United States

Seattle #9

"Seattle hits the startup ecosystem trifecta: top notch talent, thriving accelerators and incubators, and a growing number of VCs and angel investors. Seattle is poised to continue its impressive growth trajectory as the place for starting and building the next big businesses in tech."

Oren Etzioni
CEO, Allen Institute for AI (AI2)
Top 15 Global Ecosystem in Talent & Experience
#2 North American Ecosystem in Knowledge
Top 10 Global Ecosystem in Performance

Highlights

The hometown of Microsoft and Amazon has attracted one of the largest concentrations of tech talent in the U.S. That influx is benefitting more than these behemoths. Washington state saw $8.5 billion invested in 549 venture capital deals in 2021 — a 77% increase over the $4.8 billion raised in 401 deals in 2020, and much of this activity took place in Seattle. Real estate platform Flyhomes raised a $150 million Series C in June. Zenoti, a maker of software for spas, raised a $80 million Series D, also in June, and games developer Rec Room raised a $145 million round in December.


There are now 16 unicorn startups in the ecosystem. Together, they raised more than $2.5 billion in 2021, more than all the startups in Washington state managed to raise in 2018.


The University of Washington, China’s Tsinghua University, and Microsoft together created the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), where students work in teams to solve real-world challenges by developing a market-ready product. GIX opened in 2016 with a master’s degree in technology innovation, and has since launched additional degree and certificate programs.


The Buerk Center promotes entrepreneurship across the University of Washington. Ready Set Raise, an equity-free accelerator for women, launched in 2018.


At the annual Seattle Angel Digital Conference, investors pool funds to invest in one promising startup. Since 2012, the conference has educated 430 new investors and invested $4.5 million in 35 startups. GeekWire hosts Startup Day, the GeekWire Summit, the GeekWire Awards, and other meetups.

Ecosystem by the Numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
(2019H2-2021)
$3.8 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$687 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
(2019H2-2021)
$109 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$28.6 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$1.4 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$671 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$7 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY (2021)
$114 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$46 k
40 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
11.3 bn
370
GLOBAL AVG.
101
Amount ($)
Count (#)

Exits

(2017-2021)
EARLY-STAGE FUNDING GROWTH TIER (2018/19 VS. 2020/21)
3
Calculated on a scale of
1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)
TOTAL VC FUNDING (2017-2021)
$16 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.5 bn
TIME TO EXIT (2017-2021)
9 years
GLOBAL AVG.
9.4 years

Sub-Sector Strengths

AI, Big Data & Analytics

The University of Washington is a leader in the field of machine learning and Big Data. Thanks to its entrepreneurial environment and programs to support founders, the university has spun out many tech startups. The W Fund is an early-stage venture fund that aims to invest approximately $20 million by 2026 in such startups. Outreach, another AI-driven sales startup, raised a $200 million Series G in June 2021. AI-fueled sales platform Highspot raised a $248 million Series F in January 2022.

Life Sciences

Seattle was ranked #11 in Startup Genome’s Life Sciences Edition. The city is home to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the University of Washington. Five Washington-based biotech companies entered the public markets in 2021, leading the nation in both deal volumes and total proceeds. Sana Biotechnology raised $587 million in its January 2021 IPO. Apis Health Angel Conference launched in 2021 to connect investors and health-related startups.

Reasons to Move Your Startup to Seattle

Talent Pool

The Seattle region added more than 48,000 tech jobs from 2016 to 2020, an increase of more than 35%, and a faster growth rate than any other large U.S. tech market, according to a CBRE report. The University of Washington has more than 60,000 students and supplies the ecosystem with graduates. Seattle University, Bellevue College, a network of community colleges adds to the pipeline. Non-profit Ada Developers Academy partners with local tech companies to train women and nonbinary people to be software developers.

Selected Startup Organizations

Startup Genome
Partners

ARI
Alliance of Angels
Angel Resource Institute
Fledge
Lighter Capital
MS Accelerator
Microsoft Ventures
Microsoft for Startups
New Tech Northwest
SURF Incubator
Seattle Angel Conference
Seven Peaks Ventures
Startup Grind
Startup Seattle
Techstars

Get connected

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