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Cali Colombia Startup Ecosystem

Cali is the most important cultural and economic capital of Southwestern Colombia one of the most prominent and innovative cities in Colombia that has been working hard to promote its budding startup ecosystem through government support and investment. The city has a population of around 2,500,000 people and is culturally and ethnically diverse.

With a rank of 330, the city of Cali is being featured for the first time in the StartupBlink 2020 Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report. The city has claimed a keystone position that they are looking to develop in the future.

For Cali’s rankings in the Startup Blink Global map click here

Unique Ecosystem Advantages:

  • 3rd most innovative startup ecosystem in Colombia
  • 2 of the 3 most important startup acceleration programs of the country are set in Cali
  • More than 2,000 companies with high impact potential.
  • $4 million investment in the startup ecosystem in 2020
  • High level of support for startups from the public sector 
  • Network of 164 consultants available to help guide companies in their organizational challenges
  • Exclusive Intelligent Capital Network made up of leaders in the region called Polux
  • 9 Clusters: Experiences, Macrosnacks, Smart Energy, Fashion System, Beauty, Clinical Excellence, White Protein, Urban Habitat and Digital Economy
  • Rigorous data from more than 5,000 companies that allow measuring the impact of entrepreneurship programs’ ValleE and Valle Impacta

Overview of Cali’s Startup Ecosystem

From data compiled by the StartupBlink 2020 Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report, the GDP per capita is $4,917. Furthermore, the average cost of living is 70% cheaper than London. Additionally, Cali is only 2 hours away from the Port of Buenaventura, the most important port in Colombia and one of the 10 most important in Latin America. This makes Cali an affordable city providing startups with strategic geographic access to other regions. 

According to the World Bank, Colombia has a ranking of 67 for ease of doing business and it is estimated that opening a new company in Colombia takes only 10 days. This is one of the fastest turnovers for a Latin American startup.

Cali is the third most prominent startup ecosystem in Colombia and is rapidly closing the gap on Medellin and Bogota, boosting processes of public investment opportunities, technological development, social entrepreneurship, collaborative workspaces, and networks.

Public Investment Opportunities

 Cali is moving forward to strengths public investment that offsets the scaling of foreign direct investment, although recently Cali is getting more attention for investors.  Organizations such as the Cali Chamber of Commerce are committed to funding opportunities for startups to create an empowering environment for entrepreneurs. In addition, initiatives such as the Ley Naranaja (Orange Law in English) focus on protecting and supporting the creative and cultural industry efforts of Colombian entrepreneurs.

In recent years, angel investors have increasingly arrived in search of investment opportunities in the Cali region.  Within the education and fintech sectors, investors have funded a few startups, including Loopa and Tranqui. With a growing startup ecosystem, Cali might benefit from an increase in angel investors.

In the words of Cali Chamber of Commerce President Esteban Piedrahita, “Cali has seen the development of a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem with large corporations seeking startups looking for innovative solutions, investment, and a strong mentorship network of local business leaders.” 

Tech development and Social Enterprise 

A big focus for Cali’s startup ecosystem is technology development, especially software-oriented development. Although Cali’s ecosystem suffers from a lack of foreign direct investment, it benefits from the support of investors such as Creatic

Creatic is an educational center and technology incubator that partnered with Coderise, a coding boot camp that provides digital skills and programming training to hundreds of people in the city. This digital empowerment helps provide startups with a large pool of digitally savvy workers ready to tackle coding tasks.

In recent years, the participation of companies in the technology sector has become important. In the most recent version of the Acelera Región program, an initiative that trained 80 start ups from Valle del Cauca, 15% of the entrepreneurs belonged to the software sector.

Social enterprise is another factor that contributes to Cali’s startup ecosystem success. For example, Cali startups focus on solving social problems within the Colombian context before moving out to Bogota in order to take their product to market. One of the founders of Rappi, Colombia’s most promising Unicorn startup, is Simon Borrero from Cali. Rappi is South America’s leading online marketplace service for consumer goods and is a perfect example of how social enterprise is influencing the success of  Columbian startups.

