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Startups

Japan and South Korea catching China in startup race: report

Tokyo and Seoul join list of most attractive cities for emerging tech companies

Seoul (above) has become more attractive to startups, according to a new ranking.   © AP

TOKYO -- Japan and South Korea are catching up to China as a hub for startups, according to a report that highlights the battle for capital and talent in Asia's technology sector.

U.S. policy advisory firm Startup Genome's latest ranking of top startup ecosystems, announced Thursday, featured Tokyo and Seoul for the first time, at 15th and 20th place respectively. Startup Genome attributed the rise to their "strength as R&D powerhouses."

The ranking measures metrics such as funding, access to engineering talent and patent production to determine cities that are most attractive to startups. 30% of the top 40 cities were in Asia in this year's list, compared to 20% in 2012.

Startup Genome said Seoul, which is home to ten unicorns -- private companies worth $1 billion or more -- and a rapidly growing number of biotech startups, is supported by a highly educated population and public funding.

In recent years, China has emerged as the dominant force in Asia in churning out some of the world's most highly valued technology companies. Startup hubs popping up in other parts of the region means competition for capital and talent will likely intensify.

Beijing was still the highest ranked Asian city at 4th, behind Silicon Valley, New York City and London, while Shanghai ranked 8th. Chinese cities Shenzhen and Hangzhou joined the list for the first time.

Startup Genome warned that governments are not doing enough to help startups survive the coronavirus outbreak, which has hit demand and funding. One issue has been that relief programs often emphasize companies with revenue, profitability and collateral, it said.

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