EP-12: Startup Ecosystem Review 2020

In this episode, we take a look back at 2020 in the world of Startup Ecosystem Development and Innovation with Eli David, CEO of StartupBlink.

Eli discusses what inspired StartupBlink to take the initiative to create the StartupBlink annual ecosystem report originally, what key insights can be taken from the 2020 edition and which developments of particular Startup Ecosystems have surprised the most? 

StartupBlink is the world’s most comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center, working with more than 50 municipalities and governments worldwide. Its global startup ecosystem map has tens of thousands of registered startups, coworking spaces, and accelerators, creating a robust sample of innovation globally.

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Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem: Overview and Insights 

A vast coastal region in the eastern state of Queensland, Australia, the Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest-growing holiday and business destinations in the country. With stunning locations, pristine beaches and moderate all year temperatures for adventure and beach lovers, this is one place where lifestyle choices are endless and new developments and opportunities are welcome and encouraged. 

Overperforming most other regional economies in its rate of growth, the Sunshine Coast is strengthened by the 3.2 million annual visitors a year but has also immensely diversified and is evolving in other areas such as healthcare, education and business services at an unprecedented pace. 

This article will provide an overview of the Sunshine Coast startup ecosystem, explore insights from our recent StartupBlink Ecosystem Global Report and provide an analysis of notable players and startups in the region. 

Click here for Sunshine Coast rankings in the StartupBlink Global map. 

Are you interested in startup innovation and entrepreneurship? You can access more reports on global and regional economic development as well as our new Coronavirus Innovation Map that shows the best countries fighting the pandemic and facilitating new developments in the pandemic era.

Overview of the Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem 

Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem Australia

The Sunshine Coast, a place true to its name that has retained its natural beauty and attracts millions of international visitors each year. Undoubtedly popular with beach and nature lovers, the Sunshine Coast is a place where the finer things in life are easily accessible whether that is cruising past the stunning coastline, swimming in picture-perfect bays or enjoying a picnic and the endless sun. 

Bernard Salt, one of Australia’s leading social commentators and columnist with The Australian and Herald Sun newspapers, has observed of the Sunshine Coast, a region of “boundless opportunity for new businesses and the community” and the best-suited location in all of Queensland to start a new venture in the next 10 years. 

In addition, government schemes, grants and newly introduced regulations on the local and federal government front have been steadily increasing; a positive sign for startup developers looking to base themselves in the area. 

As a lifestyle and business hub, the Sunshine Coast ecosystem attracts a wide range of entrepreneurial people. The presence of newly relocated business developers that seek to take advantage of the booming tourism sector, immigrants with global connections and region independent entrepreneurs whose lifestyle fits the vibrant and dynamic community present, make the Sunshine Coast startup ecosystem an opportunity powerhouse. This high early-stage entrepreneurial activity is reflected in the number of events and networking opportunities in the region and has managed to bring together key players within a geographically vast area.

The infrastructure developments are another positive sign that will contribute to employment opportunities in the area and boost the local economy. In addition to the CBD (Central Business District), that is the beating heart and hub of activity across a wide range of industries, the Sunshine Coast has also invested in hospitals, universities, public transport and the new Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project, that was completed in mid-2020 and will lead to an influx of international visitors and benefit export and trading prospects. 

By 2041, the population growth is expected to more than double, and initiatives like the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project are already underway with ways to support the Maroochydore and other major business and tourism centres. Sustainable transport and prevention of green spaces occupation are some of the key aims of the project as well as supporting local residents and creating employment opportunities within. 

Insights from data on the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast debuted in our annual Global Rankings Report this year and shot straight to place 259, as one of Australia’s fastest-growing and dynamic ecosystems. Compared to a negative momentum seen in some of the country’s biggest hubs, the Sunshine Coast claimed a spot in the Top 10 of Australian’s city, in 8th place nationally and is one of the highest new entries showing powerful momentum.

