Guest post by James Burbank, editor in chief at BizzMarkBlog
Ask an average person about which parts of the world they associate with startups and unless they are a part of the culture, they will have only two words to say to you – Silicon Valley. If you start doing a bit of research on the startup culture, you might get an impression that it really is completely U.S.-based or even West Coast-based.
Dig a bit deeper and you might even find out that they have startups in London and Berlin, but that is as far as you will be getting.
In reality, the startup culture is global in the best sense of the word and it has been for some time.
North-American Money and Tradition
To claim that the Northern American continent is not the leading region for the startup culture would be unrealistic. One of the main reasons for this is that this is where the money is. When you look at The Atlantic's list of the startup hubs ranked according to the venture capital invested, things become very clear. Out of top 10 cities, only London in 7th and Beijing in 9th place are not U.S. cities. The other 8 cities (all American) make up for almost 50 percent of all venture capital investments in startups.
In addition to money, the United States also features the longest startup history, especially if we narrow our focus to only tech startups. It may seem strange to talk about tradition in respect to startups, but there is a long startup tradition going strong in the United States. Also, let's not forget about the world-famous entrepreneurial spirit that is often attributed to Americans.
Global Thirst for Innovation
The main reason why the startup culture is and always will be global is one of the most noble traits of humans as a species – the thirst for innovation. Someone more cynical would say that there are other, baser reasons for coming up with new ideas such as money or fame. A much more optimistic driving force behind the startup culture is the human thirst for inventing new stuff and moving forward.
It is the same drive that caused us to invent the written language, to come up with the wheel and the antibiotics. It is the same drive that put a human being on the Moon mere decades after the first powered flight.
This drive and innate human need for innovation could never be restricted to a single city, or area or continent. Therefore, the startup culture as the modern fountainhead of innovation has always been destined to be global.
The Beautiful Diversity
Another reason why the startup culture is global is the beautiful diversity of the planet we all inhabit and contribute to in our own way.
For example, Moscow as a startup hub is particularly strong in certain areas because of a very rich pool of engineers. The reason for this is that in the Soviet Union, formal engineering education was always strong. There is also a huge number of hardware companies in Moscow and Russia in general.
Tel Aviv is also considered a startup hub and Israel has traditionally been very strong in the cybersecurity field, once again for very unique reasons. One of the reasons is a long history of military intelligence agencies and army units which specialized in cybersecurity. Since serving in military is still compulsory in Israel, many young people get fantastic cybersecurity education as part of service. Israel's startup scene also benefits from strong ties with American companies that often buy Israeli startups.
It was only a time before the Indian and the Chinese startup scenes exploded and we have been seeing it happen for quite a long time now. Immense customer bases, a more lax approach to regulations and cheaper realization of projects have all contributed to Bangalore and Beijing becoming world-renowned startup hubs.
Finally, we must not overlook the importance of various support "systems" that are enabling certain markets to grow or, in certain cases, wake up. This support can come from governments, like in the cases of Thailand and Netherlands or it can come from companies such as Microsoft and their BizSpark program. In Jordan, one of the countries that you would not necessarily associate with startups, Orange Jordan launched an accelerator program earlier this year, hoping to stimulate the local startup scene.
In short, the startup ecosystem has always been global, even though it might not have shown it always. In the future, this will become only more and more obvious.
This is a great future.