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Study: Singapore makes top 10 list for fostering unicorns

Study: Singapore makes top 10 list for fostering unicorns

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A new study has found that Singapore ranks tenth globally as a producer of unicorn start-ups, coming in with 15 unicorn companies as of July 2023. A unicorn is defined as a company that has reached a valuation of US$1 billion without being publicly listed.

According to the study by, the enterprise tech industry dominates the global unicorn landscape, with 377 out of 1236 companies worldwide as of July 2023. This accounts for approximately 30% of the global total number of unicorns, with a combined valuation of just over US$1 trillion.

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This suggests that Singapore’s high ranking on the list of global unicorn counts indicates the country’s growing significance in the tech and innovation sectors, on top of being a business-friendly environment.

On the same rankings, Singapore also placed third regionally in Asia, after China and India. At a combined valuation of US$88.91 billion, the country accounted for 2% of the total unicorn valuation worldwide, as of July 2023.

On average, start-up companies in Singapore also enjoy the highest average valuation at US$5.93 billion.

Other major producers of unicorn companies are the United States, China, and India, with 668, 172 and 72 companies respectively, as of July 2023.

Within the leading enterprise tech sector, graphic design company, Canva, is the highest-valued company with a valuation of US$40 billion. The industry is projected to retain its leading position, surpassing growth and total valuation projections by 2027.

The financial services and consumer and retail industries also take the top spots, with 216 unicorn companies each. Stripe and SHEIN are the highest-valued companies within the industries respectively.

Meanwhile, the media and entertainment and insurance sectors make up the smallest slice of the pie, with the lowest valuation of unicorn companies globally.

Singapore’s place in the global unicorn landscape comes with the growth of local start-ups such as Carro, Carousell, and Razer.

For instance, Carousell attained unicorn status after bringing its valuation to US$1.1 billion in September 2021, having secured a US$100 million investment led by Korean private equity STIC Investments. In January 2022, the company was reportedly in talks to go public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) L Catterton Asia.

Previous unicorns such as Grab, Lazada, and Razer have also moved beyond the unicorn status, becoming publicly listed and attaining valuations surpassing US$1 billion. For example, Grab was listed publicly on the NASDAQ exchange in December 2021, following its valuation of over US$10 billion in 2018, according to CNA.

The proliferation of unicorn companies in Singapore indicates an investment-friendly business environment, according to a September 2023 analysis by FULCRUM. They “draw in investments due to their high growth potential and expected future gains in the event of a buy-out”.

Additionally, unicorns “contribute towards employment generation, innovation, productivity gains, and cross-border trade” for a country, adding to economic growth.

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