The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021

The Next Unicorn Could Come From Anywhere

This contributed article was prepared by Dealroom, using their proprietary methodology and analysis, different and separate from Startup Genome’s. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or position of Startup Genome.
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The Rise Of Unicorn Cities

The last 18 months have taught us that for digital-first companies, business can be done from anywhere. But the data shows that this is far from a new phenomenon. Unicorns - startups that reach a billion dollar valuation - have become an important currency in measuring tech ecosystems globally. But these days they are neither as scarce as their name suggests, nor a breed of company that only thrives in the rich entrepreneurial ground of Silicon Valley, as perhaps once assumed.

There are now almost 2,000 companies worldwide that have achieved unicorn status, either privately or at exit. The world has minted more than two unicorns per day in 2021.

Globally, these unicorn companies call over 170 cities home - 42 of these are in the US, 65 European towns and cities have produced at least one unicorn.

Figure 1. Cities with one or more Unicorn. Source:

As a $35 trillion industry, tech has a major impact on cities and local communities, affecting all sectors. Startups are a rapid and resilient job growth engine, with startup jobs growing on average 10% year on year worldwide. This is not just about Big Tech; our analysis shows that younger generations of startups are creating just as much value as older ones - and more than a quarter of all $1B+ companies achieved unicorn status this year alone.

And as the numbers suggest, unicorns are not purely the domain of mature global startup hubs. Bend (Oregan, US), Tirat Carmel (Israel), Nedre Vats (Norway), Glasgow (UK), Bello Horizonte (Brazil), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Thane (India), Accra (Ghana), Venlo (Netherlands), and Anhui (China) are just some of the cities to join the unicorn club in 2020/21.

Global venture capital is not letting up. In 2021, funding totals are on track to more than double 2020’s total.

Increasingly international investing strategies mean that startups can be founded, funded and scaled anywhere in the world, which makes local support all the more crucial for fostering individual startup ecosystems. The ship has not yet sailed on capturing and nurturing tech value creation. And the next unicorn could come from anywhere.