The 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking

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Welcome to the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking. It has been almost three years since the last Startup Ecosystem Report was released (in NovemberKey 2012), and since then the startup sector has grown at a booming pace.

The centerpiece of the 2015 Startup Ecosystem Ranking is our updated and revamped component index, which ranks the top 20 startup ecosystems around the world. The index is produced by ranking ecosystems along five major components: Performance, Funding, Talent, Market Reach, and Startup Experience.
I. The Increasing Socioeconomic Impact of Startup Ecosystems

Twenty years ago, almost all tech startups were created in startup ecosystems like Silicon Valley and Boston. Today, technology entrepreneurship is a global phenomenon, with startup ecosystems similar to Silicon Valley rapidly emerging all around the world. An interconnected, global startup landscape is taking shape and we’ve gathered the data and crunched the numbers that nobody else has to help you understand how to best navigate this brave new economic world.

In September 2011, we wrote a blog post about the coming “Entrepreneurial Enlightenment” and the factors behind its emergence. The era is in full bloom now and there has never been a better time to be a tech entrepreneur, as entrepreneurs are now blessed with the tools, resources, and market conditions to scale a company to billion dollar “Unicorn” status faster than ever before.

The rise of the startup ecosystems all around the world should also be seen in the context of the larger socioeconomic structural shift taking place. Information Era businesses have become the dominant source of economic growth, significantly automating or altering much of the industrial and service businesses of the previous economic era. Many others have described aspects of this structural shift under different names, such as Marc Andreessen’s widely circulated Wall Street Journal essay, “Why Software is Eating the World”, Deloitte Center for the Edge’s semi- annual “Shift Index”, or Richard Florida’s Creative Class Group, which has published numerous books on the topic, such as the “Rise of the Creative Class.”

Given technology startups’ critical role in the information economy, the importance of healthy startup ecosystems only stands to increase in the future. With this report we want to accelerate the development of startup ecosystems around the world by answering critical questions for entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers that are difficult to answer without the data we have gathered and analyzed in this report, as well as to raise the general populace’s awareness of the increasing socioeconomic importance of startup ecosystems.

One of our main goals with this report is to help various stakeholders answer the following kinds of questions:

a) For Entrepreneurs:

“Where should I start my new company?”

“When I’m ready, where should I open up my startup’s second office?”

b) For Investors:

“How can I find new startup investment opportunities around the world instead of simply settling for solely investing in my local startup ecosystem due to familiarity?”

“Given the lack of information out there about emerging startup ecosystems, how do I evaluate which ones I should focus on for finding new opportunities?”

c) For Policy Makers:

“What initiatives should I prioritize in my startup ecosystem to maximize growth?”

“How should I measure the progress of these initiatives?”

d) For All Stakeholders:

“What is the best way to strengthen the overall vibrancy and entrepreneurial spirit in my ecosystem?”

II. The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015
Without further ado, here is the ranking, with analysis to follow.

One important caveat to note: Our index does not currently include startup ecosystems from China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. It has been challenging to get survey participants and complete data. We hope to have these ecosystems included in our index later this year. While we have not completed our analysis yet, we particularly expect:
  • Beijing to rank in the top 5
  • Shanghai to rank in the top 15

The following ecosystems all scored highly and were contenders for a spot among the top 20: 

  • Atlanta, Delhi, Denver-Boulder, Dublin, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Stockholm, and Waterloo. 

III. Five Key Findings

Ecosystems have become more interconnected and startup teams have become more

a) Global
average for investments in a startup from outside of its home ecosystem

– 37% of all funding rounds
in the top 20 ecosystems have at least one investor from another ecosystem. In
North America this is 41%.

– 27% of all funding rounds
have at least one investor from abroad. (North America 20%, Europe 38%,
Asia-Pacific 29%)

b) Globally
distributed startup teams

In the top 20 ecosystems, the number of offices that are 2nd offices from
startups outside the ecosystem or headquarters of startups that were founded
elsewhere and moved to the ecosystem, rose by 8.4x from 2012 to 2014.

c) International

The number of foreign employees within a
startup is 29% on average for the top 20 ecosystems (Silicon Valley 45%)

Exit Values:

Total exit
growth across the top 20 ecosystems rose 81% annually from 2013 to 2014 (40% IPOs/60%

Looking at the relative growth rates of exit value (based on a 2013-2014 2-year moving average), we see Silicon Valley growing at a 47% rate over the last two
years, whereas many other ecosystems further down the index are growing at a
much faster pace.

