Why The EU Does Not Have A Silicon Valley


America’s Silicon Valley venture capitalists have vast sums of money to pour into start-ups, and the likes of Apple and eBay have their headquarters there. Start-ups clamber for a slice of the pie, yet those who don’t want to hop over the pond still have much to gain by staying in the EU. From the advances into tech innovations such as robotics, recruitment agencies are seeing higher demand for tech jobs than ever before. So, is Europe in a position where it needs its own Silicone Valley?

Does it need one?

The EU, according to many, will never catch up with the long history that the relatively small footprint of Silicon Valley brings, which is why it hasn’t and shouldn’t try to copy the exact formula. Europe can rival the United States, but it must use its own strengths, and it certainly doesn’t need the concentrated cluster of a Silicon Valley replica.

An impossible model to replicate

Europe faces different challenges, although some the same as the US, particularly when it comes to sustainability.  Solving the issues specific to Europe requires a different approach. Not least that many American start-ups are very US-specific in their direction, with only slight differences made to venture worldwide. They share one language and only subtle regional differences to target a broad audience and grow. An American success story will almost always translate well to the rest of the world. Simply because of their size and influence, other countries will follow. This means less thought to adapt to the exact requirements of other nations and cultures to grow worldwide. They also have a far bigger audience without giving immediate thought to cross world cultures, so growth has a different focus.

The US also has a captive population that far exceeds any individual European country, meaning upscaling to national levels is an entirely different ball game. 

Harnessing the differences of Europe

European start-ups have to compete across country borders to reach anything like the same U.S. audience numbers. They have to consider language and cultural barriers to expand into other markets, which is more costly and time consuming, and requires a different skill set, level of investment and certainly more thought to location. Success for European start-ups means they learn early in the process how to adapt their products, services and their business approach towards their European counterparts. They have a closer relationship and greater knowledge than the US. in how to effectively meet each market’s needs. The many entities and cultures within the E.U. will never see a Silicon Valley replica, but nor do they need to for start-ups to make their mark.

The process of growth is different. New and successful businesses are springing up throughout Europe. While they may have a long haul to reach the same audience numbers, their success can certainly rival all that Silicon Valley offers. The EU approach to growth is also pretty different from that of the US, aiming for growth at any cost. With the general feeling of US stocks looking expensive, investors are seeking investment options elsewhere. 

European start-ups’ aim for profitability is now seeing investors become more interested than before. The growth process is far slower, more deliberate and has to be adaptable, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Their change is more incremental. Compare the tortoise and the hare. The hare will sprint ahead, the tortoise labours longer. Over the past few years, the EU has been building endurance and stamina for the long haul and catching up. While we can’t say they will win as the tortoise did, they need to learn and learn these skills to grow. Throughout Europe, start-ups are doing so in a way that creates repeatable, pre-defined processes for entering new markets.

The U.K. is seeing a tech boom and funds being diverted from Silicon Valley businesses in areas such as robotics. France, Germany, and Sweden all have success stories. More recently, Spain and Poland are becoming a part of the E.U., seeing significant progress by entrepreneurs, and attracting angel investors and venture capitalists to rival Silicon Valley. In fact, throughout the E.U., we see billions invested in growing financial technology, with too many success stories to mention.