The Top 10 Global Startup Scenes (According to a VC Firm) 

August 26, 2015

9:00 am

SparkLabs, a global seed fund, today released a list of the top 10 global startup scenes in a presentation called Global Technology Trends & Startup Hubs 2015

The list puts a heavy emphasis on whether startups in the region are exiting: selling or going public and earning big chunks of money. This may not be every entrepreneur’s goal, but it is what VCs are looking for when they fund a company.

“Since we are investors, we took a more top-down approach and focused more on the viability of startups becoming successful. What are the exit potentials of a startup in a region?” explains cofounder and partner Bernard Moon. A region with big exit potential will have plenty of Series A investors and lots of companies actively acquiring startups.

It will also have “unicorns”: companies worth $1 billion or more (whether they're private and were valued at or acquired for $1 billion, or public with a market capitalization of $1 billion). SparkLabs looked at more modest exits, too.

“Even though Tel Aviv (or even Israel overall) doesn't have many unicorns . . . they have had many $100M+ and $500M+ exits. They are almost an exit factory. So we ranked them a 7 out of 10,” Moon explains.

Other criteria used in the list include engineering talent, the presence of entrepreneurs and mentors, the technical infrastructure, the startup culture, the legal and policy infrastructure, the economy, and government policies and programs.

Another startup ecosystem ranking came out earlier this year by Compass, but Moon disagrees with some of their choices – like putting Singapore at #10 and not including Stockholm.

“As a firm that is active in Asia, we wouldn't rank Singapore in the world’s top 10 ecosystems because of the lack of Series A funding and exit activity,” says Moon. (He should know – SparkLabs has offices in Singapore, as well as London, Tel Aviv, Seoul, and Silicon Valley.) As for Sweden’s capital? “Stockholm probably has the second-most unicorns per capita after Silicon Valley,” he adds.

Compass’s ranking also didn’t include China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea – they hadn’t collected enough data yet – while SparkLabs’s list features Beijing and Seoul. Here are their top 10 global startup scenes (not in ranked order):

Silicon Valley

startup ecosystems

Population: 7.4 million

Number of unicorns: 69 (Pandora, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb)

New York City

global startup scenes - NYC

Population: 20.1 million

Number of unicorns: 16 (Sprinklr, Blue Apron, WeWork, MongoDB)


top startup cities London

Population: 13.6 million

Number of unicorns: 10 (Shazam, PokerStars, TransferWise, Zoopla)


global startup scenes - Stockholm

Population: 2.1 million

Number of unicorns: 6 (Mojang, Klarna, Skype, Spotify)


top startup cities Berlin

Population: 4.2 million

Number of unicorns: 5 (Delivery Hero, Home 24, Rocket Internet, Zalando)

Tel Aviv

Silicon Wadi Israeli Startups

Population: 3.4 million

Number of unicorns: 3 (ironSource, Infinidat, Waze)


global startup scenes - Beijing

Population: 24.9 million

Number of unicorns: 9 (Alibaba, Meituan, Lakala, Koudai)


Sparklabs - Seoul

Population: 25.7 million

Number of unicorns: 6 (Coupang, 4:33 Creative Lab, Line, Kakao Talk)

Los Angeles

global startup scenes - Los angeles

Population: 18.5 million

Number of unicorns: 5 (Snapchat, SpaceX, NantHealth, Honest Co)


global startup scenes - Boston

Population: 7.6 million

Number of unicorns: 8 (HubSpot, SocialFinance, Simplivity, Moderna)

Image credits: Flickr / Patrick Nouhailler (Silicon Valley – cropped); Pixabay (NYC); DAVID ILIFF (CC-BY-SA 3.0) (London) / “GamlaStan from Katarinahissen Stockholm Swe” by Oke – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) / Bleppo (CC0) (Berlin) / Gilad Avidan (CC BY-SA 3.0) (Tel Aviv) / Flickr / Dimitry B. (CC BY-SA 2.0) (Beijing) / Evilbish (CC BY-SA 3.0) (Seoul) / Flickr / Marshall Astor (CC BY-SA 2.0 (Los Angeles); Flickr / Eric Kilby (CC BY-SA 2.0) (Boston); Featured Image: Flickr / Olof Senestam (Stockholm)

Did you like this article?

Get more delivered to your inbox just like it!

Sorry about that. Try these articles instead!

Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact