Berlin: Next Hub in HR Technology?

I spent less than 24 hours in Berlin last month at a Seedcamp event and was struck by the breadth and depth of early stage technology companies focused on facilitating aspects of the labour market. A lot has been written about the factors leading to Berlin’s general rise but I’d suggest it’s a mix of the following:

  1. Low cost of living: According to Numbeo consumer prices are 23% lower, rent prices 65% lower and restaurant prices 38% lower than in London. According to Teleport, Berlin is 72nd out of the 179 cities for cost of living. For comparison, London is in the 10th percentile.
  2. Few dominant industries: Outside of the German government and state owned enterprises like Deutsche Bahn, Berlin doesn’t have any overly dominant industries like New York or London leaving plenty of room for new sector development.
  3. Buoyant labour market: Indeed’s Hiring Lab lists Munich and Berlin as having the highest concentration of opportunities in tech, ahead of London, Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris. More recently, Hays PLC reported record Q4 performance in Europe driven largely by Germany up 23%.
  4. Increase in risk capital: New quality funds like Cherry, Fly, and BlueYard join the ranks of Earlybird, Point Nine, and others increasing the choice and access for Berlin entrepreneurs.

For the sake of brevity, below is a listing of a few of the newest names (apologies to those I missed).

Zenjob is an on-demand, local, mobile, talent marketplace aimed at the retail and hospitality sector

Co-Match is a an expert business talent marketplace for on-premise, project based consultants

Joblift is a smart job aggregator

Talentwunder is a talent search technology

HeavenHR is a free cloud-based HRIS for SMEs

MobileJob is a local, mobile talent marketplace for full time employment

Jobspotting is a job search and discovery platform

While the technology applications and business models aren’t unique to Berlin (many competitive counterparts can be found in other mature labour markets), there is growing support for Berlin to develop the next global leaders. After all, there are more than a few impediments too (regulatory environment and language barriers to name two) but facing and surmounting these challenges early could build the core competency needed for scaling down the road. Added to the factors already mentioned and Berlin is a city on the rise when it comes to technology solutions that put people to work.