Last spring the economic news paper Financial times published their annual listing “1000 Europe´s Fastest Growing Companies”. When taking a closer look at the 2019-ranking, the fastest growing companies enable to see the future industrial sectors, which stand for success and innovation – and especially provide great opportunities for start-ups and the founder scene.

Which European economic companies are growing the fastest? This was the question posed by the Financial Times (FT) and the statistics database Statista for the third time this year. The result: The ranking “1000 Europe´s Fastest Growing Companies 2019”[1], which lists precisely those companies from the 31 European states that, according to the Financial Times, are showing exceptional growth rates. There were some admission criteria to be considered for the list. For example, the companies had to have a minimum turnover of 100,000 euros for 2014 and at least one and a half million euros in 2017. Further requirements:

  • entrepreneurial autonomy
  • Headquarters in one of the 31 countries
  • organic sales growth between 2014 and 2017

In addition to their remarkable growth, the 1000 companies have something else in common: they are strong in innovation and technology. A closer look at the ranking shows that the listed companies come from a wide variety of sectors.

From lifestyle, life science and finance to media, digital services and health, technology, e-commerce and online marketing. The fast-growing players come from all kinds of industries. Remarkable: The 1000 companies also include 233 companies from Germany.

Von Energie bis KI: Die Zukunftsbranchen mit Wachstumspotenzial

Promising industrial sectors

The British Fintech company Blue Motor Finance is first place on the list. The company, which grants app-based vehicle-loans at car dealerships, increased its turnover by more than 50 000 percent between 2014 and 2017. Second place was secured by the online delivery service Deliveroo from the “Food & Beverage” sector, also from Great Britain. With a sales growth of 15 000 percent in the mentioned time period. A total of three companies from this sector are among the top 15.

The FT ranking therefore not only provides an overview of economically strong companies that are highly successful in their market segment – it also shows which economic sectors in Europe promise profitable business. Industries that are already promising or will be so in the medium and long term. Not least because they deal with future topics that will continue to gain in importance in the coming years. For example, the topic of “energy”.

Future industrial sector energy

For many years, the energy sector was mainly reserved for large companies and players. With the (socially & politically demanded) energy turnaround, however, start-ups and “green” founders also get their chance. Because the energy sector of the future must be further developed, and this requires innovations and smart, digital business models. No matter if it is about CO2-neutral production, renewable energies or alternative, environmentally friendly and efficient power generation methods: When talking about future oriented industries, the term “energy” inevitably comes up. Especially since the circle of potential “buyers” or customers is large:

  • Companies
  • Private homes
  • Cities/commune

They all want and need intelligent solutions and technologies for – low-loss – energy transmission and storage (keyword: Smart Energy).

A glance at the FT ranking shows that this sector already represents enormous growth potential for companies: over 25 companies in the list belong to the energy industry.

Mobility in the digital age

How will we move forward in the future? This is one of the most pressing and exciting questions of all, especially when looking at the increasing digitalization.

Von Energie bis KI: Die Zukunftsbranchen mit Wachstumspotenzial

This will have a lasting effect on our mobility in the future and will shape it to an enormous extent. Transport and technology companies and, of course, the automotive sector face the major challenge of having to provide ever more people with increasingly efficient and, above all, climate friendly means of transport.

On the one hand a challenge, but on the other hand there is also enormous potential for newcomers and young companies to find their special field and be successful there. The subareas and possible niches are manifold. The following are considered to be particularly promising business sectors and services

  • Rental models
  • Electric mobility
  • autonomous movement
  • alternative types of drive and engine technologies
  • purely app-based business models

One of the top companies on the FT list has also opted for such an offer: the Estonian transport network company Bolt (formerly Taxify). The company, whose transport and taxi app allows users to book mobile trips, showed average growth of almost 400 percent between 2014 and 2017.

Just how diverse and differentiated the industry has become can be seen in our article based on the topic “Mobility Start-ups” from February.

“Innovation driver” AI

It is considered to play a key role in the economic competition of the 21st century: artificial intelligence. It is not the large companies that are seen as the drivers of innovation here, but the start-ups, whose groundbreaking technological solutions can influence almost all areas of our everyday lives. Far more than it is already the case today.

“Start-ups are considered as major innovation drivers in the field of AI. “

AI has long been used in our smartphones, image recognition software, semi-autonomous vehicles and intelligent speech recognition systems. It is always about independently working, recognizing or analyzing applications and systems. Human-oriented, imitated intelligence, for the development of which requires technical know-how and specialists: a great opportunity for new entrepreneurs.

Divisions and related areas with future potential and prospects for success include

  • Robotics
  • Pattern recognition
  • knowledge-based systems
  • artificial life

The latter point refers to the study of natural life systems by means of computer simulation, which will become even more important for regenerative medicine (e.g. in the reproduction of dead cells or dysfunctional organs) in the future [2]. After all, today we live on average longer than ever before, and human life expectancy continues to rise constantly [3].


Directly related to the topic just described is another economic sector with enormous growth opportunities, in which many companies are already operating successfully all over the world: healthcare. In the FT ranking, 24 companies come from the “health” sector. They stand for very different offers, processes and products.Start-ups gelten als große Innovationstreiber im Bereich KI.“Directly related to the topic just described is another economic sector with enormous growth opportunities, in which many companies are already operating successfully all over the world: healthcare.

black and gray stethoscope
Foto von Hush Naidoo

In the FT ranking, 24 companies come from the “health” sector. They stand for very different offers, processes and products.

Attractive options arise from this primarily for young entrepreneurs with forward looking ideas and methods. Because in the coming years, the use of digital technologies in healthcare will continue to increase. From modern diagnostic procedures (e.g. diagnostic apps) and innovative medical technology to digital health assistants, technology-based treatment measures and improved doctor-patient referral platforms – the digital health sector serves one purpose above all else: further development of high-quality health care. Developments from which all parties involved could benefit from. The physicians who uses them, the patient and society as a whole.

Software offerings, healthcare apps and e-health solutions that offer everything from a single source have a good chance of success. For example, the analysis and documentation of data or examination results as well as the optimization of existing processes and traditional, inefficient methods. There will also be a huge market in the future for Fintech solutions that facilitate the billing of doctors to the health insurance companies.