Successful tech cities are the result of coordinated government strategy aimed at developing a globally connected and supportive community that fosters collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship.
London leads the pack in this regard, ranking first out of 50 European tech ecosystems assessed in the FDI Strategy category of fDi and TNW’s inaugural ranking.
Spearheaded by its economic development agency London & Partners, the UK capital has effectively leveraged its global financial centre and academic landscape to become the European home of the most private companies valued above $1bn.
The UK’s flagship Tech Nation initiative provides a support network for entrepreneurs in London and the UK, as well as visas to international digital talent.
Other networks, such as Tech London advocates, and events, such as SVC2UK, provide wider support and improve London’s connectivity with other global ecosystems.
London has also promoted digital education in schools, including a £20m ($25m) government programme to train almost 6000 teenagers in modern cyber security skills by 2021.
Broad tax incentives, such as for research and development, have also helped London attract international tech companies, while the London & Partners Business Growth Programme has aided more than 400 companies to expand their workforce and raise financing in London.
As the host of major global technology events, such as Mobile World Congress and Smart City Expo, Barcelona and its surrounding Catalonia region is a leading destination in the global tech ecosystem map.
The ‘Start-up Catalonia’ initiative, a set of public policies that promotes tech transfer and entrepreneurship, has helped develop an ecosystem of more than 1500 startups in Barcelona and Catalonia, including home-grown delivery app unicorn Glovo.
Infrastructure, including scientific parks, nine universities and a 200-hectare 22@ innovation district, help bolster Barcelona’s attractiveness to international tech companies.
The public-private partnership Pier01, a 11,000 sq m converted building in Barcelona that hosts more than 100 start-ups, has helped develop a start-up ecosystem worth $4.1bn, according to Startup Genome.
Berlin’s business development agency has launched initiatives and portals to create an ecosystem which boasts over 9,500 start-ups, accounting for 15.8% of Germany’s total.
The city’s ‘Gründen in Berlin’ platform, which provides information, consulting and events for entrepreneurs, and StarterCenter which provides advice and mentorship, embody Berlin’s centralised approach to its ecosystem development.
Specialised entrepreneurial centres, such as the Factory for Internet of Things (IoT) start-ups and fintech-focused H:32-Tower, have provided community spaces for entrepreneurs in some of the city’s leading startup segments.
This short article cannot comprehensively cover the factors needed to develop a tech city, but the common thread is clear: ecosystems which develop through government policy driven support, funding and infrastructure tend to prevail.