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C-Suite Advisory

World’s Top Ranked Startup Ecosystem Cities In 2019

London, UK

Taking an idea and turning it into a profitable business in one of the most formidable tasks on the planet. It requires hard work, planning, and often, patience.

Part of that planning process involves choosing the ideal location in which to get your business off the ground. While most cities provide the essential resources needed to make any venture a success, there are a select few that are tailor-made for the entrepreneurial spirit. We’ve listed five of them, below:

  1. London, United Kingdom: London is a city that ticks all the boxes for entrepreneurs. Its urban diversity, proximity to government, and access to wide-ranging creative industries have helped turn it into a hotbed for promising startups. These selling points are further complemented by world-class universities, which have shaped the city’s diverse international talent pool.

    Entrepreneurs in London can also take advantage of a range of government incentives such as Research and development (R&D) tax credits and Annual investment allowance (AIA). The latter revolves around making equipment more affordable while R&D tax credits are aimed at reducing the financial burden of investing in new technology.   United Kingdom is also ranked 2nd in the world in the 2019 CEOWORLD magazine’s most startup friendly countries in the world.

    Thousands of investors also call the capital their home. These range from angel investors all the way up to international accelerators. Even London’s time zone makes it an attractive place to set up shop, with a standard business day overlapping with every other major global financial market. It’s little surprise that the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, confidently boasts that “London is – and always will be – the greatest city in the world to do business.”

    London Eye, London, United Kingdom
  2.  Singapore : Singapore’s towering skyscrapers are a symbol of its status as a major financial market. In recent years, however, the city has become a launchpad for entrepreneurs across Asia thanks to its international outlook and business-friendly tax policies.

    Part of that outlook comes from the city’s close location to two of the world’s biggest markets: China and India. It’s also reflected in the country’s indigenous culture and position as a former British colony, which has resulted in the country representing a mishmash of Western and Asian culture.

    Even the street signs in Singapore are written in four different languages – a testament to both the diversity of the city and its bilingual education policy.  Such factors, along with its advanced infrastructure and government funding schemes for startups, helped Singapore to secure second place in Colliers’ list of best places in Asia to start a tech company in 2018. Singapore was ranked #13 in the CEOWORLD magazine’s most startup friendly countries in the world ranking 2019.

    Singapore
  3. Cape Town, South Africa: Cape Town is the unofficial home of South Africa’s entrepreneurs, with 50% of tech startup founders in the Western Cape province choosing the city as their home. It’s popularity amongst entrepreneurs partly stems from the fact the city is also a popular hotspot with investors. It’s why over the last 12 months, half of venture capital transactions came from businesses with headquarters in Cape Town.
    The city has partly achieved its popularity by offering up the highest number of coworking spaces on the continent of Africa. This is also coupled with relatively low costs of living, particularly in comparison with cities in Western Europe and North America. South Africa was considered the 44th most startup friendly countries in the world ranking 2019. When all those factors are combined with the city’s stunning natural landscape, it’s not hard to understand its appeal to entrepreneurs across the planet.

    Cape Town, South Africa
  4. Bangkok, Thailand: Bangkok is beginning to make noise in the business world, with a recent Startup Friendliness Index (SFI) report by Enpact ranking it second best out of the planet’s emerging economies. It was particularly praised for its access to talent at affordable rates and well-developed transport infrastructure. The Thai government, meanwhile, recently introduced Thailand 4.0, a 20-year scheme which aims to transform the Kingdom’s economy away from low-paid manufacturing jobs to high-paid research and innovation roles.

    One of the ways the country is hoping to achieve this is through smart visas, which will allow investors and talented individuals to stay in the country for up to four years. The 2019 CEOWORLD magazine’s most startup friendly countries in the world ranking placed Thailand as the #12 best in Asia, and #50 in the world. Bangkok is playing its part in this scheme with the recent opening of its True Digital Park. The park, which is Southeast Asia’s largest campus space for startups, is already home to a Google Academy and will play a key role in accelerating Thailand’s efforts to diversify its economy in the years ahead.

    Bangkok, Thailand
  5. Cairo, Egypt: With over 20 million inhabitants to its name, Cairo is the largest city in Africa. The Egyptian capital’s central location at the tip of Africa means that just a small stretch of the Mediterranean Sea separates itself from Europe and Asia. While Cairo’s location gives it a competitive edge, it’s the city’s population that truly separates itself from its international rivals. Over half of Egyptians alive today are under the age of 30, making it one of the most youthful – and tech-savvy – populations on the planet. Many of Cairo’s younger inhabitants also speak more than one language, with Arabic, English, Italian, and French commonly heard on the city’s streets.

    The aftermath of the Arab Spring Revolution in 2011 has played its part in motivating the younger generation to fix inherited problems, such as low employment and poorly paid jobs, through entrepreneurship. It’s resulted in hundreds of startups in the education, e-commerce, and logistics industries gaining success in recent years, providing competition in the city for large international companies such as Uber.


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Alexandra Dimitropoulou
Deputy executive editor at the ​CEOWORLD magazine. Writer, internet person, professional restaurant recommender, and native New Yorker. Passions: health & wellness, coffee, running & dogs.
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