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Europe’s Most Attractive Business Markets

If you’re a small business, expanding into Europe may be a challenging concept to digest. However, with more consumers beginning to recognise brands around the world, international expansion is a lucrative decision for a range of sectors. 

Some European countries have had a rocky relationship with finance, which has previously deterred many investors from expanding their businesses. However, Greece’s financial crisis has finally ended, and other countries are developing at rapid rates — something investors should take note of.

Employment rate is looking promising too, and both start-up companies and investors are feeling confident about the years ahead when it comes to the Eurozone. But which industries are thriving in different countries?

Germany: Biotechnology

You can’t deny that Germany is becoming a more attractive market for foreign investment, which is currently at an all-time high. So much so, that a total of 1,063 investment projects were launched in the country over the past 12 months. Within the same time frame, 7,785 jobs were created in Germany by external European companies — highlighting the number of opportunities across the country that must be taken advantage of.

Research and development seems to be a core focus and a continued area of progression. Germany prides itself on constant innovation and is known to have the most biotechnology firms on the continent, which has had a positive impact on employment across the nation.

Spain: Fashion

The Spanish fashion industry is as fiery as its climate — and a British maxi dresses retailer, like QUIZ, are already making the move to capture this market. Spain is possibly one of the biggest hotspots for tourism and this is one of the main drives for retail sales. Euromonitor International found that Spain’s employment rate dropped to a low of 17% in 2017, which has had a positive impact on fashion sales as more people have shown a willingness to spend more on clothes.

Revenue in the sector is expected to show an annual growth of 11% between 2018-2022, which will lead to a market value of US$6.728m. Francesc Maristany, former president of Catalan Cluster of Fashion, commented: “Some people come for the luxury tourism and realise there are smaller brands with great products and excellent branding, and become drawn to them.” This shows that there has never been a better time than now to expand into Spain.

France: Artificial Intelligence 

Interestingly, Paris has surpassed London to become the most attractive European city for foreign investors. Although you may be making investments at home, it’s crucial to start looking at shifting your finances into opportunities in France.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has captured the attention of companies in France and the government. Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has launched an initiative that will position the country as a leader in the field. Through this scheme, €1,5 billion will be invested in AI projects and start-ups. Is this something that your business could benefit from? 

UK: Digital

The UK’s current digital scene is thriving and currently occupies a market share of 27% of the digital projects in Europe, while showing no signs of slowing down. As well as this, the sector seems to generate the largest number of projects in the country, which has led to an increase in employability with around 1.1m people in work.

What makes the UK a great place for digital investment is that the digital technology sector is growing faster than the economy and is having an impact on some of the country’s biggest regional areas. Because of this, the value of the industry was boosted to £184bn (2017) from £170bn, which was its estimated worth in 2016. Ignoring the opportunity to invest in the UK’s digital sector could be a big mistake.

Portugal: Real Estate

Known for both ranking first place for international trade and being the most peaceful country in Europe, Portugal’s real estate sector is a prime place for investment — and it’s growing quickly. However, it must be noted that the country’s Golden Visa Scheme has encouraged more foreign investments in property, as residency comes with an array of benefits, including education, healthcare, social security, tax concessions, and more.

As well as this, expected gross rental yields in Portugal are among the highest in Europe – 5% to 14% is achievable from the right property. Have you considered setting aside investments and obtaining a visa to a foreign country to obtain great financial benefits? Now might be the time!

The Netherlands: Creative Industries (Advertising, TV, Music, and Gaming)

The Netherlands is known for its laid-back, yet innovative and forward-thinking, culture. As a result, it is home to some of the leading creative brands. Amsterdam, in particular, is a hotspot for creativity. Its metropolitan area offers world-class infrastructures and Europe’s fastest broadband speeds – essential qualities for this sector.

One survey revealed that 49% of international investors believe that the business climate is set to improve over the next three years. This is a positive sign, as last year, only 38% agreed. The capital city is known for its influential start-up scene, with a tech-savvy community and a diverse talent pool. To illustrate the love of creative start-up businesses, the opening of gaming companies alone increased by 42% between 2011 and 2016. 

Sweden: Financial Technology (FinTech)

Believe it or not, Sweden is one of the world’s biggest beneficiaries from foreign investment and is becoming a tech-hub recognised by the world. This renowned status factored in the statistic that a large portion of its workforce are in tech-based jobs.

After Silicon Valley, Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm, has the second-most prolific tech hub on a global scale and is listed #4 for best country for business by Forbes. This is a great achievement for the nation, as investment continues to grow. When it comes to emerging fintech trends, crowdfunding opportunities, mortgages and pensions are developing areas that are disrupting the industry positively. 

Finland: Clean Technology and Renewable Energy

Finland has held the title ‘World’s Greenest Country’ and continues to make some excellent developments around clean technology and renewable energy sources. Because of this core focus, 38% of the nation’s energy is produced by renewables — which is only set to grow further with future investments and continued extensive research.

The country ranks particularly highly when it comes to patents and venture capital investments in new cleantech solutions. Because of its willingness to improve the climate of our planet, it is also home to Slush, which is one of the biggest technology-focused innovation conferences in the world.