Silicon Valley sets the gold standard as a tech hub, so there is little wonder that so many locations around the world are attempting to emulate its success. Investment Monitor assesses the challengers.
The democratisation of tech ecosystems has seen the rise of Asia-Pacific as the home to some of the world's leading tech hubs. According to Startup Genome, the region now plays host to 30% of the world’s top ecosystems, compared with 20% in 2012. Of the 11 new ecosystems to have made it into the top ecosystems list in that time, six are in Asia-Pacific. Beijing and Seoul stand out for the strength of their tech education offerings, for example, and Beijing is challenging US competitors for the number of unicorns it produces.
Is Silicon Valley losing its edge?
According to Start-up Genome’s 2020 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report (GSER), the global start-up economy created nearly $3trn in value between 2017 and up to the first two quarters of 2019, a figure equal to the GDP of a G7 economy. Seven out of the top ten largest companies in the world are technology companies. Of these, a disproportionate number were founded in Silicon Valley.
It is no surprise then that countries have tried to foster this blueprint of the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem in the hope of creating the elusive ‘unicorn’ – companies valued at more than $1bn. More than 80 ecosystems globally have produced billion-dollar start-ups to date, according to Start-up Genome. This represents a shift from 2013, when the term unicorn was first popularised and only four global ecosystems produced billion dollar-exits.
Unicorns: companies valued at more than $1bn.
Decacorns: companies valued at more than $10bn.
Hectocorns: companies valued at more than $100bn.
As of May 2021, the cumulative value of the world’s 672 unicorns stood at $2.19trn, according to CB Insights, and although the global spread of these companies is largely weighted in the US and China, ecosystems across the world are starting to see unicorn numbers rising.