Guest Post by Kirsty Shearer, Development Director, Agilité Solutions

As a pan-European business, we’d like to think we’re fairly au fait with upcoming trends across the continent – including the cities we expect to thrive over the coming decade. While investment and expansion are still playing catch up in the wake of the events of 2020, here’s where we’re starting to witness real glimmers of hope.

Leeds, England

As one of the UK’s biggest cities, Leeds is fast-becoming the go-to business hub for the north of England.

With the arrival of Channel 4’s new headquarters, and brands such as Asda, Arla Foods, Jet2, First Direct, and Sky calling the city home, it’s no surprise there’s a wealth of young talent there too – with around 38,000 students enrolled in Leeds’ numerous high-profile universities.

A growing economy, vast investment in infrastructure, and seemingly continuous construction, means the city is benefitting from divergence from London, thanks to a lower cost of living and a different pace of life than in the capital. 

Barcelona, Spain

Like Leeds, Barcelona is well on its way to becoming one of Spain’s international tech hubs. As a southern gateway to Europe – and the centre of an emerging economic Eurozone – the city also provides a great platform to trade with Latin America, too.

The 101.9 km² hub boasts one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean, as well as a high-speed train station, international airport, and motorways that connect to the European network – making it a great location for trading with the rest of the bloc.

Bordeaux, France

With a cost of living that’s 29% lower than Paris, there’s a reason Bordeaux is experiencing rapid demographic growth – with more than one million inhabitants expected by 2030. It’s also been named the second most attractive French city for foreign investors and entrepreneurs – and we can see why.

Often overlooked in favour of Paris – which is only two hours away by train – the municipality is just a short flight from major transport hubs in London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Geneva, and Madrid.

Home to an important commercial port, the city also boasts a wealth of revered educational institutes as well as a rich heritage, green areas, and an oceanside location – while being in ‘wine country’ makes for the perfect combination of business and pleasure.

Köln, Germany

As the fourth-most populated city in Germany, Köln has recently seen a significant increase in start-up companies, particularly those in emerging tech industries. But it’s a favourite of established brands too, thanks to its status as an important cultural and research centre.

There are several corporate headquarters within its 405.2 km² footprint – including German flag carrier Lufthansa, Ford Europe, and racing team Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG).

Such big-brand investment is partially down to its land, sea, and air connections – including a quintet of Rhine ports and Cologne-Bonn Airport’s status as the second largest freight terminal in Germany – and has earned Köln its long-standing position as an important trade city.


While we appreciate this is a country, rather than a city, Luxembourg is home to just over 600,000 people – including me. This small European country shares its borders with Belgium, France, and Germany and harbours a wealth of multilingual talent.

Not only does the nation have an active economic policy which encourages international businesses. But its location, political and social stability, and corporate incentives are just a handful of the reasons why investors are choosing to expand into the region.

Kirsty Shearer is Development Director at Agilité Solutions