10 Startup Friendly Cities in Asia: 2020 Guide 

10 Startup Friendly Cities in Asia: 2020 Guide 

Asia has many cities that can offer excellent conditions to startup founders, including massive growth markets, talent pools, and a low cost of living in many cases. The top ecosystems of the continent include some cities in developed nations, but mostly from highly-populated and fast-growing India and China. Based on the Startup Blink report, here are 10 best startup cities in Asia in 2020. 

1- Beijing, China 

Beijing, as the Chinese capital, is the country and continent’s startup powerhouse. Startup Blink ranks Beijing at 6th globally as the city is home to many high-quality startups (more than 30 unicorns), including now well-known names like Xiaomi and ByteDance (developers of TikTok). The city has an impressive talent pool, and benefits from its closeness to China’s centre of power.

2- Shanghai, China 

Shanghai is China’s most populated city, a very important market within the country, and with Beijing it’s one of only two Asian cities in the global Top-10 (ranked 10). The city’s startups overperform in the quality factor of our rankings, with more than 15 unicorns based there, and is home to a large variety of coworking spaces nurturing new startups in the city. 

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3- Banglore, India 

Many consider Bangalore to be India’s version of Silicon Valley. The city is home to one of India’s oldest and most prestigious technical universities, the Indian Institute of Science. Ranked 14th globally, the city is home to a plethora of coworking spaces, and has nurtured five Unicorns. It is a particularly strong ecosystem in the Software & Data and Social & Leisure verticals.

4- New Delhi, India 

India’s capital city is the 4th highest ranked startup ecosystem in Asia, and ranks just 15th globally, after climbing 3 spots since last year, wrote Startup Blink. Same as all Indian cities, it has a long way to go in the Business score factor, but the ecosystem quantity and quality is very good, having even two Unicorns. The clear top vertical of the city is Software & Data.

5- Tokyo, Japan 

Ranked 16th globally (after decreasing two spots since 2019), Tokyo is the only Japanese city in our Top-100 ranking. The city (and country) stands out for the very high Business score it has, significantly better than the rest of the ecosystems in Asia’s Top-5. It’s currently the home of 3 Unicorns, and it has 6 Pantheons (the highest number in this list), including Softbank, Toshiba and Rakuten. 

6- Seoul, South Korea 

Much like Tokyo, Seoul is a city that scores very high on the Business aspect, explaining its rank of 21st globally. This business climate has made it possible for very large corporate conglomerates to emerge (the Chaebol), and more recently has inspired many entrepreneurs to create their own startups, including 7 current unicorns. Government initiatives that incentivize entrepreneurship, combined with world-class engineers with world famous work ethic have also contributed to the success of the ecosystem. 

7- Mumbai, India 

The 3rd and last Indian city in Asia’s Top-10, Mumbai is also India’s most populous city and commercial capital. The city is ranked as the world’s 22nd startup ecosystem, benefiting from a high concentration of Angel and VC investment. As is the case with the other highly ranked Indian cities, Mumbai scores highly on the Quantity front, while it has grown some quality startups including 3 current Unicorns. 

8- Singapore City, Singapore 

Singapore City ranks 26th globally for its startup ecosystem, strongly leveraging its top notch Business climate (highest Business score on this list) and Quality of their startups (2 Unicorns in a relatively small ecosystem). The city also boasts a highly educated talent pool, low taxes and multiple government initiatives, and the dominating vertical is Fintech by far.

9- Shenzhen, China 

Globally, Shenzhen ranks as the 33rd best startup ecosystem, and its business scene in general has benefited since the 1980s when it was chosen as the country’s first special economic zone. More recently, it has become the Chinese home of many multinational tech companies, and has developed as a hub for startups in the country, even nurturing global giants such as Tencent (parent company of WeChat) and Huawei.

10- Hong Kong, China 

The most “Western” of Asia’s cities, Hong Kong has long been an important financial and business hub, as well as a gateway to China. It’s ranked in our report as the world’s 36th best startup ecosystem, with a very good Quality score (it has one Unicorn). Although the top vertical in the city is Software & Data, it also has a significant concentration of Fintech startups.

Here are other lists of startup-friendly cities in Asia that are not in the Top 10: 

  1. Jakarta, Indonesia
  2. Taipei City, Taiwan
  3. Hangzhou, China
  4. Manila Area, Philippines 
  5. Bangkok, Thailand
  6. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  7. Hyderabad, India
  8. Guangzhou, China

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