High-tech Start-up Ecosystems in East Asian Agglomerations: Are They Different From the West?

Start-up ecosystems within regional agglomerations have been intensively studied in Western countries, but much less in East Asia. Therefore, little is known about the specific features of East Asian start-up ecosystems. We study the high-tech start-up ecosystems within four leading East Asian agglomerations: Tokyo, Seoul, Suzhou and Chongqing. Our case studies of these start-up ecosystems reveal that they differ in various important aspects from their Western counterparts. They are located within very large urban agglomerations. Consequently, start-ups firms are co-located with many leading domestic and international firms, and research institutions. However, the networks with these partners tend to be relatively weak and segregated. Govern­ment support is strong and results in broad financial assistance for start-ups. We also find differences in the growth and internationalization across the four East Asian start-up ecosystems which can be related to features of the national econo­mies they are located in. Overall, our findings suggest that studies of start-up eco­systems need to consider their regional institutional and cultural context, as there are strong differences between Western and East Asian countries.


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