Key Insights | GSER 2021

Global rankings and insights in world’s most comprehensive report on startup ecosystems
Startup Genome
on November 22, 2021

The Global Startup Ecosystem Report (#GSER2021) is the world’s most comprehensive and widely-read research on startups, with data from over 3 million companies across 280 ecosystems. The Report ranks the top 30 and 10 runner-up global ecosystems and a top 100 ranking of emerging ecosystems.  

This year’s GSER has an expanded regional focus, ranking ecosystems in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, MENA, North America, and Oceania.

The Report also includes regional insights and founder-focused articles from thought leaders and experts worldwide on topics ranging from how to divvy up equity to the value of accelerators, among other critical topics.

Key Findings from the #GSER2021 Rankings Include:

  • There are now 79 ecosystems generating over $4 billion in value, more than double the number identified in 2017 (in 2019, Startup Genome predicted there will be 100 by 2029). A majority of the new entrants are in Europe.

  • The global startup economy is worth over $3.8 trillion in Ecosystem Value, more than the individual GDP of most G7 economies, not including the value of exits prior to 2018.

  • The globalization of tech added more than $540 billion in Ecosystem Value in the top 100 emerging ecosystems, a 55% increase from the previous GSER period.

  • Ninety-one ecosystems have unicorns in 2020. Mexico City, Montevideo in Uruguay, Dallas, Houston, Busan, and Pune had their first unicorns in 2020.

  • Movement in Top-30 ranking:

    • Tokyo is in the Top 10 for the first time, moving up four spots to #9 overall

    • Seoul, Toronto-Waterloo, and Montreal have all climbed 4 ranks to respectively reach the #14, 16 and 31st to 35th ranks.

    • Shenzhen moved up 3 spots to enter the Top 20 at #19

    • The darling of our report this year is Philadelphia which moved up by an impressive 15 ranks fto #28 and right behind

    • Salt-Lake-Provo entering the top 30.

Top 30 Ecosystems and Runners-Up:

  • Despite a turbulent year for many, the top five global startup ecosystems maintain their reign at the top, with Silicon Valley in the #1 position, followed by New York City and London tied at the #2 positions for the second year in a row. Beijing and Boston follow at #4 and #5, respectively.

  • North America continues to dominate the Global Rankings, with 50% of the Top 30 ecosystems coming from this region, followed by Asia continuing its rise with 27% and Europe with 17% of the top-performing ecosystems globally.

  • There’s one new entrant to the Top 10 global startup ecosystems - Tokyo, at #9, up 6 places from last year. This is largely due to an increased number of successful exits in Tokyo, contributing to a growth in their ecosystem value. In addition to Tokyo, three more ecosystems have climbed the ranks - Shenzhen has made its way to the Top 20 at #19, Philadelphia moved up by an impressive 15 ranks from #43 last year to #28 this year, and Salt Lake-Provo has entered the Top 30, at #30.

  • The biggest movers this year other than Tokyo and Philadelphia are Toronto-Waterloo, up 4 places from #18 in 2020 to #14, and Seoul from #20 in 2018 to #16 this year.

  • This year sees two new entrants to the Runners-Up list - Research Triangle (the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, USA) and Dublin, Ireland.

Read the full article here.

Top 100 Emerging Ecosystems:

  • Mumbai is once again the #1 Emerging Ecosystem, outperforming in the areas of Performance, Funding, Experience, and Talent to retain its top spot.

  • There are significant shifts in the Top 10 Emerging Ecosystems.

    • Barcelona has stretched ahead of its fellow Spaniard, Madrid, to #5, and is tied with another contender this year - Estonia, which has shifted from #14 to the #5 tie position.

    • Miami is now a Top 10 Emerging Ecosystem at #10.

    • Wuxi, previously below the Top 20 is now at an impressive #7.

  • Europe and Asia dominate the Top 10 Emerging Ecosystems with 5 and 4 ecosystems, respectively. Philadelphia, which was a Top 10 Emerging Ecosystem last year, has shown tremendous growth to now be a Top 30 Global Ecosystem.

