25 Best Cities for Startups Outside the United States

Skyline of London.

Building a startup company from the ground up can be challenging, but finding a city that has a support network for your industry and resources to help you grow can be an absolute gamechanger.

This guide explores the best startup cities outside of the United States and dives into what makes each city an excellent place to start and grow your next company. 

From London all the way to Melbourne, you’re going to learn what each of the international cities listed below can offer your startup. Let’s begin! 

Also Recommended: Check out our list of the best cities for startups in the United States.

Best Startup Cities Outside the US

To start our investigation, we used data from Startup Genome’s 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. This report offers a detailed look at multiple cities around the world and ranks them by several factors such as:

  • Performance
  • Funding availability
  • Connectedness
  • Market reach

While there are multiple large cities on the list with enormous economies, some of the cities we’ve identified have a growing startup ecosystem that’s still considered an “emerging market.” As more and more founders and startups begin to call these smaller cities home, they’ll only contribute more to the global economy and potentially even become thriving centers of innovation and change.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a city you and your company can call home, it’s important to look at funding availability, market reach, connectedness, how much talent specific to your industry is available nearby, and the performance of other companies who reside in that city. 

Each local economy has its own unique startup ecosystem and often has a few industries that tend to thrive in that specific area. Whether you’re looking to build a financial technology (fintech) startup or an athletic brand that caters to outdoor athletes, finding a city that has startup funding availability and the talent you need to grow your business is key. 

As a startup founder, we recommend you take a look at the cities we’ve listed below and identify how your particular industry performs in that region. If you find a city that catches your eye and has a large number of growth opportunities in your industry or niche, it may be worth considering making that city a future business hub or operations center for your own startup.

1. London

London is considered the “Startup Capital of Europe” and is one of the largest cities in the world for venture capital and startup funding availability. As our world continues to evolve, London has seen a tremendous inflow of capital from Silicon Valley, driving a startup and business boom unlike anything the city has ever experienced. 

Just as you’d expect, the flood of investment entering London has created 20 new “unicorn startups” in 2021 that have revolutionized their respective industries. Some of these unicorns include SaaS companies like TrueLayer, insurtech companies like Marshmallow, and fintech companies like Starling Bank. 

London holds a tech flagship event titled London Tech Week where investors and founders in the technology space come together to discuss ideas and network, and a recruitment and networking event called Black Girls in Tech aimed at creating pathways for Black women in the technology industry. 

Fintech and educational technology (edtech) are some of the strongest industries for startups in London in recent years.

2. Beijing

Beijing has recently put itself on the radar during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, highlighting not only its athletic greatness but also the rapidly growing status of this city as a technology and startup hub. During the Olympic Games, viewers saw incredible advances and developments in self-driving vehicles, automation, robotics, telemedicine, and 5G technology on display. 

China has continued to accelerate its programs to support biotech, and chipmaking startups, with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology set to name just around 3,000 startups in 2022 as “little giants.” When a startup is designated a “little giant,” it gets special incentives and recognition by potential corporate partners, investors, employees, and the government. 

Beijing is best known for startups entering the artificial intelligence (AI), big data, analytics, and fintech industries that are booming in the region. 

Read more about what makes Beijing one of the best cities for startups!

3. Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has recently become one of the top startup ecosystems in the global economy. Israel currently has more startups per capita than any other country in the world and boasts a tight-knit community of entrepreneurs, an educated population, advanced research and development (R&D) capabilities, and strong support from the government. 

In 2021 alone, Tel Aviv saw the creation of 30 new unicorns, $4 billion of raised startup funding, and 20 scaling companies going public. In addition, multinational corporations like Apple, Volkswagon, Anheuser-Bosch, and Citibank have established headquarters and “innovation centers” in Tel Aviv, helping connect the city to the global economy and develop more opportunities for ambitious founders. 

Cybersecurity is a big startup industry in Tel Aviv, as well as AI, big data, and analytics. 

