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Posted on 21 February 2012

How hot is Europe? – Part II

Posted in IDEAS  innovation  LINKEDIN 

Where the action is everywhere.

Or there is, created in Tel Aviv, which can identify faces in photographs regardless of whether or not they’re square on to the camera. Supposedly, this is aimed at social networkers who like to tag their photos.

Another product, Photo Finder, allows users to search the internet for photos of themselves or friends.’s CEO Gil Hirsh says “This is not a stalker’s tool”, but one cannot help feeling uncomfortable about the web’s latest far-reaching capabilities. In Berlin, says ‘its hyperlocal banner ads can geotarget a user’s location to within 50m’.

Someone is definitely watching you, and someone else is paying for the privilege. Post-Soviet Russia has its own unique problems. This is a country where cash is still king, and few people carry credit cards, making ecommerce a particular challenge. Add to that the lack of trust Russians place in on-line purchasing, the total unreliability of the Russian postal service, and the distrust of delivery companies, and one can see why Moscow has trailed other European capitals in this area.

Despite these obstacles, companies like Kupivip, an internet shopping club, and Ozon, an Amazon-like retailer which even has its own version of the Kindle, are thriving, and many other tech businesses are attracting home-grown investors.

Other cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Helsinki, and even Tallinn, all have their own tech hubs. In each of these centres, young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs meet in internet cafes, chat, exchange ideas, write code, and generally create the world we will all, happily or otherwise, be inhabiting tomorrow.

With thanks to Wired magazine for the article ‘Europe’s hottest startup capitals’ (ed. Greg Williams) 9/11, which provided the background information to these thoughts.