The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021 Life Sciences Edition

Understanding the Model: Why You Should Care About Measuring Your Startup Ecosystem

The underlying drive for the Global Startup Ecosystem Report is to answer three key questions founders, investors, and policymakers all over the globe have been asking:

  • Where are the top-performing ecosystems in the world?
  • Where do early-stage startups have the best shot at building global success?
  • Why are some places on the rise while others are falling behind?
  • How can ecosystems increase their chances of winning in the global startup revolution?

Since starting out as a research project with Steve Blank, the father of the Lean Startup movement, and Prof. Chuck Eesley at Stanford University in 2011, we have been on a mission to codify and understand what factors make startup ecosystems successful so more places have a chance of creating and capturing their fair share of the value created by the global startup revolution. We have made tremendous progress since then and continue to evolve and improve. What you are looking at is by far the deepest, most comprehensive startup ecosystem research ever done — by Startup Genome, the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and in our field in general. Among other things, this year’s research has:

  • Increased the coverage of the reported ecosystems to 280 ecosystems and across over 100 countries to rank the top 40 globally and produce a ranking of the top 100 emerging ecosystems. By expanding our list of ecosystems covered, we made inroads in increasing our coverage of Africa and South America as well.
  • Incorporated several real-time data sources into our broader model, from Google Trends to track public discourse on startups, to GitHub to identify active programmers, to Meetup data for measuring local tech events.

Key Concepts


The ranking is primarily driven by one question: In which ecosystems will an early-stage startups have the best chance of building global success and why?


Steve Blank defines a startup as a “temporary organization in search of a repeatable and scalable business model.” We use this definition to look across sectors and sub-sectors, including software, hardware, health, energy, and others.


Defined around the concept of a shared pool of resources, generally located within a 60-mile (100-kilometer) radius around a center point in a given region, with a few exceptions based on local realities. The distance was primarily determined by evaluating the distance investors and founders are willing to travel to meet one another.

Ecosystem Success Factor Model

Our principal analytical tool, this measures different dimensions that support the performance of local startups. We look at nine factors for our rankings: one measuring actual performance, with eight Success Factors associated with performance, and each consisting of sub-factors and metrics. These factors are highlighted in our Methodology section, as well as in each rankings section.