European Leadership: The UK is the digital tech capital of Europe

Our analysis shows the UK is a clear leader when it comes to European investment, tech talent and collaborative networking opportunities within the digital tech sector

In this section of the report we analyse the UK digital tech economy within the context of other European countries. We highlight digital tech investment, London as an international tech hub, digital tech skills and talent and also collaborative networking opportunities that exist within the UK digital tech ecosystem. On all fronts, it is clear that the UK is a leader when it comes to digital tech innovation and investment.

UK DIGITAL TECH INVESTMENT: Over the past 5 years the UK has attracted £28 billion in tech investment – more than any other European country

The UK is Europe’s digital epicentre. With impressive access to capital and skills, some of the world’s leading universities and a highly evolved digital tech ecosystem, it is a magnet for international talent and investment.

Over the past five years, the UK digital tech economy has attracted more venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) investment than any other European country, standing at £28 billion.



Country Digital Tech Investment (£BN) 2012-2016
UK 28
France 11.4
Germany 9.3
Netherlands 8.6
Italy 4.2
Denmark 4
Ireland 3.7
Sweden 2.8
Spain  2.2

Source: Pitchbook, Tech City UK, 2016

2016 UK DIGITAL TECH INVESTMENT: In 2016 alone the UK attracted more digital tech investment than any other European country, at £6.8billion


Country Digital Tech Investment (£BN) 2016
UK 6.8
France 2.4
Germany 1.4
Netherlands 1.3
Italy 0.9
Denmark 0.9
Ireland 0.8

Source: Pitchbook, Tech City UK, 2016

In 2016 the UK attracted £6.8billion of digital tech investment. That is considerably more than its closest competitor on this measure, France, which secured £2.4billion.

Since access to funding is one of the biggest challenges faced by all startups and scaling businesses, the amount of capital invested into a nation’s digital tech economy is a useful indication of its health.


LONDON DIGITAL TECH INVESTMENT: In 2016 London received £2.2billion in VC and PE investment, more than any other European city

In 2016, the overall number of VC and PE backed startup deals fell across the 10 largest European digital tech hubs , and digital tech investment was 34% lower than in 2015.

This is perhaps reflective of a broader global correction, following record inflows during 2015. It might also reflect a mood of increased caution amongst investors, in the face of heightened economic and political uncertainty across Europe and the US. Nevertheless, London remains a major centre for investment, attracting £2.2 billion in 2016, around £1 billion more than its two closest competitors, Amsterdam and Paris.



City Digital Tech Investment (£BN) 2016
London 2.2
Paris 1.2
Amsterdam 1.1
Copenhagen 0.8
Milan 0.8
Dublin 0.7
Berlin 0.6
Stockholm 0.3
Madrid  0.1

Source: Pitchbook, Tech City UK, 2016

LONDON DIGITAL TECH INVESTMENT: Over the past 5 years London has been the digital epicentre for tech investment in Europe


City Digital Tech Investment (£BN) 2016
London 13.8
Paris 3.6
Amsterdam 3.3
Copenhagen 3
Milan 2.9
Dublin 2.8
Berlin 1.7
Stockholm 1.5
Madrid  0.9

Source: Pitchbook, Tech City UK, 2016

Over the past five years London has attracted more investment than Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam combined at £13.8 billion.


DIGITAL TECH TALENT: The UK is home to 8 of Europe’s top 20 universities providing a rich supply of digital talent

Universities are essential to all digital economies. They generate skills and innovation while attracting investment and talent. Eight of Europe’s top 20 universities are located in the UK. London alone is home to four of them:  Imperial College London, University College London, London School of Economics and Political Science and King’s College London – more than any other European country, let alone city.

To ensure the UK’s academic pre-eminence is maintained, potential challenges associated with Brexit must be addressed. This includes ensuring the UK continues to be seen as a welcoming place to study, and addressing possible pressures on funding.

It is, of course, vital that these universities turn out ‘work ready’ graduates with the skills that employers across the digital tech sector urgently need. Foremost amongst these are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths) skills. The UK and France have Europe’s greatest proportion of millennials with STEM degrees.

Even here, however, the numbers studying STEM subjects are too few. Indeed, this shortfall of STEM graduates is a challenge across the continent, where STEM entry requirements and drop-out rates tend to be high, and participation by women in particular is low.

Source: Times Higher Education World Varsity Rankings, 2016-17




Country Number of universities in top 20
United Kingdom 8
Germany 4
Netherlands 3
Switzerland 2
Sweden 1
Belgium 1
France 1

Source: Times Higher Education World Varsity Rankings, 2016-17

DIGITAL TECH TALENT: London has nearly twice as many Github users as Paris or Berlin


City Github users
London 23265
Paris 11990
Berlin 10145
Madrid 4850
Stockholm 4759
Barcelona 4461
Amsterdam 4178
Munich 3479
Dublin 3309
Warsaw 2644
Oslo 2475
Vienna 2396
Copenhagen 2274
Helsinki 1936
Lisbon 1441
Zurich 1365
Rome 1167
Milan 1078

Source: Github, Tech City UK, 2016


Over a quarter of Github users are located in London – almost twice as many as are found in either Paris or Berlin.

Data from Github (one of the world’s leading developer platforms) allows us to map the exact location and density of digital tech skills across the continent. It is Europe’s leading open-source platform for developers, with nearly 90,000 active users across 18 digital tech hubs last year. Its sheer size means that analysis of its users, and the programming languages in which they specialise, can give us a snapshot of the different digital tech skills harboured in each hub.

Narrow that down to users with the key digital skills and languages of Ruby, CSS, HTML and Scala, and around a third are based in the UK capital. In fact, there is high user activity across all of the top 20 programming language specialisations in London, indicating a significant breadth of skills.


DIGITAL TECH COLLABORATION: London hosted 22,000 Meetups in 2016 – 3X times more than any other European city

What makes a digital tech economy successful? Capital and talent, yes, but also accelerators, affordable co-working spaces and experienced mentors.

The face-to-face networking that these enable is hugely important to the growth and success of digital businesses.

Meetup, an online portal that facilitates networking, also generates data which can be used to indicate the strength of networks within Europe’s digital tech hubs. In 2016 nearly 22,000 tech Meetups took place in London. That is nearly three times more than in Berlin, Amsterdam or Paris.



City Number of Tech Meetups organised (2016)
London 21866
Berlin 7963
Amsterdam 7915
Paris 7581
Oslo 3490
Zurich 3373
Barcelona 3373
Madrid 3225
Munich 3012
Stockholm 2897
Dublin 2349
Vienna 1912
Copenhagen 1841
Warsaw 1805
Helsinki 873
Lisbon 726
Milan 517
Rome 386

Source: Meetup, Tech City UK, 2016

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