Overall, Australia is the leading startup ecosystem player in the Asia-Pacific region and is also ranked 7th globally. The high exit ratio of successful Australian startups is an indication that global growth and scaling are easier achieved in places like Singapore or London but returning entrepreneurs have a vast amount of knowledge and experience that can be used to mentor the new generation of startup founders. The Sunshine Coast is one of the locations where investors and mentors should aim to base themselves in, in order to tap into the entrepreneurial talent pool and development opportunities. 

Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem Australia

Overperforming verticals 

Education and research – One of the most competitive verticals for the Sunshine Coast startup ecosystem, with nationally awarded universities, a growing international education market, extensive vocational education and training facilities, and a high performing school system. Ranked 3rd nationally after Sydney and Melbourne, this is one area where the Sunshine Coast has achieved tremendous growth, which is reflected from its position in global rank 116th from 1000 cities. 

Energy and environment – Heavily committed to sustainable energy and environmentally-friendly solutions, with projects such as the Sunshine Coast Energy Transition Plan well underway, the regional council is an advocate of cleantech and carbon neutrality and aims to become the most sustainable region in all of the country. The Sunshine Coast Airport was the first to be awarded carbon neutral status in 2017. It is ranked 3rd nationally behind Sydney and Melbourne in rank 69, claiming a spot in the Top 100 startup ecosystems worldwide.

Food and agribusiness – Another highly overperforming vertical for the Sunshine Coast that has leapt to 55th global rank and third nationally as one of the most dynamic locations for food and agribusiness investments. 

Notable Startups on the Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem Australia

Youi – is one of the most successful startups that is headquartered on the Sunshine Coast. A highly awarded national car and home insurer, and 2020 winner of the Mozo’s People’s Choice Awards for Excellent Customer Service and Outstanding Customer Satisfaction.

Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem Australia

PointDuty – offers a range of specialised applications and software tools for data-driven industries. 

Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem Australia

Terragen Biotech – an agricultural biotech company that manufactures a range of biological products to offer sustainable solutions to farmers. 

Alkira Software – builts powerful voice apps for platforms employing next-generation AI and conversation management platforms. 

Important Players on the Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem 

There are a wide variety of important players in the ecosystem as well as more than 10 coworking spaces and half a dozen accelerator and incubator programs. Here are some of them:

Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast – a major hub for entrepreneurial activity in the area that provides mentoring and support to mature and emerging startups and a collaborative environment where they can scale. Incubator and accelerator programs and a range of other high-end services available to members and stakeholders. 

Sunshine Coast Council – Committed to projects that are fueling the culture of growth and innovation on the Sunshine Coast, especially recent infrastructure projects and specialist services that encourage new investments across the region. 

Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Program (SCRIPT) –  is the largest statewide collaboration of partners working to develop a Regional Innovation Hub and connect players to facilitate business growth. 

Startup Precinct – offers modern coworking facilities and a dedicated space for entrepreneurs. Want to combine work and a holiday, just think about it as a coworking holiday!

Spark Bureau – an affordable office and coworking space for solopreneurs, small businesses and digital nomads. 

Business Mentoring Program a non-for-profit program established with the SunshineCoast Chamber Alliance to support the development of small businesses on the Sunshine Coast and allow them to succeed.  

Events – Sunshine Coast Startup Ecosystem 

There is also a high number of dynamic networking and startup events available in the local community, that enable early-stage founders to find the support they seek. A community of like-minded and committed individuals is a key aspect of any startup ecosystem development process, especially in a place like the Sunshine Coast, where local businesses are complemented by an international pool of investors, founders and talent. 

Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast – a fast-paced weekend-long event with a good mix of technical and non-technical background attendees, pitching their ideas, mapping customer needs and services and developing working prototypes to present at the end of the weekend. 

Generation Innovation – empowers young entrepreneurs to pursue innovative ideas and offers the tools and guidance needed to succeed. Open to Sunshine Coast residents between the ages of 15-25. 

Special thanks to our ecosystem partners, Sunshine Coast Council, for their invaluable insights into the Sunshine Coast startup ecosystem. 

StartupBlink runs monthly pitching events focusing on one startup ecosystem at a time that is looking for foreign investors. – Connect with other entrepreneurs and local ecosystem thought leaders. Join us here

Kyoto Startup Ecosystem: Overview and Insights

The emerging startup ecosystem of Kyoto, while still relatively small compared to its neighbouring cities and key players in the Northeast Asian region, has been gaining momentum and climbing the rankings. 

