Analysis

June 22, 2023

Where to find Europe’s best AI engineers

A new platform from Sequoia has mapped out the European hotbeds for engineering talent

Sadia Nowshin

4 min read

If you’re looking to hire AI engineering talent, London, Paris and Zurich are the cities to be — and Dublin's also worth a visit. That’s according to data from Sequoia's Atlas tool, which explores which European cities boast the most promising opportunities for startups to hire engineering talent. 

The research included a survey of over 1,000 participants across 15 countries, plus 125 recruiters at European tech companies and data from Dealroom, payroll platform Remote.com and equity management platform Ledgy. 

Here are some of the key takeaways. 

Europe has a 30% higher concentration of AI experts than US

Nearly 200k engineers in Europe have some experience with AI, with a core of 43k “dedicated practitioners”, referring to people who focus on AI engineering as their full-time job. "Some AI experience" is a broader pool that also includes those who have dabbled in AI and list it as one skill, among others. The continent’s software engineering talent pool includes a per-capita concentration of AI experts 30% higher than the US, and close to three times higher than China, according to the report. 

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The five cities with the highest share of AI folk among Europe’s engineering talent pool are London (12.29%), Paris (3.81%), Zurich (2.9%), Berlin (2.65%) and Madrid (2.23%). Zurich also stands out for talent density — the percentage of talent within the city's engineering workforce focused on a specific area — with 14% of its engineering talent pool focused on AI. Dublin is another hotbed for AI talent in Europe — of the city’s engineering talent pool, 17% are AI-focused, which is more than double the average for European cities. 

Europe’s universities are also buzzing with activity. The University of Edinburgh has trained 1.3% of Europe’s 43k AI experts — and is closely followed by the Technical Universities of Madrid and Munich, and the University of Amsterdam.

Edinburgh has the best gender balance of engineering talent

Male engineering talent still dominates across Europe — Edinburgh is the closest to balancing out its gender disparity, with women making up 23% of the city’s 16.6k engineers. The worst-performing city for gender representation is Prague, with women making up just 11% of its roughly 28k engineering professionals.

You can hire remote talent from anywhere

Three fifths of recruiters surveyed reported that their startups have distributed teams, where employees work from different locations. Of those, 78% said it was the engineering team that was distributed; front-end developers and dev-ops engineers were the most likely skills to be sourced remotely.

Eastern Europe has historically been a popular destination for startups looking to hire remote talent, as it's typically cheaper than hiring an office-based employee in western Europe. Sequoia’s survey, however, found that less than half (45%) of respondents said saving on salaries was a motivating factor of hiring remotely. 

Zoe Hewitt, talent director for Europe at Sequoia, suggests that with new tech ecosystems maturing in Europe, engineers have been presented with more employment opportunities from companies based nearby, so startups looking to outsource talent elsewhere are now met with local competition. 

Bigger companies have also flocked to once-overlooked locations for engineering talent, so are competing for the same candidate pool as startups. In Tallinn, for example, mobility startup Bolt, Microsoft and customer communication platform Twilio are competing for Estonia's approximately 4,400 engineers — 23% of them are skilled in the most in-demand remote specialism of front-end engineering, and the city ranks as the second most densely packed for the skill. 

Salaries are also gradually levelling out across the continent — 73% of respondents said that pay differences between countries in Europe have eroded, and 81% of respondents said they’ve seen pay start to level out within different areas of countries, like in a city versus rural regions. 

Where can you find talent?

For the 10 roles that were most likely to be hired remotely, the five countries with the highest talent share in Europe were:

Front-end developers

  • London: 10.8%
  • Paris: 2.56%
  • Berlin: 2.46%
  • Amsterdam: 2.36%
  • Madrid: 2.1%

DevOps

  • London: 13.14%
  • Paris: 3.79%
  • Amsterdam: 3.29%
  • Berlin: 2.65%
  • Madrid: 2.33%

Application development

  • London: 9.54%
  • Paris: 2.99%
  • Madrid: 2.31%
  • Berlin: 2.04%
  • Stockholm: 1.9%

Data Science

  • London: 12.14%
  • Paris: 4.3%
  • Berlin: 2.88%
  • Madrid: 2.79%
  • Amsterdam: 2.38%

Server and cloud 

  • London: 12.29%
  • Paris: 3.14%
  • Amsterdam: 2.43%
  • Madrid: 2.42%
  • Berlin: 2.4%

 Security

  • London 14.50%
  • Paris: 3.27%
  • Manchester;2.39%
  • Amsterdam 2.21%
  • Madrid: 2.03%

Mobile 

  • London: 9.61%
  • Paris: 3.11%
  • Berlin: 2.7%
  • Madrid: 2.63%
  • Barcelona: 2.06% 

Systems 

  • London: 9.87%
  • Paris: 3.41%
  • Stockholm: 2.3%
  • Munich: 2.23%
  • Berlin: 2.21%

Finance

  • London: 13.61%
  • Paris 3.55%
  • Berlin: 2.62%
  • Madrid: 2.51%
  • Amsterdam: 2.24%

Databases

    • London: 9.96%
    • Paris: 2.6%
    • Madrid: 2.26%
    • Amsterdam: 1.81%
    • Berlin: 1.75%

Sadia Nowshin

Sadia Nowshin is an editorial assistant at Sifted. Follow her on X and LinkedIn