SINGAPORE - Perhaps the biggest surprise coming out of a 150-page research report covering 10,000 start-ups and 300 partner companies is that tiny Singapore has overtaken tech mecca Silicon Valley as world's No. 1 for start-up talent.
The report by Startup Genome project, a US-based organisation, credits Singapore's innovative policies for its success as great start-up ecosystem. While Singapore's overall ranking in 2017 fell two notches to 12th place, this was due to two new Chinese entrants, it said, adding that Singapore's performance numbers are solid and will probably continue to rise.
Along with a geographical location that renders it an easy access point to up-and-coming tech markets in South-east Asia, Singapore's 1,600-2,400 tech start-ups enjoy significant government subsidies and the country's strategies are working to establish local tech start-ups as globally relevant companies, said the report.
When it comes to talent specifically, Singapore's access to quality talent and cost put it ahead of all rivals.
While Singapore trailed below the average top 20 at 10th place in talent quality, it more than made up for it by being the fourth and second best ecosystem for start-ups to access experienced software engineers and growth employees, respectively.
The experience levels of Singaporean talent was found to be comparatively strong, with 80 per cent of engineering and 74 per cent of growth teams boasting at least two years of prior start-up experience compared to the global averages of 72 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively.
Start-up founders based in Singapore were the youngest in the world, with a median age of 28 years.
The average software engineer salary in Singapore, at US$35,000 (S$49,000), was also below the global average of US$49,000 - high salaries is one of the reasons why Silicon Valley lost its top talent ranking.
Singapore also has the third highest level of global connectedness of all top 20 ecosystems outperforming Silicon Valley again.
This is Startup Genome's third edition of its Global Startup Ecosystem Report. The 2017 survey examines how cities help to grow and sustain start-up ecosystems through eight major factors: performance, funding, market reach, global connectedness, talent, start-up experience, resource attraction, ecosystem demographics and founder demographics.
Silicon Valley is still number one overall and in most categories, but the report noted that the US is losing dominance to Asia and Europe. Los Angeles and Chicago, for example, had the biggest drop of the top 20 cities, mainly due their lowered scores in "global connectedness". However, the US still has seven cities in the top 20 ranking.
The Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, which debuted at No. 4 and No. 8 respectively, were absent from previous reports due to lack of data.