London has been so far the preferred city to establish new technology companies, known as “startups”, besides being the European capital of financial firms. FinTech firms have undoubtly chosen London to stablish their firms. For Spanish startups, London is, or was, the first step in their expansion and growth plans, thanks to the ease and flexibility to incorporate.
The exit of the United Kingdom of the European Union, as slow as it might be, opens the question of who will take in the near future the role of European capital of the startup’s ecosystem. The EU exit greatly damages the attraction of qualified talent and investors in search of innovative, multicultural and global projects. Frankfurt has quickly taken over everything that has to do with the financial market and is positioned as the new home of the “Fintech” but what about the rest?
According to the EU Startups report, Berlin and Paris are emerging as the “inheritors of London.” Berlin offers talent, multiculturalism, and is home to Rocket Internet, the largest accelerator of European startups, but has a certain institutional rigidity, and very high cost of living, especially with regard to housing. Paris is well connected, has a good financial base and government support to entrepreneurship, although taxes are very high and labor laws are very rigid, defended by very powerful unions.
However, Barcelona could also be a clear recipient of startups until now based in London. We offer talent, the best business universities in the world, a good base of venture capital firms, municipal support initiatives such Barcelona Activa, an appropriate geographical situation, the world capital of the strategic mobile industry, success stories like King, Wallapop, Typeform … but what do we need ?. We need government institutions with a XXI mindset, with clear support to entrepreneurship, labor and tax agility and flexibility, and stability in the country.
What city is then called to replace London as European capital of technological startups? The logic leads us to Dublin: same language and similar British culture as London – lingua franca of business-, a clear financial support, talent and, above all, tax benefits. It is a mix that works. The proof is to list which technology companies have their European headquarters in Dublin: Apple, Google, and Facebook, among others.
Bets are on the table. Hopefully Barcelona and Madrid will know how to offer an attractive scenario for startups and governments, regional and central, will help pave the way. It is now when the opportunity appears.