Click here for Kyoto rankings in the Startup Blink Global map.

Are you interested in startup innovation and entrepreneurship? You can access the Startup Blink Ecosystem Ranking Report of 2020 that ranks 1,000 cities in 100 countries worldwide here with insights on global and regional economic development. Don’t miss the Coronavirus Innovation Map that shows the best countries fighting the pandemic and facilitating new developments in the covid-19 era.

Overview of Kyoto Startup Ecosystem – The City 

Kyoto is a city of 1.4 million people that is known as the cultural capital of Japan and is home to iconic landmarks like the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, and numerous temples, tranquil gardens and samurai castles that have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Once the capital of Japan, Kyoto has seen its tourism industry rise steadily, with a record-breaking 88 million tourists in 2019 that came to a halt due to the pandemic; Kyoto was also voted Best Big City in the world in 2020, beating the winner of the last four consecutive years, Tokyo. 

In addition to its solid background in social and leisure industries, Kyoto has been developing fast in areas of innovation and technological development. Already a centre for the manufacturing and hardware industry, Kyoto is now transforming into a modern capital of innovation. 

In the last couple of years, the startup ecosystem has been strengthened through the presence and collaboration of larger players and global companies. Support from the public sector with the introduction of a new startup visa in 2020 has also increased and will allow the ecosystem to progress rapidly, attracting international investors and foreign entrepreneurs. 

Government industry and academia support have also been integral in the steadfast growth of the ecosystem with initiatives and projects that have developed the “Kyoto Innovation Belt”. The area will establish a closer connection between research facilities, innovation centres, and technological parks in the city. 

Kyoto Startup Ecosystem

Insights from data on Kyoto 

Kyoto has registered an impressive jump in the rankings of 2020, moving more than 129 positions to sit at rank 251 globally. It is the fourth strongest Japanese city, following Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Business developments have led to an upward surge in all Japanese cities this year, including Osaka that also made an impressive jump of 116 spots and newcomers Nagoya and Sapporo (in rank 666). In the Asia-Pacifica region, Kyoto is in the 38th position, with strong presence in the verticals of hardware, health and of course the social and leisure industry. 

The support and implementation of changes, especially in the public sector, have created a massive jump in the rankings as evident from the comparison between the 2017 data that ranked Kyoto in position 807th among 1000 cities in 100 countries.

Startup Visa in Kyoto 

One of the most exciting new developments in the startup ecosystem of Kyoto is the launch of the Startup Visa that welcomes foreign entrepreneurs that wish to start a business in Kyoto. Individuals that are interested will be able to apply for a “Certificate of entrepreneurial activity plan confirmation” and receive management support from industry specialists and making the move to Kyoto in general. 

Special interest will be given to the fields of manufacturing, AI and IoT as well as renewable energy, culture and tourism. These are very positive signs for the momentum of the ecosystem in Kyoto, since navigating tough immigration laws in the past made it challenging for investors and businesses to navigate the system and get started. Lastly, free co-working spaces, networking opportunities and government subsidies will be available as well.

Notable Startups in Kyoto 

Kyoto boasts many significant global companies like electronics and game company Nintendo, and ceramics and electronic giant Kyocera and manufacturing corporations like Murata and Omron.

HACARUS provides explainable, lightweight AI tools for the medical and manufacturing fields. It recently received the J-Startup KANSAI recognition at Kansai Future Summit based on their growth and business potential. It also marked the only Japanese entry in CB Insights annualAI100 that highlights the most promising players in artificial intelligence.  

Stroly offers an online platform for illustrated maps (the only Japanese finalist at the 2019 SXSW Pitch event in Austin, Texas). With Covid-19 disrupting tourism and the Olympics, Stroly have also pivoted their services online to include virtual guided tours. 

