Europe’s 5 secret hotspots for entrepreneurs

Swedish entrepreneurs have been behind some of the biggest names in business, including Spotify, Skype and Soundcloud, proving that the country has strong potential as a startup hub. SMEs have become a viable source for new employment. With excellent entrepreneurial education, improved regulatory systems and a better return on capital for small and medium sized enterprises, Sweden has established a solid system to foster entrepreneurship.

The Dutch pride themselves on a flourishing startup scene and their position at the forefront of European entrepreneurial activity. According to a recent European Commission SBA Fact Sheet, the entrepreneurship rate in the Netherlands is 6% higher than in the EU as a whole. There is a strong awareness of the economic importance of SMEs, which is why the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs makes encouraging entrepreneurship a top policy priority.

At a time when many European countries are struggling with economic uncertainty, the Baltic state has proven itself to be an economic dark horse with one of the lowest government debt to GDP scores in the world. Estonia’s administration is responsive to the needs of small businesses. In 2013, Juhan Parts, Estonia’s then Minister of Economic Affairs, announced his ambition to make Estonia one of the best countries in the world to establish a company and introduced the Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020.

Despite being hit hard by the recession, Spain has embraced entrepreneurship with open arms and is on track to becoming an SME powerhouse. Entrepreneurs already generate the majority of Spain’s new jobs. SMEs account for 65 per cent of GDP and 80 per cent of total employed people in Spain. The Spanish government has introduced a variety of initiatives to improve entrepreneurial conditions; measures include tax breaks, funding programs and the removal of administrative charges.

The European Commission continues to praise the resilience of Austria’s SME sector, which has expanded continuously since 2009. Austria’s access to markets in Central and Eastern Europe and neighbouring Germany provide ample trade opportunities. On top of new funding opportunities, Austria has lowered the minimum share capital for creating a limited company and minimized administrative and tax burdens. The Austrian Chamber of Commerce has even developed an SME stress test to help protect entrepreneurial endeavours.