Europe is building ‘deep tech’ clusters beyond London, Berlin, and Stockholm
Silicon Valley has long had a reputation for being the world’s technology capital but an increasing number of cities in Europe are starting to give the Californian tech cluster a run for its money, according to a report from venture capital firm Atomico and event organiser Slush.
Deep technology companies — generally considered to be businesses that are focusing on developing new intellectual property (IP) — are thriving across the continent and not just in the traditional technology hubs of London, Berlin, and Stockholm, the “State of European Tech Report” found.
Published on Wednesday for the second year running, the report suggests that Munich, Zurich, Lisbon, Madrid, and Copenhagen will be cities to watch over the coming years.
Tom Wehmeier, principal and head of research at Atomico, told Business Insider: “We believe the future of technology is happening here in Europe. Increasingly some of the most important services with billions of users are being created and built here from Europe.”
The report, which draws on a number of sources and covers a five year and nine month period starting in 2011, highlights the successes of dozens of European tech companies.
Produced by two companies who have a vested interest in championing the European tech scene, the report refers to independent companies like Spotify and King, while also mentioning some of the businesses that have been acquired by tech giants, such as ARM, which was acquired by Japan’s SoftBank for $32 billion (£27 billion) in June, and NXP Semiconductors, which was sold to Silicon Valley chipmaker Qualcomm for $47 billion (£38 billion) in October.
Other companies mentioned in the report include London-based DeepMind, which was acquired by Google for £400 million, and Cambridge-based Evi which was acquired by Amazonfor a reported $26 million (£21 million).
Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook — the top five US tech titans — have acquired 52 European tech companies since 2011, according to the report. 36 of those acquisitions have been made since January 1 2014, meaning there was roughly one deal per month on average to September 2016.
Deep tech companies include those working on AI, machine learning, speech recognition, data mining, big data, deep learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. It also includes virtual reality and augmented reality startups, as well as those working on new hardware for drones, robotics, radar, 3D printing, nanosatellites, and space. Wearables, smart home, and smart city startups also fit the bill.
While Europe is producing an increasing number of deep tech companies, they’re not being backed with as much capital as their rivals in the US, according to the report.
Europe’s deep tech companies have received $2.3 billion (£1.8 billion) since the start of 2015, the report claims, adding that over $1 billion (£800 million) should have flowed into Europe’s deep tech firms by the end of 2016.
Deep tech companies in the UK have raised more than deep tech companies in any other European country, according to the report. Some $1.3 billion (£1 billion) has been invested into the UK’s deep tech companies, compared to just $582 million (£465 million) in France and $480 million (£384 million) in Germany.
Siraj Khaliq, a partner on the investment team at Atomico, said that Europe’s tech scene has changed considerably since the 1990s when he left for the Valley. He believes that today, Europe’s tech scene is not only keeping up with Silicon Valley but that it is also excelling it in some areas, particularly artificial intelligence.
Khaliq, a Brit who built his own one $1 billion dollar farming software business in California, called The Climate Corp, said that Europe has always been “good at the academics” but commercialising has never been one of our strong points.
The Cambridge computer science graduate added that many of his classmates simply went into investment banking or hedge funds when they finished studying because they could earn £150,000 to £200,000, as well as a large bonus.
However, now they’re increasingly looking to start their own company. Khaliq thinks people’s ambitions have changed over the last couple of decades and so has the support network in Europe for entrepreneurs.