AC Biode has developed the world’s first standalone alternating current (AC) battery. AC Biode recently took the 2nd place at virtual Global Business Competition #GBC2020 in Queensland Australia with their Plastalyst (a catalyst solution that can decompose plastic in an eco-friendly manner) 

Ship & Co is a tech startup that was birthed out of the logistical nightmare of shipping bento boxes to international customers. It has been steadily expanding its business overseas, with new solutions for transportation arrangement and inventory management to address common problems. 

Atomisa tech startup from Kyoto University that is developing the next generation of high-pressure gas material focusing on sustainable methods through the technology of manipulating gases freely. They won the “Best Domestic Startup Award” in Plug and Play’s first virtual EXPO in May 2020 and will have the opportunity to pitch to select VCs. 

Important Players in the Kyoto Startup Ecosystem 

Plug and Play Kyoto – the Silicon Valley-based accelerator and corporate innovation platform opened its second location in the country in Kyoto in 2019 and is partnering with major Japanese companies including Kyoto-based Shimadzu and Kyocera.. Particular interest is geared towards the health industry innovation. 

The Kyoto Research Park (KRP) – First opened in 1989, Kyoto Research Park is a local innovation hub and business creation support space. It links together industry, government and academia services to contribute to the development of the Kyoto region. 

Monozukuri Ventures  – drawn by a large number of university students and number of manufacturing companies, Monozukuri Ventures chose Kyoto as the base of their operations and is currently active in New York. The venture capital firm started in 2015 and has invested in 27 startups in Japan in areas of hardware, IoT and advanced manufacturing. 

Kyoto University– Famous for producing the most number of Nobel Prize laureates in Japan, Kyoto University has historically supported innovation and funding creating a dynamic force of top-quality researchers in their respective fields. 

Kyoto Startup Summer School An intensive 2-week program covering workshops, panel discussions, company visits and lectures that brings together entrepreneurs, academics and new practitioners looking to become a future entrepreneur. 

With thanks to JETRO Kyoto and the Kyoto Prefecture for their support in preparation of the annual Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report that ranked Kyoto in spot 251 out of 1,000 cities in 100 countries.

A Guide to Health Startup Ecosystems

As the financial and economic impact of the pandemic has come to the forefront, the importance of a strong healthcare sector and the changes needed to succeed are increasingly emphasized. 

Startups, in general, are well-positioned to respond to dynamic shifts in the market and provide impactful solutions to issues through the use of technology. The pandemic has now forcefully accelerated the pace at which the health industry is needed to run and highlighted players around the world that are ahead of the game. When we discuss the healthcare vertical, it is important to remember that we are not just talking about a “niche industry” but something that connects to everything else in our daily lives. The next wave of healthcare innovation is already here and the unfolding transformation of the sector, especially towards the digital front, is of interest to us all. 

Health Startup Ecosystems

This article will touch on some key aspects of the health startup ecosystem space and provide examples of global ecosystems that are showing positive momentum in their rankings. 

Are you interested in startup innovation and entrepreneurship? You can access more reports on global and regional economic development as well as our new Coronavirus Innovation Map that shows the best countries fighting the pandemic and facilitating new developments in the pandemic era.

What do we mean by “health startup ecosystem”? 

Every year, StartupBlink releases the most comprehensive report of startup ecosystems, ranking 100 countries and 1000 cities. In addition to our annual Global Report, we are able to quantify and categorize the strength of specific startup industries or verticals; that is 11 verticals in total, including health and the recently added COVID-19 vertical that focuses exclusively on the response to the pandemic. 

You can read more about each vertical here

The core goals of health ecosystems are to provide better patient care, reduce costs and develop new and predictive care models and diagnostics. This is achieved differently in each ecosystem around the world but it primarily entails leveraging innovation and minimizing expenses through digital solutions and easily accessible telemedicine apps.

How does a Health Startup Ecosystem differ from others? 

Startup ecosystems operate in a similar manner to a natural ecosystem. The different players interact with each other and create dynamic and ever-changing situations that both the environment as a whole and the players need to adjust to continuously. Similarly built ecosystems in different parts of the world, will face different challenges and evolve in different directions based on the push-pulls, turmoils, support networks and players present in each one. 

