About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Looking forward to the new and improved 2016 European Digital City Index!

In October 2015, we launched the European Digital City Index (EDCi), an online tool which compares how well different European cities support digital entrepreneurship.

It's been an exciting 6 months for us since the launch of the index. In this time, the index has had over 100,000 page views, 2,000 tweets, and 100+ articles written about it. Nevertheless, it’s now time to look forward to the next version of the index.

We plan to launch EDCi 2016 in September and based on feedback received from our multiple stakeholders, we will implement a number of changes which we are pleased to share with you:

New Cities

The 2015 Index compared 35 European cities. This included all 28 capital cities in the EU and an additional seven non-capital EU cities that are important hubs of digital entrepreneurship. These extra cities were chosen with reference to other indicators of digital activity or entrepreneurship.

In the next version of the index we plan on including an additional 25 cities. We chose them by following a similar approach, selecting cities which perform highly on both measures of ICT excellence and quality and extent of entrepreneurship. We have also taken into account data availability and feedback from the 2015 Index.

Here is the provisional ​list of 25 additional cities we plan on including in the next version of the index:

Belgium: ​Leuven;
Denmark: ​Aarhus;
France:​ Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg;
Netherlands: ​Eindhoven, The Hague, Utrecht;
Germany: ​Bonn, Darmstadt, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Karlsruhe;
Sweden: ​Gothenburg, Malmo, Uppsala;
UK: ​Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester;
Spain: ​Valencia

What if your city is not on the list? We are keen to hear if we have missed out on any important hubs of digital entrepreneurship. If you want a city to be included in the 2016 EDCi which isn’t already ​on the above list (and wasn’t in the 2015 EDCi) then please read our ‘Guidelines for including new cities in the European Digital City Index’.

Improved Indicators

The 2015 Index consisted of 38 indicators grouped into 10 ‘themes’. While the 10 themes will remain unchanged, we are working to improve a number of the individual indicators in the next edition of the Index.

It may be argued that some of the indicators used in the 2015 Index were not entirely geographically representative because we collected data from predominantly English language web platforms. Examples of these indicators and the platforms used are:

1. Availability of Crowdfunding (using: Kickstarter)

2. Engagement with digital startup ecosystem (using: Twitter)

3. Networking/mentoring events (using: meetup.com)

4. Access to mentors (using: Linkedin)

5. Online collaboration (using: Github)

In the next version of the Index, we plan on bolstering our efforts with respect to these indicators by sourcing data from several platforms used across Europe. Any leads and/or suggestions of popular platforms - particularly those used in Eastern Europe - are most welcome.

An additional concern with using just Kickstarter data for the crowdfunding variable is that this only represents one type of crowdfunding - reward crowdfunding. This is problematic both because reward crowdfunding is not so well suited to non-consumer facing businesses, but also because the reward crowdfunding market makes up a relatively small part of the crowdfunding market, supplying considerably less funding than equity crowdfunding and P2P lending. We are currently sourcing data for the combined volume of funding coming from all types of crowdfunding to each city.

New Variables

As well as improving existing indicators, we plan on adding two new indicators. Several studies [e.g. 1, 2, 3] have suggested a positive correlation between entrepreneurial education and business creation. However, we did not think that this is represented by any of our current indicators. Consequently, the first indicator we will be adding will capture the level and quality of entrepreneurship education available in the city.

We received a high volume of  feedback on the Lifestyle theme, particularly that cultural factors beyond costs/standard of living -- for example, the existence of restaurants, art exhibitions and music events -- also play a significant role in entrepreneurs’ decisions to live in a city. For this reason we have decided to add a further indicator measuring cities’ cultural attractiveness.

Help us!

Methodological rigour is at the heart of the European Digital City Index and we are constantly looking for ways in which it can be improved. For this reason we have requested that the Joint Research Centre audit our methodology for overall robustness and adherence to their 10-step methodology for composite indicators.

As well, in order to get a higher degree of calibration in the theme and variable weighting, we have also decided to conduct a survey of experts in the digital innovation and entrepreneurship fields. If this describes you, please do get in touch and we will send our short 10 minute survey.   

Here we have discussed the changes which we plan on incorporating into the next version of the index. However, if you think there are other aspects that could be improved on, we’d love to hear from you with comments or suggestions, so please get in contact at [email protected]


Jonathan Bone

Jonathan Bone

Jonathan Bone

Mission Manager, healthy life mission

Jonathan works within Nesta Cymru (Wales), focusing on working across public, private and non-profit sectors to deliver innovative solutions that tackle obesity and loneliness in Wales.

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Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Researcher, Digital Startups

Sidd was the policy researcher on two projects dedicated to fostering digital entrepreneurship and building entrepreneurial ecosystems across Europe – Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) …

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