  • While Europe and North America continue to have the majority of emerging ecosystems, Latin America has three more ecosystems in the Top 100 than last year. Mexico City and Bogota are joined by Buenos Aires, Santiago-Valparaiso, and Rio de Janeiro.

  • The MENA region has four ecosystems in the Top 100 list this year - Dubai, Cairo, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi.

  • The Top 100 emerging ecosystems created 124 billion dollar startups in the 10 year period of 2011-2020, with the majority created in 53 ecosystems. MENA started producing unicorns in 2016 and Latin America in 2018. Asia is currently taking the lead, with 36% of the billion dollar club, followed by North America with 30%, and Europe with 27%.

  • The Top 100 Emerging ecosystems represent over $540 billion in ecosystem value, which is a 55% increase from last year.

Read the full article here.

Key Regional Findings:

North America

  • North America contributed more than 50% to the global startup ecosystem value for the second year in a row.

  • Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles alone contribute more than 70% to North America’s total ecosystem value.

  • North America saw a 20% increase in the number of $50M+ exits in 2020 and a 35% increase in the number of $100 million + exits.

  • North America produced more than 60% of the global unicorns in 2020.

  • When looking at the Funding, Talent & Experience Factors, 4 out of the Top 5 ecosystems are from North America (Silicon Valley, NYC, LA, and Boston).

  • Nine out of Top 20 Global Ecosystems are from North America.

Read the full article here.


  • The total number of late-stage funding rounds in MENA almost doubled in the last 5 years, while the total late-stage funding amount has grown 2x.

  • Dubai jumped 7 spots to the #11 rank in the Top 100 Emerging Ecosystems

  • Artificial Intelligence and Big Data is the leading sub-sector in MENA, with $3 billion invested in early-stage rounds, and $8 billion in exit value between January 2018 and June 2020.

  • Cairo ranks as the #1 MENA Ecosystem and Top 15 Global Ecosystem in Affordable Talent which is measured by the ability to hire tech talent.

Read the full article here.


  • Asian ecosystems continue to rise in the Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings with Tokyo (from #15 to #9), Seoul (#20 to #16), Shenzhen (#22 to #19), Bengaluru (#26 to #23), and Hangzhou (#28 to #25) moving ahead.

  • When it comes to the Knowledge factor, Asia takes 4 out of the Top 5 spots (Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, and Guangzhou).

  • Asian startup ecosystems are now worth $1.1 trillion in Ecosystem Value, about 30% of the global total.

Read the full article here.


  • Early-stage funding in Oceania between 2018 and 2020 totaled over $2 billion, a 35% increase from the previous 2.5 year period.

  • Oceanic startup ecosystems created over $30 billion in value, with 90% concentrated in Sydney, Melbourne, and New Zealand.

  • Two Oceanic ecosystems, Sydney and Melbourne, are in the top 25 ecosystems globally for Connectedness and Talent.

Read the full article here.


  • Europe takes three out of the Top 5 spots when it comes to Connectedness (London, Berlin, and Amsterdam).

  • The number of billion dollar exits tripled in 2020 in Europe (from 3 to 9).

  • The average ecosystem value created by European startup ecosystems is $6.3 billion, the highest after North America.

Read the full article here.

Latin America

  • Late-stage funding (Series B+) has increased by 5x from 2015 to 2020 in Latin America.

  • Early-stage funding (Seed + Series A) in the same period has more than doubled.

  • The majority of early-stage funding in Latin America between January 2018 and June 2020 was in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, with $248.5 invested in the sub-sector.

Read the full article here.


  • Average early-stage funding in African startup ecosystems in the 2.5 year period between 2018 and 2020 totaled $46.5 million, double the amount observed last year.

  • African ecosystems created $6.6 billion in value, $6 billion of which is concentrated in the Top 5 African startup ecosystems - Cape Town, Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra.

  • Fintech dominates early-stage investment in Africa, with over $206 million invested in the sub-sector between January 2018 and June 2020.

Read the full article here.

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