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European tech has huge upside if it can unlock the potential of its latent talent pools. The size of the developer pools in comparison to relative levels of historical capital invested in them suggests that countries such as Italy, Poland or Spain still have large potential to punch at a greater weight in the European tech ecosystem.

Scatter of countries based on size of professional developer talent pool and capital invested ($M) (2013 to 9M 2018)

Note:
Chart only includes countries with greater than 50,000 professional developers in 2018.

There are giant talent hubs that offer huge potential if the local pool can be mobilised in the same way as in cities such as Berlin, Helsinki and Stockholm. Examples of these large talent clusters that have not yet produced companies that have raised large sums of capital investment include Cologne, Kiev and Vienna.

Scatter of cities based on size of professional developer talent pool and capital invested ($M) (2013 to 9M 2018)

Note:
Investment amounts are based on capital invested in the city in aggregate between 2012 and September 2018.

Europe's professional developer pool has grown robustly at 4.2% annually, equating to more than 200,000 new developers across the region. This level of growth, however, is being far exceeded in certain countries, such as Spain or Romania, where growth rates year-on-year are in excess of 10%.

Top 10 fastest-growing countries for professional developers (2018 versus 2017)

Legend

  • YoY growth (%)
  • YoY growth (%)
Note:
We have divided countries into two groups based on the total number of professional developers in each country in 2017. Group 1 compares all countries that had 100,000 or more professional developers; Group 2 compares those which had fewer than 100k.

This emergence of growing and more engaged tech communities in new parts of the region is reflected too in the list of Top 10 fastest-growing tech hubs, ranked by year-on-year growth in active members of tech-related Meetup groups.

Top 10 fastest growing hubs in Europe by YoY growth rate of active members

Legend

  • YoY member growth 2017-2018 (%)
Note:
2018 annualised based on active members to end of September 2018

As new hubs continue to proliferate across Europe, the region's leading investors are increasingly backing founders from these locations. In the past 12 months, founders building companies in as diverse a set of cities as Lille, St Gallen and Warsaw have all raised funding from leading European VCs.

Selected investments in new tech hubs

We are probably in one of the most difficult positions – trying to produce the world's fastest electric sportscars out of a country that never had a car industry and has zero market for our products.

I believe that for software startups, location is not that important. It is harder for hardware startups, especially those whose products are linked to the country's prestige. We are probably in one of the most difficult positions – trying to produce the world's fastest electric sportscars out of a country that never had a car industry and has zero market for our products. Despite everything, we have managed to attract funding, the right customers (all major European carmakers) and talent. It is possible, but probably much much harder than doing it in the "right place."

Mate Rimac

Rimac Automobili

There is a wide variation in the average software engineer salary both across countries and even within them. According to Glassdoor, software engineers have the highest median salary in Berlin, which reflects the fact that Berlin has a disproportionately low density of local professional developers compared to other cities, but a large number of well-capitalised VC-backed companies that are chasing talent.

Average software engineer salary per year by city

Legend

  • Annual salary ($)
Note:
Rounded to nearest $250. Data pulled from Glassdoor on 24 October 2018.

The huge spread in the cost of software engineering talent across European cities is driving talent mobility and higher distribution of company building.

Software engineer salaries by city

Glassdoor

2.4x
Difference in the median base salary of a software engineer in Berlin compared to Warsaw.