Read more about what makes Tel Aviv one of the best cities for startups!

4. Shanghai

Even though Shanghai has a rich history and culture spanning many centuries, this metropolis of innovation is looking forward to the future and bringing in ambitious startups and entrepreneurs who are building the world of tomorrow. Shanghai has been named the “World’s #1 Smart City for 2022” by Juniper Research due to its extensive energy and lighting, urban connectivity, city management, and transportation infrastructure.

Shanghai is one of the busiest container port cities in the world and is also a global financial hub with a population of over 24 million residents. The Venture Capital World Summit was recently held in Shanghai, and events like the flagship IEEE ICIT event of the Industrial Electronics Society are also on the radar. 

Startup companies in the health technology (healthtech) and gaming subsectors have found great success in both funding and growth in Shanghai.

5. Tokyo

Tokyo has seen a startup boom in the past decade that began in 2014 and started accelerating even faster in recent years due to advances in digital technology and tech innovation. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Cabinet Office, and Toyo Government have also taken steps to promote Tokyo as an entrepreneurial hub and bring new startups into the city through strategic policy changes. 

The Tokyo startup ecosystem saw increasing momentum as soon as overseas crossover investors entered the market and brought their investment capital to innovative startups such as software company SmartHR.

Tokyo has seen strong growth and funding availability for companies in the life sciences, fintech, and advanced manufacturing & robotics industries. 

Read more about what makes Tokyo one of the best cities for startups!

6. Paris

Paris has quietly made its way into the ranks as the largest startup ecosystem in Europe and is now home to over 12,000 startups outpacing both Berlin and London combined. What fueled this dramatic growth in Paris in recent years? The answer is the government’s efforts, particularly the funding of 30 billion Euros provided by President Emmanual Macron for the France 2030 plan. 

Europe is currently home to a wide variety of investors, founders, and researchers, continuing to provide incredible opportunities for founders who want to make their mark on their industry and bring brand new innovations into the global economy. 

Fintech, AI, big data, and analytics startups have been very strong in Paris regarding funding availability and growth.

7. Amsterdam-Delta

The startup ecosystem of Amsterdam has been seeing dramatic growth in recent years, even though the delta region is rather small and has a much smaller population in comparison to other larger startup ecosystems like London. 

The Netherlands has been a great “home base” for startup founders due to the fact that over 90% of the Dutch population speak English, the business-friendly laws passed by the government, strong infrastructure, and a well-educated workforce. 

AI and big data startups, as well as fintech companies, have seen strong growth in Amsterdam.

8. Toronto-Waterloo

The Toronto-Waterloo area currently has an incredibly strong population of tech workers spanning over 300,000. When it comes to technology, innovation, and rapid growth, this Canadian city is one of the fastest-growing startup ecosystems on the planet. 

One of the reasons for growth is the lightning-speed growth of the millennial population in this region, currently clocking in at over 21% per year. The quality of tech talent that has come out of local colleges and universities, as well as tech talent that has moved into Toronto-Waterloo from other cities, currently matches some of the most Elite regions like Silicon Valley. 

Startups in life sciences, AI,big data, and analytics have been particularly successful in obtaining funding and growing their companies in the Toronto-Waterloo region.

9. Seoul

Seoul has recently reached record highs in venture investment opportunities and startup growth. In 2021, Venture Capital funding in Seoul saw growth of 34 percent year over year, with 7.7 billion going to innovative startup companies that are looking to make their mark on the world. 

There were 18 unicorns founded in Korea based on recent data, with 15 of these unicorn startups being based out of Seoul. The city has become a deep-technology hub, with a focus on the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, AI, big data, and fintech. 

10. Stockholm

Stockholm is a startup ecosystem that brought us incredibly successful companies like Skype and Spotify and is known as a globally renowned startup ecosystem and business hub. As a result, international investors have been particularly interested in Stockholm in recent years and have continued to look for companies in the region into which they could allocate investments. 

