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Startup Culture Goes Global

The digital domain has provided fertile ground for innovation around the world, enabling the rise of fast-growing firms from Helsinki to Abuja. But even as the internet has greatly reduced geographical limitations to doing business, highly interactive local networks continue to form the core of entrepreneurial ecosystems.

MILAN – Fast-growing companies and startups were once the preserve of Silicon Valley and Seattle. No longer. 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, including 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 $1 billion) can be found in a wide range of countries, including emerging-market and newly advanced 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, including e-commerce, internet software and services, health care, education technology (EdTech), artificial intelligence, cyber security, and supply-chain logistics and delivery, not far behind. One common thread is obvious: the digital economy.

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