Advancements in material science, biotechnology, industrial robotics & automation, and nanotechnology contribute to the diverse applications of innovative engineering technologies. Use cases in healthcare, energy, construction, and automotive, as well as various industry 4.0 techniques, such as additive manufacturing and artificial intelligence (AI), drive engineering startups to create novel solutions. The challenges engineering companies face turn out to be opportunities to rapidly scale products or spare parts while also enabling mass customization of goods. Some novel engineering innovations include biomimetics, nano-engineering, microelectronics, lightweighting, and precise engineering design software.
Top 5 Global Engineering Startup Hubs
Using our StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, we analyzed the geographic distribution of global activity in the engineering sector. We identified 44 regional hubs* that observe high activity in developing technology-driven solutions across the industry such as robotics and automation, advanced materials, nanotechnology, and additive manufacturing, to name a few.
Within the hubs, we analyzed a sample of 2.408 startups and scaleups* employing technology-driven solutions to innovate in the industry. Silicon Valley, London, New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles are home to 860 engineering startups and scaleup* and account for 36% of global engineering activity. Let us have a look at some of the innovative solutions from these 5 top hubs.
Based on a sample of 2.408 startups & scaleups, North America is home to more than half of the global engineering startup activity. Engineering hubs in this region include US cities such as Austin and Seattle as well as Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal. European hubs in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris, along with other cities, are home to a third of global startup activity. Emerging engineering hubs in Asia include Singapore and Bangalore, as well as numerous companies in China.
1. Silicon Valley: 374 Startups
The Silicon Valley region is considered to represent the birth of high-tech engineering and manufacturing. With a vibrant and diverse startup ecosystem, this engineering hub is home to some of the biggest companies, as well as up-and-coming startups, in the world. Throughout the past decades, this hub has witnessed advancements in industrial automation, semiconductor technologies, and augmented reality (AR) solutions.
Operating from Berkeley, JITX is a high-tech startup developing hardware design automation solutions for engineering applications. The startup’s eponymous integrated development environment (IDE) helps automate circuit board designs for use in robotics, semiconductors, and connected devices. This artificial intelligence solution enables engineers to design hardware components faster and with minimal errors, while also offering code reusability.
2. London: 156 Startups
Home to numerous technology startups, London is a leading hub for engineering applications spanning MedTech, advanced manufacturing, and the public sector. Advanced biomedical research and several innovation-focused academic institutions further allow startups to develop novel nanotechnology and bioengineering solutions. At the same time, the London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOIT) is encouraging innovations and seeking solutions regarding GovTech, data sharing, and digitization.
Echopoint Medical is a London-based MedTech startup working on iKOR, a technology platform to create novel fiber optic sensors. The startup’s proprietary microstructures and novel nanomaterials enable high-fidelity pressure, temperature and flow measurements, optical ultrasound imaging, and real-time medical device tracking from inside the body. The iKOs sensors are fabricated from low-cost telecommunications optical fibers that are easily repurposed for small cardiovascular devices.
3. New York City: 145 Startups
Emerging technology startups in New York City are working on various AI-, blockchain-, and AR-based solutions. In the engineering sector, these technologies have several applications such as improving worker safety, building inspection and maintenance, and industrial equipment traceability, to name a few. Moreover, multiple academic institutions have set up engineering innovation hubs within their campuses to push for high-tech innovations.
New York City-based startup Voyant Photonics is working on novel devices to replace bulky light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems by incorporating numerous hardware into a small chip. This fingerprint-sized chip significantly reduces costs and enables semiconductor scaling for 3D sensing technologies. The chips operate in any lighting and are also immune to electromagnetic interference. The startup’s 3D imaging is suitable for industrial systems, field operations, and factory automation applications.
4. Boston: 102 Startups
A large number of high-tech startups emerging in Boston are developing robotics and MedTech solutions. Spanning microelectronics, bioengineering,3D printing, and machine learning-powered systems, this engineering hub also hosts diverse and skilled talent. Moreover, Boston is home to emerging material science companies looking to develop lightweight and high-performance composites (HPC) to build novel hardware.
Digital Alloys is a Burlington-based startup providing metal additive manufacturing solutions for engineering hardware. The startup employs its patented Joule Printing technology that uses commodity wire as the raw material in place of expensive powders. This 3D metal printing process is considerably less expensive, allows for shaping metal wires, and enables scalable production. Digital Alloys’ solution is suitable for hard-to-cut metals, such as titanium, complicated designs, and materials that are difficult to source.
5. Los Angeles: 83 Startups
The California state government funding currently focuses on civil engineering, high-tech, nanotechnology, and bioengineering. Environmental engineering is another field that technology startups from Los Angeles are working on. With its large and diverse talent pool, as well as capital availability, Los Angeles is rapidly developing into a cost-effective hub for engineering startups and scaleups.
The Irvine-based startup Menlo Micro is reinventing the electronic switch. The startup’s Ideal Switch platform is suitable for designing electronic systems and multiple industries including 5G mobile networks, industrial internet of things (IIoT), battery management, home automation, electric vehicles, and medical instrumentation. Menlo Micro’s low-loss high-power switch requires a few picoamps to function and operates significantly faster than a typical mechanical switch. These switches are manufactured using wafer-level manufacturing technology.
The impact of engineering innovation permeates across several industries and plays a vital role in enabling the adoption of new technologies. Making manufacturing more productive, creating stronger and more flexible materials, and the opportunities for scalability with 3D printing results in a constantly-evolving sector that is influenced by multidisciplinary research and development (R&D).
*We define a hub as the regional geographic center of activity for this topic. It covers the center point with a radius of 100km. For this report, we define startups as those founded after 2015.