February 1, 2023

The 10 fastest growing open-source startups in Europe

A new report by Runa Capital has gathered the fastest-growing open-source startups hosted on GitHub — here are the European teams that made it

Sadia Nowshin

4 min read

The Penpot team

European universities are leading the world when it comes to turning out founders of fast-growing open source startups, according to a new report.

The research from Runa Capital found that France’s Epitech IT school was the academic institution with the most alumni running fast-growing open source startups.

Epitech produced five founders that featured in Runa’s open source index, which monitors the open source startups with the biggest annual growth in GitHub “stars” — a bookmarking system for developers on the popular open source platform.


Runa says that while GitHub stars aren’t a perfect metric for measuring growth, they do reflect a startup’s “preeminence” in the open source community.

The next most-represented universities were Canada’s University of Waterloo with four founders on the list. The US’s Harvard and Berkeley universities, and Europe’s Delft University and Imperial College London all had three founders in the fastest-growing index.

Other findings 

Of 81 founders in the list just 4% were female.

Meanwhile, four European startups ranked in the overall top 10, with three from the US, and the rest coming from Israel, India and China.

In the overall top 50, the US dominates the list, taking almost 40% of spots (19 out of 50), while 15 of the startups came from Europe.

Runa Capital’s report also found that nearly half of the top 50 companies in the list raised capital in 2022 — and startups in the US, UK, Germany and France accounted for 79% of the funding for those on the ROSS Index list. 

Here are the top 10 fastest-growing open source startups from Europe

1. refine

HQ: Turkey
Founded: 2022
Place in the overall list: 3rd
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 395% 

Refine offers an open-source library to save developers time when building web apps and allows customisation rather than having to choose from pre-set code components. Last year, it raised a seed round of $1m.

2. Safing

HQ: Austria
Founded: 2017
Place in the overall list: 4th
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 345% 

A free open-source app firewall, Safing’s software reveals all of the connections that apps are making with each other without the user’s knowledge, as well as offering the user control over which ads and domains are blocked. 

3. Nhost

HQ: Sweden
Founded: 2019
Place in the overall list: 5th
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 300%

Nhost configures app databases and backends using GraphQL. It raised a total of $3.1m in seed funding in two rounds, one in 2020 and the second in 2021.

4. Penpot

HQ: Spain
Founded: 2019
Place in the overall list: 9th
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 202% 

Offering a web-based, open-source design and prototyping platform for cross-domain teams, Penpot’s software only needs a modern browser to run, eliminating the need for specific operating systems or installations. It raised an $8m early VC round led by Decibel in September last year.

5. Medusa

HQ: Denmark
Founded: 2021
Place in the overall list: 12th
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 183% 

A development platform for ecommerce merchants looking for an alternative to Shopify, Medusa offers site customisation options as the needs of the company develop, plus connects to the APIs of payment providers and content management systems. Last year, it raised around $8m in seed funding led by LocalGlobe and Dawn Capital.


6. NuxtLabs

HQ: France
Founded: 2017
Place in the overall list: 15th
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 175%

Offering a developer-focused website design software that automates repetitive tasks and increases the speed that sites load, NuxtLabs raised a $2 seed round from Kima Ventures last year.

7. Coqui

HQ: Germany
Founded: 2020
Place in the overall list: 22nd
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 152%

Coqui is an AI-powered voice generator, creating emotive and realistic voices for uses such as video games and dubbing. Users can either choose from a list of voices or generate one themselves, and can edit the voice down to single characters. The company didn’t confirm if it’s raised any money yet.

8. Apify

HQ: Czech Republic
Founded: 2015
Place in the overall list: 28th
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 133%

Apify offers a platform for developers to build web scraping software and automation tools to imitate digital tasks. It offers a range of scrapers, from Twitter to Google Maps to global weather forecasts, and has raised a total of $1.3m in seed funding across four rounds, plus a $12k grant from Y Combinator.

9. NetBird

HQ: Germany
Founded: 2022
Place in the overall list: 29th
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 128% 

A no configuration VPN provider, NetBird connects up to 20 machines and devices into a private network. It raised £200k from Antler in April last year.

10. OpenReplay

HQ: France
Founded: 2018
Place in the overall list: 32nd
Annual growth rate of GitHub stars: 124%

OpenReplay provides an insight into a website user’s behaviour by “replaying” their actions that businesses can self-host to keep information within their own infrastructure. It raised $4.7m last year, led by Runa Capital. 

This article was updated on 1 February 2023 to remove Safing's incorrect fundraise amount. 

Sadia Nowshin

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