In the summer of 2018, a team of interns at SwitchPitch collected data from LinkedIn. Searching by region for innovation titles established a baseline for the 2019 team.
By continent, South America demonstrated the largest growth in their number of innovation titled positions, increasing over 65% from 4,000 positions to 6,600 positions.
A largely overlooked market for startup partnerships, this emergent data may surprise corporations which look to Europe and Asia for innovation partnerships. Before 2011, three of the top accelerators in the US, Y Combinator, 500 Startups, and Techstars, didn’t accept a single Latin American startup. 500 Startups was the first to accept Latin American startups in 2012, kickstarting the turn of American attention to the southern hemisphere. According to TechCrunch, Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator invited Colombian startup, Platzi, to join in 2015. Since 2016, more than five Colombian startups have joined the renowned accelerator, along with startups from Chile.
2018 saw the first South American unicorn, after Didi Chuxing’s acquisition of Brazilian rideshare app 99 in January.
The Association for Private Capital Investment in Latin America (LAVCA), established the Latin American Startup Directory to identify, follow, and catalog this booming ecosystem of startups. LAVCA identified 256 Latin American startups in the 2018 directory, up from 155 in the 2017 directory, and 100 in the inaugural list. This growth bolsters the growth of innovation titles tracked from LinkedIn.
Asia also shows notable growth with a 33% increase in innovation titles from the previous summer. Asian, specifically Chinese, startups demonstrate a marked increase in blockchain and crypto innovation specifically, estimating that 25 percent of blockchain projects originate in China alone, a stark contrast to America’s 14 percent.
Despite the notable growth uncovered in South America, the continent still represents only a small percentage of innovation titles globally. Their smaller starting number of titles, however, should not undercut the amount of growth achieved within the past calendar year.
Breaking down the European market further, growth discovered broken down by nation can be observed below.
South America’s growth outpaces any nation in Europe, truly bringing the region into the fold and competitive with other nations.
*It is important to distinguish that not all of the Latin American startups were necessarily captured in collecting data from South America, including startups in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and other nations.