Innovative Coworking Hubs

Cali has developed an impressive coworking community and has many options for startups looking to network and share workspaces with like minded companies. This is a major factor in Cali’s success, as it allows different startups to work together to create synergy within the ecosystem. Coworking spaces such as Inspiro Workstation and El Lab are the hubs of Cali’s startup ecosystem. 

El Lab in particular markets itself as an accelerator for startups looking to connect and build with others. Muelle Coworking is another great coworking hub in Cali that helps bring the startup community together to promote ideas and leverage connections between entrepreneurs.  

Aimed at the IT and science industry, ParqueSoft is a social enterprise that helps incubate startups and projects from marginalized communities in Colombia. This initiative’s  speciality is in science and technology startups but it supports a variety of projects, including art, marketing and business development. While acting as a networking platform, ParqueSoft provides education and training to help new startups gain experience in their chosen field. 

Response to COVID-19 

To combat the COVID-19 pandemic, startup-based innovations have been developed in Cali. For example, Rutadevida is a startup that has developed an app that uses contact tracing to identify if you have approached positive cases so that you can avoid possible contact. Another great innovation in Cali has been the development and production of ThermoDeep, a thermographic camera used to detect COVID-19 symptoms. 

A truly advanced project in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is the Ninus Vidabot, an intuitive virtual assistant that provides users with information about the virus. These startup innovations have helped to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the city of Cali and Colombia.

Additionally, Cali has different open innovation initiatives, among those, the cooperation between three companies belonging to the cluster initiatives: Spataro Napoli, Mainco Health Care and Deskansa. These companies allied to provide medical protection kits (pants, gowns, caps, gaiters) for nationally recognized insurance companies covering occupational risks.

In terms of regional aid to reactivate the economy, the Valle INN Reactivation Fund was created to support with supplies, machinery, equipment, and tools the business initiatives of those who were affected by the COVID 19 health emergency and who can prove residency in the municipality where they will participate.

Top Startups 

Cali has 21 startups that are actively working on different problems. The city excels in producing startups focused on technology and innovation with solutions to some of Colombia’s biggest problems. Here are some of the most interesting startups on the list.

Rappi – An innovative and robust online marketplace platform that increases accessibility to consumer and retail goods.

Truora – With a focus on preventing fraud in Latin American countries, Truora provides fast and safe solutions for background checks and identity theft detection. 

Grability – Aims to revolutionize mobile shopping for consumers through its platform that allows businesses to create online shopping experiences. 

Green assistance – We design innovative and sustainable solutions for structuring projects that require environmental implementation.

Kupi – Fintech that offers a social innovation platform through which companies and employee funds can enable members to purchase goods in certain establishments at 0 cost.

Prodigos – It is a startup which through a robust digital ecosystem offers alternatives to comprehensively improve the quality of life of families. Thanks to a digital system and  a team of human talent, the best caregivers for the elderly or highly qualified and talented home nurses are selected for the care of our loved ones.

Ecobot – It is an initiative that promotes more sustainable consumption habits, encouraging people to take responsibility for their waste, and take the first step towards a friendlier life with the planet. This is done through deposit machines, located in universities and shopping centers, where anyone can deposit plastic bottles, empty or full of packaging, and in exchange people receive discount coupons in restaurants, stores, apps, and associated brands, thus promoting a cultural change around recycling.

Accelerators and Initiatives 

Cali has two of the top three accelerator programs in Colombia, according to Crunchbase’s ranking: Valle Impacta in first place and ValleE or Acelera Región in 3rd place. Additionally, Cali has key accelerator programs and actors that help nurture the startup ecosystem with training and funding opportunities. Here are Cali’s most important initiatives and accelerators.

Valle Impacta – Business scaling program led by the Cali Chamber of Commerce and the Bolivar Davivienda Foundation, which transforms companies to the highest level in their different economic sectors, through accompaniment for extraordinary growth.  The program supports the design of the growth path of the companies by providing strategic direction and tools for rapid, profitable, and sustained growth, based on actions on findings in each of the companies served. In a cross-cutting manner, the companies are connected with knowledge, business, and investment networks as part of the comprehensive support offered by the program.

