Underdogs No More: Top European Startup Cities You Missed

This guest post is written by Nicholas Vandrey from Funderbeam, An Estonian provider of startup data-intelligence services.

We love messing around with numbers at Funderbeam, from simple funding figures to complex machine-learning algorithms. What else do we love? Underdogs. Today, we’ll reveal European cities that punch way above their weight in the startup world.

Everybody likes a good story of the little guy making a stand. So when the opportunity arose to write one, we were all over it. (Didn’t have anything to do with Funderbeam being located in Europe’s 41st largest country by population. Honestly.)

Just like the US has Silicon Valley, Europe has its own major hubs where startups run rampant. As we’ve previously reported, the UK, Germany, and France pull in the most funding in Europe. Unsurprisingly, the three cities with the most funding in the last year are London, Berlin, and Paris.

In the last year, the top ten most-funded European cities have raised $5.57 billion. 79.25% of that has been raised between London, Berlin, and Paris at $4.41 billion. The story doesn’t change much when you look at the number of funding rounds in the top ten. 707 out of 899 funding rounds (78.64%) took place in, that’s right, London, Berlin, and Paris.

Now that we have our numbers, let’s mess around with them. Let’s see if our startup monoliths are indeed that, or if they’re just masquerading as giants. If we take the total funding raised in all ten cities and distribute that evenly across each city’s population, what happens?

Oh my… Well, let’s see how many rounds of funding each city raised per million inhabitants.

How the mighty have fallen. Those same three cities only make up 6.78% of funding per capita, and 19.87% of rounds per million. Meanwhile, the smallest three cities of this group by population – Horw, Cambridge, and Lausanne – make up 85.85% of the funding per capita and 50.71% of the rounds per million inhabitants.

Digging a little deeper reveals some interesting patterns. Seed-stage funding was the most common round in every city from the group except the smallest three, where Series C funding and debt get the prize. This could indicate that startups in these cities are well established and mature, while startups in cities like London are young and are yet to find their footing. However, series funding constituted the largest portion of money raised across the board in terms of actual dollars (and euros).

The heroes of our underdog cities were CeQur in Horw, who raised $100m to fund their development of insulin delivery systems; ADC Therapeutics in Lausanne, who landed $120m to develop antibody and non-antibody drug conjugates; and Kymab in Cambridge, attracting $50m to continue their development and commercialization of monoclonal antibodies.

Small is beautiful. And sometimes cunningly camouflaged. To reveal its true colors, all we need is the right lens.