The two cities emerging as big hitters on the global stage – Dublin and Berlin – epitomise what is happening in successful European centres. Located in countries with contrasting economic stories, as cities they have a remarkable amount in common. Vibrant and affordable, they are where footloose, creative global talent wants to live and work.
TECH AND TALENT
The attractiveness of both cities goes hand in hand with the development of a burgeoning, digitally enabled and creative tech industry. Start-ups, scale-ups and established corporations in the tech space are competing fiercely for skilled employees, and it is in vibrant cities such as Dublin and Berlin where this talent wants to live and work. With the magic formula of high-quality urban environments, favourable regulatory backdrops and low property costs, Berlin and Dublin have emerged as havens for Gen Y creative talent.
Berlin’s offer is dominated by online, e-commerce and software-driven tech that has seen success stories such as music cloud storage platform Soundcloud and early-stage incubator Rocket Internet.
Ireland’s corporate tax rate of just 12.5% initially made it attractive to large US tech firms, which have set up their European headquarters in Dublin; Google, Facebook and LinkedIn are among the best-known firms that are now domiciled in the city. These major tech firms, based in either Dublin Docklands or ‘Silicon Docks’, have been a catalyst for the wider industry, building confidence among local start-ups.
Digital industry has fuelled a growth in jobs in both cities. The number of jobs in the information and communication sector grew by 23.3% in Dublin between 2005 and 2015, at a time when total employment in the city increased by just 3%. Further growth of 25.9% is forecast over the next 10 years.
Berlin saw similar levels of employment growth in the sector – up 20.5% over the past decade – against a eurozone average of 9.8%. The information and communication sector has outperformed across Europe, but it is in cities such as Berlin and Dublin where growth has been most marked (see fig. 1).