By the numbers, Stockholm produces more unicorns per capita than any other region in the world – even more than Silicon Valley! UNICEF established a Global Center for Innovation in Stockholm in 2021, and it continues to be one of the hottest regions for startup founders globally. 

Clean and renewable energy startups (cleantech), as well as companies in life sciences, have seen strength in both investment opportunities and growth opportunities in Stockholm.

11. Singapore

Singapore has seen a booming internet economy, rapidly rising middle class, and a pro-business environment that helped fuel its startup growth within the last decade. As a result, Singapore has continued to be an attractive hub for innovative startups to call home, with over 220 venture capital funds, 200 accelerators, and 4,000 startups currently residing in the region.

In 2021, 11 new unicorn startups came out of Singapore, and a large number of global corporations have established innovation centers in the city in the last few years. Agricultural technology (agtech), cleantech, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing are industries that have seen growth and plenty of investment opportunities within Singapore. 

12. Shenzhen

Shenzhen, a city frequently referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Hardware,” is a global manufacturing hub with tremendous productive output and goods exported worldwide. In fact, some of China's most valuable private companies, such as Huawei and Tencent, operate in Shenzhen. 

In recent years, the city has been focusing on becoming an international hub for venture capital as well, offering incentives to relocated or newly established VC firms or private equity investors who invest in various unlisted companies within three years. 

If you’re building a startup around AI, big data, analytics, or fintech, Shenzhen can be a great place to grow and get the startup funding you need.

Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.

13. Berlin

Berlin is one of the hottest startup ecosystems in Europe and accounts for over 60 percent of all capital invested within Germany. In 2021, Berlin saw a spike in the health sector, making it one of the best locations in the world for startup companies in the healthcare industry. 

To boost startup growth and bring in additional investment, the German government is unlocking an additional 10 billion Euros to support growth-phase startups. All of this capital will be dedicated to helping startup companies address all of the difficulties they face when trying to raise venture capital and grow their business towards profitability. 

Healthcare, fintech, AI, big data, and analytics are all industries that are currently very strong in Berlin.

14. Bangalore-Karnataka

The Bangalore-Karnataka region is one of the fastest-growing technology hubs in India, housing the R&D centers of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon. The IT industry in Bangalore currently employs over 5 million workers and accounts for approximately 130 billion global exports yearly. 

To promote the startup ecosystem and innovation in the region, the Government of Karnataka established a “Startup Cell” dedicated to making the region more attractive for startup companies and bringing in additional investment – this is the first Indian state government to do so. 

Life sciences companies and fintech companies have seen significant growth and investment in the Bangalore-Karnataka region.

Get inspired with our list of the top startups in India to watch.

15. Sydney

Sydney has seen a fast-growing startup ecosystem in recent years as well as an influx of startup investment. For example, one of the largest recent funding rounds of $231.5 million went to Sydney-based company Iris Energy in its NASDAQ initial public offering (IPO), and plant-based meat company v2food, which raised $113 million in funding.

Canva and Zip Co. are considered some of the most successful “unicorns” that were initially developed and grew in Sydney’s ecosystem, attracting international investment and experiencing incredible growth. 

Cleantech, green energy, and financial technology are sectors that have seen strong growth and opportunity for startups in Sydney.

16. Hangzhou

Hangzhou has seen positive momentum and growth with new startups, venture capital, and private equity, with a particular focus on companies within ecommerce, healthcare, retail, and transportation. 

Even though Hangzhou isn’t as established as some of the largest startup ecosystems in China, it is experiencing rapid growth and bringing in a growing number of investors and outside capital. 

If your startup has anything to do with transportation, online commerce, or healthcare, the opportunity for startup companies in this emerging market is excellent.

17. Vancouver

Vancouver is one of Canada's largest and fastest-growing startup ecosystems and has become an ideal place for founders to go when they want venture capital or private equity funding opportunities.

