Around The World In FinTech Innovation

Global Tech Centers

Just two months ago PYMNTS launched its Weekly Tech Center Roundup to get an up close and personal look at some of the most influential tech ecosystems around the world. We’ve talked to industry experts, growing startups and innovation leaders from all corners of the globe. Here’s a recap from Sydney to Stockholm and lots of tech centers in between.

Over the past eight weeks PYMNTS has cast a weekly global spotlight on one of the many tech hubs fostering innovation and tech advancements across the world. With big plans to continue growing out the weekly series, we thought it would be a great time to take a look back at all of the tech hubs we’ve highlighted so far.

The U.K.’s Technology ‘Hotbed’ Picks Up Steam

We began the Weekly Tech Center Roundup journey in London – Europe’s self-proclaimed startup capital. As a result of the recent Brexit news, all eyes have remained fixated on the U.K. and London (aka Brexit’s Ground Zero) in particular. Despite the looming Brexit fallout, at least so far, the U.K. is still considered a hotbed for cultivating fast-growing tech companies. In 2014 alone, British technology companies received over $795 million in investments from U.S. investors.

Interesting Facts:

  • According to the European Digital City Index, London is No. 1 for supporting digital entrepreneurs.
  • Thirteen out of the 17 tech unicorns in the U.K. are located in London, as of last year.
  • In 2015, U.K. tech investment reached a total of $3.6 billion, showing a 70-percent increase in VC funding compared to the year prior.

Sydney Shines As A Tech Scene Down Under

Sydney may be located down under, but the city’s growing tech ecosystem is determined to become top of mind when you think of global tech hubs. Entrepreneurs and investors across Australia’s largest city are working to revamp the tech community, with the intention of transforming Sydney into Australia’s own Silicon Valley. More than 40 companies in the area recently banded together to launch the not-for-profit initiative TechSydney, which is aimed at cultivating promising startups through mentorship and growth opportunities.

Interesting Facts:

  • T.Kearney’s “Global Cities 2015” report identified Sydney as one of the world’s Top 16 “Global Elite” cities, ranking 15th in the Global Cities Index and 11th in the Global Cities Outlook.
  • Based on a range of factors, including the amount of foreign investment, financial services and technology, Sydney is tied with Beijing as the eighth most influential city in the world, according to analysts at Forbes.
  • The city is considered to have the largest startup ecosystem in Australia, with 64 percent of the startups in the country being located in Sydney.

Tel Aviv Fuels Israel’s ‘Startup Nation’ Reputation

When people think Israel and technology, cybersecurity is often the first thing that comes to mind. While the country does possess some of the most sought after cybersecurity talent and intelligence in the world, its tech center, Tel Aviv, still has much more to offer. The “startup nation” is recognized for not just brimming with tech innovation, but also harboring more high-tech startups and a larger venture capital industry per capita than any other place in the world.

PYMNTS also spoke with Ayelet Mavor, Acting Director of U.K. Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy Israel, who explained that the initiative she runs is designed to help U.K. businesses find partners in Israel to drive their innovation agendas forward.

Interesting Facts:

  • Israel has more than 5,000 startups and more engineers per capita than any other place in the world.
  • Tel Aviv nabbed 5th place in the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking in 2015.
  • Last year it was reported that Israeli tech sales and IPOs reached $15 billion, according to data from PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Unveiling Stockholm’s Stealth Startup Breeding Ground

What it lacks in size, Stockholm surely makes up for in its ability to foster many well-known startups and a burgeoning sector for tech innovation. On a per capita basis, the Scandinavian country is known for producing $6.3 billion companies per million people, coming in second only to Silicon Valley. Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder and CEO of Klarna, a startup unicorn in its own right that launched in Stockholm back in 2005, said that Stockholm’s startup breeding ground is founded on a societal infrastructure and unique cultural frameworks within which innovation can then thrive.

“It’s a society that has been built around social mobility and the ability for people to really express themselves and be good at a variety of different things, whatever life path they choose,” Siemiatkowski explained, adding that for those who have talent and want to accomplish things, there are systems in place to support that ambition.

Interesting Facts:

  • According to a study from Sweco, there were more than 22,000 tech companies within Stockholm as of 2014, representing more than half of the total companies in Sweden.
  • Startup Hubs Europe found that Stockholm has roughly 8,000 startups, which employ nearly 52,000 people.
  • The positions of programmer and systems developer top the list of the most common roles in Stockholm.

