup to grow and succeed (many of which happen to be located in Europe)