ValleE or Acelera Región – Program that seeks to accelerate the growth of innovative early-stage ventures in the regions of Colombia. It focuses on ventures with potential for rapid, profitable and sustained growth.

Valle INN – Entrepreneurship program that provides advice and support to startups that are in the ideation stage of a business or are just entering the market. This initiative has provided more than US$1 million in seed funding and has created more than 255 jobs.

ProColombia – A platform that promotes the export of Colombian goods and services, the expansion of Colombian companies, the attraction of foreign direct investment to Colombia, the positioning of the country as a tourist destination, and the Country Brand.

Invest Pacific – An initiative created by public-private sector cooperation to promote investment in the region and Cali.

REDDI – Technological development agency that solves business challenges based on specialized technological knowledge, promoting innovation and competitiveness.

Zonamerica – Colombia’s first free trade zone dedicated to services and technology.

The Orange Law – With the aim of promoting and protecting Colombia’s creative industries, the Orange Law or Ley Naranja creates incentives for new companies working within these industries.

MEC – Movimiento de Empresas Creativas in its three versions has focused on detonating creative and cultural industry companies in the city. In the 2020 version, it had a total of 917 virtual attendees and 508 in-person attendees.

Sistemas de Innovación – Innovation program that seeks to generate capabilities in companies through the creation and/or consolidation of Innovation Management Systems. This innovation training program has supported 186 companies.

Alianzas por la innovación – Innovation program that seeks to increase the number of companies with innovation capacity in order to increase regional competitiveness through the promotion of business innovation culture and strengths capabilities in companies to keep developing innovation projects. Thanks to this initiative, 635 companies in Valle del Cauca have been trained and boosted in innovation practices.

CEmprende – A space focused on strengthening entrepreneurship, where the university and the public and private sectors come together, seeking to promote the generation of employment in the region. It currently trains young innovators and high-impact companies and expects to serve around 10,000 entrepreneurs in the region.

Key Organizations

Cali has more than 60 entities that affect the entrepreneurship ecosystem, where around 90% of them have also an offer designed for high-impact ventures in the region. These entities nurture the ecosystem from different fronts: financial actors, unions, support entities, the media, public policy managers, and human capital developers. Some of these key actors are:

Cali Chamber of Commerce – The Cali Chamber of Commerce is committed to improving infrastructure and support networks for small businesses and start-ups to drive innovation throughout the region.

Universidad del Valle – Universidad del Valle also abbreviated as Univalle is a recognized institution of higher education in the Cali region. It provides funding and initiatives for some of the projects in ideation and early stage.

Universidad ICESI – Universidad is a private educational institution, founded by different companies in the region and has a focus on training in entrepreneurial and innovative skills. It has a Center for the Development of Entrepreneurship and a varied offer for entrepreneurs in their initial stages.

Gobernación del Valle – Entity in charge of the departmental administration covering the department of Valle del Cauca, of which Cali is the capital. The Governor’s Office is in charge of executing projects that favor entrepreneurship and business growth. The most outstanding strategy is the 9 INN Valley Centers that aim to serve 10,000 entrepreneurs per year.

Startup Summary

By taking an active approach to ecosystem development, Cali’s startup ecosystem has become a fundamental part of Colombia’s startup scene and a strategic centre of innovation in the Andes region of Latin America. 

Overall, Cali is a city with an up and coming startup ecosystem, aimed at producing innovative tech development and forward thinking solutions to some of Colombia’s biggest problems. The city has its sights set on becoming a leading startup ecosystem in Colombia and with some development of investment opportunities and startup curation, the city is well positioned to achieve this.

The city’s entrepreneurs have different features that distinguish them and make them unique: carry out projects despite obstacles, attentive in the market to explore and exploit an opportunity, manage scarce resources to launch their business, ability to face risks, tolerate uncertainty, among others. All the features mentioned above positions the city’s ecosystem as a space of resilience and opportunities for development.

For more information on startup ecosystems download the Startup Blink 2020 Global Report

Kingston, Canada Startup Ecosystem

With a population of almost 200,000 people, Kingston is a multicultural city with a range of diverse nationalities and beliefs. It offers startups a forward-thinking and inclusive environment, with a strong and established culture of entrepreneurship.