London has quadrupled in the same
timeframe, and Berlin has grown by a factor of 20 (due primarily to the two big
IPOs of Rocket Internet and Zalando).

Full Exit Growth Table: (2013-2014 2-year moving average)









Sao Paulo










Tel Aviv


Los Angeles


Silicon Valley


New York City










Montreal 1x

Europe vs. U.S.

Exit value grew much faster in the top European ecosystems
than the top ecosystems in the U.S.: 4.1x Europe versus 1.5x U.S. (2012-2014),
yet in 2014 the volume of exits was still on average 82% higher in American
startup ecosystems than in European ecosystems.


Over the coming years we expect Silicon
Valley to stay in the lead, even while other ecosystems temporarily grow at a
faster pace, with the expectation of ultimate convergence towards an
equilibrium that looks a fairly conventional 80/20 power law; i.e. Silicon
Valley capturing 30-50% of the total exit pie, the next three startup
ecosystems capturing an additional 30-50% of the pie and the following top 16
startup ecosystems capturing the remaining 20% of the total exit pie.

VC Investment Trends in Startup Ecosystems:

Total venture
capital investment across the top 20 ecosystems rose 95% from 2013 to 2014.

a) VC Growth:

The ecosystems
with the most growth in VC investments were Bangalore (4x),
Boston (3.7x), Amsterdam (2x), and Seattle (2x). Meanwhile, Silicon Valley
almost doubled up with 93% growth from 2013 to 2014, with indications from Crunchbase that almost all of the
increase in Silicon Valley funding was in late stage Series B and Series C+
capital rather than early stage capital, which was relatively stagnant.

b) Seed Stage Capital Growth:

The startup ecosystems with the fastest annual
growth in the number of seed rounds over the last two years were Bangalore
(53%), Sydney 33%), and Austin (30%).

Ecosystem Ranking Changes since 2012 : Winners and Losers

The startup ecosystems which made the biggest leaps are
New York, Austin, Bangalore, Singapore, Berlin and Chicago. New York City made a significant leap among the established
players, moving from position #5 to #2 to take the silver medal. Austin, Texas,
meanwhile leapt all the way into #14th place, whereas three years ago they
didn’t even crack the top 20. Bangalore moved from #19 to #15, Singapore from
#17 to #10, Berlin from #15 to #9, and Chicago from #10 to #7. 

The startup ecosystems
which made the biggest falls are Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, and
Seattle. Vancouver slipped out of
the top 10 from position #9 to #18, Toronto slid from #8 down to #17, Sydney
dropped from #12 to #16, and Seattle fell from
#4 to #8. Again, all of these ecosystems did grow in the past three years, but
not as fast as other environments, which puts them at risk of eventually being
left behind.

Three ecosystems fell
out of the top 20 completely since 2012: Santiago, Melbourne, and Waterloo. Santiago experienced fast “catch up” growth for several years but is now just a bit above average with a growth index of 2.6 (average = 2.4). The growth of Melbourne likely took a hit due to its close proximity to the larger startup ecosystem of Sydney. Smaller ecosystems with close proximity to larger ecosystems often have a hard time continuing to grow due to new and existing talent and capital migrating to the larger nearby ecosystem. 

Regarding Waterloo, our methodological change of removing Startup Output per capita as a performance metric is the main reason for its lower ranking. It has a Growth index of 2.45, which, while only slightly above average, is significantly higher than most of the lower ranked ecosystems in the top 20.

Gender Equality amongst Startup Founders

The lack of gender equality is common across all startup
ecosystems. No ecosystem comes close to an equal share of male and female
founders, although psychologists and sociologists continue to debate whether
50/50 is the target to strive for [see this article on gender differences by Florida
State Psychology professor Roy Baumeister][1]. Overall, the trend for female
entrepreneurs is significantly up—the number of female founders in the global
startup ecosystem has grown by 80% over the last three years. In 2012, 10% of
startups had a female founder, as compared to the 18% global average among the
top 20 in 2015. Chicago, with 30% female founders, has the greatest percentage
of women entrepreneurs out of the top 20 startup ecosystems. 

