As the biggest high-tech manufacturing center in the USA, Silicon Valley has long been seen as a Mecca for entrepreneurs and technological innovators. Setting up shop in the startup-infested waters of the San Francisco Bay Area (where Silicon Valley resides) is a surefire way to express your company’s grand ambitions – while ensuring you have plenty of potential colleagues and collaborators within arm’s reach. A recent survey counted nearly 400,000 tech professionals working in the area.
But as any Valley veteran can tell you, the next Google or Uber challenger could come from any direction. And there are plenty of competing tech hubs across the globe ready to take the crown.
Inevitably there are threats to be found on home turf, and Silicon Valley’s West Coast neighbour is drawing as many tech workers as the former is losing them. Able to offer lower rents and living costs alongside the second-highest tech sector salaries in the US, Seattle’s tech community is booming and poised to pull into the lead.
Despite lacking the kind of Venture Capital funding available to their American neighbours, the Canadian government has been quietly supporting and investing in a burgeoning startup culture – with global names such as Slack and Shopify to vouch for its success. Montreal’s home-grown startups in VR (Vrvana) and biometric wearables (Hexoskin, OMSignal) are a sign of great things to come.
London, United Kingdom
Hardly a surprising fixture on the list, given London’s tech credentials – with an East London district affectionately called ‘Silicon Roundabout’. The ease of forming companies with multinational ambitions, however, looks under threat by an impending Brexit and worsening diplomatic ties. But if there’s anyone who can find a workaround, it’s the startup community.
Tel Aviv, Israel
With a strong reputation in cybersecurity, the tech community in Tel Aviv is reaping rewards by utilising this expertise in the FinTech industry. Israel as a whole has more startups per capita than any nation on Earth, and a tight-knit community in the capital has ensured rapid growth from new-fledged companies.
Hong Kong, China
With brutally fast internet speeds and a huge array of high-tech exports, Hong Kong is already seeing high-stakes funding pouring in. If the city can shake off the risk-averse tendencies of its brightest graduates – who tend to go into banking or real estate, rather than startups – there’s no telling what kind of progress it could achieve.