These are the 100 hottest startups in Europe in 2021

Early in 2011, a couple of WIRED colleagues and I were discussing the incredible speed at which the startup scene in London was growing and the sheer number of innovative companies that were being founded. Something tangible was happening. Since…

Early in 2011, a couple of WIRED colleagues and I were discussing the incredible speed at which the startup scene in London was growing and the sheer number of innovative companies that were being founded. Something tangible was happening. Since its launch in 2009, WIRED had been actively covering the UK scene – but we wanted to help our readers understand what was happening elsewhere and report on the innovation, energy and investment in Europe. We dispatched reporters across the continent, from Stockholm to Moscow, Paris to Tel Aviv, in search of businesses that were getting entrepreneurs, investors and others interested in the ecosystem excited about their ambition and potential.

Our first guide featured companies that are now household names, including Klarna (currently the continent’s most valuable startup with a valuation of $31bn), Criteo (current market cap of $2.74bn) and Mojang (sold to Microsoft for $2.5bn). Since then, the ecosystem has grown at a brisk pace: according to McKinsey, of the 99 venture-capital-backed European unicorns, 14 were added in 2019 alone. Europe is now producing companies with global ambitions, while investment from the US is at record levels: according to Pitchbook, European startups have raised $52.2bn in the first six months of 2021, more than all of 2020. Challenges remain: Atomico’s 2020 The State of European Tech report revealed that only 0.25 per cent of VC funding went to Black-led startups, while in 2019, 92 per cent of funding went to all-male teams. Progress over the last decade has been significant – but those in the European ecosystem must find ways to ensure that the best ideas and most ambitious founders are able to pursue opportunity, no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or socioeconomic background.As we reflect on a decade of WIRED’s 100 Hottest Startups, these companies are a cohort like no other: they survived an unprecedented year, embodying what entrepreneurial spirit is all about. Our 2021 Hottest Startups aren’t necessarily the largest, best-known or most-funded. We aim to identify the startups that are generating buzz – the companies that people are talking about and inspired by. To do this, we conduct our own research as well as speaking to people involved in the startup ecosystem of different cities to get their read on the local scene. We’re excited to see the startup cohort of 2031.Read nextRead nextThe hottest startups in London