IV. How it differs from the 2012 study and why

Having access to a larger volume of data combined with the development of a mathematical model with a high degree of fit drove a few changes in this year’s ranking methodology. The most significant change was the removal of the metric “Startup Density” (number of startups per capita, a measure of density) from the Performance Index. This changes the scoring formula away from density to overall value and size of the ecosystem.

In interviews with many stakeholders (investors, entrepreneurs and others) we concluded that there is an interest for larger ecosystems supported by the availability of more resources. The question was how to compare the performance of different ecosystems. Is an ecosystem with $10 billion in value and 1,000 startups in a city with a metropolitan population of 5 million (Startup Density of 0.2 startup per thousand people) better than one with $15 billion in value and 1,500 startups in a city of 10 million people (0.15 startup per thousand people)? Our intuition, validated by interviews, modeling and correlation between different factors, showed that both higher absolute value and higher number of startups are better, so we scored them separately.  Startup Density was neither correlated with other performance variables nor drove the decisions of entrepreneurs and investors. Therefore we chose to focus the Performance Index on the value and size of the ecosystem. We are conducting more research to allow for more nuanced relationship in future versions.

This change is one reason why Tel Aviv—despite its continuous and well above-average growth rate—and the Waterloo Region in Canada—with its very small population (slightly above half a million)—are ranked lower in our 2015 ranking than in our 2012 one.

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The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015. New Report with Unexpected Results and Insights. #ser15

[1] Baumeister, R. (2007)

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In our search for scalable solutions to this problem we learned that peer benchmarks and industry data were one of the most effective ways to help businesses focus on executing what matters most.

The newest Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015 was a collaborative effort involving:

  • Insights from over 200 interviews with entrepreneurs and local experts from 25 countries

  • Data from 11,000 surveys completed by startups, investors and other stakeholders in the last five months

  • Partnerships with: CrunchBase, Global Entrepreneurship Network, Dealroom, Orb Intelligence, Deloitte Australia and 60 local partners (including incubators, accelerators, VCs, policy makers, and universities)

  • Dave mcclure

    completely missing East Asia from this analysis (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tokyo, Seoul), not to mention others in SE Asia as well.

    no way Beijing should be missing from top 5-10, others in top 20.

    (note this feedback was also mentioned 3 years ago, not sure why you didn’t include this time)


  • Compass

    Hey Dave, thank you for bringing that up. We would have like to include China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. We did start the data collection process with local partners and performed interviews respectively. Money, time constraints and various problems (e.g. Chinese firewall blocking our survey) unfortunately didn’t allow us to complete the data collection in time for the report. With a bit of sponsoring we could complete the process we started. Let me know if you’re interested 😉 Bjoern

  • hi Bjoern: with all due respect — that’s a piss-poor excuse. (and honestly, kind of a crappy way to pitch us for sponsorship, even if tongue-in-cheek)

    btw: there’s no firewall in Tokyo or Seoul, and those should also be in the top 10-20. they just happen to speak a language not based on latin. but the data is definitely available. maybe you should pitch Japanese or Korean corps for sponsorship?

    regardless of firewall data collection issue, it’s a HUGE oversight to not mention China in your analysis (or at least why they aren’t included with a big asterisk next to your data)…. most especially since these issues were pointed out several years ago.

    anyway good luck with the data collection & the survey is still useful, altho i doubt Chicago or Paris startup ecosystems are bigger than Beijing, Tokyo, or Seoul.

  • Compass

    Lol … why so inflammatory Dave? If you read the blog post and the report/methodology you’d see that we wrote:

    “One important caveat to note: Our index does not currently include startup ecosystems from China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. The language barrier slowed our ability to gather enough to include them in the ranking. We expect to have these ecosystems included in our ranking later this year.”

    This was also included in all our press communication.

  • Where are Zurich and Lausanne from Switzerland?

  • @Bjoern: (apologies i didn’t see the caveat in the blog post above, but…)

    that’s a reasonable excuse for the FIRST TIME you do the report, not the SECOND TIME you do the report 2-3 years later.

