While Europe does not seem to be producing as many global ICT companies as the US and Asia, the ICT industry is still an important part of its economy. In the EU, ICT manufacturing and services creates 4% of GDP and employs 6 million people (2.7% of EU total employment). Within Europe, the top three largest ICT workforces are in Germany (1 million people), the UK (940,000) and France (770,000), and a recent EU atlas of ICT hotspots reflects this, identifying the top three ICT locations in Europe as Munich, London and Paris.

The clustering of ICT activities in Europe’s cities is having an interesting effect. Tech start-up models and methods are transferring to other industries, which, at first glance, appear to exist outside the world of ICT. One of the most important features of the ICT industry is its huge influence in other vertical industries.

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Everything these days is digital, and in some of the big cities of Europe we are seeing the rise of new types of tech. For example, fintech for the financial services industry, retail tech for multiple and independent retailers, and smart city tech for cities themselves. When you see big companies setting up digital labs, such as Unilever in fast-moving consumer goods; Marks and Spencer and John Lewis in retail; and MasterCard, Barclays Bank, Rabobank, Crédit Agricole and Accenture in financial services, you know that something serious is happening. London, in particular, seems to be a hotbed of these tech accelerators seeking to quickly grow new industry-changing ideas and solutions.        

With this cross pollination of tech across different sectors in the melting pot of Europe’s cities, perhaps today’s European tech start-ups set up to disrupt their own particular industry will become the leading ICT global giants of tomorrow. 

Douglas Clark is director of Location Connections, a site selection and FDI consultancy. E-mail: douglas@locationconnections.com