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Beyond Silicon Valley: Where to find startups to invest in

Computer programmer working late on his high tech computer systems

Silicon Valley has long been at the forefront of entrepreneurialism, an epicentre of technology where some of the world’s most influential companies were established. Venture capitalists continue to pour money into new disruptors in California, but it’s not the only place where potentially lucrative startups can be found.

Several new locations are challenging Silicon Valley’s longstanding dominance, aiming to become the most fertile ground for future tech heavyweights. With these destinations providing factors like access to large talent pools, generous central government support, affordable office space and more, these places are auspicious for startups and investment. Here are some of the cities were opportunities are rife for shrewd investors.

Madrid

The Spanish language is no stranger to the world’s startup scene. The US as a whole has more Spanish speakers than Spain, while more than 38% of Californians speak Spanish. This has led many Silicon Valley companies to employ Spanish-speakers, with fluency being a requirement for many job roles. Translation company Global Voices have noted an increase in Spanish translation requests with many businesses looking to expand into lucrative hispanic markets.

One such market target market is Spain, and in particular Madrid. However, the Spanish capital city has a thriving startup scene of its own. This includes Mobusi, a mobile performance advertising agency with clients throughout the world, and Tewer, who develop and engineer new solar energy technologies. Startups in the city have been aided by the wide range of accelerators and incubators, such as Zinc Shower who help entrepreneurs from the creative industries through funding, training, and networking.

With plenty of affordable coworking space available, an Entrepreneurial Visa encouraging foreign investors, and an outstanding quality of life, Madrid is a breeding ground for startups and a potentially lucrative playing field for investors that get in early.

Santiago

Another hispanic market being targeted by startups and investors alike is Chile. The South American nation’s capital, Santiago, is one of the world’s leading cities for young businesses, so much so that its startup scene has been dubbed “Chilecon Valley” by The Economist.

Chile has benefited from the US’s aggressive immigration policies, welcoming international entrepreneurs that have been prevented from setting up in the States. But many homegrown startups are also creating large investment yields, such as fleet management software Beetrack and real estate platform GoPlaceIt.

Arguably the largest influence on the scene has been the publicly funded seed accelerator Start-Up Chile. The accelerator was named as the most active in the world in 2015, and has helped numerous startups find their feet. With entrepreneurs from over 79 countries involved in the programme by 2016, it is also one of the most diverse in the world.

The Chilean government ploughs around $12 million a year into the entrepreneurial scene, making the country one of the most generous in the world for startup investment. With low living costs, one of the highest living standards across South America and a gateway into the South American market, Santiago is an eminently attractive location for investors and entrepreneurs.

London

London has one of the most flourishing startup scenes in the world, so much so that the startup cluster in Old Street was named Silicon Roundabout in tribute to California’s legendary techhub. With a hugely diverse workforce and significant help for new businesses, the city serves as a hotbed for startups, many of which have already seen substantial success.

With more than four million workers, 230 languages spoken across the city, and a number of universities providing a constant supply of talent, the environment is favourable to business innovation. This is bolstered by the various help available for startups, such as schemes run by incubators like Seecamp, Entrepreneur First and Firestartr that are aimed at getting burgeoning businesses going. The British government have also proven magnanimous, with their Entrepreneur Visa and kind corporation tax rates encouraging the very best talent to flock to the British capital. All of this makes the city a great place for startup investment.

Paris

Between the second and third quarters of 2016, French startup investments rose by over 200% to $857 million, only $62 million behind London’s total. Much like London and Santiago, increasing efforts from the government and incubators in encouraging entrepreneurs have galvanised the Parisian startup scene.

The French government has made a concentrated effort to attract more foreign investors, with the French Tech Visa encouraging international tech talent to come to France, including those that want to open a venture capital firm in France. There are also tax breaks for startups, with the Jeune Entreprise Innovante (JEI) granting assistance to firms that meet certain criteria, such as being less than 8 years in age and having maximum of 250 people.

Toronto

Another great place to find startups to invest in is Toronto, especially those looking to invest into the tech market. Around 2,500 to 4,100 tech startups currently based in the city with roughly 400,000 people employed in the sector, so there is plenty of talent to work with.

There is substantial support for startups in the city from the government, incubators and universities.  Government help includes the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Program, a tax incentive for companies conducting research, and the Industrial Research Assistance Program that provides advisory services to entrepreneurs.

Companies are also eager to see entrepreneurs in the city succeed, a notable example of this is MaRS Discovery District, a not-for-profit corporation that provides entrepreneurs with skills through its venture program. The education sector has also done its bit, for example, in 2010, Ryerson University launched the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), a scheme which has supported more than 130 companies. All of this has enticed entrepreneurs to flock to the Canadian capital, making it one of the best cities to find talent to invest in.

Elliot Preece

Elliot is the Editor at ABCMoney. He manages a team that writes and contributes to many leading publications across a number of industries.

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