A looming tech revolution for Europe? Everything seems ready for it

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School failure, lack of opportunities for the new generations, obsolete industries, insignificant tech hubs… The old continent, and especially its southern countries, seems to have missed out on the latest tech revolutions. Last week, Pitchbook published its newest ranking of the top 50 universities producing VC-backed entrepreneurs and −as is probably no surprise− European centres where nowhere to be seen in a list monopolized entirely by American and Israeli universities.

So have we definitely lost this boat as well?

In our last post we talked about growing VC capital in the broadly underinvested Europe. On top of this, a pool of young talent is eagerly awaiting new opportunities in the tech start-up sector. In fact, a recent survey by top VC firm, Atomico, reveals that 57% of CEOs, founders and investors believe there is “good or very good availability” of talent in Europe. The problem is thus not a supply one.

Europe takes the lead in STEM graduates and professional developers

To begin with, Europe doubles the US in terms of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates. More specifically, according to OECD data from last year, a number of Southern European countries surpass the US by a considerable margin in STEM graduates per capita. France ranks 5th with 27% of its graduate force qualified in this field, followed by Portugal (10th with 25%) and Spain (11th with 24%). Over 10 years, this accounts to over 5 million more STEM grads in Europe than in the US, says Eurostat.

If we focus exclusively on developers, Europe presents a clear surplus, in relation to the number of VC backed companies, compared to the US (x4). London, for instance, has around 70,000 professional developers, not far from alleged developer-capital, San Francisco (83,000). To the south, Paris and Madrid are catching up as well, with around 40,000 and 27,000 developers respectively, according to Stack Overflow.

Europe also leads the way in terms of mobile developers, with 50,000 more professionals available for startups in Europe than in the US, according once again to Stack Overflow. At the top of the list, tech capitals London and Berlin dispute the pole position, although Brexit could move the balance to the latter, as alerted BBC a few months ago. Tech startups want to be in Europe. Once again, moving to the south, France, Spain or Italy are not far behind in the count for professional mobile developers.

“What has happened is that the brightest of the brightest are no longer choosing banking or consulting as their default profession. Being an entrepreneur is now up there as a preferred choice.” — Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com (acquired by Sabre for $830m)

More good news. Entrepreneurship, as a career option, is on the rise amongst the brightest of the brightest millennials.

Almost half of Europe’s younger (18–24) top talent believes being an entrepreneur is a good career choice. This upsurge in entrepreneurial spirit comes hand in hand with European business schools leading international rankings. If we attend Financial Times “Top MBAs for entrepreneurship”, three European business schools −two of them Spanish− dispute top 10 positions: IE (8th), London Business School (9th) and IESE (10%). A truly impressive position, especially given European universities usual standing in other fields.

There is talent and it’s eager to take on new opportunities

Even better news. There is a surplus of talent, and it wants to get to work. Spain, for instance, has a pool of well-trained engineers working for very competitive salaries. Quoted in the Financial Times, founder of social network beBee, Javier Cámara, explained that in Madrid a good IT engineer can be found for €30,000 a year, whilst in London it would take more than double that salary. Let’s not even mention numbers for Silicon Valley. Although differences in salaries are also patent in other areas –product, finance or sales & marketing– the real deal is for engineers. These salaries will of course tend to converge with the rest of Europe’s as economic indicators progress so now is the time to grab the gains.

All in all, Europe might not have missed this boat. VC capital –although still lagging behind the US– is surging, Internet and smartphone penetration are amongst the world highest and more importantly, there is talent and it is eagerly awaiting new opportunities. A looming tech revolution for Europe? Everything seems ready for it.