2018 Startup Outlook


 |  January 30, 2018

Silicon Valley Bank presents the results of its ninth annual Startup Outlook survey, reporting on the sentiment of more than 1,000 tech and healthcare entrepreneurs in innovation hubs around the globe.

We ask about business conditions, access to the funding and talent necessary to grow their companies and the public policy issues that affect them most. Their outlook matters because the innovation economy is a high-powered engine, driving job creation and opportunity, creating wealth and stability and inventing what comes next.

The majority of survey respondents are based in the United States, the United Kingdom and China, but many do business across borders. Despite political and economic volatility, the good news is that large numbers are signaling confidence and optimism for their businesses in 2018. In fact, 30 percent of startups globally believe that 2018 will be much better than 2017, and very few believe that it will be worse. Chinese entrepreneurs tend to be more optimistic about business conditions overall, and this year is no exception.

Startups globally are forecasting a strong M&A environment. The percentage of US startups that say they plan to hire is at a five-year high. US and UK startups believe that raising capital is getting easier. That is not the case in China, however. New sources of funding, such as initial coin offerings (ICOs), are available to the innovation economy, yet startups globally still expect to rely largely on the well-funded venture capital industry.

There are challenges of course, including difficulty finding the talent needed to grow their businesses, which is the No. 1 policy issue reported by startups for the fifth straight year. In comments collected from respondents in the US and the UK, we heard this common refrain: Innovation succeeds when you have the ability to attract the world’s best and brightest. Overall, more than 90 percent of startups globally again report that hiring is a challenge. Seeking growth and opportunity, nearly 30 percent of US and UK startups are locating critical divisions of their operations offshore due to immigration policy, tax policy or the regulatory environment. 

Despite significant growth among US startups reporting that they have programs to increase the number of women in leadership positions, the percentage of US startups with female executives and board members remains low, and little has changed.

We live in dynamic and fast-changing times. The innovation economy now contributes to most of the key measures of overall economic health and is the major driver of job growth. For those reasons, we are more committed than ever to promoting innovation and the companies that are working to invent the future. Thank you for your interest in this report. Let us know what you think.