Startup Culture Goes Global
By Michael Spence  |  Apr 12, 2022
Startup Culture Goes Global
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Digitization, increased connectivity, and falling costs are changing the nature of innovation across the globe and driving the creation of new innovation hubs. How can the public and private sectors work together to build thriving hubs of innovation that generate more inclusive economic growth and better opportunities, particularly in emerging markets?

MILAN - Fast-growing companies and startups were once almost exclusively the preserve of Silicon Valley and Seattle, but those days are long gone. Today, the United States boasts several innovation hotspots, including Austin, Miami, New York City, and Washington, DC. In recent years, similar hubs have also emerged in Europe, such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Helsinki, London, Paris, and Stockholm. But this phenomenon is no longer limited to the advanced economies of the West. In fact, startup culture has gone global.

At the top of the list of innovators is China, with India close behind. But unicorns (private companies with a valuation above US$1 billion) can now be found in a wide range of countries, including both emerging-market and newly industrialized economies such as Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Singapore, and South Korea.

The largest share of high-growth companies can be found in financial technology, or fintech, with other key sectors like e-commerce, Internet software and services, health care, education technology (EdTech), artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and supply-chain logistics and delivery not far behind. There is one obvious common thread connecting all of these together: the digital economy.

To be sure, that alone does not tell the whole story. Significant activity, growth, and value creation can also be found in sectors related to the green energy transition and circular economy. For example, the Paris-based Back Market - which has a valuation of US$5.7 billion - facilitates the refurbishing and recycling of electronics, thereby helping to tackle the world’s growing e-waste problem. Biomedical science - with its applications in medicine, health, agriculture, and synthetic biology (devising new biological parts, devices, and systems, or redesigning those found in nature) - is a

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