    (and btw, that response wasn’t inflammatory — you should see me when i get really fired up 😉


  • Daniel Di Giusto

    Have you consider researching on The eastern europe scene?
    For example Krakow – Poland is becoming a beacon/iot Hub, a lot is going on and in my opinion it should be mentioned. You always base on the same data And focus on The same markets.

  • Compass

    Daniel & Blogstone, we’ve looked into Krakow, Warsaw and Zurich.

  • Rotem

    Seems awkward that a 2015-index is based on data between 2011-2014 (and aiming to cover a very up-to-date industry).
    Given the crazy 2015 investment year in Israeli high-tech this index becomes outdated and irrelevant.

  • So you missed the following exits in Switzerland: Wisekey 350m, Covagen 200m, Oncoethic 375m, CLS Communication 77m and the IPOs of Molecular Partners, Bravofly and Auris Medical. Check out the Swiss VC report:

  • Paul Severijns

    it seems that a kind of sample of cities all over the world was the selection criterium. To get a good idea about what urban environments are the best locations for succes at least also cities with successful science parks like Leiden should be involved.

  • Like to say thanks for this nice informative artical

  • Like to say thanks for this nice informative artical…

  • Lesa Mitchell

    Great job guys I know these are all imperfect but moving in the right direction.

  • Martin

    I understand that you could not consider each and every city for the ranking. However, I am surprised that Stockholm is not included. It is widely seen as one of the top tech hubs in Europe and one of the few which has produced several “Unicorns”.

    Did Stockholm simply score worse than what I expect or did you not consider it for the ranking?

  • Baat Enosh

    Thank you for the great work and report. I do wonder about your comment regarding gender – “although psychologists and sociologists continue to debate whether 50/50 is the target to strive for” and why, of all articles and research on the topic of entrepreneurs and gender imbalance in the startup ecosystem, you chose to link to one that is so controversial, and honestly, bias in its hypotheses.. At the very minimum, you could have also included a more progressive and forward thinking body of research, that proves that no real difference between successful women and men entrepreneurs really exists.. Such research is even funded by Kauffman 🙂

  • Very exciting! I believe that Emerging Markets, headed by India, will continue to go up in this table. Here is why:

  • Congrats to the team. Great and useful piece of work. Seems like a huge step up vs. the previous report. Proud to be a data partner.

  • Aditya Patro

    Where is Hyderabad, No where. Ohh god.I am completely surprised. I wont say Hyderabad should be at the top but the way its growing is superb. Lets us know in what way we can bring our place name to the list. We are working hard for this.

  • Dorothy Vlietstra

    This article expresses thoughts that I could not vocalise

  • Rubens

    It impresses me the amount of criticism you guys are receiving here in the comments. I also have my comments on that (e.g. missing big part of Asia, as already commented, or seeing São Paulo’s good position in the raking but lacking any comment in the analysis), but overall that’s a great piece of work.
    Thanks for sharing that!!

  • Nice report! It’s interesting to see what’s happening with the startup ecosystem around the globe. Was unhappy to see the Moscow area not growing, and hoping for this to change in the future!

  • Andrew DePristo

    When the first report came out in November 2012, I had a number of comments to the effect that the rankings were dominated by hitech and that different ecosystems are needed by other technologies, e.g., biotech. I had hoped that the next report would have at least categorized the different ecosystems since starting a biotech requires, at the very least, much larger initial capital (e.g., big A rounds), longer term investors, and a very well-educated scientific workforce.

    The new report does not provide such a ranking by type of entrepreneurial company, and one must look in the deep dive part of the report to learn that “Boston’s startup ecosystem is a worldwide leader in science and technology-based enterprises in areas like pharma, life sciences, biotech, and robotics.” The dominant theme in Boston is well said by Kyle Judah, Program Director at Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship: “We solve real hard problems. Not just at MIT— this echoes around the whole ecosystem. We don’t do consumer well. Some people think that’s a weakness. I actually think thats a strength. Let the Bay Area do flashy mobile stuff while we focus on big problems and companies that are backed by hard science.”

