The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021 Life Sciences Edition

Global Life Sciences Ranking 2021: Top 25 and Runners-Up

The Top 25 Ecosystems for Life Sciences Companies Today

Life Sciences Key Findings

  • The top five global Life Sciences ecosystems are Silicon Valley, Boston, New York City, London, and San Diego. North America and Europe dominate the Top 25 Life Sciences ecosystems, with 48% and 24% of the Top 25 respectively, followed by Asia at 20%, and MENA and Oceania with one ecosystem each in the Top 25.
  • 49% of the unicorns between 2015-2020 were created in the top five ecosystems.
  • There are now 108 Life Sciences unicorns globally, with 34 companies achieving unicorn status in the first half of 2021 alone.
  • Series A investment in this sub-sector crossed $10 billion in 2020.
  • The average deal size for a Series A investment in 2020 was over $15 million.
  • The total amount of Series B+ investment in 2020 was over $18 billion, nearly double the global amount in 2019.
  • The average deal amount for Series B+ is four times higher than it was ten years ago.  
  • In 2020, global Life Sciences exits totalled a whopping $96 billion, double the value in 2019.

Global Top 25

The top five performing Life Sciences ecosystems globally are Silicon Valley, Boston, New York City, London, and San Diego. North America dominates this year’s ranking, accounting for 48% of the Top 25 Life Sciences ecosystems globally. Europe follows with six of the top performing ecosystems, five in Asia and one each in the MENA and Oceania regions, Tel Aviv and Melbourne.

The Top 25 Life Sciences ecosystems are displayed in the accompanying table. Ecosystems are ranked on six Success Factors, which indicate the areas in which they outperform ecosystems in the rest of the world in providing Life Sciences startups the well-resourced environments they need to succeed. The most strongly correlated Success Factors with overall scoring are Performance and Funding — this means that startup success and the availability of early-stage funding are highly concentrated, especially in tier 1 ecosystems.

The top five Life Sciences ecosystems overall — Silicon Valley, Boston, San Diego, New York City, and London — are also top tier in Performance and Funding, but are being out-performed in areas like Knowledge, Talent, and Policy by some of the lower-ranked ecosystems. Notably, London, which is doing extremely well in Performance and Funding, is lagging behind in Policy, which could hinder its ability to maintain its top-five position in the long term.

35 unicorns, or 49% of the total number of Life Sciences unicorns in the six-year period between 2015-2020, were created in the top five ecosystems. Thirty-two of these were in the United States, and three in London, in the United Kingdom. While these ecosystems outperformed others in the overall sub-factor scores, two Chinese ecosystems, Shanghai and Beijing, had more exits over $1 billion than San Diego, New York City, and London over a five-year period.

Of the five top-performing ecosystems in Asia, two are in China. South Korea, Singapore, and Japan each have one strong Life Sciences ecosystem in their country. While the Chinese ecosystems have strong scores across most of the six Success Factors, Seoul and Singapore are doing better in Infrastructure for Life Sciences, due to their high number of R&D locations, higher amounts of Life Sciences-related grants available, and strong networks of Life Sciences facilitators including incubators and accelerators. Singapore is also outperforming the other four Asian ecosystems in terms of Talent, due to their high numbers of STEM students and graduates, and high-quality Life Sciences programs offered at local universities. Tokyo’s strengths in Life Sciences are in the Funding and Knowledge Factors.

In addition to four ecosystems in the top five, North America has eight more top-performing Life Sciences ecosystems. Notable among these is Philadelphia, at #8 globally, with strengths in four out of six Success Factors — Policy, Performance, Funding, and Infrastructure. While the majority of the North American ecosystems in the Top 25 and Runners-up are in the United States of America, Canada also has three strong Life Sciences ecosystems in this year’s ranking. They are Vancouver at #21, and two Runners-Up, Toronto-Waterloo at #26-30 and Montreal at #30-35. Of these top Canadian ecosystems, Toronto-Waterloo is the strongest in Funding and Talent.

There are 10 European ecosystems represented in this year’s rankings, six in the Top 25, including London at #5, and four Runners-Up. In addition to Performance and Funding scores that are comparable to the top performers from other regions around the world, European ecosystems are consistently strong in the Talent and Infrastructure factors. Bern-Geneva (#12), Amsterdam-Delta (#17), Zurich (#19), and Copenhagen (#22) are particularly strong in Talent.

Tel Aviv and Melbourne are the strongest Life Sciences ecosystems in their respective regions, MENA and Oceania. Tel Aviv had an impressive 10 exits over $50 million in the last ten years, and created nearly 300 Life Sciences startups in the same period. Melbourne, with three exits over $50 million dollars, created nearly 100 new Life Sciences startups in the last ten years, 17% of which were created in 2017. Over 70% of the deals in the Life Sciences sector in the large Oceania tech hubs are made in Melbourne, accounting for about 88% of the amount invested. On a regional level, Melbourne-based companies received over 60% of Life Sciences investment in Oceania. Melbourne also ranks highly in terms of access and quality of talent for the Life Sciences sector.

Bern-Geneva, Wuxi, and Frankfurt each had the same number of exits over $1 billion as New York City. While Wuxi and Frankfurt are not in the Top 25 or Runners-up lists this year, they appear to have potential to grow successful Life Sciences companies if they continue to invest in and strengthen other key areas like Infrastructure and Policy.

Read more about the Top 25 Life Sciences ecosystems and ecosystems to watch in the Ecosystem Pages section of this report, and at .

We work with forward-looking governments and private sector organizations to accelerate the success of their startup ecosystems by fuelling the growth of more startups, sustainable economic growth, and job growth.

Want to speak with someone from our team to find out more? Contact Adam Bregu, Director of Business Development and Partnerships