US and Asian cities offer strongest 'tech environments' for start-ups

28 February 2017

US and Asian cities offer the world’s strongest ‘tech environments’, having both the physical infrastructure and a critical mass of existing occupiers to start-ups in the sector, according to Savills.

Savills has awarded the top three places in its Tech Cities 2017 overall rankings to US cities (Austin, San Francisco and New York), followed by London and Amsterdam (figure 1). However, isolating the ‘tech environment’ component (figure 2), of the rankings reveals that while the US cities remain top (albeit Austin and San Francisco switch positions) Hong Kong and Singapore take fourth and fifth place. These cities have a greater concentration of tech companies, volume of tech start-ups, access to angel investors and higher quality broadband infrastructure than their European counterparts, says Savills.

But European tech cities perform better than Asian ones in terms of their lower real estate costs and tend to achieve higher ‘buzz and wellness’ scores, another aspect of the 2017 overall rankings measuring each city’s cultural, social and health offer. Wellness is likely to prove increasingly important to both occupiers and tech talent in determining where to locate, according to Savills.

View the Tech Environments index and graphs here

Nicky Wightman, director, Savills Worldwide Occupier Services, says: “Providing an environment which enables tech companies and start-ups to plug straight into the infrastructure and funding they need to be a success is an important part of any tech city, however this alone won’t necessarily make them attractive destinations. Occupiers are looking to capitalise on the buzz and energy available in a city to attract the best staff, hence why London and Amsterdam appear higher than Hong Kong and Singapore in the overall rankings as they perform better on these factors.”

The number of tech start ups in each city, one of the factors Savills used to measure ‘tech environment’, varies hugely between locations, from 26.3 per thousand people in San Francisco to 0.04 in Tokyo and Seoul, although the median number of start ups across all 22 Tech Cities is 0.7 per thousand.

Paul Tostevin, associate director, Savills World Research, adds: “For tech environment, San Francisco remains head and shoulders above other cities, hence why it’s so far ahead in attracting start ups. It offers more venture capital, more events, more start-ups and more ‘unicorn’ companies than any other city. But the global competition is catching up by investing in physical and financial infrastructure. European centres such as Amsterdam may expect to see their global appeal increase, especially when combined with an exciting cultural offer and healthy environment.”


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Nicky Wightman

Nicky Wightman

Global Occupier Trends


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Paul Tostevin

Paul Tostevin

Associate Director
World Research

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+44 (0) 20 7016 3883