Kingston claimed rank 144 in the 2020 Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report, moving up from 147 in 2019. Furthermore, the city is one of the top 10 startup ecosystems in Canada. 

The City of Kingston in Ontario, Canada.

For Kingston’s rankings in the Startup Blink Global map click here

Unique Ecosystem Advantages:

  • #1 city for women in Canada
  • #1 fastest wireless networks in North America 
  • #1 for new angel investment networks in Canada
  • #1 in foreign direct investment strategy for small cities in North America 
  • High level of public subsidies and incentives for startups, including R&D and hiring

Overview of Kingston’s Startup Ecosystem 

According to data from the 2020 Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report, the average cost of living is 41% cheaper than London and the GDP per capita is $51,559. It takes less than 2 days to start a new company in Canada and in 2019 the country had a rank of 23 in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. 

Access to key markets

Geographically, Kingston offers a startup 14,000,000 people in market access; it is the only city in Canada to offer such market access, including three borders: Ontario, Quebec, and New York State. The city of Kingston lies on the shore of Lake Ontario and is 2 hours equidistant to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Syracuse. 

The area around Kingston represents the third largest GDP concentration in North America, with 25 million people within an 8 hour drive, 130 million people within a day’s drive and only 30 minutes from the US border.

The Kingston Economic Development Corporation has invested in creating and establishing ties to the United States through the Kingston-Syracuse pathway. This is a collaboration focused on the relationship between economic development, Queen’s University in Kingston and the universities in Syracuse, New York, that allows for a regional economic development strategy for startups especially in health innovation and cleantech. Most notably this initiative has developed a soft landing zone for Kingston based startups trying to enter the US market.

Investment Trends

Kingston is a fantastic location to look for investment. The city is ranked as having the best foreign direct investment strategy in North America for small cities by the UK Financial Times.

Regarding angel investors, the Southeastern Ontario Angel Network has been ranked first in Canada for new angel networks and third for deal flow.

Recently, Kingston and ecosystem partners, such as Queen’s University, have invested $7.2 million into women’s entrepreneurship via the WECan program and recently $3 million into an ecosystem initiative for health innovation. Kingston’s ecosystem is very collaborative, which is a huge boost for any startup. The ecosystem partners to support startups include: Kingston Economic Development, Queen’s University Partnerships & Innovation, GreenCentre Canada, Southeastern Ontario Angel Network, City of Kingston, St Lawrence College, The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), Ontario Centres of Innovation, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, and Launch Lab.

Also launched recently is KPM Accelerate – an accelerator focused on chemtech startups; it is the only accelerator of its kind in Canada. Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre at Queen’s University launched Build2Scale Health in 2021 to support student-led ventures in health innovation with a grand prize of up to $30,000.

Ecosystem Assets

Kingston wants to be a leader in health innovation, chemtech, biotech, software, clean technologies as well as food and agriculture. The R&D infrastructure is truly state of the art. For example, GreenCentre Canada is able to help support the growth of Kingston chemical startups with the support of a multi-million dollar lab and PhD level chemistry scientists that aid in transforming innovations into valued products and services.

According to PCMAG, Kingston has the fastest wireless networks in North America, making it a perfect place for remote startups looking for a state of the art wireless connection. The city also has five new stunning coworking spaces, one of which is situated on the waterfront and another that is built into a 18th century church. Utilities Kingston is part of the Maple Leaf fiber optic cable network that includes Toronto and Montreal allowing the city of Kingston to benefit from incredibly fast and stable broadband speeds. 

One of Kingston’s most exciting accelerators, Compass North, aims at helping female entrepreneurs scale their technology companies through a 5 month mentorship program. This is a partnership between L-spark and Queen’s University to promote women in business. Additionally, Kingston has the smallest gender gap in Canada and was voted the best place to be a woman in Canada by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Another critical factor contributing to Kingston’s success is the city’s post-graduate institutions that provide an abundance of human capital. Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College, and the Royal Military College provide the ecosystem with over 30,000 educated and talented students, ready to create and innovate. 