While these broad different characteristics can be applied to most verticals or industry niches, the healthcare startup ecosystem specifically is also facing unique challenges due to its nature. 

Here are some of the most common issues faced by health startup ecosystems. 

Common Issues Faced By Health Startup Ecosystems

For a more in-depth discussion on the common problems faced by startup ecosystems in general, you can read our article, here

Institutional Roadblocks 

The primary obstacle of health startup ecosystems is opposition and institutional policies implemented across the healthcare sector. 

In 2020, the covid-19 pandemic brought a 34% increase in the total amount of funding raised by startups in the healthcare sector. The largest increase came from the North American ecosystem. While this is a massive and well-deserved boost during these times, it also shows the reactionary rather than proactive mentality present. Ecosystems in Europe, in particular, have long faced strong opposition and bureaucracy that prohibits innovation. To change, this would require government support and regulations that bring together private entities, startups and access to funding. 

Not Chasing Waterfalls 

The healthcare startup industry and the VCs and CVCs that are funding these ventures are less interested in chasing the elusive waterfall or next shiny object. Instead, the focus is on scalable, innovative but solid solutions that touch on a narrow set of objectives which are: cost, care and access. This doesn’t mean that health tech startups are not aiming for transformation but that the focus and value propositions need to align with a narrower objective. 

Slow and Steady 

Most other startup industries are characterized by their explosive growth dynamic and focus on scaling. By definition, they are designed to disrupt the industry and offer something novel. With tech-based startups, this often entails creating a minimum viable product (MVP) that allows you to capture the most insight and data on customer needs and demands with the least amount of effort. The reasoning behind this theory ( first proposed by the Lean Startup) has to do with minimizing risk-taking and ensuring a market for your product before starting to scale. In the healthcare startup ecosystem scene, however, a notoriously slower and more complicated process is required. As a result, the focus on explosive growth is not as high. 

Complexity of Key Players 

Due to the slow and arduous process required to take a health-related service or product to market, entrepreneurs and developers in health startups need to keep in mind a number of moving milestones all at once. One common case is focusing exclusively or too much on the evidence and data behind the applications of the product or service and running out of time and funding in the process. Every country has different key stakeholders and approval processes, so conversations regarding approval, insurance regulations and product clearance need to be discussed simultaneously to avoid costly delays. This creates a more complex situation of key players that needs to be taken into account. 

The role of the investor 

Another area where health startups pose a different ecosystem culture than other industries is the role of the investors. Founders of health tech startups are, for starters, often already a part of an educational institution where the questions and logistics of patenting and commercializing need to be negotiated and delineated before moving forward. This might make certain investors unwilling to collaborate with institutional health tech startups as the ROI and time delays could make them a less profitable financial decision. 

Ecosystems that are overperforming in healthcare 

With the covid-19 pandemic still underway, the healthcare industry is explored through two distinct verticals: “general health” and “covid-19 health”. 

In cooperation with our partners, Health Innovation Exchange and the Moscow Agency of Innovations, we have launched the Coronavirus Innovation Map. The map provides deeper insights and detailed rankings of 80 cities in 32 countries that have become innovation leaders against Covid-19. Find more and download the report here

Taipei City is one of the rising players in the field of health this year as seen on the 2020 Global Report. It registered a jump of 208 spots overall and claimed a Top 20 position in the health rankings and the Covid Innovation report. This is due to a combination of strong public sector support and collaborative tech-based solutions focusing on digital social innovation

General Health 

  • United States 
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada 
  • Israel 
  • Germany 

Covid- 19 Health 

  • United States 
  • Israel 
  • Canada 
  • Belgium 
  • Switzerland

Learn more

Startup Blink and our network of global partners can provide in-depth insights into a range of verticals to serve the market needs of your startup ecosystem and provide guidance for future steps. Our Startup Blink PRO clients can access fully customizable data on vertical ecosystems and filter results by population and geographically specific data. 

We are constantly looking for partners to create accurate and in-depth reports on specific verticals and consolidate your authority with branded maps covering all aspects of the specific startup industry. Get in contact here.