Currently, Vancouver is ranked as one of the best locations worldwide for energy and environmental startups, with hardware, IoT, marketing, and sales startups following closely behind. Global unicorns such as Plenty of Fish, TradableBits, and HootSuite are only a few of the prominent startups that began their journey in Vancouver. 

18. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the largest financial centers in the world, characterized by its nearly free port trade, established financial markets, and low taxation. It has a long history of commerce and trade and has seen an increasing number of startups and investors who have made their way into the Hong Kong market. 

Shenzhen, a major manufacturing hub, is just across the border near Hong Kong, playing a large role in supply availability and allowing startups to source components and fully assembled products easily. 

If a startup wants access to reliable infrastructure, a large talent pool, and proximity to millions of potential customers, then Hong Kong is a great place to start and grow.

19. Montreal

Montreal is a great location for startup founders and entrepreneurs, featuring a highly educated talent pool, safe neighborhoods, and great cultural life. People worldwide are attracted to Montreal simply because it’s a great place to work and live. 

On the scale of the global economy, Montreal is considered a strategic gateway to European Markets and North American commerce hubs and is just 90 minutes from Toronto, Boston, and New York by air. 

Startups within the fintech, AI, big data, analytics, and life sciences industries can see great success in the Montreal ecosystem, as these sub-sectors are in great demand for investment and future growth.

20. Munich

Munich is a great place to live, work, and play, featuring a vibrant startup ecosystem and a rich history that mixes modernity with German tradition. Even though this city is commonly associated with Oktoberfest and its rich history, it has emerged as a significant tech hub on the global stage in recent years. 

For any startup founder who is seeking a new home for their company, the excellent locale and growing startup ecosystem Munich offers might make for an attractive place to visit and even potentially move to.

21. Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and presents startup founders with an incredibly large potential market with over 20 million residents and a large population density. As a result, the city is home to the largest number of startups in Brazil and has produced 11 unicorn companies valued at over $1 billion. 

The University of Sao Paulo, currently ranked as one of the Top 100 universities in the world, has excellent academic programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), making it a great hub for tech talent. 

Agtech, new food companies, financial technology, and proprietary technology & marketplace startups have found excellent opportunities in the Sao Paulo market for both growth and investment. 

22. Bern-Geneva

The Bern-Geneva region isn’t topping the charts with the number of startups and investors coming into the area, but it has still been a great place for fintech, social & leisure, and healthcare startups in recent years. 

Some of the most notable startup companies to come out of the Bern-Geneva region include KeyCDN, AppBrain, Maps.me, and more.

23. Delhi

Delhi has been growing increasingly quickly regarding new investments and startup companies that have entered the region, with some surveys and data points even saying it has outpaced Bengaluru as the startup capital of India. 

In the last few years between 2019 and 2021, there were over 5,000 startups created in Delhi, with positive momentum continuing to push the city in the direction of new company growth and innovation. Anyone looking for a friendly startup hub that’s just beginning to emerge should consider looking at Delhi in the near future.

24. Dublin

Dublin has gained a reputation as being a welcoming, accessible, and diverse startup ecosystem for both investors and entrepreneurs. So whether you’re a founder looking for investment opportunities or just someone who wants to network and connect with entrepreneurs who are on your wavelength, Dublin offers tremendous opportunities for founders. 

Due to the Irish State’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship, business, and innovation, Dublin has seen many investors and new businesses of all shapes and sizes emerge in recent years.

25. Melbourne

Melbourne is rapidly expanding as a startup hub and is currently home to over 2,600 different startup companies. Recent data comparing Victoria’s tourism sector and the startup sector as a whole shows that the two are nearly identical, indicating that Melbourne has quickly transitioned into a startup hub within Australia. 

Victoria frequently ranks as one of the region's best places for educational institutions, with the University of Melbourne and Monash University producing top talent and ambitious graduates year over year. 

Startups in life sciences and fintech can find great opportunities in Melbourne for investment and growth.

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