    Companies that develop social and mobile computing products require different support systems than those that invent new life-saving drugs and medical devices. A more useful ranking system would evaluate different ecosystems for different types of entrepreneurial companies. I hope this is forthcoming in the next report.

  • Archie

    Without further adieu. Seriously.

  • Steve

    Can you say why you didn’t assess Lisbon? Lisbon (and maybe Milan) are probably more vivid startup ecosystems than some of the other cities you included.

  • James

    What a shame that they would take out “number of startups per capita” as a measurement tool for a Start-up Ecosystem ranking. It is a sign of movement and growth. Is this ranking not all about demonstrating to investors and entrepreneur’s what city they would have the highest probability of success in?

    Being from Waterloo Region, Canada myself, this region is booming with millions being invested on a regular basis. It is a shame to see them fall out of this list due to one change in measurement.

  • I wonder if Stockholm, with 7 unicorns and < 1MM people (18% in tech) has a healthy startup ecosystem?.. Not in top 20 huh? LOL... Spotify ­ – $8.5 billion Skype – ­ $8.5 billion King - $7 billion Mojang – $2.5 billion Klarna – $1 billion Mysql – $1 billion TrueCaller - $1 billion

  • Dmitry Belyaev

    Please, inform me on any new info

  • Please, send me updated info

  • jf

    it’s hard to ignore East Asia if your intent is to present a complete picture. Exit values seem to be readily available.

  • Compass

    Unfortunately its not as easy as you might think. It took us about a year to compile, verify and process the data necessary for the ranking with an average team size of ~5 and the hands on support from 60+ resourceful partners. The process of collecting the data for East Asia has taken even longer. We’re hoping to release a ranking including East Asia later this year.

  • Untone

    Completely missing Vienna here. With all the growing political support, ever-accelerating startup scene, Pioneers Festival, new VCs and partnerships being announced almost every month, and a great access to CEE markets – this is now a cool place to start up.

  • Very encouraging report for all of us who are putting their best to inspire entrepreneurs.

  • nakul saxena

    Must commend you on an excellent report especially the Startup Revolution Series. Really loved the argument on the Great Transition, we have been trying to make the Indian Government aware of the same transition.

    Could you let me know the authors of the article enabling me to further interact with them.


    Naku Saxena

    Ps.- Decline of the Blue Chip article was really very good.

  • David Houghton

    With over 150 IoT companies and a foundation based on telecom and IT, The Research Triangle Region in North Carolina was a big miss!

  • leo

    hi! are you planning to issue the report on an annual basis going forward?

  • Thanks for your work, I’ve cited you on

  • W. Oude Alink

    I really liked the article despite the lack of Asian coverage.

    However, I was wondering if you also took a more narrow look at the material in the form of specifically named geographic innovation clusters, innovation campuses, and innovation/science parks (preferably in Europe)?

    I am looking into ‘successful’ innovation clusters (although the term successful is debatable) in order to obtain information for evaluating a newly founded High Tech Systems (Innovation) campus.

    Perhaps you’ve gain some insights related to this topic?


    W. Oude Alink

  • Barry Greene

    Lack of data from several of the north Asian sites has been noted. Another that needs to be added are Jakarta and Badung in Indonesia.

    What this points to is that there is a lot of start-up innovation that is based in the local language and culture. English based surveys like this will eliminate the start-ups that are immersed in the local markets and will minimize participation with start-ups that have English as a second language.

  • JimPulcrano

    Very, very useful. Well written and great data,

  • But how many of those companies are startups as opposed to offices of large companies?

  • Anders Andersson

    Thanks for some good research. I must add like a few others have done previously that not having a big hitter like Stockholm in the top 10 goes to your credibility. You have places like Sydney and Montreal, but forgotten Stockholm. You have never heard of Spotify, Skype, Mojang, King, Klarna what were you thinking?

  • Anders Andersson

    Agree with your sentiments entirely, goes to the credibility of this report.

  • The data shows an increase growth rate of startups among all major cities. That’s a great news. (Website which could help startups in their journey.)

  • shhared

    Great insight. Hope to see Hamburg and Berlin Challenging London, Amsterdam & Paris soon.

    • Santi

      Amsterdam & Paris are behind Berlin 😉

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