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Philly just ranked high on a global list of startup ecosystems. These local leaders aren’t surprised

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After earning the title of top "emerging" city last year, Philadelphia landed a spot in the overall top 30 of Startup Genome's Global Startup Ecosystem Report. The city scored highest for its market reach and talent.

By Paige Gross | Sep. 22, 2021 2:49 pm

PACT's Phorum 2018
PACT's Phorum 2018. 📷: Courtesy of PACT

A report assessing the strengths, talent and startup resources of regions around the globe this year named Philadelphia in its top 30 ecosystems.

The city moved up 15 spots in the Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) after being named the top “emerging” ecosystem last year. For 2021, it’s No. 28 on the global list. The report notes Philadelphia’s depth of tech talent, access to regional and global funding, and strengths in data analytics and life sciences as leading reasons for its ranking.

Cities are rated on a scale in six categories: performance, funding, connectedness, market reach, talent and knowledge. Philadelphia scored highest for its market reach and talent, but lower on its connectedness and knowledge. But 2019 and 2020 were banner years for venture capital raises for Philly’s startups, the GSER said — and 2021 has already surpassed them both, with $3 billion invested in the first two quarters alone. Other boons include more established accelerators and programming for startup founders, and the City of Philadelphia’s announcement of its Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative.

Leaders from three Startup Genome members — Ben Franklin Technology Partners, University City Science Center and Drexel University — worked with the org to highlight Philadelphia’s strengths.

“Philadelphia’s notable acceleration to a Top 30 global ecosystem demonstrates our momentum as a region and shines a spotlight on our ecosystem’s rare combination of investor activity, diverse talent, and ingenuity,” Science Center President and CEO Tiffany Wilson said in a statement.

The report says Philadelphia is attracting millennials at 1.5 times the rate of other regions in the country, and its VC — a reported $994 million in early-stage funding — is making it a place where startups can thrive. It also cites median VC info for seed and Series A raises in the region, with an average of $550,000 raised per seed round and $3.3 million raised per Series A, above the global average in both cases. The average software engineering salary landed at $81,000, per the report.

The new ranking within the Top 30 isn’t a surprise to Dean Miller, PACT’s president and CEO. Instead, it’s additional independent evidence that Philly is a great place to start and grow companies, he told in an email.

“We are just scratching the surface on the potential of Philadelphia and as we open up more access to support and capital to underrepresented founders to ultimately drive equitable growth, we will only climb further,” Miller said.

The 2019 LIFT Labs accelerator cohort
The 2019 LIFT Labs accelerator cohort. 📷:

Danielle Cohn, head of Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs program, said she and her team are proud to contribute to and be a part of the growing and thriving ecosystem here.

“What continues to differentiate Philadelphia as a leading startup city is long-standing, intentional collaborations across many partners,” she said. “This is an inclusive community, where we lift others as we grow and Philadelphia startups have incredible access to valuable support systems and key decision makers.”

The report cited that recently, Philadelphia, along with non-U.S. cities like Shenzhen, Rhineland and Copenhagen, have significantly improved their access and quality of tech talent in recent years. The lower cost of living than other U.S. cities in the Top 30 rankings like Boston and New York, were also mentioned as a reason to move or building your startup here.

Laurie Actman, chief marketing, communications and program officer for the Penn Center for Innovation said the ranking, to her, was further affirmation of the growing life sciences ecosystem, especially in the cell and gene therapy space.

“Hopefully this ranking will further encourage entrepreneurial growth from within our region,” she said, “and also continue to attract the attention, investment and relocation of investors, corporations and startups from other parts of the country and world to Philadelphia.”


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