Startup Ecosystem Guide: The USA and Canada

The startup ecosystem of the USA and Canada are two dominant forces that occupy top-ranking positions globally. They are the only two North American countries represented in the annual Global Rankings Report but the incredible diversity, regional differences and population size create a complex interconnected web of ecosystems and the strongest represented continent. 

This article will discuss some of the core features of the two North American startup ecosystems and present limitations and strengths of each one. The leading regional ecosystems present will also be explored briefly.

Are you interested in startup innovation and entrepreneurship? You can access more reports on global and regional economic development as well as our new Coronavirus Innovation Map that shows the best countries fighting the pandemic and facilitating new developments in the pandemic era.

Top Performing Startup Cities in the USA & Canada 

startup ecosystem USA Canada

The North American startup ecosystem is made of the United States and Canada. Note that Mexico is found in the Latin America section of our annual Global Ecosystem Report. You can find the 2020 ranking and insights here. The North American region has the biggest representation of startup ecosystems in our annual report, with 412 in total and 383 of those from the United States. You can read an overview of the global startup scene by continent in our relevant guide here. It is important to note, that startup ecosystems do not just represent cities but clusters of activity. Due to its size, the United States specifically requires extensive clustering of large urban centres like the San Francisco Bay Area that includes San Jose and Palo Alto. 

  • Click here for a detailed look at more than 23424 startups in the United States plus coworking spaces, accelerators and incubator spaces.  
  • Click here for a detailed look at more than 2356 startups in Canada plus coworking spaces, accelerators and incubator spaces.  

The United States

The United States startup ecosystem is without a doubt the dominant global ecosystem. This is not only in its scale and authority but also by the margin between the USA and the second-best ecosystem, the United Kingdom. In comparison, the UK has a fifth of the total score compared to the United States. 

This is also evident by the fact that 10 out of the Top 25 Global Ecosystems are from the United States, including the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston Area, Los Angeles Area, Seattle and Chicago. 

While population size and technology are important weapons in the arsenal of the startup ecosystem, the United States have something even more important. The entrepreneurial culture, mindset and flexible government regulations are key factors that have made it hard to replicate the success of this ecosystem anywhere else. 

Recently, the United States startup ecosystem has also taken the lead in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, with innovative health tech solutions. 

Some promising ecosystems that are overperforming in their verticals in the USA outside the major centres should also be mentioned here. Madison, Wisconsin, has seen a substantial increase this year, placing it within the Top 100 startup ecosystems globally. A vibrant college town with strong verticals in the health and hardware industries, Madison is actively supported by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). The city is showing a strong commitment to promoting its unique ecosystem and taking an active approach to establishing a hub of talent, innovation and growth.


startup ecosystem USA Canada

Canada has retained a position in the Top 4 amongst other well-performing players like the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom. Some of the larger ecosystems in the country, like Toronto and Vancouver, have seen a small drop in the momentum of growth. On the other hand, smaller ecosystems are coming into their own with a strong focus on verticals of software and data, e-commerce and retail. In contrast to the United States, the ecosystems of Canada are regionally disconnected, however, this has not proven to be a disadvantage. A familiar name here will be the tech giant, Shopify that came out of Ottawa, and has continued to reign as one of the best e-commerce platforms globally. 

In the Top 100, the cities of Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary have shown impressive gains this year. Kingston has also seen its ecosystem rise to a Top 150 – among 1000 cities. The growth of the smaller ecosystems is a very positive sign for developments in the area, however, we would love to see some Canadian cities gaining global hub status and going back in the Top 20 in the near future. 

One area where Canada has shown its considerable strength is health and Covid-19 innovation, placing it in the global Top 5. 

Overall, there are signs that the ecosystem as a whole is gaining momentum, undoubtedly supported by the focus on ecosystem development, government incentives and increased financing. In Western Canada, the capital of Alberta, Edmonton, is taking advantage of its young population and university talent pool, with an impressive network of meetups, incubation and accelerator programs and is heavily investing in ecosystem development. In addition to the half a dozen incubators on offer, Edmonton can boast being the home of to the third-best university-based incubator globally, TEC Edmonton. 

