After a recession or similar challenging times, it’s common to see an increase in entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and enterprise growth. This is why as the UK and Europe transition into the next stage of the pandemic, we’ve created an index revealing which European cities are expected to be the most enterprising in the year ahead.

The index analysed data across 37 European cities and scored them across five key factors, the number of start-up procedures required, the number of days required to start a business, growth in new businesses registrations, growth in interest in starting a business, and the 2022 economic freedom index score. Choosing a location for your business is a critical step that needs careful consideration before taking the plunge. It’s important to assess a range of factors to see where your business will best thrive.

Interestingly, it’s not just capital cities that are set to see enterprise growth in 2022. In the UK, Cambridge came out six places higher than London. Explore the top 10 cities in takepayments' enterprise index below to find out why they made the list.

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1. Cambridge, UK (Score = 3.18)

Topping our index, Cambridge was revealed as the most enterprising city in Europe. The city saw high scores across all five categories, never falling outside of the top 9. Cambridge saw a 40% increase in the number of people searching for advice on how to start a business over the past year, the second-highest increase on our list.

The city has excellent links to London and a world-class university, making it a prime location for enterprising businesses.

2. Tallinn, Estonia (Score = 3.11)

Estonia is known for its innovation, as one of the most digitally advanced cities in the world. It was the first country to offer digital IDs (e-Residency), allowing residents the freedom to easily start a digital business. That’s perhaps why Tallinn is named the second most enterprising city in Europe in the takepayments index.

The capital city offers residents and visitors free wi-fi across 30 hotspots and has a free public transport initiative too. This helps contribute to the affordability, high Economic freedom score and quality of living standards.

3. Warsaw, Poland (Score = 2.99)

Warsaw, Poland has seen the biggest percentage increase in the number of people wanting to start a business over the past year (according to search data). Increasing by a massive 75%! Poland as a whole has also seen growth in enterprise, with more than a 181% increase in the number of new business registrations since 2006.

Promising start ups include a range of tech-based companies, ranging from digital health brands, sports tracking data and integrated smart software.

4. Athens, Greece (Score = 2.68)

Athens is the main centre for Greece’s economic activity and a great entrepreneurial city. Starting a business in Athens can take as little as four days and there are only three procedures required to start a business.

In addition there has been a 182% increase in the number of businesses registered since 2006. The second highest in our rankings. The city has a growing number of innovative tech-based businesses taking off, particularly within travel and hospitality.

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands (Score = 2.68)

Amsterdam, known by tourists for its cycling, canals and coffee shops has seen a 97% increase in new business registrations. The city’s tech ecosystem alone was valued at €73 million according to Wired.

Alongside Tallin and Copenhagen, Amsterdam requires the fewest number of days to start a business. It requires just 3.5 days and as few as 4 start up procedures. The Netherlands has a high economic freedom index score, known for its innovation and the relative ease of starting a business there.

6. Copenhagen, Denmark (Score = 2.65)

In 2017 Denmark was ranked the “happiest country in the world” and has remained consistently around the top of the list ever since (according to the World Happiness Report). It is also known for being particularly green, leading the way in urban sustainability.

It comes as no surprise then, that this culture of happiness and innovation is driving enterprise in the city. It takes just 3.5 days to start a business there, as little as 4 start up procedures and has a high economic freedom score. All creating a perfect space for enterprise.

7. London, UK (Score = 2.64)

London is the second UK location to make the top ten list of most enterprising European cities. Despite missing out on the top spot to Cambridge, the city has still seen a 65% increase in new business registrations.

The capital city is known for being a hub for big business and as the economy begins to recover from the pandemic, enterprise level growth is expected to follow.

8. Valletta, Malta (Score = 2.63)

As a member of the UN, EU and Commonwealth, Malta has good connections to the wider business world, with a strong internal infrastructure also. Despite being a relatively small country (the World’s 10th smallest at just 316 square km), it is densely populated with well educated, often multilingual inhabitants.

The number of business registrations between 2006 and 2018 saw an increase of a massive 409%, higher than any other country in our rankings. According to Go Start Business, growth is being driven by the service industry, manufacturing, tourism, trade, construction, plus food and beverage industries.

9. Ljubljana, Slovenia (Score = 2.62)

Ljubljana is the largest city in Slovenia and its capital. Interestingly, Ljubljana saw a 25% increase in the number of searches for “how to start a business” over the past year. Slovenia has an established economy and Ljubljana is a key driver of the country’s economic growth.

There are a number of tech start-ups demanding attention in the city, ranging from energy efficient and environmentally friendly transport to bluetooth tracking and smart devices.

10. Paris, France (Score = 2.39)

Not only is Paris a city full of culture, but it’s also a powerful business hub with strong global connections. Paris Attitude claims that the city is the number one region in Europe for hosting the world’s top 500 corporate headquarters.

This makes it an attractive location for enterprise. Paris came in at tenth on the top list of enterprising cities in Europe, with a 48% increase in new business registrations.

Ranked: Europe's 30 most enterprising cities 

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Methodology

takepayments conducted desk research from a range of sources including UN Data from The World Bank, Google Ads, and Heritage's Economic Freedom score. The data was then analysed across 5 categories and given a score based on how positive a factor it was in helping people within that location start a business.

These scores were then added together to give the overall score before the cities were then ranked from best to worst. Again, the higher the score, the more enterprising the location.

The cities shortlisted in our research include a combination of European Capital cities and also the "leading start-up cities by the number of investments".

Data was collected in February 2022 and further source details can be provided upon request.

  • Number of start-up procedures required to start a business - UN Data, The World Bank
  • Time required to start a business (days) - UN Data, The World Bank
  • New businesses registered (country level increase from 2006-2018) - UN Data, The World Bank
  • Percentage growth in interest in starting a business on google (YoY) - Google Ads data
  • Economic freedom index score 2022 (national level) - Heritage
  • Leading start-up cities - Statista

For further information on running a business, head over to the takepayments blog for tips and advice.

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