The State of Startups: A Global View

My colleagues at the Global Entrepreneurship Network and Startup Genome have just released the latest version of their excellent annual Global Startup Ecosystem Report (NOTE:  Report downloads require registration). The 2021 edition examines the state of global startup ecosystems by assessing 280 innovation ecosystems and more than 3 million companies.  Despite (or because of?) the turbulence we all faced in 2020, one big takeaway is that “the rich get richer.”  The leading pre-pandemic ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, London, and New York remain at the top, and North American ecosystems remain as the world’s most robust and resilient. 

Meanwhile, other ecosystems are starting to emerge and have big impacts.  The report notes that 90 different ecosystems have helped to nurture at least one “unicorn” company with market valuations exceeding $1 billion.  In addition, thriving ecosystems are emerging across Latin America and Africa, with regional venture funding levels at record highs. In North America, the authors note increasing demand for more accessible start-up resources, as part of a wider effort to make local ecosystem support efforts more inclusive and open to all. The top 5 North American “regional challengers” (i.e., ecosystems on the rise), include Miami, Detroit, Portland, Houston, and Minneapolis.  In terms of policy, the report concludes by applauding the growing embrace of “start up acts” around the world.  These efforts seek to build more friendly regulatory frameworks for new and growing businesses.  In 2020, significant legislation of this type was enacted in Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Kenya, and many other countries.