Go to contents

Seoul City’s startup ecosystem worth estimated $39 billion

Seoul City’s startup ecosystem worth estimated $39 billion

Posted June. 29, 2020 07:54,   

Updated June. 29, 2020 08:15


Seoul Metropolitan City ranked 20th in an annual startup ecosystem survey conducted by “Startup Genome,” a global startup environment assessment agency. It is the highest since the 2017 when the city made the debut in the survey. The value of the startup ecosystem in Seoul was estimated at 39 billion U.S. dollars.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan government on Sunday, Startup Genome recently released on its websites the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2020 that includes these and other findings. Startup Genome conducts an annual survey on infrastructure, policy, and investment environment afflicting business startup in 270 cities in more than 100 countries worldwide to publish an annual report.

Seoul did not even make the top 30 in the first year after its inclusion in the survey. But the city made the list of “Next 30,” meaning promising next-generation ecosystem, last year. The city exceeded the top 30 to join the league of top 20 for the first time this year. Silicon Valley in the U.S. was stop, followed by New York and London. Asian cities ranking higher than Seoul were Beijing (ranked fourth), Shanghai (eighth), Tokyo (15th), and Singapore (17th).

As for the reasons for Seoul’s hike in the rankings, the report cited emergence of high growth startups, and high research and development capacity in the city. Nine of the 10 Korean unicorns (unlisted companies whose enterprise value exceeds 1 trillion won) were based in Seoul as of late last year. Twenty of the 27 Korean unicorn candidates whose value exceeds 100 billion won (87 million dollars) each are also based in the city. Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, accounted for 74 percent of new unicorns worldwide in 2015, but they saw their share decline to 46 percent in 2019. The gap has been filled by Seoul, Tokyo and Singapore.

In terms of R&D investment, Korea ranked fifth among the 38 countries surveyed. Notably, Korea’s ratio of R&D investment relative to its GDP came to 4.3 percent, the second highest in the world.

Chang-Kyu Park kyu@donga.com