A Look Inside Asia’s Startup Boom

(Image via Liming Huang)

(Image via Liming Huang)

Entrepreneurship is booming in Asia. Successful startups are emerging from all over the region. With energetic young populations and massive markets that are getting bigger by the day, it is no wonder.

When Startup Genome released the results of its survey of the world’s best startup ecosystems in 2012, the Top 20 was dominated by North America. Between them, the US and Canada accounted for eight out of the first ten spots, with Silicon Valley undoubtedly the biggest and most influential. However, there were also four cities from Asia Pacific that made the list. They were:

No. 12 – Sydney, Australia (dubbed the ‘global capital of data driven startups’)

No. 17 – Singapore, Singapore (scored strong on funding environment, low on risk tolerance)

No. 18 – Melbourne, Australia (up-and-comer, quick to adopt new trends)

No. 19 – Bangalore, India (rich talent base of highly skilled web entrepreneurs)

In 2015, Compass (the brains behind the 2012 survey) is partnering with data analytics firm CrunchBase to produce a new study measuring the entrepreneurial culture in global cities. This report is expected to be ready for release in May 2015.

Before the survey is released in a couple of months time we thought we’d get a head start and share some insight into the current trends and developments in Asia.


Growth of India

One country that we are watching with particular interest is India. Local trade association NASSCOM (National Association of Software & Services Companies) recently estimated that by 2017 India will surpass both the UK and Israel to emerge as the clear global No 2 behind the US in terms of the number of startups produced. The key metrics NASSCOM identified in the Indian ecosystem are:

  • 800 new startup firms in 2014, taking the total to 3,100 and representing a much higher rate of growth than UK and Israel
  • Since 2010 Indian startups have raised more than US$2.3 billion in funding
  • There are >70 private equity and VC funds active in the segment
  • The number of startup incubators and accelerators has grown past 80
  • There is a focus on wearables, big data, cloud computing, education and healthcare

It is expected that this time around Bangalore will continue to score well, with Mumbai also featuring more prominently.

Emergence of Financial Powerhouses

Singapore has long since established its credentials as both an important regional financial hub and home to a vibrant startup ecosystem. More recently, the financial centres of Hong Kong and Shanghai have witnessed significant growth as startup hubs. Hong Kong’s reputation as a truly global city has seen rapid development of the local startup culture in the past few years. There are now more than 40 co-working spaces operating in the city. Given the prominent financial sector that operates in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, development of FinTech has become a key area of attention. In Hong Kong, industries attracting focus from new ventures also include education and healthcare.


India is growing; Singapore continues to deserve its status as a global startup hub; Shanghai and Hong Kong are emerging. What other startup developments are taking place in the region?

  • Q2 2015 is expected to see the launch of Bangladesh’s first startup accelerator
  • South Korea has the potential to become a global centre for mobile commerce, with significantly higher rates of smartphone ownership (50% higher) and mobile sales than the US (28% of all online sales v 13% in the US)
  • In Thailand the government is becoming increasingly supportive of the digital economy, to coincide with the country’s climb to 26th position on the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Index’

We look forward to reviewing the results of the 2015 Compass / CrunchBase survey for you when it is available. In the meantime, as you can see, there is plenty happening on the Asian startup scene!

1 comment

  1. Pingback: Hong Kong's Hottest Startups - Startup Hook

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