Strengths and Limitations of the Startup Ecosystem in the USA & Canada 

In this section, we will explore the strengths and limitations of the startup ecosystem in the USA and Canada.

United States Startup Ecosystem Strengths 

startup ecosystem USA Canada

Entrepreneurial Mentality – Startups in the United States practice a global domination mindset, that drives them for exponential growth from day one. This is supported by access to funding (second biggest strength) but is also supported by other driving factors like risk tolerance, and an open and collaborative mindset, where there is a flow of information and ideas. 

Funding – The United States ecosystem has long supported early and late-stage funding for startups. With the only true contender being China, the United States has some of the highest-valued startups in the world and disproportionate access to alternate funding sources through crowdfunding, angel investors and VC’s in comparison to European and Asian startup ecosystems.

Growth mindset – The growth mindset advantage is directly tied or to a large degree dependent on point number 2, which is funding. As US companies are fighting for market penetration and trying to cause a stir, direct money flow is achieved through late-stage funding that keeps the wheels turning. This is in contrast to most ecosystems, elsewhere, especially in Europe, where late-stage funding is infrequent at best and companies need to tread slowly and carefully to stay alive. 

United States Startup Ecosystem Limitations 

Adopting to local markets – One of the potential drawbacks of the United States startup ecosystem compared to Europe and Asia is the ability to adapt to local market needs from the start. By nature, European and Asian ecosystems need to target countries with different languages. Their smaller population, in some cases, is also forcing them to look outwards. While this isn’t directly a problem for the large national market the US offers, European startups can pivot to the demands and needs of different cultures much faster overall.

Work-life balance – This is one area where the United States mindset towards world domination is not coveted. One survey by Deloitte found that 77% per cent of people in the US have experienced burnout in their jobs while 90% of them responded affirmatively to whether stress caused by their job is impacting their work negatively. The United States has no federal or state-mandated number of paid public holidays or minimum paid vacation, the only country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development group that includes 36 nations. This unsustainable work ethic is not as prevalent in other ecosystems where family and downtime are highly valued.

Canada Startup Ecosystem Limitations 

startup ecosystem USA Canada

Funding – While Canada has been making leaps in the area of venture capital, it is still comparatively behind its neighbour and needs to scale higher to retain and support startups in its ecosystem. The Covid-19 pandemic landed a heavy blow on venture capital investments, with the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association reporting a 45% quarter-over-quarter decline in Q1 2020

Risk Aversion – Canada has long been considered a more conservative and risk-averse culture than its neighbour, an idea that is largely tied to wider structural issues like access to capital. The failings of past giants in R&D, like Nortel and BlackBerry, may also have painted a “slow is safest” approach towards disruptive innovation. While “betting big doesn’t mean you’ll make it big”, the Canadian startup ecosystem will need to develop its own culture appropriate strategies to balance the risk-averse nature of its entrepreneurial culture. It will also surely need to leverage its healthy influx of immigrant population, that brings a more risk-tolerant approach to the field. 

Canada Startup Ecosystem Strengths 

Talent  – While access to talent is not an issue in most of the regional Canadian ecosystems, retaining it has been a sore point in the past. Now, relaxed immigration policies and the new startup visa that launched in 2018, after a pilot program in 2013, are key indications of the commitment to attracting global talent. The Global Talent Stream program launched in 2017 by the federal government to make it easier for business to hire highly-skilled global workers, has also brought more than 40,000 people to Canada, including 24,000 in areas of computer programming and software engineering. With the United States tightening immigration laws, Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of the influx of international talent looking for a supportive environment during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Universities – Canada is home to more than 60 university-led incubator and accelerator programs that are pushing innovation forward and creating the new generation of entrepreneurs. The contentious open IP university system has allowed more companies and student entrepreneurs to develop companies and be able to take their IP with them when they go. This is in addition to government services that provide access to education, IP legislation and strategic growth, for companies to be developed and commercialized successfully. 

StartupBlink organizes monthly pitching events focusing on one startup ecosystem at a time that is looking for foreign investors. Connect with other entrepreneurs and local ecosystem thought leaders. Join us here.

The global startup map