Recently, Kingston Economic Development is partnering with LatAM Startups to further enhance collaboration between startups from LatAM, especially in health innovation and exploring the Startup Visa program, which enables commercial ready entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada.

Public Collaboration

One of the most essential factors to Kingston’s success is the active collaboration between a number of organizations to nurture and facilitate the development of the city’s thriving startup ecosystem. Organizations such as the Kingston Economic Development Corporation and Queen’s University work hand in hand with the City of Kingston to create a supportive environment in which startups can seize opportunities. Recently, the City of Kingston launched the third annual Mayor’s Innovation Challenge where student teams can solve problems for the City of Kingston and receive seed funding to bring the idea to life.

Through collaboration, Kingston offers startups a competitive advantage in the form of a collaborative ecosystem that is invested in their success. Summer Company is another program that targets youth startups, sometimes students that are still in high school, to create a company over the summer months.

Hiring of newcomers, and recent graduates, is also a major point of collaboration with thousands of dollars offered to assist Kingston companies in hiring and training a new employee. The City of Kingston and KEYS Job Centre offer the Dual Career Support Program, which is a made-in-Kingston solution to integrating the spousal partner of a relocating family to Kingston, where one partner has received a job offer.  

Response to COVID-19 

Kingston startup owners pivoted their business models during the pandemic. Snapcab, a successful Kingston startup that manufactures office pods used at Amazon and Goole, pivoted its manufacturing processes to build pods for medical use for COVID-19. Additionally, The BizSkills Academy has launched a virtual incubation program to help accelerate startups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feris Build Tech innovated mobile health units for hospitals and community clinics. Limestone Analytics and Eastern Ontario Leadership Council innovated a dashboard with predictive analysis of COVID19 in Kingston using a scenario modelling of pessimistic-to-optimistic to inform data-driven decision making. King’s Distributed Systems created a technology to harness and distribute compute power to model transmission patterns of COVID19, which enabled Canadian communities at all levels to deploy these epidemiology models at a scale previously only available to the federal government.

Queen’s University has a $200,000 initiative to fund research projects that will contribute medical or social countermeasures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its negative consequences on people and communities in Canada and globally. Additionally, Smith Business School at Queen’s University and Kingston Economic Development partnered on a series of business seminars to help local companies adapt, learn and strategize throughout the pandemic; led by distinguished business professors, these seminars were offered to the Kingston community free of charge. Kingston Economic Development administered a $1,000,000 fund with an investment from FedDev Ontario for local tourism-oriented businesses to support the tourism sector, and foster economic recovery.

Innovative Kingston Companies & Promising Startups

Kingston has 98 active startups working on innovative solutions to national and international problems. These are some of the most promising and notable from the list

Li-Cycle – Through a closed loop, sustainable and scalable processing technology, Li-Cycle recovers critical materials from lithium-ion batteries and reintroduces them back into the supply chain.

King’s Distributed Systems – The Distributed Computer™ is the most intuitive tool for parallel processing.

Tecta-PDS – TECTA-PDS markets the world’s first, automated, EPA-approved microbiological water quality monitoring system

Swidget – The world’s first truly modular smart home hardware.

RateHub – More than 13 million Canadians visit Ratehub.ca every year to get personalized recommendations on the best mortgage rates, credit cards, savings accounts, GICs, and insurance products. HQ’d in Toronto, RateHub’s dev team is situated in Kingston making RateHub a perfect example of a dual-city tech company that leverages Kingston’s lifestyle and talent pipeline.

Octane – A medical technology company with the most advanced bioreactors, bioprocesses, and biomaterials for regenerative medicine

Accelerators 

Through the collaboration of a number of different organizations Kingston is able to offer support to startups in the form of specific accelerators. Here are some of the most promising accelerators the city has to offer.

Compass North – Hosted by L-SPARK and created in partnership with Queen’s University, Compass North is a five-month accelerator program for women-led companies in the greater Kingston region. 

Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Center – A center established by the Queen’s University to support the innovation and entrepreneurship activities of students and entrepreneurs of the Kingston community through incubators, accelerators, and workshops.

