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How Is the CEE Region Faring in the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2023?

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  • StartupBlink, the world’s leading comprehensive startup ecosystem map and research center, launched the Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2023. The Index presents the ranks of 100 countries and 1000 cities and includes the most recent and thorough data on the global startup sector.
  • The US, the UK, and Israel remain unchallenged as the top 3 global startup ecosystems, with significant leads over other countries.
  • Estonia shines as the leading startup ecosystem in Eastern Europe, solidifying its position despite a slight dip in the global rank. Its robust entrepreneurial environment continues to set a benchmark in the region.
  • The wider Eastern Europe region reveals a mixed bag of results with Lithuania holding steady, while others like Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Romania stumble.


Here, we spotlight the results from the StartupBlink 2023 Global Startup Ecosystem Index that most significantly impact the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region.

Inside the StartupBlink index

The latest Index features a detailed investigation into the startup economies across the world. It uses an algorithm with quantifiable data to rank regions, countries, and cities.

The Index data partners include CrunchBase, Semrush, Bright Data, Meetup, Statista, and SAP.iO Foundries (SAP Startup Accelerator – ed.note). Moreover, over 100 governments, municipalities, and economic development organizations contributed to the Index.

The aim? To empower innovation decision-makers with reliable, comparative data.

During the StartupBlink’s GSEI2023 Launch Event Eli David, co-founder and CEO of StartupBlink, talked about the importance of such data in the context of choosing the right location to launch a startup.

“This decision [for the location] is going to be extremely important for the future and for whatever we do. Location matters a lot. We’re still not in the Metaverse and until we’re there, choose your location carefully and be in a place where you’re actually wanted and the government cares about your ecosystem, in addition to being in a place where things are actually happening. Startups are difficult. We do not want to be isolated in a place where nothing is happening.”

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Performance of CEE in the global top 20: Poland spreading its wings

In the global top 20, Estonia stands out as the sole representative from the CEE region, proudly holding the 14th position. This high rank demonstrates a robust, well-developed startup ecosystem, testament to Estonia’s considerable efforts in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. The country’s digitized regulatory framework, which is unparalleled in many Western European nations, alongside its favorable tax regime, significantly facilitates company operations and propels its continued economic growth.

The performance of other countries in the CEE region, such as Lithuania (ranked 17th) and Poland (ranked 33rd), is also noteworthy. Both countries have maintained their respective rankings, showing a steady, stable presence in the global startup ecosystem.

Even though Poland is not in the top 20, it confidently retains its place within the top 50 amidst intense global competition. When compared to the global top 20, dominated by leading innovation powerhouses like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel, Poland’s 33rd position indicates a resilient economy and a thriving startup ecosystem. The country’s key strengths stem from a cost-effective living standard, a workforce rich in talent, significant progress in tech gender equality, and a contemporary banking system.

Istanbul leads in CEE cities in the global top 100

It’s not just about countries; cities have their unique startup ecosystems too, and we can find a great deal of details about them into the StartupBlink 2023 Global Startup Ecosystem Index. Istanbul, the capital of Türkiye, demonstrates remarkable growth with a 13-spot jump to the 53rd place – the highest the city has ever achieved in the Index. Lithuania’s Vilnius climbs several spots to land at 73rd and Estonia’s Tallinn enters the global top 60.

Meanwhile, Warsaw joins the prestigious list of top 100 cities, marking an important milestone for the Polish startup community.

Eastern Europe ecosystems rankings in the StartupBlink 2023 Global Startup Ecosystem Index

Looking specifically at the Eastern Europe ecosystems, the performances were a mixed bag.

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The Czech Republic fell three places, marking a total 9-spot drop since 2020 (it currently ranks 5th in Eastern Europe and 35th globally). Meanwhile, Bulgaria, too, registered a dip, falling by 2 spots and now holding the 6th position in Eastern Europe and the 38th position globally.

Romania, and Slovakia both saw a decrease. Romania ranked 8th in Eastern Europe and 42nd globally while Slovakia fell 7 places and it now holds the 16th spot in Eastern Europe and the 65th globally. However, countries like Latvia (7th in Eastern Europe; 39th globally), Croatia (9th in Eastern Europe; 44th globally), Ukraine (12th in Eastern Europe; 49th globally), and Hungary (13th in Eastern Europe; 50th globally) managed to rise in the ranks, showcasing potential for the future.

CEE Countries in the StartupBlink Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2023

Looking ahead

As we gear up for another exciting year of innovation and entrepreneurship, these rankings provide a roadmap for decision-makers and stakeholders. With the continued growth and dynamic changes in the startup landscape, it’s anyone’s game in 2024 and the years to come. Just like Eli David, the co-founder and CEO of StartupBlink, shared for The Recursive – the smaller countries in the CEE region should be as creative and rebellious as possible if they want to close gaps faster.

*You can download the full The Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2023 here.

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Snezhana is an Innovation Journalist at The Recursive. She uses the power of storytelling to put the spotlight on the emerging innovation ecosystems in Central and Eastern Europe. With a keen eye for the bleeding edge, she delves into the depths of deep tech, unearthing captivating stories that bridge the realms of science and human imagination.