East Asian cities for entrepreneurs

East Asian cities for entrepreneurs

Over the past few years, many East Asian cities have popped up to lead the way for start-ups. With access to growing markets, a skilled talent pool and lower living costs than the Valley, East Asian cities are starting to claim their piece of the pie and they are stepping up to attract entrepreneurs.

There are other factors, such as community availability of investment and access to local expertise - that have played a vital role to create an optimal environment for a start-up to grow.

Here are some of the cities leading the way for start-ups:


Home to over 7,000 start-ups and, Beijing reigns supreme in the Asian start-up scene. Scattered with opportunity and talent, the Chinese city also houses more than 40 unicorns, which businesses with a valuation of more than $1 billion. Housing 300 coworking spaces, the tech hub of Zhongguancun is the Chinese equivalent to Silicon Valley. Haidan District, however, remains wider and houses some of the city's success stories, such as Xiaomi and Baidu.


Blessed with affordable living costs, Shanghai is a great place to start a business. Apart from the living costs, the city prides itself in its start-up scene and some districts encourage aspiring entrepreneurs by providing housing allowances or free rent if businesses choose to register there.

Housing around 3,000 start-ups, Shanghai falls behind Beijing in terms of the size of its scene. The city, however, boasts a higher success rate in terms of business' ability to expand internationally.


What once was a small fishing village with a population of 175,000 30 years ago is now a metropolis of over 12.5 million inhabitants. The cosmic growth of the population has meant more business opportunities and has spawned a thriving start-up community. The city is the birthplace of global names like Tencent and OnePlus. The city is also famous for breeding hardware developers, attracting some of the largest volumes of research and development investment of anywhere in the country.

Hong Kong

Although Hong Kong has long been one of the world's leading financial centres, it has struggled to replicated that success in its infant scene. With the current changing landscape, Hong Kong has been able to turn things around over the past few years and it has been a boost in entrepreneurial activity. Today, the city houses more than 2,000 start-ups, 50 coworking spaces and one unicorn - van-hailing app GoGoVan.

Fukuoka (in photo)

Over the past few years, Fukuoka has grown its reputation as a start-up hub to such extent that it is now Japan's designated regulatory sandbox for start-ups. As such, it is authorised to provide local entrepreneurs with loans of up to $232,000 and is home to the country's first six-month start-up visa for foreigners, hence its growing expat community.


What was once was the centre of a thriving internet start-up scene has struggled to maintain its position in the past few years. Despite housing one o the world's largest investors, Softbank, investment in start-ups has been poor during this period.

Despite the recent trends, as the capital of the world's third-largest economy, Tokyo boasts numerous opportunities for start-ups that can provide solutions to the problems the country is facing, such as its rapidly aging population.


Housing 3,500 start-ups and around 100 accelerators, Seoul is leading the start-up scene in South Korea. The city's prominent start-up scene is partly thanks to the South Korean government's investment to help entrepreneurs. Although it usually favours nationals, South Korea boasts the highest government backing per capita for start-ups.


Despite being smaller than other Asian cities leading the way for start-ups, Taipei is a hub for hardware development and manufacturing. The Taiwanese capital also houses a notable network of engineering and design expertise.