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Ranking: The Most Startup-Friendly Cities in Europe

Starting a business is easier in some cities and countries than it is in others. This largely depends on the bureaucratic steps and fees required. The conditions for running a business also vary througout Europe. We investigated these and other conditions in a comprehensive study of 85 cities across 28 countries in Europe.

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent the economic backbone of Europe. As an essential component of any national economy, SMEs are a powerful driver of growing prosperity. The innovations, new products, services and business models they deliver not only stimulate competition, but also create workplaces. Promoting new business ventures is therefore all the more important. Family businesses and SMEs represent a key part of Unzer’s client base. We therefore know how deeply retailers, restaurateurs and service providers are rooted in their local communities. They are not merely workplaces, but also training organisations that strengthen the connections between city and country. In our experience, SMEs display unparalleled agility and flexibility, especially when it comes to adapting to short-term changes in customer wishes and market requirements or reacting to fluctuating trends.

A city’s entrepreneurial spirit also offers an insight into its overall vibrancy. Legislators and authorities should therefore offer support in all areas to those with the necessary courage to set up shop, assume the associated corporate and financial risks and engage in economic activity. As such, we asked ourselves the question of which cities and countries can already be considered particularly startup-friendly, promoting business activity in a straightforward and unbureaucratic way. To answer this question, we addressed and analysed a large volume of data and defined nine significant criteria. This data evaluation allowed us to produce a representative assessment of the cities relative to one another and also with regard to their startup-friendly nature.

9 criteria that characterise a startup-friendly city:

  • Few bureaucratic steps in setting up a company
  • Fast official processing during company foundation
  • Low fees for registering a company
  • Easy access to lines of credit assuming a good credit rating
  • A low corporation tax rate
  • Less bureaucratic accounting requirements
  • Liberal opening times
  • Fast legal processes in the case of breaches of contract
  • Many SMEs based in the city


The objective of the study is to assess selected European cities with regard to their attractiveness for startups in 2022. We examined 85 cities in 28 countries (all EU member states plus Switzerland), which were assessed in the three categories of “company foundation”, “corporate management”, and “competitors”.

A total of nine influential factors contributed to the final results: a ranking list of Europe’s most startup-friendly cities. All influential factors were selected because they can contribute to the attractiveness of a city for startups in their respective form.

All sources and a detailed explanation of the methodology employed, covering all influential factors and calculations, can be found here:

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