London has continued to rise in recent times, with more and more tech startups. However, it still appears to be Silicon Valley and Berlin that are leading the way. Silicon Valley has long been considered as the home of technology and innovation dating back to the development of integrated circuit chips and over time, many extremely successful ventures have made base in Silicon Valley and spawned a larger and ever-growing network of startup ventures. Also known for being a hub of social media activity, companies like Facebook, Google, Netflix and 36 other Fortune 1000 companies have their headquarters in the Valley. But what is it about this area that is so attractive for startups, especially those in the tech industry?
The approach to building a company and the learning is unique in a region with so many similar ventures. The collaborative approach ethos shared by companies conducting business in the area and the exchange of information and intelligence is an essential contributor to progress and the emphasis on individual progression is also regarded as a significant factor in the overall success of the company. With more and more companies and startups joining the elite in Silicon Valley, this exchange is occurring at a faster rate. And if this idea of exchange is coupled with a cosmopolitan environment, with many highly skilled workers coming to Silicon Valley from different countries, then this exchange becomes even more diversified. There isn’t just talent coming in from overseas, but also home-grown talent. Stanford University is located right in the heart of the region and the number of students striving for academic success and their variety of skills only adds to the research and development approach.
Whilst London arguably sits behind these two areas on this front, it is widely debated that the gap is being bridged. The UK’s capital city continues to innovate, and the growth of tech related conferences and exhibitions is drawing a greater degree of interest. One of the largest conferences in the world – ICE – is held in London each year, and gives exhibitors the chance to showcase their technological advances in the gaming industry. Whilst Silicon Valley may be home to some of the more renowned tech businesses, the ICE conference is one of the most visited anywhere in the globe. London is arguably at the forefront of the evolution of new platforms, namely in the gaming space, with major gaming brands eveloping their technologies as the shift towards attribution, security, UX and data protection becomes ever more prevalent. In fact, some of the best UX software has been developed in London, and showcased at events similar to ICE – the technology developed, and the benefits that it brings to slot games, for example, is ever evolving and was one of the keynote speeches at this hugely popular tech conference. As operators continue to innovate, and technology continues to develop, one should expect the momentum to shift away from the sheer number of games available, more towards the UI, AI and security that they offer. Expect to see keynote speakers at ICE change their tact over the coming years, as the conference continues to innovate – despite the likes of major suppliers like NetENT, Playtech and Microgaming stationing their activity outside of the UK.
For a long time now, Berlin has been considered the tech capital of Europe and one that could potentially rival Silicon Valley in the future. A key appeal for companies in Silicon Valley is the proximity to other influencers in the tech industry. The idea of building off the successes of your “rivals”, as opposed to going head to head with them makes Silicon Valley so appealing. You’re probably asking how a city the size of Berlin can compete with the close proximity appreciated by many in Silicon Valley. Although Berlin is just over 7 times larger, the connections around the city are impeccable, making meetups, conferences very practical.
Berlin has endured a unique history with the World Wars and the Berlin wall notably setting the city back. But what was left once the dust had settled, was a city with unbelievable potential. A relatively untapped resource with lots of available space. There is also no standout industry in Berlin. The banking is conducted in Frankfurt, the automobile industry is based predominantly in Stuttgart. The port cities are Hamburg and Bremen. But what about the capital city of Germany? Due to these events that have heavily affected the city, Berlin is slowly finding its feet. And in the place of the other industries, tech has found its home in Berlin. And with the city still developing, coupled with the recent history, the cost of living has remained reasonably low, especially when compared to other cities in Germany and other capital cities in Europe. The same therefore applies to office space. As mentioned earlier, there is an abundance of space in Berlin, and over the past few years in particular, citizens of the city have witnessed more office buildings being built. With low costs, also comes a lower risk factor too.
And due to this ‘modernization’, Berlin is becoming increasingly popular and cosmopolitan. Berlin’s fun reputation also provides a great work/life balance with many people moving to the city for the social scene. The city is witnessing the same talent-influx-effect that Silicon Valley benefits from, but one potential advantage Berlin has, is its geographical position in Europe. Easily accessible and centrally positioned, Berlin is conveniently located for talent looking to move away from home.
With Brexit complicating matters in the UK, people are quickly looking towards strong European nations to start their ventures. Despite the history Berlin has endured, the potential is there for all to see. Companies such as ResearchGate and Soundcloud have proved that it is possible to start a successful tech startup in Berlin and in years to come, we could witness many more tech startups and even established companies join them. Silicon Valley is an established startup hub, but Berlin is starting to make tech waves in Europe.