Can Rio de Janeiro Withstand The Olympic Pressure?

With the 2016 Summer Olympics right around the corner, the spotlight has shined brightly on the global competition’s host city, Rio de Janeiro. Despite the economic downtowns and issues facing Brazil, the country’s tech industry has emerged unscathed. In fact, the venture and entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown by 20 percent from 2014 to 2015 alone.

The nation’s startup community has started a growing trend of companies being able to thrive because they are focused on offering solutions that improve efficiency and sustainability. These efficiency-minded businesses have caught the attention of investors and as a result, there’s been a flurry of investment activity for startups in B2B and consumer finance.

Interesting Facts:

  • Tech giants such as Siemens, Cisco and Microsoft are building technology centers in the city.
  • In an effort to spur job growth, the Brazilian government offered tax and legal incentives for technology companies within Rio.
  • The Cariocas startup community was launched in 2015 and is an example of the startup scene’s maturation, providing a place of support and information for startups in the city.

Toronto’s Rising Digital Star

Believe it or not, the third largest technology hub is North America, which may be why it’s gained recognition as a go-to destination for innovation and for having a diverse and talented workforce. Many expect it may just be the next Silicon Valley. The city has a lot going for it – governmental support of its tech scene, access to universal health care and a slew of successful venture-backed businesses, such as Shopify, FreshBooks, and KIK, as well as a network of emerging local VCs looking to grow support for the ecosystem.

“The city has all the markings of a world-class hub for technology startups and reminds me a lot of how New York City felt in the early 2000s when I moved back from the Bay Area — simmering with entrepreneurial talent, opportunity and a strong foundation to support it,” Josh Guttman, general partner at VC firm SBNY, recently explained in a piece for TechCrunch.

Interesting Facts:

  • Toronto is home to more than 15,000 tech companies, generating CAD$52 billion in revenues annually.
  • Toronto has one of the largest concentrations of financial services in the Americas. Roughly 251,000 people are employed in this sector across the region, representing 36 percent of the country’s financial services sector employment.
  • There are nearly 30,000 professionals working in FinTech in Toronto.

How Berlin Earns Its ‘Startup Capital’ Reputation

Berlin is well-known for the adage “one born every 20 minutes,” meaning on average, a tech-related startup company is founded in the city every 20 minutes. Not only is Berlin attracting tech talent from around the world, but the city has the right mechanisms in place to foster homegrown innovation and talent as well.

PYMNTS caught up with Valentin Stalf, founder and CEO of mobile-only bank NUMBER26, to find out why Berlin holds its title as a startup capital and how the startup’s experience being based out of the city has impacted its business. Berlin’s low cost of living and high quality of life has helped to make it a prime location for a growing tech scene.

Interesting Facts:

  • Berlin is the 7th ranked city in Europe for its support of digital entrepreneurs, according to the European Digital City Index.
  • In 2015, Deutsche Startup Monitor found that a third of startups in Germany reside in Berlin.
  • A study by consultancy firm McKinsey estimates that Berlin tech startups could generate as many as 100,000 jobs by the year 2020.

How Singapore Is Fueling A ‘Smart Nation’

Though it may only have an estimated population of just over 5 million, the city-state of Singapore boasts a powerhouse GDP (putting it at the top 10th percentile in the world) and the desire and technological resources to create the world’s first truly “Smart Nation.” “A Smart Nation means people and businesses are empowered through increased access to data, more participatory through the contribution of innovative ideas and solutions, and a more anticipatory government that utilizes technology to better serve citizens’ needs,” the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) explained.

The country has also become a hotbed for mobile payments growth, with the mobile phone penetration rate in Singapore reaching 148 percent in 2014. Singapore’s mobile payments landscape has become a prime target for players looking to capitalize on the mobile penetration and adoption throughout the country.

Interesting Facts:

  • Roughly 7,000 multinational corporations have made Singapore a home base for their headquarters, making it the fifth ranked country in the world for company headquarter density.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, the government allocated $16 billion to help accelerate Singapore’s research, innovation and enterprise landscape.
  • Startups are estimated to employ nearly 300,000 on the island nation.