Launch Lab – A team of entrepreneurs that provide advisory services by pairing entrepreneurs with experienced business owners from Kingston for one-on-one mentorship and guidance.

FedDev Ontario – An enabler to Kingston’s ecosystem. Kingston is thankful for the support of FedDev recently investing $3 million to position Kingston as a place to develop, test, and commercialize innovative health care solutions. Additionally, FedDev has funded WE-CAN to inspire and empower existing and aspiring women-identifying entrepreneurs, through the provision of tools, resources, expert mentors, networks and building of community, to expand existing businesses and to launch new ventures.

Switchboard – A business support hub that makes it easy for entrepreneurs and business owners to quickly find important information & resources.

KPM Accelerate – The first of its kind in Canada, KPM-Accelerate works with incubated start-ups and SMEs in the field of chemical processing, advanced materials, chemical energy (production, storage, or transfer), and material transformation

Startup, Resources and Networking Events

The most important startup event of the year is the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge. Kingston also offers many networking and pitch events throughout the year that allow entrepreneurs to meet and connect.

The Mayor’s Innovation Challenge – Hosted by Kingston’s city hall, the Innovation Challenge is an event focused on challenging startups to solve Smart City challenges. Kingston invests in the winning teams to give back to the startup ecosystem, creating a positive feedback loop for entrepreneurship.

Kingston Economic Development and ecosystem partner offer businesses and startups workshops on social entrepreneurship, inclusion, digitizing, and marketing; see the event calendars

The WE-CAN programming with Queen’s University leads on outstanding workshops and series for women entrepreneurs; see the event calendar for WE-CAN

Startup Summary

Through collaboration between key organizations and forward-thinking initiatives, Kingston has created a supportive and nurturing hub for startups to blossom while simultaneously protecting them from competition and allowing them access to some of the biggest cities in North America. 

Ultimately, the city of Kingston sets a trailblazing example for small to medium-sized cities, by showing how active collaboration between educational, business and public organizations can promote the development of a successful startup ecosystem. 

For more information on startup ecosystems download the Startup Blink 2020 Global Report.

THE FINAL EDITION OF GLOBAL RANKINGS OF CITIES ON CORONAVIRUS INNOVATION 2020 PUBLISHED

On February 5, 2021, the final version of the 2020 Coronavirus Innovation Ranking was published. The ranking is compiled by the international research organization StartupBlink based on data from the Global Map of Coronavirus Innovations. We are celebrating 34 countries and 86 cities that lead the innovation against COVID-19. The final version of the ranking is available at https://coronavirus.startupblink.com/

San Francisco Bay Area got the 1st position as this city has the biggest number of startups and solutions led by the Slack remote work program and the Verily artificial intelligence screening system. New York City, ranked 2nd, is best represented in the category of grants and support programs for scientists, freelancers, and entrepreneurs – it has 13 solutions out of 48. The champion solution from New York is Peloton, which is available on-demand, to continue to add new, pre-recorded content to bring the best workouts possible during the pandemic. Moscow with dozens of innovative solutions is ranked in the 3rd position. Its “champion” solution is the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine which has proved its particularly high effectiveness and accessibility, it is rapidly gaining popularity across the globe and could save many lives also in the developing countries.

The following places in the top 5 were distributed as follows: 4th – Boston, 5th – Toronto.

The Global Coronavirus Innovation Map was launched in March 2020, with organizations as the Health Innovation Exchange by UNAIDS and more than a dozen local governments. During the year more than 1,000 solutions have been added to the map, more than 100 thousand users from 110 countries have used the map, including representatives of more than dozens of healthcare ministries around the world. 

The first trial version of the Coronavirus Innovation Ranking was published in April, and today we have the final edition of 2020 of the top 5 cities. Special analytical report on the ranking and the key ecosystems will have been released by the end of February. The ranking algorithm takes into account the number and type of innovation in the fight against coronavirus in the analyzed cities and countries, and also awards additional points for selected outstanding initiatives, designated as “champions”. All solutions are pre-moderated and selected by experts according to the criteria of quality and reliability of information.

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.